The misery inflicted on the poorest 5.3 million
of our people is no laughing matter,
yet Brown still found something
to smirk about today as
he hung out the white flag

The indecent haste with which McStalin has caved in over the abolition of the ten per cent tax rate is unsurprising. As we have noted before, this is a man with a yellow streak up his back the width of the Forth Road Bridge. Others have noted it too, Frank Field and his colleagues amongst them. Chasing this Socialist behemoth, they have hamstrung him.

The very haste with which he has waved the white flag betokens acknowledgement that his general position is one of considerable weakness. Were it otherwise Brown would have taken this matter much closer to the wire. After all the linked reduction of the basic rate of income tax from 22% to 20% was presented as a major plank of the 2007 budget, a reduction that was supposed to be paid for by the abolition of the 10 % rate. McStalin’s inability to defend the integrity of the policy is, surely, a clear indication of how damaged he is and how weak his position has now become.

As Chamberlain discovered, having a working majority, even a large one, is no guarantee of political good health. In this instance McStalin has been elbowed off course by the sight of 46 Labour MPs led by the terrier-like Frank Field indicating that they would vote down the current Finance Bill next week. That is just 13% of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a genuine case of the tail wagging the dog.

It is not just the speed with which the white flag was run up the flagpole, but the disorderly manner in which the surrender came. As Benedict Brogan recounts in his blog, the Brown-Darling foot-soldiery was running round half-an-hour before Prime Minister’s Questions still trying to cobble together a policy (which, one should add, is no way to run the country’s finances), which suggests that the solution was as badly thought out as the problem. This must, surely, be marked as a seminal day in the life of McStalin’s regime, a day on which he turned and showed off his yellow streak in glorious technicolour to the world.

The problem with the solution is that it is not going to help anyone today, tomorrow or even next week. Many are going to have to fill out yet another complicated form in order to get the compensation which is now promised, a humiliating and demeaning exercise at the best of times and one which will, even though the deal is backdated to the beginning of the tax year, not help most of its intended beneficiaries for some months. These people will, for the time being, have to exist on a diminished pay packet where even a shortfall of a fiver will cause misery.

And 5.3 million is a lot of people to irritate in this way. Labour will find getting their support that much harder next time and a fair few of these may now want to vote Tory to show their disapproval.

Brown was supposed to be absolutely sound on the business of ‘ending poverty’, whatever that means. He has built and now stakes his reputation on that fact. Yet his reaction to this has been more that of a Lab Scientist fiddling about with his lab rats (those former beneficiaries of the 10% rate) and testing his theory of poverty suddenly discovering that his life’s work was based on obviously erroneous data.

His other problem is that the body of Labour resistants has widened and has tasted blood. They now know how weak he is and, having had a taste of it, will come back for more as they now know that they can, if they want, force Brown to their way of thinking.

It has taken this gutless and flawed Prime Minister just ten months to achieve the status of being a worse Prime Minister than even John Major, something which I never expected to write.

Frank Field: a man of principle
who has forced an unprincipled
Prime Minister to back down

Major was quite awful, though one never doubted his courage and his record of dishonesty was no worse than the average. His tenure as leader of our nation and of the conservative party was deeply damaging, the damage to our country persisting through the years of this government of which Major was the midwife. He was rightly an object of derision and his hypocrisy was rank.

McStalin has managed to plumb those depths and more in a much shorter time. He now looks like a doomed mammoth floundering along in the mud, pursued by packs of hunters ready to plunge a spear into his flanks.

A slow bleeding death beckons.

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