Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Labour's campaign is a big hit"

Most Guardian readers will have been shocked at the paper's latest opinion poll, which puts Labour's lead over the Tories at just three points. Tony Blair, who hates the "left-wing rag", won't have been.

The Prime Minister knows that Labour's campaign is a complete shambles. He is so worried, that he agreed to spend a day on a TV channel that hardly anyone watches. This panic-driven change of strategy has been briefed to, and written up by, loyal Blairite columnists like John Rentoul and Andrew Rawnsley to give a great boost to our dear leader.

But herein lies the problem. It's the Prime Minister himself who is now a big liability to Labour, and the Guardian poll shows just why you never hear the Tories mention the Saatchi mantra "Vote Blair and get Brown". If Labour's election strategists had any sense, which they manifestly don't, they would adopt the slogan themselves. Promoting Blair only plays to Labour's core vote because, as the poll also shows, most of the rest of the population think him arrogant, out of touch and untrustworthy.

The Chancellor, on the other hand, is now a staggering 39 points ahead of the Prime Minister, yet he got sent on a trade mission to China, leaving Alan Milburn to preside over a catastrophic campaign. In the same Guardian poll, Milburn's ratings are predictable. The Guardian says that with a rating of minus three, he is an "election campaign liability".

The party desperately needs strategists who know how to run a campaign. Milburn should be sidelined, Alastair Campbell put back in his box. If Blair dumps him there is still hope for a Labour landslide. Pigs might fly.

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