Battle lines already being drawn ahead of election

Hambledon rose is just one of the wines at Hambledon Wine Festival

ALISTAIR GIBSON: Enjoy the ‘Glastonbury of wine festivals’ in Hambledon

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No need to cock an ear or flare a nostril – the sound and smell of the campaign trail is becoming too overwhelming to miss.

It may be three years before the next election, but you can already hear the distinctive murmur of dissembling politicians, accompanied by the familiar whiff of treachery.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have the problem of pretending to work together for the common good, while simultaneously positioning themselves for the hand-to-hand combat which will ensue between them in 2015. That’s why both sides make the most of any opportunity to emphasise their differences.

David Cameron’s loyalty to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (the political equivalent of being tied to a dead goat) provided Nick Clegg with a heaven-sent opportunity. He could hardly wait to order his MPs (they didn’t need to be asked twice) not to support Hunt in his battle to avoid a Commons’ sleaze inquiry over his Murdoch connections.

This was a double whammy for the Lib Dem leader, because it slightly reinforced his standing among his disaffected rank and file, while also making Cameron appear weak and hamstrung before the nation.

Meanwhile, George Osborne acknowledged the increasing depth of the pit into which the government has managed to excavate itself by resurrecting the prospect of a referendum on membership of the EU. You may remember that’s the same thing the Tories promised in the run-up to the last election – and then failed to deliver.

They have no intention of giving us the right to vote on our own future if they win the next election either – but now is the time for appropriate noises, not genuine commitment.

Theresa May made her contribution by issuing yet another threat against our flaccid judiciary. This time it concerns their reluctance to deport foreign criminals because of their human rights.

She has promised a vote in parliament intended to impress upon their lordships how parliament and the people ‘really feel’ about their reticence.

You must excuse me. I typed this last paragraph with one hand while using the other to stifle a yawn...