Cue embarrassing climb-down in 3, 2, 1…
Posted by That Other Mike on 30/04/2008
After a backbench rebellion not seen since the last time someone said something about Europe, Gordon Brown’s Premiership has taken another hit:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has admitted making “mistakes” in abolishing the 10p rate of income tax.
He told the BBC the government “didn’t cover as well as we should have” losses to low earners without children and pensioners aged 60 to 64.
But Mr Brown said he was “listening” and “learning” as prime minister and that problems were “being dealt with”.
The government announced last week it would compensate those affected by the change, amid pressure from Labour MPs.
Well, good. This change in the tax rate was an astonishing development: it was the first time that a nominally Labour PM had actually and explicitly changed the tax rates to the detriment of the lower income working public.
That the government plans to compensate these people (myself among them, if I’m honest) is a welcome change.
Aside from that, it points to the ongoing decline of the Labour administration. I blogged some time ago about how the end is, if not near, at least on the horizon for Labour; events like this, coming on the heels of the Northern Rock disaster and subsequent unpopular bail-out, serve only to accelerate the process.
And while the entire Labour government since 1997 cannot be called a failure per se, it certainly seems to be taking on an aura of failure and incompetence. Indeed, it seems increasingly difficult to point to anything about the Blair and Brown Premierships which might be looked on as a success by future generations; this may be unfair, but then again, politics often is. The public is not happy with the current government, for various reasons – the Iraq War, which has remained deeply unpopular with a skeptical public, the percieved excesses and uncontrollability of the Scottish Parliament without a corresponding English counterpart, the continuing failure of the NHS and so on.
In light of this, I think it’s becoming increasingly likely that the next election will see a government made up of the Conservative Party, and that their victory will be fairly decisive. Although not, I would imagine, to the same margin of it that Labour achieved in 1997. David Cameron has been posturing towards the middle for a while now, in an attempt to wipe away the stains of Michael Howard and Ian Duncan Smith, but it’s not really working, for a couple of reasons – for one, it’s been a decade since the last Tory government, and political memories run very deep in the UK. People will be wary of going over so wholesale to the Tories as they did for Labour in 1997, when an entire generation of voters who had known virtually nothing but Conservative rule for their entire lives revolted against it the first chance they got. The other reason is that all too many Conservatives are, well, conservative – they speak for a segment of the populace (and in truth, mostly a segment of the English populace) and don’t care overmuch to try to reach beyond that, which is in stark contrast to David Cameron’s Blairesque attempts to repackage the Tories in modern clothing.
In short, I think we’re starting to see the end. The Brown regime, still in its cradle, is starting to resemble the last days of the Major government, which were marked not by the injustices or near malevolence of the Thatcher years but by a kind of sheepish incompetence, obvious and avoidable disasters slowly chipping away at the Government’s credibility until it became a laughingstock.
Laughingstocks may float interesting ideas sometimes, but they don’t get to form governments. Just ask Screaming Lord Sutch.