Friday, March 30, 2007

Gaping liked a landed guppy

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

If there had been room I would also have had a go at the Labour backbenchers (Simon Carr calls them "bench-monkeys") who cheered Brown's tax cut and asked why no one would tell jokes about Hitler as lightly as we now tell jokes about Stalin. Presumably it is more acceptable to be a mass murderer if you are a socialist.

How to Budget

The old hands say the initial reaction to budgets is always wrong. A chancellor who is unpopular on the day will turn out to be right in the long run. A budget that goes down well at the time never looks so impressive in retrospect.

Gordon Brown's latest effort shows the truth of this. The headlines in the next day’s papers – at least in Rupert Murdoch’s papers – were favourable. In the chamber the gloss lasted for about 20 minutes, but that was enough to floor David Cameron.

Replying to the budget is the most difficult task the leader of the opposition faces. He has respond immediately without notice of the speech. William Hague used to be brilliant at it – much good that did him at the ballot box – but David Cameron was awful. Jokes about Stalin will only get you so far.

The gloss went off Brown's budget as soon as Ming Campbell rose to speak. As everyone knows, David Laws had spotted what the Tories missed: the cut in income tax was financed by scrapping the 10 per cent band, leaving many low earners worse off.

That Gordon Brown finds this acceptable tells us two important things about him. The first is that he wants to control people’s lives. His defenders say low earners will not lose out because they benefit from tax credits. But this emphasises the extent to which Brown is an old-fashioned socialist – taking money from the poor, then returning it to those of whom he approves.

The other Brown trait this budget displayed was that of he overgrown schoolboy. Not just the bitten nails, but also the way it put short-term cleverness over long-term strategy.

Yes, his tax cut left Cameron gaping liked a landed guppy. But he was really doing the Tories a favour.

For years any talk of tax cuts has been met with the argument that they mean cuts in services – children arriving barefoot at school without any breakfast and so on. Suddenly it is possible to talk about tax cuts again, and that will make the Tories’ life a lot easier.

Another interesting question is how the Lib Dems should react in this new climate, but I appear to have reached the bottom of the page.

1 comment:

dreamingspire said...

How come its already almost 18 hours later and nobody has picked you up on these comments? Ming was great, but does that bring any votes in the local elections? Saying things like "across the town/city overall less people are parking illegally" goes down badly when the problem is that once again my bus can't get through because some selfish sod has parked in the bus lane and those incompetent people in the Council can't stop it happening (my Cllr and I agree on how to do it, but his colleagues will not listen). Also saying that the LDs are doing things for the people is no good when they don't actually ask us what we really want, or let us question why they keep on wasting so much of our money on things we don't need and don't use (e.g. politically correct pedestrian crossings in the wrong place and dangerous). Indeed, how should the LDs react?