The Sun is at its best this morning. Not only does its front page attack Brown for his dismissive 12 second mention of the EU Treaty (and its own high voltage campaign for the referendum we were promised) but its Sun Says column exposes the hypocrisy of yesterday’s speech:
"In Bournemouth, he promised to abolish child poverty. Yet under Labour the gap between rich and poor has grown.
Mr Brown warned foreign drug dealers and gun-wielding thugs will be kicked out of Britain. But where to? Not to the EU or anywhere they might be in danger. The EU would probably send them back.
He vowed to give power to matrons to rid wards of hospital superbugs. But this is the third time of promising. Meanwhile, thousands have needlessly died because staff won’t wash their hands.
We are to have the most modern health care and access to doctors and hospitals of our choice. Yet after doubling NHS spending, Britain still has the worst survival rates for cancer and strokes in Europe.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me,” said Mr Brown in one of his frequent biblical quotations. Yet Britain is close to the bottom of the western world league table as a place for children to grow up."
In stark contrast, The Mail and Telegraph choose almost identical headlines… "Brown targets Tory heartlands" splashes The Telegraph and The Mail’s front page headline is: "Brown woos the Tory heartlands". Both highlight the fact that Brown used the words British and Britishness 71 times (The Telegraph’s count) and 81 times (The Mail’s count) as if this excuses a speech that will amount to a relentless expansion of state welfare. It’s true that both newspapers publish leading articles that are critical of Brown’s 63 minute performance but the news coverage is much more important. Why didn’t The Telegraph choose "Brown’s promises will raise taxes" as its headline? Why didn’t The Mail attack Brown for his not-too-coded attack on David Cameron’s support for two parent families?
Ten years ago – at the start of the Brown-Blair years – newspapers could have been forgiven for taking Brown’s promises at face value but it’s unforgivable now. Every Brown Budget contained sleights of hand. Labour’s failures on crime, immigration, Europe, inner city renewal and the environment could all have been heavily featured but that blue background seemed more interesting to these two once clear-headed newspapers.
A large part of their reluctance to attack Gordon Brown is probably rooted in their lack of enthusiasm for David Cameron. That is the Conservative leader’s main task in Blackpool next week. He has to enthuse the Conservative media and the Conservative base. He needs to show that there is a real alternative to Gordon Brown’s stealthy undoing of Thatcherism. Until the next election becomes a real choice I don’t think enough people will be more than half-hearted in their resistance to Gordon Brown.
2.15pm: Fraser Nelson blogs that Gordon Brown "spent ages at the Telegraph party".