The indignity of Labour

After Douglas Alexander's puerile 'pig' jibe, David Cameron must be quaking in his hoodie - with laughter.

Douglas Alexander wears girl's knickers: that's the response I am tempted to give to his ridiculous speech yesterday in which he said David Cameron was like a pig wearing lipstick. Clearly, it's the kind of language Mr Alexander understands. Is this really the level of political invective to re-engage the electorate? Surely all it does is invite ridicule and contempt.

Over the last few months Labour has attacked David Cameron as a chameleon, a sleazy estate agent (thus alienating around 70,000 estate agents in one go) and now a pig. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose.

On the day the Guardian publishes a poll showing the Conservatives at their highest level for 13 years, diddy Duggie Alexander really believes that calling Cameron a pig in lipstick will knock dishy Dave off his perch.

To his credit, Cameron has not hit back at any of these pathetic attacks. He embraced the chameleon, ignored the estate agent jibe and must be laughing his socks off at the pig.

So why did Alexander frame his attack in this way? Simple: to get a headline. Well, he succeeded in doing that, but he made himself look ridiculous in the process. Douglas Alexander is supposed to be one of Gordon Brown's closest allies. He is also a cabinet minister. For a blogger or a junior backbench MP to make such an attack might be understandable, but for cabinet minister it demeans him and his office.

But Cameron also came under fire yesterday from a different source. Norman Tebbit has written a column in the Spectator criticising the Tory leader for ignoring his core vote. He says it's all very well to appeal to the chattering classes on Comment is free, but if Cameron ignores the foaming-at-the-mouth right he will live to regret it. Tebbit reckons Cameron is losing support in droves on the right and failing to replace it from the centre. This attack might have hit home a little better had it not been made on the day the Guardian published a poll showing the Conservatives at their highest level in the polls for 13 years.

I yield to no one in my admiration for Norman Tebbit, but like many of the scorched earthers in the Cornerstone group, he fails to understand that all political parties are coalitions, and that the trouble with the Conservatives over the last three elections is that the coalition has been too narrow. Instead of a big tent, the Conservative party has resembled a teepee. Cameron's challenge now is to transform the tent into a bloody great marquee.

Gordon Brown is rumoured to want to take the gloves off in dealing with David Cameron. but his allies reckon he is being thwarted by Downing Street. I have no idea what the truth is, but if calling Cameron a pig wearing lipstick is taking the gloves off, I'd love to see what Douglas Alexander does when he really swings his handbag at dawn. I bet David Cameron is quaking in his hoodie.

If Alexander wants to know how to attack the opposition, he should make an appointment to see Norman Tebbit (though Norman might bite his legs).