Gordon Brown grabbed a shock lead in the opinion polls today when he apologized for "serious errors" in his management of the British economy. Often shaken by sobs, a contrite Mr Brown told a packed meeting in Ditchwater that he had been a total halfwit to sell Britain's gold at the bottom of the market, and that he had made a complete dog's dinner of Britain's tax and benefit system. "Worst of all, I believed in bankers. I thought they were all masters of the universe. Even Sir Fred Goodwin. I let them wreck the economy - and then I paid them for it. I was such a fool."
Instant opinion polls suggested that the confessional speech had produced a dramatic turn-around in Mr Brown's personal ratings. A Mori/Bund survey showed him rise from minus 273 (absolute zero) to plus 22 (warm with sunny intervals) in the key voter demographic of cabmen in Huntingdonshire. The Here'sLookingAtYouGuv tracking poll showed Mr Brown, for the first time, as more popular than Ethelred the Unready. Mr Brown's party (trading under the name of Labour) moved into an 8 per cent lead in the latest poll of Poles.
Clearly shaken and stunned by Mr Brown's unexpected manoeuvre, David Cameron denounced his rival for "a cynical burst of honesty. It shows that Gordon Brown will do anything for power." In a hastily convened meeting at the historic Onion Market in Saddington, flanked by celebrity supporters Barry Cryer and Inspector Remorse, a tearful Mr Cameron said that he had made far more mistakes about the economy than Gordon Brown. He begged forgiveness for Black Wednesday, the Corn Laws and the South Sea Bubble, and in a carefully prepared dramatic departure from his set speech Mr Cameron fell on his knees and said "Never mind bankers, I believed in hedge funds. I was a moron."
A furious Nick Clegg joined the fray, claiming to have been wrong about everything for much longer than either of his rivals. "I even joined the wrong party, and nobody knows who I am. How useless is that?"
However, Mr Brown continued to bounce in the opinion polls. Veteran analyst Bob Wooster from the Jeeves Institute of Opinion Research and Tailoring commented: "voters today rally to politicians who say things they can believe in. Gordon Brown has actually been in charge of the economy for thirteen years and unlike his rivals, he can support his claims of naivety with real evidence of error and failure."