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Humiliation for the PM

Nick Robinson | 13:10 UK time, Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Westminster is still echoing to the sound of screeching political tyres. The prime minister has performed a spectacular U-turn.

No, he has not restored the 10p tax rate.

No, he is not individually compensating every loser.

No, not everyone will benefit from the changes announced today.

gordon_brown.jpgBut Gordon Brown had shouted down those who told him there were many, many losers from his last Budget as chancellor and those who told him he faced a real political crisis as a result.

Today he has admitted that they were right and been forced to promise backdated measures to help 60 to 65-year-olds, childless couples and the young who don't benefit from the full minimum wage.

So, yes, this is a U-turn forced by the threat of a Commons defeat.

This is a humiliation he will have hated.

However, before everyone starts to write the prime minister's obituary remember that the public care much less about U-turns than the political classes; voters care whether what's done is right or wrong, not whether it's different from what was promised before.

Gordon Brown looked freer at PMQs than I have ever seen him as he fiercely defended his anti-poverty credentials and attacked the Tories for their cheek in daring to take him on on this territory.

Tony Blair's U-turn to back a referendum on the EU constitution did him little damage. Gordon Brown's problem is that, unlike Blair, he does not have a reputation as a strong leader but as a ditherer who blinks in the face of defeat. In as much as this episode confirms that view, in voters' minds it will do him real harm.


  • Comment number 1.

    Bliar Blair, now BLINKING BROWN!

  • Comment number 2.

    I very much agree with your last paragraph; Brown has been rumbled - indeed New Labour has been rumbled - now that Blair's presentational magic no longer provides a smokescreen.

    Can't say that I thought Brown look 'freer' at PMQs. He was spluttering and incoherent - reminded me of John Prescott on a bad day.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think Nick's observation about voters not caring about u turns is exactly right; normal people don't care whether or not a government changes its mind, as far as normal people go there's no political loss associated with changing one's mind about something. Normal people care about whether a given change is right or wrong and the motives/reasoning behind it.

    If a government stands up and says "we made an honest mistake, were sorry, and we've now corrected it" then the voters would be fine with that.

    Trouble is that they still don't admit a mistake was made (ie that GB was incompetent when chancellor), and their correction is a total mess that won't help anyone in the real word.

    Nick and the political elite might think that a crisis has been averted, but as far as I can see, as a normal voter, the crisis is worse than ever because the government still won't correct the root cause of the problem by simply reversing the change or by increasing the tax allowances.

    Tax credits and other credits/benefits are no help to most people in this situation; people would rather simply not have their money taken away in the first place.

    GB still doesn't understand that, and he never will; he's finished as far as the voters are concerned, as is his party for allowing him to spend 10 years wrecking the economy and lying to people about what's happening in the real world.

    I'm self employed so tax credit is impossible because I never know how much I'll be earning; national insurance has also rocketed which nobody seems to mention at the bbc. Official Inflation is based on a totally meaningless set of statistics and is really just a lie. "Low" interest rates is not the case. The deficit is mind-blowingly large. The whole tax system has been massively overblown. All the money has been splurged without any sort of checks/balances. How much longer do we have to have this government in place? 10 years already; I've had enough.
    One thing I don't understand is why it's taken 10 years for the media to understand just how totally incompetent Gordon Brown is; where were you guys when he started to destroy the economy 10 years ago and when he tried to defraud the tax payer by using spurious credits that nobody claims? You were frighteningly silent.

  • Comment number 4.

    Maybe a spectacular U turn to Daily Mail readers but to those who perhaps endever to look a little closer into it, the normal checks and balances of our political system working correctly? Well done to the PM for listening to public outcry!

  • Comment number 5.

    Watch this space. How is the U turn to be paid for. Watch out for more stealth on bad news days.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr Brown has bottled it,as a leader sometimes you have to carry through decisions that you think are in the best interests of everybody.
    this will not stop a big labour getting well beaten at the local elections.
    this country is in limbo at the moment where strong leadership is required and Mr Brown is not strong enough as you have said
    I think there will a leadership contest
    as so many labour MPs see themselves
    out of job in 2009

  • Comment number 7.

