Regular readers will know that I'm not a member of the David Cameron Appreciation Society. And, in the words of the immortal Edmund Blackadder, I'd rather French kiss a skunk than vote Conservative. But let's give credit where credit's due. Dave's Budget reply speech today was one of the finest I've seen a leader of the opposition make. It was sharp, focused and at times, very, very funny (the put down to Ed Balls : 'just because you're Minister for Children doesn't mean you have act like one' was terrific, as was Dave's likening to Alistair Darling's dull-as-dishwaster speech to a man reading the telephone directory).
But as good as Dave's attack on the government's financial mismanagement was, it could have been even better. Imagine if, instead of being in the clutches of the neocons, the Conservatives had followed a truly conservative 'defence of the realm' foreign policy and opposed both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In today's Guardian, Leo Benedictus discusses how the government could have spent the money they have squandered on those wars in the past five years. They could have built 40 new hospitals. Or employed 45,454 extra nurses. Or doubled the winter fuel payment for OAPs in 2003. Or simply written out a cheque for £548.80 to each family in the country.
The sad fact is that when it comes to New Labour government's most criminal waste of taxpayers money, HM Opposition are unable- and unwilling- to utter a word of protest.
UPDATE: It seems that David Lindsay was not as impressed by Dave's Budget performance as I was.
Cameron was completely beyond parody, engaging in sick-making "all good public school Oxonians together" banter with Ed Balls, and delivering his whole speech in his trademark style and tone: that of a posh undergraduate who knows that he'll never need to work and who thinks that everyone else is an insolent new footman asking for the sack