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Biting attacks on Brown

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I like autumn. I like the crisp start to a morning mellowing into a golden day.

I like the fat riches of the vegetable garden and the blackberry bushes. I like the bonfire smoke drifting across the shafts of sunlight. I like the whiff of nostalgia as the summer slips away.

But there is one thing I hate about autumn: harvest mites. For a month it is misery.

The mites invade my dogs’ paws and the dogs gnaw and bite the irritation until the flesh is raw. And it’s not only the dogs; I am bitten in places I did not know existed.

The bites are big and ugly and persistent and I can smother myself with vinegar until I smell like a fish and chip shop but it does no good.

I count the days to the first solid frost which will put paid to the nasty little beasts.

Harvest mites rather put me in mind of the Labour Party .

When the prime minister heard of the criticism of him by some backbenchers he probably had to enquire who they were. But, like harvest mites, the irritation they cause is vastly out of proportion to their size.

Gordon Brown can scratch and curse but it only inflames the bite.

I doubt if the mite attacks are co-ordinated. I don’t think there is a mite leader a mighty mite, so to speak but cumulatively they add up to sheer misery.

If mites were at one end of the scale of Labour Party woes, the other end was occupied by those dinosaurs straight out of Jurassic Park the blast-from-the-past trades union leaders like Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley.

It is as if New Labour had never happened, a sort of grotesque reprise of a Carry On film. Carry On Comrades, perhaps.

Wonderful, I thought to myself every time one of them opens his mouth another 10,000 votes go Tory.

I tried to persuade David Cameron to cancel the Conservative Party conference on the grounds that Labour was doing such a splendid job of self-destruct that it would be a pity to distract the media.

The party faithful are trying hard to tell themselves that there is a long hard road still ahead, that nothing is yet in the bag, that lots can happen between now and polling day.

I have known plenty of examples of people whistling to keep their spirits up, but it is a completely new phenomenon to watch an entire party doing its best to keep its spirits in check.

The blackberries are glistening on the branch, rich and juicy and plump: the party can hardly believe that such fruit is ready to fall.

Poor Nick Clegg seems to have an unfortunate relationship with the number 30. First it was his 30 odd conquests, then the£30 a week he thought constituted the state pension.

If he is not careful it will be the 30 or so Liberal Democrat MPs he will end up with after the general election.

With the Tories warning of the dire economic situation they expect to inherit and forecasts of government borrowing requirements soaring to£90bn or so, it is asking a lot of the public to buy into a promise of a£20bn cut in public spending, even enshrined in the epigrammatic wisdom of Vince Cable ( LGC, 18 September ).

Of course, MPs should not have been in Bournemouth, Manchester or Birmingham in the first place.

While these meditations were taking place it is worth remembering that Russia was challenging the strategic balance in Europe and that the world financial system was spinning on its axis.

We were all being told that these are momentous events but, it appears, not momentous enough for MPs to be summoned back to Westminster.

"What did you do about the global economic meltdown, Grandpa? I was collecting blackberries in my garden where I got eaten alive by harvest mites."

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