    This 'U' turn will not change my opinion of Gordon Brown. He remains a calculating, dishonest, sanctimonious, arrogant bully in my considered opinion. But above all of this he is a craven and cowardly individual. Witness his failure to call an election in the Autumn, the vicious destruction of every possible contender for the leadership of his party, the wicked dishonesty of not allowing a referendum on the EU constitution (a contemptinble breach of promise), confining our troops to base in Basra while the reputation of our brave armed forces sinks ever lower, complete denial of the Mid-Lothian question etc etc. The list is endless and a full testimony to this hateful, spiteful and utterly self-interested man. Where is Saint George when we need him?

  • Comment number 8.

    This is indeed a U-turn but not necessarily in the way the Prime Minister's critics and opponents may claim or wish. The Prime Minister was correct to suggest that people are generally better off under a Labour government over the period. Removal of the 10% tax rate was always going to be difficult but by calling for substantive anti-poverty measures or seeking to make political hay the Prime Minister's core leadership has actually been strengthened, repurposed, and energised.

    I would agree that the Prime Minister would've felt frustrated that people didn't share his understanding of the budget and will hate the appearance of a concession but the Prime Minister is a man who appreciates the bigger picture, consensus, and the long-view. By developing this small, practical, and socially connected measure he may well have planted the seed of an emerging narrative that reshapes the political map of Britain. In defeat, he is victorious.

    One of the key moments in Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's rule was creating the Samurai who stood between the people and feudal lords. The modern day equivalent is regulation, and by firming regulators the Prime Minister may help enrich the poor and curtail modern pirates of industry. I speculate a review will greatly strengthen regulation of low pay and bring excess to heel. Not doing so is electoral suicide, so his enemies defeat themselves.

    One would almost think Blessed Leader planned this all along...

  • Comment number 9.

    Brown may not have a reputation as a strong leader, but he does have a reputation as a strong tax scoundrel. Any MP that believes that Gordon and his little darling will keep that promise of jam tomorrow needs clinical help. Even labour MPs know their man is simply not to be trusted (vide constitutional referendum) and so if they let this pass then they they are scoundrels too.

    Actually, edit out that conditional.

  • Comment number 10.

    Frank Feild and his mates have got Gordon whenever they want him. All new policy now needs to be approved by them and the conservatives.

    This is a rediculous situation. A general election should be called immediately. Failing this the Labour party need to replace Brown.

    Frank Feild for PM anyone? Please not Ed Balls.

  • Comment number 11.

    So rather than just admit he was wrong, accept it and undo the change. Brown's default response is to introduce yet another layer of expensive and pointless bureaucracy to enhance his aims of creating a society dependent on the benevolence of the state.

    This is a blatant and, frankly, disgusting form of social engineering. Why did he not choose the option recommended by experts (Institute for Fiscal Studies) to raise the taxable threshold? This would remove the problem completely and have the advantage of encouraging people to support themselves. The second advantage is that, by simplifying the process, we can start to dismantle and reduce some of the government departments that are swallowing over 50% of my income!

    NuLab (who I supported in '97 and I'm ashamed to admit 2000) has finally shown that they have no interest whatsoever in the wellbeing of the populace. Their only concern is staying in power at any cost. Well, roll on the election is all I can say.

  • Comment number 12.

    It's just more of the "meddle and muddle" approach that is the hallmark of the Laurel and Hardy style government - with Gordon as Olly and Alistair Darling as Stan !

    Another fine mess you've gotten us into.....

  • Comment number 13.

    I am retired, 62 years of age and living in Spain. None of the measures outlined by the Chancellor will enable me to reclaim my losses due to the abolition of the 10% tax band. Will the Labour Party include persons living outside the U.K. when calculating those peolple who are losing out due to this change. I will not be holding my breath for a positive response.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm surprised you were impressed with Gordon Brown's performance in PMQ today, Nick. I thought it was pathetic! The way he kept quoting statistics reminded me of the line, 'lies, damn lies, and statistics'.

    His political style is very old fashioned; "With Labour you get X, with the Tories, you get the awful Y", repeated so much I had to turn the sound off (maybe I missed something then).

    David Cameron gave him a good kicking and I almost felt sorry for Brown. It must have been humiliating to have been addressed in that way - and I don't recall Blair being shown the same degree of contempt.

    With Blair, you either loved or hated him. Brown doesn't excite as much passion either way - more extreme irritation when he gets it wrong, as seems to happen more often than not, and boredom other times. He's coming close to being seen as another Neil Kinnock - a windbag when he's speaking and someone who never won power in his own right. Sorry Gordon.

  • Comment number 15.

    It’s the high degree of arrogance combined with such a poor level judgement that makes this PM so unappealing.

    Has any one warned Cherie Blair of the risks of fatal hilarity?

  • Comment number 16.

    Policy! Vision! Strategy!

    The government’s chaotic antics reveal that they are just sitting there winging day by day, hour by hour, issue by issue.

    They are completely amoral. The wizards of Oz will pull any lever, say anything if it keeps them in power.

  • Comment number 17.

    why do those who currently receive the most in terms of state hand outs, get "compensation" when they have to pay more tax on the money they are given? Are the rest of us entitled to compensation due to the increased taxation brought about by changes to National Insurance under this Government?
    In any change, there are always winners and loosers

  • Comment number 18.

    From reading around various newspaper readers comments and blogs, I would say that the voters minds are fairly well made up. Brown and his clan are gonners.

    Many see what they have done as irreparable damage to this country and the longer they stay in power then the more damage will be done.

    The fairest thing that could be done is to call for an election.

    Gord's inability to do anything right since succeeding in the coup that brought him to power is waring the country down.

  • Comment number 19.

    I appreciate that this is type of reversal is a rare event, but it is still not enough.

    I'm single, childless, and on a low salary (circa £15.5K). I will still be affected by this cut.

    I'm also a civil servant, so not only do I get affected by the tax change, I also get hit with below inflation pay rises, year-on-year.

    I'm a homeowner, so I have anxieties about that.

    I have a small amount of personal debt, that I am in control of, but I have had to take a mortgage holiday to be able to say that.

    I'm a displaced flood victim (one year anniversary very soon) with no idea when I will return to my home.

    Please Nick, ask Mr Brown to justify himself to me?

    I'm a 'normal' young Brit. I typically vote Labour. I bought into the New Labour dream by getting myself onto the property ladder at 21, I even do their paperwork for them (in an uncertain environment).

    How can Mr Brown justify this decision, especially in light of the BILLIONS in tax revenue that is lost to this country each year through the super rich and their tax avoidance methods?

    I was sure when he was given the job that he would be a left-leaning leader. I didn't expect Tony Benn, but I expected a more leftist approach than Mr Blair. Sadly, this hasn't been the case. Gordon, if you can't remain true to your beliefs, why should I, and the millions more who elected your party to power, stay true to you?

  • Comment number 20.

    This is the final nail in the coffin for Gordon Brown. Both Blair and Thatcher made unpopular decisions, but they at least stuck to them, even if it meant serious political damage. Gordon Brown is panicking. There must have been behind the scenes talks which told him basically to sort out the problem or face defeat.

    The UK needs a change in Government, much as it did after the Tories were in power for so long. But the problems are different and greater, and you cannot have Prime Minister who is more interested in saving is own skin rather than helping the UK.

  • Comment number 21.

    My husband and I both on pensions and aged 61 and 63 have lost £232 each

    Our joint income is less than £20000
    Is he really going to increase the winter fuel allowance by £464 to compensate us?

    What a ridiculous state of affairs this removal of the 10% band has caused

    We would rather pay less tax to start with

    But what is really worrying is that they didnt see what problems it would cause

    How removed from reality are these people with their high incomes and expenses paid for by the rest of us?

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't think Blair was a particularly strong or principled leader but he was very in tune with public opinion. He positioned himself in line with the majority opinion. This meant he could rarely be damaged by a U-turn as his position was always being moved.

    Brown's problem is that he is a convinction politician and models himself as a strong leader. He believed totally in his budget and was determined to stand by it. So the fact he has had to backtrack it extremely damaging to his authority. It also leaves him open to further revolts by twitchy backbenchers.

    Big Question now is how long after May 1 will Alisdair Darling fall on his sword?

  • Comment number 23.

    The real issue is what kind of an incompetent Chancellor was GB who didn't understand the consequences of his abolishing the 10p band. Hardly fit to be PM!

  • Comment number 24.

    Ali Hanson’s view:

    What did you think of todays game Ali?

    Well the defence was woeful. They were at 6’s and 7’s all over the place.

    Who was marking the speaker?

    The reds need to start looking for a new striker and a new defence.

    I’ve never seen so many own goals.

    The blues have an untried striker up front who may not be up to the pitch!

    In previous seasons we’ve also seen very bad defence from the blues and other clubs.

    There’s plenty of very nervous faces on all benches at the moment!

    Tom Fullery

  • Comment number 25.

    Really Nick, you do occasionally talk absolute nonsense. The public don't care about U turns? I fundamentally disagree, the more they see of this Government making silly mistakes over tax rates, inheritance tax, non doms taxation, Northern Rock and the like, the more they will loose confidence in Brown's ability to manage the Country.

    Additionally, you thought he looked freer than previously; he looked to me like a man who is becoming used to dealing with cock ups, refusing to accept responsibilty for mistakes and cynically trying to blame someone else.

    This episode will have caused irreparable damage, as no doubt we'll find out on May 1st.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice to see the media and political "elites" (I'll try to choke back the laughter) have finally caught up with what us young, childless workers have been saying since last years budget.

    But I guess there have been far more important stories than taxing a sizeable chunk of th population into poverty.

  • Comment number 27.

    So Gordon is planning another November general election.

    Over tax the lowest paid workers for six months then give them a refund a couple of months before calling the election.

    He knows what he is doing but it still stinks !

  • Comment number 28.

    Even with the new changes it seems that my wife and I will STILL be worse off. Married couple, household income over 30k, no children - so no tax credits for us.
    There will be many people who get their first pay packet of the new tax year, and they are going to be worse off for many months. Let just hope they hit Labour where it hurts: the ballot box this May.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick Robinson betrays his Tory past and sympathies when he uses words like "humiliation" to describe a Labour prime minister. A BBC correspondent should adhere to factual references - I should know, I was one for 10 years - but words like "humiliation" are emotive. Robinson may be an editor but in BBC terms he takes this the licence this affords him too far. It is true that a Labour government has got itself into political trouble with the abolition of the 10p tax rate but I have yet to hear, even from George Osborne, quite what the Conservatives would do about this if they came into government. Perhaps Robinson could ask him or at least dig out Tory thoughts on this issue and reflect them (critically?) in his reports. Jack Thompson London

  • Comment number 30.

    I don't agree with you at all, Nick.

    Gordon Brown is a man who has apologised to the Country a number of times and appears to be a Prime Minister who listens.

    What I want is a Prime Minister who leads the Country just as his Party wishes him too.

    I'm particularly pleased with this outcome and I'm very pleased with my own MP's view of events.

    Happy St Georges day. Democracy is alive and well.


  • Comment number 31.

    Tax Credits , an idea 'borrowed' from Bill Clinton, has never worked as intended in England.

    Primarily because it was layered onto a PAYE system that was already simply not accurate enough.

    Economists, financial journalists and lower paid workers have all lined up to complain about the Tax Credits system.

    Many lower paid people simply will not claim it for fear of becoming entangled in the nightmare world of HMRC.

    So, why is the Tax Credit system there?

    I think it is because although it does not make any sense to any of the stakeholders mentioned above, it makes perfect sense to politicians.

    For politicians, the Tax Credits system allows them to exert control over the supposedly grateful recipients and usefully soaks up more folks in the bureaucracy.

    There you have it.

  • Comment number 32.

    Perhaps a song would help lighten the mood a bit. How about (to the tune of "Do they know its Xmas")

    “Do they know its Prudence”

    By (10% Tax) Band Aid

    It’s budget time but there’s no need to be afraid,
    The lowest tax band, it’s now gone for lower paid,
    For Northern Rock there’s plenty, we’re told everything is fine,
    So dig deep into your pockets for Prudence Time !

    And God say a prayer, for people kicked when they are down,
    At Prudence time, it’s harder now thanks to Gordon Brown,
    The backbenchers are rebelling, cos’ they’re worried about their seats,
    They could all be looking for new jobs after the next election defeat,

    But they can’t rewrite the budget, so they’ve promised a review,
    And it won’t affect MPs as much as you,
    So there won’t be extra cash for you this Prudence time,
    The greatest gift would be for the whole lot to resign,
    Our living standards fall,
    Thanks to Darling and Ed Balls,
    Do they know it’s Prudence time at all ?

    Tax the world, let them know it’s Prudence time,
    Tax the world, let them know it’s Prudence time.

    New Labour say it’s a misconception,
    So vote them out at the next election
    Do they know it’s Prudence time at all ?

