Right in the run-up to the general elections, the political world has been hit by a storm that has shoved every other issue aside.
Forget public debt, unemployment, inner city poverty and the future of manufacturing. The issue that matters is another.
Following previous rows about the Prime Minister's favourite biscuits, as well as speculation over his use of anti-depressants, the state of his eye sight and his chewed fingernails, Gordon Brown has now been accused of using his breath to intimidate staff.
It all started when senior Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley, anxious to plug his new book The End of The Party, quoted a number of staff at No.10 Downing Street accusing the Prime Minister of making their life a misery with his pongy mouth.
This ignited a political battle over whether Gordon Brown suffers from halitosis or whether this is simply a Tory conspiracy aimed at discrediting the Prime Minister as recent opinion polls indicate Labour is making up some lost ground.
According to one of Rawnsley's sources: "the air in our Downing Street office is really unpleasant. Each time the PM opens his gob we recoil in horror. It's like being hit in the face by a rotten onion". "Needless to say", the source adds, "the whole thing's ruining our lives. We dread coming into work".
A senior adviser complained of getting "routinely shoved aside" by the Prime Minister's breath. "You get this stolid stench lingering on. It's just beastly. Something is rotting inside that man's guts", he noted.
According to a civil servant who's a regular visitor to No.10, Gordon Brown's breath is "rank". "There's something rectal about it", he added.
A junior aide who spoke on conditions of anonymity said: "What's most tragic is that the PM doesn't even want us to open the windows. He's got this obsession with draughts, but we end up being the victims, having to work surrounded by this constant, pungent stench. We're actually getting paranoid that our clothes are starting to reek of the Prime Minister's breath".
Richard Littlejohn added his bit in his Daily Mail column, calling the Prime Minister "a Scottish sociopath" and describing "volcanic, irrational outbursts of cock breath".
However, the row got out of hand when an executive at the National Halitosis Helpline disclosed that "at least three or four staff at No.10" had contacted the charity in distress. A Downing Street spokesperson slammed it as "an inexcusable breach of confidentiality".
Peter Mandelson stood up for the Prime Minister: "There's a difference", he said, "between a boss with halitosis and one with a temperamental mouth". "What comes out of his mouth may be demanding, but it's not halitosis", the Business Secretary noted, rejecting calls from the Conservatives that the Prime Minister should submit himself to an 'Halimeter Test', a clinical device which is very effective at determining levels of certain VSC-producing bacteria.
According to an editorial in today's Times, "Mr Brown should not be pilloried for crimes that he hasn't committed" and the Independent too stuck by the Prime Minister:
"Recent revelations certainly paint an unappealing picture of daily life in Downing Street. [...] Mr Brown stands accused of unbecoming breath, but not malicious, and certainly not criminal. Unpleasant though it may be, this is not what most people would consider to be halitosis".
Sarah Brown weighed into the row about her husband's breath insisting he doesn't suffer from halitosis. The Prime Minister's wife followed a string of senior Labour figures in defending him, saying "What you smell is what you get".
"I know him as a hard-working decent man and he isn't anything else". In what's been interpreted as a coded swipe at David Cameron, Mrs Brown added: "At least he doesn't conceal his real breath with chemical stuff like Airwaves or Fisherman's Friend. What you smell with my husband is what you get. It's all genuine and natural".
In the meantime bookmakers are taking bets on which issue will be raised next in an attempt to bring Brown's political career to an end. Stinky feet and sweaty balls are current favourites at 2/1.