A senior Tory councillor has launched an astonishing attack on David Cameron's shadow cabinet, claiming they don't have the experience to 'run a **** up in a brewery'.
The outburst, by Stephen Greenhalgh, the Conservative leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, is hugely embarrassing for the Tory leader.
Mr Cameron made the council boss head of his council innovation unit, a body set up to devise a 'bible of best practice' for Tory town hall chiefs.
Mr Greenhalgh was also named 'local hero of the year' in 2008 by the Conservative Home website, which is seen as the voice of the party's grassroots.
But in a debate yesterday he claimed that the top team in Westminster does not have the experience to run the country.
He said : 'My mates are all in the Shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those [ministerial] boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university-with them - they haven't run a ****-up in a brewery. 'They're going to get a department of state, in one case running the finances of the nation.'
That was a pointed reference to Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, who is sometimes criticised by City insiders and Tory backbenchers for dividing his time between economics and coordinating the Tory election campaign.The town hall chief spoke out at a debate organised by Public Finance, the publication of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
He contrasted the UK with other countries such as the U.S. and France where politicians more often had experience of regional politics before taking national office.
'If you're going to fail, fail running Alabama, fail running Texas, fail running the city of Paris - don't just take over the country,' he added.
Labour MP Andrew Slaughter said: 'I've never found Councillor Greenhalgh's opinions convincing until now.
'David Cameron and George Osborne have elevated him to the status of a guru on local government and now we see his opinion of the people who David Cameron has surounded himself with.
'No doubt they will respect his opinions on this as well. You have to question whether they are ready for opposition, let along government.'
The Tories refused to comment but senior sources said that Mr Greenhalgh had been arguing not that the party could not run the proverbial brewery party, but that they 'had yet to do so'.