Conservative Diary

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Tory fighting fund may be three times bigger than Labour's

ConHome's quick, daily guide to the General Election campaign.

Tories could spend twice or even three times as much as Labour. The Times had the story of the day with speculation that the Conservatives might be able to spend two to three times as much as Labour on the election campaign. Expect Labour to accuse the Tories of 'buying' the electorate.

Screen shot 2010-01-05 at 18.13.03 There is renewed speculation about Gordon Brown's position as Labour leader. Channel 4's Gary Gibbon has the story. There is probably a majority of Labour MPs who accept that Brown is a loser but no majority behind an alternative candidate. We are too close to an election now unless one Labour figure can have a Michael Howard-style coronation as leader. Otherwise the electorate will look at a leadership contest with disdain, even disgust.

Nick Clegg refuses to be drawn on coalition thinking. In his most important intervention of the campaign so far the Liberal Democrat leader wrote that there would be "no backroom deals or under-the-counter “understandings” with either of the other two parties." A key message for the Tories in LD/Con marginals is that a vote for Clegg might keep Labour in by the back door.

Greg Clark and Nick Herbert were the Tory stars of the day. Nick Herbert got good coverage this morning for his pledge to create a supermarket ombudsman to prevent large retailers from abusing their market position. [Unfortunately that looks like another quango to me though]. And Greg Clark has got big coverage all afternoon for riding the cold weather stories with a dire warning about dangerously low gas reserves.

Screen shot 2010-01-05 at 17.53.26 The Tory poster campaign continues to get lots of attention. The Mail tells us it is costing £500,000. The Times reports that Mrs Cameron approved the photo. The Times' Sam Coates explores whether the image of the Tory leader was airbrushed. Who says politics is trivial?

Alistair Darling refused to rule out increasing VAT to 20%. I missed this story yesterday. Sorry! I will check Danny Finkelstein's blog even more frequently from now on. It had been reported that Labour planned to frighten voters with allegations of secret Tory plans for a VAT hike. That will be impossible if they can't rule it out themselves.

Tim Montgomerie

> Yesterday's General Election Brief


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