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David Cameron has made the weather in week one of the campaign - and he must not let up

Nick Wood gives his latest take on the events of election campaign

Nick Wood More than 40 years ago, amid a bout of leadership speculation, Harold Wilson was asked what was going on. "I'm going on," retorted the Prime Minister, and so he did, clocking up four election victories in all, and only one defeat.

David Cameron should remember Wilson's riposte. The Big Three, as the BBC ludicrously portrayed them, (Brown, Darling and Mandelson) spent much of yesterday trying to demolish the arithmetic behind the Tories' pledge to scrap the tax on jobs.

And legions of BBC "experts" seemed to spend even longer trying to demonstrate the impossibility of employing efficiency savings to shave £6 billion off public spending of some £650 billion this year.

They are wasting their time. It is self evident that a state so bloated as ours, fattened by more than a decade of Labour force feeding, must be awash with potential efficiency savings. And, more pertinently, that's what most people believe. Sir Peter Gershon, Brown's own efficiency expert, can fill in any gaps.

So Dave should not concern himself too much with the nitpickers. With the Government spending half the nation's annual output, a quarter of which is borrowed money, now is not the time to cripple the recovery by slapping a new tax on jobs.

He should just go on  - hammering home the message that Labour's job destruction programme is the last thing the country needs. Meanwhile, the polls are ticking up as more of the public get the message that Brown will put their living standards at risk.

The media cycle will turn of its own accord anyway. By Sunday the papers will be looking for trails of the party manifestos due to be officially launched next week.

And Dave has the married couples' tax break up his sleeve. A bit like the NI scrappage scheme, it is as much emblematic as a matter of arithmetic. Cameron's thesis is that Britain is broken - economically, politically and
socially. At the core of social breakdown is family breakdown. A simple measure designed to strengthen the family, to send a signal that marriage matters, will seem like common sense to many people alarmed by the fraying of the nation's social fabric.

And at around £600 million for transferable tax allowances restricted initially to married couples with children aged 3 and under, the measure will not cost much.

He will be attacked - idiotically - for discriminating against single mothers or penalising cohabiting couples. To which he can retort that nothing he is proposing will cost either group a penny. He is offering a carrot, not a stick.

Cameron has made the weather in week one of the campaign. He must not let up.

Nick Wood, Managing Director, Media Intelligence Partners Ltd.


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