The Sketch: Tories' toxic touch sounds the death knell for Blair

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The Independent Online

He'd left Des Browne to place the Treasury's requirements before the world - we are to give money to emerging governments as long as they govern with transparency and honesty. What was that about? Why would it work in emerging countries when it doesn't work here? Not that it's really been tried here.

"Squeaky" George Osborne, the 17-year-old shadow is supposed to be a match for the Chancellor. He isn't a match for Des Browne. He isn't even a match for Ed Balls. He stood up to "hold the government to account" with a line of questioning about tax credits. Observers felt by a narrow margin that he was more against poverty than for it (it isn't always easy to tell). He finished with the jibe: "Or is he joining the Prime Minister in his bunker?"

This kind of Tora-Tora-Toryism is very unwelcome just now. If Banzai Boy's jibes do anything they'll only rally support for the PM. It's not that George is too stupid to see this, it's that he - like the rest of his colleagues - lacks the emotional range to be able to conceive of the Prime Minister doing anything right.

In the next three months, the Prime Minister might actually be forced out of office by Conservative praise. "You want to bring the private sector into the NHS and liberate schools from state control? We will set up camp in your voting lobby! We will lead your errant sheep onto the paths of righteousness!" Conservative praise toxifies everything it touches. This isn't casual cynicism. This is the single most fundamental fact about the Tory party today. Sixty per cent of people approve Conservative policy until they are told it's Conservative - and then approval halves. Everything they touch sickens and dies. I mean that in a good way.

The sight of a Tory MP in a government lobby physically repels Labour MPs. It causes fist fights among them. Let no one deny the visceral revulsion felt by 75 crucial Labour MPs to the strangled vowels and public school presence of 75 old-school Tories.

George Osborne going into the government lobby would be like sticking a pig's head on a stick there and decorating it with hanged crows.

Gordon Brown recognised his own greatest incompetence (setting interest rates) and turned it into a strength. Let Tories recognise their own greatest failing and caress Tony Blair. Gordon Brown will be Prime Minister before Christmas.