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.
George Osborne called for direct flights between Manchester and China at a Beijing trade event today.
The Chancellor said the Manchester Airport City project, partly funded by a Chinese construction firm, will create 16,000 jobs and be the biggest UK construction project since the Olympics.
Chancellor George Osborne arrives in Beijing and has told ITV News that he will announce a series of business deals during his five day visit.
A Chinese firm will be part of consortium developing £800 million business park close to Manchester Airport.
Boris Johnson and George Osborne are in Beijing today - a joint visit - not the original plan now that limelight has to be shared. David Cameron has not visited China for three years.
Mr Johnson and Mr Osborne arrived after a spike in Chinese investment in UK - eg. Thames Water, Heathrow, Docklands, Weetabix.
The London Mayor has mischievously hinted at an interest in being Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson pointed out to the conference that one French politician had managed to hold the office while still being mayor of Bordeaux.
And the Prime Minister did not seem to mind the idea of Mr Johnson returning to Westminster, as ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports:
The Prime Minister appeared to have enjoyed the speech by Boris Johnson at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today.
David Cameron was photographed laughing heartily at gags made by the London mayor.
Mr Cameron told ITV News today he intends to serve a full second term if he is re-elected Prime Minister in 2015.
David Cameron said he would give London Mayor Boris Johnson "a warm welcome" if he decides to return to Parliament.
The Prime Minister told ITV News' deputy political editor Chris Ship: "I think he's got a huge contribution to make.
"Whenever Boris wants to, he'll get a warm welcome from me".
London Mayor Boris Johnson said a Labour Government "is the greatest barrier to competitiveness" in the UK.
However, when he asked what the greatest threat was during his conference speech, a silence fell over the hall.
As someone shouted out that it was visas he exclaimed, "Not visas! Much worse than visas. What is the greatest threat we face? Come on folks - pay attention!"
Eventually a delegate got the correct answer and was met with applause and cheers.
Boris Johnson reminded Tory conference delegates of his prediction that last year's London Olympics and Paralympics would spur a baby boom.
He told the Conservative Party conference: "I prophesied that the athletes had moved the people of this country to such paroxysms of excitement on the sofas of Britain that they had not only inspired a generation, but probably helped to create one as well."
"Like all my predictions and promises, I have delivered, in that GLA demographics say live births in London will be 136,942, which is more than in any year since 1966 when England won the World Cup."
London Mayor Boris Johnson highlighted celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's comments about the work ethic of British young people during his conference speech.
Mr Oliver praised European immigrants in August, saying they are much "tougher" workers than the "wet behind the ears" young Brits.
Mr Johnson asked delegates, "What if he has half a point? Or a quarter of a point?"
He said if that indeed was the case, "don't we need Iain Duncan Smith to get on reforming the welfare system and ensuring you're always better off in work than out of it?"
"And if it's to do with education ... then don't we need Michael Gove to get on with his heroic work of restoring rigour and realism to the classroom?"
Boris Johnson asked the Chancellor George Osborne "to look at the baleful effects of stamp duty" in London and elsewhere during his conference speech.
The Mayor of London told the Conservative Party conference: "It's called stamp duty for a reason, because it's stamping on the fingers of those who are trying to climb the property ladder.