Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brown on to a Loser as Election Looms

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brown on to a Loser as Election Looms

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL LINFORD

AS the dust settles on the 2009 conference season, the key issues which will decide the 2010 General Election are becoming clearer - some of them the kind which arise at every electoral battle, others unique to this contest.

There is, as ever, "the economy, stupid" - the central question on which most elections are won and lost, and on which, in all probability, this one will be too.

In terms of a strategy for plotting our way out of the recession, the two main parties are about even, the main differences of opinion being over precisely how and when to start cutting the pounds 175bn budget deficit.

On the question of who was to blame for the meltdown, however, David Cameron's Tories have an unassailable advantage, thanks largely to Gordon Brown's hubristic claim to have "abolished boom and bust".

Then there is the "leadership" issue - which in essence boils down the question of which of the two main party leaders is (a) the most likeable person, and (b) the most convincing Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron has always been way ahead of Mr Brown on the first point. But he is now beginning to overhaul him on the second too, after a conference which saw him set out his vision of post-recession Britain.

But beyond the perennial questions of who can best be trusted to run the economy and who will make the best leader, there have been two other issues in the headlines this week which also seem likely to have a big influence on the 2010 contest.

The first of these is of course the MPs' expenses scandal. The second is the conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

It would have come as no great surprise to world-weary MPs to find the expenses issue making its way back on to the front pages as they returned to Westminster this week.

There has to be some question as to whether civil servant turned witchfinder general Sir Thomas Legg has been making the rules up as he goes along in his letters to MPs calling for sums claimed in respect of cleaning and gardening to be repaid. …

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