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Byline: JASON BEATTIE, Political Editor

GEORGE Osborne is seen as a votelosing "liability" by the Tory election chief, it was claimed yesterday.

Strategist Lynton Crosby is said to have raised concerns about the performance of the Chancellor and Party Chairman Grant Shapps.

He fears they could cost the party votes at this week's local elections in England and Wales, it was reported.

The disclosure came as Minister Without Portfolio Ken Clarke admitted the economy was "bouncing along the bottom" and would take years to heal.

Ex-Chancellor Mr Clarke said the UK would only just "keep its head above water" for the next three years. His comments pile further pressure on Mr Osborne, who only just escaped dragging Britain into a triple-dip recession last week.

Aussie election guru Mr Crosby is reported to view Mr Shapps as "ineffective" and fears Mr Osborne's dire personal ratings are driving voters away.

But yesterday he denied criticising the pair, saying: "It is not true. They are doing a splendid job."

Labour accused the Chancellor of running scared after it emerged he will not have answered questions in the Commons for nine weeks.

The last time he appeared before MPs was at the Budget on March 20 and he will not take Treasury questions again until May 14.

Shadow Treasury Minister Catherine McKinnell said: "David Cameron seems determined to dodge Prime Minister's Questions whenever he can. It looks like Mr Osborne is avoiding scrutiny too. Those paying the price for this mismanagement of the economy deserve better."


ABSENT Z The Chancellor
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 29, 2013
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