Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 14:47 UK

Martha Kearney's week

By Martha Kearney
Presenter, BBC Radio 4's World at One

David Cameron giving a speech in London
After their recent support for Gordon Brown, the Tories have changed tack

'Leader of the opposition attacks government over the economy'.

The fact that this story was leading the news on Friday morning just shows how bizarre the past couple of weeks have been in British politics.

In normal times David Cameron's criticism of Labour's economic record would have had to include some scathing personal criticism or devastating new statistics for it to get any coverage beyond a nib (news in brief).

After all, isn't that what opposition politicians are supposed to do every day?

But the Conservatives have adopted a bipartisan strategy during the financial crisis when too critical an approach could have been seen as unpatriotic.

Gordon Brown's rhetoric certainly tried to project a sense of a country at war with himself as Churchill at the helm.

But as Rachel Sylvester pointed out in The Times this week, Churchill lost the 1945 election.

If you think comparisons with Churchill overblown, what about the Labour MP Ronnie Campbell's description of Brown as Superman?

Or the journalist who asked the PM if he was Flash Gordon?

Clearly all this superhero stuff has tried Tory patience too much and hence the kid gloves have come off again.

Timing?

The moment is nicely judged.

This week we have seen fears about the collapse of the financial system morph into deep concerns about the real economy.

Unemployment figures on Wednesday showed the sharpest rise in seventeen years with predictions that two million people could be out of work by Christmas.

The Conservatives believe that while Gordon Brown may get temporary credit for his bank rescue package, he cannot escape blame for the coming recession.

Labour is in a stronger position than it has been since the election that never was.

Gordon Brown has managed to unite his party - bringing back Peter Mandelson has staved off Blairite critics and contenders and his experience has been praised on the world stage.

But as business as normal is resumed, he still faces that central question - what is his vision for the future which can compete with the Conservative message of change?




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