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Should Cameron emphasise the economic dangers of a hung parliament or the dangers of Brown getting in by the back door?

No sooner did Paul Goodman call for the return of Ken Clarke and the old Tory warhorse was back.

Screen shot 2010-04-21 at 13.45.28 At a Tory press conference at 11am this morning Mr Clarke was warning of the economic dangers of Labour's job tax and of a hung parliament:

“Bond markets won't wait. Sterling will wobble..."

"If the British don't decide to put in a government with a working majority, and the markets think that we can't tackle our debt and deficit problems, then the IMF will have to do it for us."

The former Chancellor continued with his diagnosis of the gravity of the economic situation:

"This is worse than the Conservatives took over in 1970, worse than Labour took over in 1974, worse than we took over in 1979, and it really is going to require strong, purposeful government confident of its majority to put things into place."

The implications for the economy are one danger of a hung parliament. The other is that the Liberal Democrats will keep Brown or Labour in office; Vote Yellow, Get Brown. Most LibDem voters lean left, after all.

Cleggy-back changeIt's probably possible to run with both messages. It's far from clear, for example, that the Liberal Democrats could unite behind any coalition deal. The Liberal Democrats are a rag bag of people who want Cameron-style reforms and those who are steeped in the attitudes of the public sector. Tensions within the Liberal Democrats might make it hard for Nick Clegg to agree any economic programme with Brown or Cameron.

The challenge for the Conservatives is to communicate the risks and uncertainty to voters of a hung parliament. Only a vote for David Cameron can produce a decisive election result. That must be his key message in the remaining two debates.

Tim Montgomerie


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