Never a frown with Gordon Brown

The dirty tricks department at Tory Towers attempted to hire a BBC impressionist to lampoon Gordon Brown. Mark Perry, star of the TV and radio series Dead Ringers, was offered a slice of Ashcroft's zillions to impersonate the dour Broon. David Cameron never tires of telling us how
he deplores Labour's negative campaigning but it's a safe bet that the Cons weren't planning to portray Big Gordie as a thigh-slapping sunshine type, worth another five years. Perry, who mimicked John Prescott and Robin Cook for the Beeb, declined the offer. He did so for a reason politicians find hard to grasp - principle - believing his role is to observe, rather than endorse. The Tories have learned nothing from their 1997 defeat. Then, Perry snubbed a request for a "Demon Eyes" Tony Blair.

Impressionists across the land will be studying videos of Nick Clegg, a party leader resembling a startled sixth-former who can't believe he's been appointed deputy head boy. The Lib Dem himself is still coming to terms with his elevation. Visiting Warrington Wolves rugby club, the man of the moment surprised officials, including the club's chairman, the Labour peer Doug Hoyle, by declining to be snapped with the gleaming Challenge Cup, rugby league's answer to the FA Cup. Broon or Cam would have taken the trophy and run around the pitch with it. Perhaps reticence is one of the secrets of Clegg's success.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured) is one Tory candidate who surely ought to listen to tapes of his own speeches. The Old Etonian banker has raised eyebrows in Somerset by insisting that the locals sound broadly like him. It is true that both Rees-Smug and his constituents speak English, but there the similarity ends. One cider-drinking yokel claimed that the Bentley-driving Rees-Smug doesn't know his "ooh arrs" from his "OK yahs". But it is not too late for the banker to take lessons from the heiress Samanfa "Leave It Aht" Cameron on how to de-toff.

Emperor Mandelson's supreme control is causing resentment in the Labour bunker. He cancels meetings at a moment's notice, stands alone in dictating who goes on the telly and was the one who ruled out pledging not to raise VAT. Even Lord Mandy, however, requires courtiers
to do his bidding. Imported from Russia to act as a little helper is Ben Wegg-Prosser, once a strategist for Tony Blair and now a Moscow businessman. The Joe 90-like Wegg-Prosser was last spotted dining with the oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Sidelined staffers are calling the election drive "Mandy's Family and Friends" campaign.

A Cameroonie moaned that the moment when it all started going wrong for Dave was when the Sun endorsed him last September. The newspaper's support had tainted the modernised brand, he wept, and its exploitation of Jacqui Janes, the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, backfired. To this tabloid rival, the analysis smacks of snobbery and scapegoating. But, more importantly, the Tory inquest has started.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror.