Not on the same scale as "desolate", but the Tories might want to find some more positive "D" words to describe The North.
A politician once noted for his pointed interventions has been rather well-behaved of late. You'd almost think there had been a deal.
Boris Johnson and George Osborne head south today on their trade missions to China - the first after a chilly period in political relations.
Boris Johnson said British children should be taught the Chinese language Mandarin as standard in schools.
The Mayor of London, who is studying Mandarin himself, suggested Britons should be learning as much as possible about China as it continues to expand its global influence.
When he was asked whether children should learn Mandarin as standard in schools, he said, "Why not? Absolutely. My kids are learning it so why not? Definitely, definitely."
Johnson, who is just over halfway through a six-day trade mission in China, said he was leaning Mandarin "from the beginning," as he brandished a folder on which he had written "central kingdom", or "China", in the language.
Chancellor George Osborne joked that he and Boris Johnson are like "the yin and the yang" as they both continued their visit to China.
Asked about the timing of their trips which saw the Chancellor and London Mayor in China at the same time, Mr Johnson joked with Beijing students that they were like a "pair of harmonious doves".
The London Mayor was asked who was in charge and he replied: "We are representing our country. It's a nest of singing birds is how I would describe it. It's total harmony, there's probably some Chinese expression that completely perfectly culminates it."
The Chancellor intervened: "The yin and the yang."
Mr Johnson then turned to a Chinese student, asking: "The yin and the yang. What do you say for a harmonious, sounds like one of those Chinese fireworks, a harmonious dove or something like that? A pair of harmonious doves. What is that in Chinese?"
After she looked back blankly, Mr Osborne said: "I think she likes the yin and yang comparatively."
London Mayor Boris Johnson has praised the move to simplify and speed up visa applications for Chinese nationals as a "welcome step forward".
Mr Johnson, who is also on a trade visit to China, said he was pleased the Government had listened to him on simplifying the visa system for Chinese people.
He said: "I'm pleased that the Government has listened to the many voices, mine included, who have called repeatedly for a streamlining and simplification of the Chinese visa system.
"The move will hopefully encourage ever greater numbers of Chinese tourists to London. We should be doing everything we can to drive Chinese visitors to our capital."
The Mayor showed off one of London's "Boris bikes" in Beijing, joking about the cycle hire scheme being "communist".
Boris Johnson has previously joked about his desire to be the "lead singer of an international rock group", and today he got a chance to show off his skill on the drums.
He played alongside businessman Lord Sassoon, as he toured the Great British Brands festival at China's largest shopping mall.
The Mayor is in Beijing on a mission to drum up trade for London.
When asked if the Chinese would be involved in HS2, George Osborne said he hoped for more UK Chinese investment but that, "was for another day."
Chinese students are attracted to London because of its weather, its French restaurants, and its "beautiful communist bicycles", Boris Johnson joked as he kicked off a visit to China.
Fresh from a 9-hour overnight flight, the London Mayor began the six-day trade mission being mobbed by crowds in Beijing's trendy 798 art district before a speech where he launched the first official Chinese language website promoting London.
At the lively pop-up event in a former factory, now converted to gallery space, Mr Johnson joked about the "communist" Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and claimed London's "polychromatic" diverse nature meant foreign students picked studying in the capital over going to the United States.