Get ready for the nastiest campaign ever

Unholy politics on a holy day.

The new Tory posters, to which Jon Bernstein referred earlier today, have just been driven around Westminster and past Downing Street along Whitehall. They carry personal attacks on Gordon Brown's integrity. As Jon said, there is nothing new in that (and it is worth noting that supposedly nice "Dave" Cameron is leading what is actually a very unmodernised campaign, drawing on the brightest ideas from the sniggering clever-clogses at Conservative headquarters).

But what is clear is that the Tories and their many friends in the right-wing media (especially Rupert Murdoch's Sun and News of the World) are preparing for the nastiest of campaigns, at least since the destruction of Neil Kinnock in 1992.

Labour will hit back hard with what Peter Mandelson has called a "ballsy" campaign of its own, because the governing party has nothing to lose. The real loser, however, will be respect for politics, and voter turnout.

Today is Palm Sunday, an important moment in the Christian calendar and the start of Holy Week. Around the country, churches will have led processions out in the streets behind the cross. At the same time, entirely negative political posters were being paraded around London.

There's something symbolic in that.


James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.