Sorry to bother you at 6am - I'm the PM

IF the Prime Minister called you at six in the morning to discuss the wholesale price of fair trade bananas, you'd be unlikely to thank him for his concern over your household budget.

Graham Dines

IF the Prime Minister called you at six in the morning to discuss the wholesale price of fair trade bananas, you'd be unlikely to thank him for his concern over your household budget.

It emerges that Gordon Brown often cold calls voters to chat with them at home, but there are acceptable limits to such a strategy, and 6am does seem a weird time. It's like election canvassing during the Champions League soccer final - totally counterproductive.

The story emerged in the public relations industry's trade journal PR Week and presumably its sources are impeccable. But if it the story has been leaked to hit a man when he's down, it won't be the first example since Brown became Prime Minister last year.

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Labour spin doctors managed to plant a story in several newspapers - and I fell for it myself - that a group had been formed called Tory voters for Labour. I remember writing a piece as if such an organisation existed, which was said to be based on the successful Democrats for Ronald Reagan in 1984 set up by the Republicans.

Labour was trying to panic David Cameron and the Tory Party at a time when Brown was riding high in the polls and contemplating a General Election. And in the febrile atmosphere during the party conference season last year, it worked. But the boot is on the other foot now and the knives are out.

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MARY Whitehouse, the indefatigable campaigner for family values to be promoted by television rather than the BBC's pandering to what she saw as the open sewer of immorality and swearing being beamed into the nation's living rooms and thus corrupting teenagers, lived out her retirement at Ardleigh, just north of Colchester.

As a libertarian, I found Mrs Whitehouse's causes utterly ridiculous - what consenting adults do in private is up to them and television should reflect such society's behaviour, even if the detail is not shown.

But equally libertarians should respect the views of those who oppose them. Which is why the way Mrs Whitehouse was vilified by the trendy left was beyond the bounds of freedom of speech.

She may have been a damn nuisance, but that was her absolute right in a democracy.

TONIGHT, somewhere in the EADT'S circulation area, I shall be attending a Conservative Party dinner at which the main speaker will be Tory leader David Cameron. The location is restricted for security reasons.

Cameron will be justifiably upbeat - and he has every right to be after the successful Crewe & Nantwich by-election campaign and with his party enjoying a 24 point lead in the opinion polls. Downing Street is within his grasp - but that's what Neil Kinnock believed in 1992, and looked what happen to him.

There is, however, one major difference between the position John Major was in then and that facing Gordon Brown now. Major's popularity hit rock bottom after the 92 election, while Brown is struggling before an election.

If he had had Brown's poll ratings a year into his premiership, Major could never have pulled off his shock election victory. And with the smart money flowing into Tory coffers leaving Labour bereft of funds and facing technical bankruptcy, Brown is facing a battle to survive.

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