IT has been revealing to see how ineffective American talk-show hosts have been while their scriptwriters are on strike. The problem apparently extends to those Oscar-winning film stars who are said to be dreading having to speak for themselves instead of relying on their writers for the banal “thank you to everybody” scripts they need for their acceptance speeches. What would David Cameron do if party speech writers went on strike? No Prime Minister's Questions session passes without a few pre-prepared quips from the leader of the opposition. Yesterday his best effort was his description of Gordon Brown's proposals for the Northern Rock debacle as a “sub-prime deal from a sub-prime minister.” Not great, but certainly better than his quip about the prime minister being like a second-hand car salesman - that comparison was worn out in Richard Nixon's time, but I suppose that was before Mr Cameron's time.

I detect an increasing unpleasantness in the personal attacks that David Cameron and his close aides make on Gordon Brown. George Osborne started it before Mr Brown became prime minister and Mr Cameron is continuing it. In an interview in The Times yesterday he spoke about “that strange man in Downing Street”. Is that how politics are to be conducted in Britain today?

That strange man may not conform to Mr Cameron's Etonian idea of the kind of person who should be in Downing Street but others will disagree with him.


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