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So our Tony wants to have a yack with Paddy about policies. Well, he certainly needs to chat to someone, but do they speak the same language? Tony's empty shtick pick'n'mix of the words agenda, community, sensible and forwards - has earned him the epithet "gobshite" in many quarters, while Paddy continues to utter homely words such as "poppycock" (from the Dutch pappekak, meaning soft shit), while staring into the middle distance like Lords Raglan and Cardigan at Balaclava, surely the only military debacle to be commemorated in knitting patterns.

After Neil Kinnock, a man who would beat his gums and run off at the mouth in a torrent of verbal diarrhoea as soon as give you the time of day, Tony seems like a man of few words, less of a bletherer and not so full of hot air, but a windbag in his own right, although the word is he can't spout all that agenda flim-flam and New Labour mumbo-jumbo without the help of cue cards. The spin doctors keep his tongue in check lest his tendency to guff and blah gets the better of the well-rehearsed talk-talk.

Paddy, on the other hand, has a weakness for rhetoric which leads him to talk claptrap through his hat, and when he hits his stride he can talk the hind leg off a donkey. Your basic Ashdown has two settings: bluster and drone, with a wittering-on option in the by-election model. Tongue-tied he ain't, not that he's a loudmouth, but then nor is he a smooth talker. Not one to spin you a line, he's more the kind of gasbag who will rabbit on about nothing and talk a good game, but whose palaver, when he's finished blabbing, is just so much eyewash.

Paddy's put the word out on Tony that if he wants to talk turkey he's happy to have a natter, but Tony has to cut the jive and tall talk if this gabfest is going to amount to anything. They could shoot the breeze and chew the fat for a while, but he won't be sweet-talked into any lip from a man notorious for talking out of the side of his mouth. The press will talk it up, of course, but although tongues will wag, until further notice mum's the word.

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