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Paper Monitor

11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"We can't go on like this."

Sound familiar? That's because the phrase the Tories have adopted as their electioneering slogan has been put to many and varied uses in the past, notes the Daily Telegraph. And not just by Margaret Thatcher, who deployed it regularly.

"The phrase appears in dozens of films including Withnail & I, the classic British comedy about penniless actors that came out in cinemas in 1986, when Mr Cameron was at Oxford University. In one of the scenes, the main character, played by Richard E Grant, declares: 'We've got to get some booze. It's the only solution to this intense cold. Something's got to be done. We can't go on like this. I'm a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum.'"

Make of this what you will.

cameron_poster5jan_getty.jpgMeanwhile, it's only been running two days, but Paper Monitor's new strand Premature Eleculation Monitor - to track when exactly the general election campaign begins - is keeping busy.

This is because HM Press is very fond of repeatedly spotting drawn battle lines, fired starting guns and opened salvos.

For the Daily Telegraph, Labour launched its election campaign on Monday. No, wait, read further into its front page story: "On what was the first day of the unofficial election campaign..." (Paper Monitor's italics).

There's nothing unofficial about it for the Sun, which devotes much of pages eight and nine to a cartoon of Brown, Cameron and Clegg in jogging clobber, sprinting across the starting line. One race official says to another: "They DO know it's a MARATHON, don't they?"

So how long a marathon are we talking? Political editor Tom Newton Dunn thinks he knows:

"IT was only day one of a 123-day General Election campaign. Staggering I know, but that's how long we've got to go if Gordon plumps for May 6, as everyone now expects."

The Times - the Sun's sister paper - begs to differ, predicting a polling date in April.

But enough crystal ball gazing. Times sketch writer Ann Treneman poses a far more intriguing question.

"I spent the rest of the launch trying to figure out if Big Dave had been Botoxed and if he'd added a shadow of a manly moustache to his upper lip. Later I actually measured one eye: it was almost a foot across."

So what's the answer - is this the unvarnished David Cameron? Treneman provides no hint as to an answer.

So who will ask? Why, the Daily Mail of course:
"A Tory official denied that Mr Cameron's photograph had undergone major airbrushing to enhance his appearance but conceded there may have been minor touching up."

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