David Cameron and George Osborne run the risk of over egging the pudding in their attacks on government 'incompetence'. Earlier in the week we had George Osborne characterising Alastair Darling as a 'dead man walking' which produced predictable hilarity on the government benches.
Today, for some reason, David Cameron chose not to lead on Northern Rock at PMQs, leaving that to his stunt double, Nick Clegg. Instead he focused on what he called a 'catastrophic failure' in not taking action on some DNA data sent over by the Dutch police.
Apparently the disk laid unattended on the desk of an official who was on prolonged sick leave. Incompetent, yes; a management failure, yes. But a catastrophic failure? The crime rampage of these Dutch criminals appears to be limited to non-payment of fines and the odd case of assault.
Would such events not occur under a Conservative or even Liberal Democrat government? I doubt whether they would suddenly disappear. Their ministers would not have time to go round checking to see if middle rank officials were doing their job. Of course, I understand what Dave's aim is. He is trying to link up these discrete incidents and suggest that they amount to a culture of government incompetence. But success in terms of achieving this aim could be undermined by overstating it.
Dave was eventually provoked to ask a question on Northern Rock and the prime minister managed to get in a jibe about 'student politics' which was a riposte to Cameron's attempt to draw attention to the prime minister's 'advanced' age by congratulating him on his 57th birthday.
Brown's jibe probably struck home, because it does sometimes look as if Dave is trying to score debating points in Pop or the Oxford Union. Not to say that Gordon Brown isn't immune to the same thing. Indeed, this kind of partisan point scoring is what turns a lot of people off politics.