  • Comment number 33.

    Charles Hardwidge 12:39
    The delusional blog, Brown is finished Labour is finished. He just keeps stiking his fingers in his ears and repeats the mantra I have done more for poverty, possibly in Africa. Why do I have to pay tax only to claim it back. I have earnt the money I should keep what is mine and pay taxes not to then have to go cap in hand to these clowns only for them to try not to give it to me. There are few things worse than Socialism I can only think of Nazism and Communism. All three practice social engineering at the expense of the country that adopts them. Raise tax allowances to 12k and have them transferable between married couples with Children until the child is of school age. Then I could use my money to buy food and clothes for my daughter without having to beg the government for my money back.

    Any one who thinks Brown is a Strong leader probably thinks the greatest Man in History was Stalin. Browns Hero Methinks.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'd say it's to Brown's credit that he acknowledged popular dissent, though I'd like to see how he finesses this one.
    To those who say he screwed up the economy; look again. We have had the strongest economy in the EU for the past decade-odd. some screw up, and they can hardly be blamed for the credit crunch either

  • Comment number 35.

    If Nick Robinson thought he looked freer than normal either he was not looking at the same piece of action I was or he needs to rub the red rose tint off his specs. Free of any coherent argument, noticeable footwork or finesse certainly.

  • Comment number 36.

    What ever happened to that nice Mr Blair?

    Right Right Wing (Mrs)

  • Comment number 37.

    Suggesting that Gordon Brown looked freer than you have ever seen him at PMQs is damning with faint praise at best and completely untrue at worst.

    Gordon Brown's default setting is to resort to boasting about an economy on which there is daily deteriorating news. They can't free up the mortgage market and they can't free up the interbank market and the housing market is tipping over. What's his answer? Boasting and control.

    "You can't buck the market" as Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont found to their cost. What is it about the occupancy of number 11 that gives its occupants supreme being status? Apparently, having control of the purse strings gives you a feeling of omnipotence which you cannot translate into reality.

    Poor old Gordon, he fell for the same indulgence and thought he could bring an end to boom and bust. If he hadn't boasted and gloated about it for so long we might feel sorry for him but his true colours now emerge; he's a talentless control freak and an unreconstructed socialist tax and spend merchant who has given an unforgiveable kicking to his own supporters.

    If they have any sense they will give him a kicking back. They will recognise this shocking gesture politics for the charade that it is and cry him down. They will reward his gleeful boasting with a kicking at the local elections. They will do all in their power to run him out of office for the incompetent ditherer that he is.

    Above all, Gordon will go down in history as the biggest disappointment and fake to ever claim the throne.

    There is no more support for these disasterous policies of equality for which read lowest common denominator. Some people have to clean hospitals and if we don't respect them for their hard work but instead chivvy them into going to university we will have ourselves to blame for the disintegration of society.

    The next five years will see a disasterous unwinding of Brown's unfunded credit boom. Whomsoever came up with the idea that debt did not have to be repaid? We are in a terrible position and the currency reflects this as every holiday maker will discover this summer.

    Brown ha stolen our pensions, sold all our gold, mortgaged the country to the hilt, ruined the work ethic in the public sector, funded and egregious client state he can no longer afford, busted a bank, lost all our data, failed to turn up to sign Treaties, and rolls out the same tired performance at every PMQs because he has no answers to any of the questions.

    The similarities between the fall of the old socialist republics of Eastern Europe in 1990 and the UK Brown Economic miracle are obvious; delusional supporters playing King Canute with a rising tide of public and private sector debt and militant trade unions.

    Good luck Mr Brown; you'll need it when trying to collect your pension.

  • Comment number 38.

