Leading article: Things can only get better

For Government ministers fearful of their future after the election, Tony Blair's return to the domestic fray yesterday must have been heartening. Not that even his most fervent admirers could believe that this master of the optimistic vision and the self-deprecating humour could turn the election single-handed.

But the old pro still has the capacity to attract attention. "How did he get that tan and the blond hair. Did he spray on both at the same time?" And "how does he keep in such good shape?" France has its Carla Bruni and the US its Michelle Obama. But they've got nothing on our Tone.

A word of caution before the excitement gets too great, however. Ex-premiers are best used in small doses, if at all. Even President Clinton's appearances had to be strictly rationed for fear that he would sully, or more likely outshine, Al Gore.

Smile and the whole world smiles with you, as Tony Blair might say. So why is Gordon Brown still sitting there hunched and scowling?