Oh dear. Today’s frontpages form the most eclectic set of damaging headlines for Labour for quite some time. On the front of the Mail and the Times: allegations that the government – specifically, Ed Balls – "interfered" with a report on the Baby P tragedy. On the Independent: a claim that Brown "misled" the public over waiving VAT on a charity single for Haiti. And on the Telegraph: news that more business leaders have backed the Tories’ national insurance policy. Even the Guardian wades in with the headline: "Labour and business fall out".
Of these, the first story is potentially the biggest scandal. But it’s the latter two which more immediately threaten to alter the political mood music. Whether right or no’, The Haiti story could undermine Labour’s claims to be the Party Who Care. And the row between Labour and business could do likewise for the government’s boasts about leading us into recovery. Either way, I doubt Brown would have chosen such a sickly backdrop to his election announcement next week.
It’s striking how the upturn in Tory fortunes (see YouGov in the Sun) has come in a week when Cameron & Co. have offered a positive prospectus for change: the national insurance policy, the Big Society, that kind of thing. Of course, elections require a dose of negativity as well – especially against a government which has led the country into £1 trillion (and rising) of debt. And, of course, things could change in the next few weeks. But I, for one, don’t think this week’s correlations are a coincidence.