Cameron: Blair has lost his authority

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Indy Politics

The Tory leader David Cameron has predicted that "a government that lives by headlines will die by headlines". Speaking while campaigning in Oxfordshire ahead of Thursday's local elections, Mr Cameron claimed that Tony Blair had suffered "an irreversible loss of authority" following recent scandals.

He accused ministers of an obsession with publicity, short-termism and a relentless growth in centralisation.

Sidestepping questions about sleaze scandals under John Major, Mr Cameron said: "We need a government that does less, but does it better and ... does things for the right reasons, not to get newspaper headlines."

He announced that the party had appointed a panel to devise better management structures for Whitehall. The aim was to find ways of preventing a repeat of the sort of mistakes that had led to the recent foreign prisoners release scandal.

The working group - to include former civil servants and chaired by Sir Brian Williamson, ex-chairman of the London financial futures market Liffe - will investigate ways to improve administrative competence.

Mr Cameron would not be drawn on the party's prospects in the local elections. He said: "I want us to benefit from our positive campaign. That's the difference between the two major parties in this election."

* Labour will pay the price at the ballot box for the catalogue of crises over the past few weeks, the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, predicted yesterday. He said authority was "draining away" from Mr Blair and his Government was viewed as incompetent.