The general election campaign has clearly focused Tony Blair's mind on winning, and has also got the newspapers swinging right behind their teams. Well, almost. The Sun is still saying support the Tories but vote Labour. But the Daily Mail, spurred on by the Tories, is happily playing the race card. And the Daily Telegraph has gone completely bonkers.
The day after Michael Howard launched the Tory manifesto, the Telegraph "splash" began: "Labour's election strategy was in disarray last night after . . ." Well, after nothing much, really, except Ed Balls had exposed the Tories' plans to spend billions without having a clue how to pay for it. In fact, Labour held three press conferences on the barmy economic plans alone, two of them with Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
Perhaps the Telegraph decided to attack Labour because the Conservatives' manifesto was such an embarrassment. Someone recently gave me a copy of the book Grumpy Old Men. It bears a striking resemblance to the Tory document.
We can be thankful that it is not the newspapers that will help the voters make up their minds. People are much more likely to believe what they see than what they read. That's why Gordon and Tony: the movie worked so well. Some of us may have cringed, but it was effective. All the polls show that Brown and the economy are Labour's strongest selling points, so putting them together with the PM makes sense. Even Tom Utley, writing in the Telegraph about the first Labour and Tory political broadcasts, said: "If it's slick propaganda you're after, vote Labour."
The Labour Party may have changed its campaign completely, but its election plans certainly are no longer in disarray.