Official: Gordon Brown bottles it.
The News of the World poll showing the Tories with a six point lead in the marginals may have something to do with it.
Tee hee: Alex Salmond calls Brown a "big feartie". Also:
"Those whom the gods seek to destroy they first render ridiculous, and this shambles leaves Gordon Brown looking totally ridiculous.
"Labour are a shambles north of the Border, and shaky south of the Border."
UPDATE: Isaac Chotiner says I over-estimate the importance of this. Perhaps. It's true that when the election is held in 2009 this will be ancient history. But it does damage Brown and that will hurt him - and contribute to what I anticipate will be a spike in negative coverage not just this week but for months to come. Whatever. One thing is certain: Prime Minister's Questions this week should be a hoot.
MORE: Sky's Adam Bolton is not kind to Brown:
"I mean, this is the disaster that Team Brown have brought on themselves by their hubris of thinking that they can go for a general election and winning it, and then bottling it when they see the polls are not so good. I mean, it is, whatever else, it will call into question the judgement of Team Brown and also their sincerity when they talk about the national interest because of the political caclulation which they have clearly now been caught by the headlights."...
"At one level, this has been a political storm in a tea cup because at the end of it, Gordon Brown still has a healthy majority - he can still govern for 2 years or more - Britain is much the same today as it was 24 hours ago BUT if you're talking about trust in government, trust in the judgment of the people who are at the very top, there's no doubting it, they've shot themselves in the foot."
MORE STILL: The press is loving this. Every hack I've spoken to today is relishing the chance to give Brown a thoroughly deserved kicking. People are joking about a Free chicken for every reader. The bruises from this will last months and Brown's foolishness will not be forgotten. The Speccie boys are, quite properly, having a great time with this.