ELECTION SKETCH: Brown relish with everything

Having focused last week on making the Icelandic volcano safe for airborne humanity, the PM declared that this week he’ll be focusing on the economy. Shame he didn’t do that ten years ago – as the Institute for Fiscal Studies reminds everyone today: Britain’s debt to income ratio, it points out, is one of the worst in the world.

Gordon will have to undertake his superhuman task without Tony Blair, who is grounded in Israel thanks to the volcano that his ‘old friend’ didn’t quite manage to make entirely safe; and as Brown said on Marr yesterday, he is “absolutely committed to safe air travel for the British people”. Sod the French, but the British will be safe. Everything with the Prime Minister has to be about “doing everything it takes” and being “absolutely committed”, following which there is zero commitment to doing anything. The sooner he’s absolutely committed, the safer we’ll all be.

Nick Clegg meanwhile says he “relishes” the idea of getting into a debate about policy. I bet he wouldn’t relish a close examination of his proportional representation ‘commitment’, but either way, you may have spotted that relishing is the new hand on heart. Asked if he wants to pee razor-blades, every politician’s job now is to tell the media they relish the challenge. There was quite a lot of Brown relish before the TV debates, although I understand he’s been made to give that up after the first fiasco. Sarah probably told Gordon that it’s bad for him.

But of course, the man with the major problem on his hands (and shoulders) this morning is David Cameron. As he sloshes on the HP Sauce the way all old Etonians do, Dave is going to need a lot of support from Mrs C. His Chancellor’s in a sulk after being disloyal and then ticked off about it – and Nasty Nick is surging. What is a chap to do? The Slog’s view remains the same – unmask him as the little toe-rag he so obviously is – see this morning’s post about it.

Having nicked the ‘we the people’ opening from the US Constitution (odd use of personal pronoun there) Cameron continues to bang on about his Big Society. This shows how far he wants to distance himself from Baroness Thatcher, who didn’t believe in society at all. But it does absolutely nothing for me, chiefly because I suspect it’s one of those terms that sounded great in the brainstorming session, but means nothing to most voters. The Tory Manifesto is well-meaning twaddle, and the Party’s election strategy is all over the place. No doubt DC relishes the challenge of sorting this mess out, although one somehow feels it will be a question of horseradish sauce on his kedgeree.

Certainly, his relish needs some bite. He told the Beeb last night that he refuses “to descend into the bear-pit”. This is, however, exactly what he needs to do. Don’t just trade statistics with Nick and Gordon: accuse them of using electoral mumbo-jumbo to stitch up Britain’s biggest Party. Otherwise, I fear, he really will be in the brown stuff.