How low can you go?

Some former ministers have their uses.

Roy Hattersley sticks it to Michael Howard in the Guardian today.

Selected billboards have been employed to convince the public that the Conservative party is “thinking what you are thinking”. The most squalid Tory thought appears in the form of a question. “How would you feel if your daughter was attacked by a criminal let out of prison on early release?”

All decent parents would feel shock, horror and fury; But the chance of such a catastrophe is about as great as the likelihood of winning a prize from Camelot. Michael Howard would like the nation to believe that such horrors are commonplace. He wants to exploit the politics of fear.

If that seems about as low as a party leader can sink, examine the Conservatives’ website. The Tories want to make paedophilia a party issue. Tony Blair is accused of “failing to implement new measures to prevent child molesters from working with children after Ian Huntley was convicted of the Soham child murders”. The attempt to win votes on the back of such a terrible tragedy makes the other excursions into the gutter – abortion, Gypsies and immigration – seem almost respectable.