Adding up to a campaign of maths mystery

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Where on earth is all the money coming from?

The Tories have promised an £8bn boost to the National Health Service by 2020, but have so far been less than specific as to where they will find the cash.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, was given a hard time about this by Andrew Marr on television, but beyond saying there would be more cuts elsewhere, he did not seem able to say where they would fall.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, was, if anything, even less specific when he appeared on television a few days earlier, yet both ministers appeared ultra-confident there would be no difficulty in achieving this aim. Osborne says blithely it is all balanced out, costed and will be properly funded.

It is, of course, hardly surprising, that politicians will not divulge what may well be hugely unpopular plans to be adopted after the election, whichever side wins. That is why Labour - and I cannot say I blame them - are even more sceptical than most about the practicality of what the Tories have on offer.

Meanwhile Labour, and even the Lib Dems, seem to be flashing their wallets around as if there is no tomorrow. They should remember - indeed everyone should remember - this is taxpayers’ money. There is no such thing as Government money. Perhaps the Tories would benefit by listening to - and acting on - the advice of Liam Fox, their former Defence Secretary. He said they should ditch the “dark, Dickensian language of austerity” and instead shout their values from the rooftops. He says that without all this doom and gloom, the Tories could and should be 10 points ahead in the polls. He could well be right.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, who has a very powerful back-up team, is proving a much tougher campaigner than many people had expected. He gives as good as he gets - and often better. He seems to be putting on a far more cheerful demeanour too, which appeals to voters. His main problem appears not to be with Ukip, as was once expected, but with the Scottish Nationalists. Even though he has ruled out any coalition with the SNP he has not specifically ruled out a vote-by-vote pact with them.

That could be enough to drop the Tories in the mire - and give rise to fears (or hopes, depending on your view) about the break-up of the UK. But we just have to wait to see what the arithmetic brings on May 7 rather than enter into the dangerous world of hypothesis.