    They say the Prime Minister is a decent fellow when in private meeting but the problem is that he lives in a time warp and we will only ever see him on TV.
    He is the architypal socialist that thrives on state tinkering almost obsessively and redistribution when none is needed.
    His sole target was to be PM and now having gopt there he does not know what to do.
    He can't undo what Blair did because he was co writer of that sad script so he seeks to be the grandee by taking the moral high ground. The problem with such an approach is that until the dirt is removed form Parliament he will have as much effect with the high ground as John Major did.
    He decimated the opposition to stand alone for the candidacy of PM and now he is flucking it daily.
    His best and most honourable debt to society certainly teh best gift from Labour to the British people would be to resign, call an election and let a fresh mandated party become the government of day.
    Brown in his defense hasn't killed labour, Blair did that with Brown playing second fiddlein the dark.
    Now Brown needs to return to the dark and stay there permanently and gove us all a huge break.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't know why everyone is so surprised at Brown's latest performance. This is just more of the same old stuff that he has made us suffer for the last 10 years. Every time he brings in a contentious tax measure, such as the nil rate Corporation tax band. He initially refuses to listen to any advice or comment that it might be unwise or wrong. He then goes into resistance mode where he insists it was the right idea and tinkers with it by adding yet more and more complexity. Then he finally goes into " I was right all the Time, but I have changed my mind" mode and cancels the whole mess.

    Having dealt with his horrible tax legislation for the last 10 years I cannot wait for him to finally go away and let someone with half a brain run it properly and remove the political nonsense.

  • Comment number 40.

    Low-paid people are not a separate species requiring benefits and credits.
    Low-paid people, and I especially sympathise with the self-employed contributor, have earned their income in a similar fashion to those earning over £20 k pa. The low-paid are asking for fairness. This could so easily be accomplished by retaining the 10p tax rate. Not all low-income people qualify for tax credits. Consider the plight of a middle-aged worker earning £12k pa with a few pounds he's managed to save in the bank. I do hope means testing is not Mr. Brown's next excuse to deprive 5 million of the population of the compensation he is talking about.

  • Comment number 41.

    Actually if you read the letter carefully, you will see that the Government promises - sweet FA.

    The letter only offers to backdate the POSSIBILITY of increasing the Winter Fuel Allowance for pensioners aged 60-64 to the beginning of this tax year. This is the ONLY "concession" where the backdated offer is mentioned. (In fact the letter goes on to say - For other low paid .....potential changes)

    The only other concessions is that they Government will look at the situation.

    The last paragraph suggests increasing the minimum wage - this would a) increase revenue and b) make employers fund the tax grab.

  • Comment number 42.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    That is all.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick Robinson and his biased reporting again. This man really does belong on ITN.
    He comes on as a political commentator and gives his personal views. The world is more complicated than this and the viewing public deserve someone more intelligent.
    By the way that question you tossed at the Prime Minister when he was standing next to Bush was a disgrace. A fair question maybe, but please have some decorum when our Prime Minister is standing on the world stage.

  • Comment number 44.

    I feel sorry for the people affected by this backdated compensation.

    It seems that the government is launching a deeply flawed taxation change on the promise that it will resolve the flaws at a later date.

    In the meantime the affected people will have to live for a year on reduced incomes and then they will probably enter a hellhole of bureaucracy to get the compensation paid back (I'm willing to bet that the compensation process will not be implemented smoothly)!

  • Comment number 45.

    I will have to refrain from raucous laughter but we are really living in times of a mortally wounded PM and there is no way I can see him recovering now. Poor old Gordon, wait all your life to do a job, then realise you are not capable of doing it AND to make things worse get bitten on the behind by your own announcements.

    If it wasn't so sad that we have potentially another 2 years of this farce it would be hilarious

  • Comment number 46.

    Politically, the abolition of the 10p rate has been incredibly unpopular as it's easy to point out plus it suggests incorrectly that lower paid people will now be paying double the amount of tax. But people forget very quickly the other side of the equation e.g. minimum wage, winter fuel payments which the Conservatives never would have introduced. After all, they are the party who brought us the poll tax! Interesting also to see that Cameron uses the word 'dither' every second sentence to describe GB - could be he's more worried than he makes out that Gordon is much more substantial than he is: take away the many and obvious soundbites and what does Cameron stand for? Answers on a very small postcard...

  • Comment number 47.

    Not impressed. As always with Brown, tell everyone you will solve the problem and postpone any solution for months. He has already created a fiendishly complicated, taxation and benefit system, with the express intention of making a large proportion of the population beholden to the state. The solution to this problem will doubtless be more of the same. It would make more sense, and certainly be more efficient, to use tax allowances to allow us all keep more of what we earn.

  • Comment number 48.

    "the public care much less about U-turns than the political classes; voters care whether what's done is right or wrong, not whether it's different from what was promised before"

    that may be true as long as the u-turns are not too frequent: but if it happens too often the public too can recognise the stench of weakness and hypocrisy.

    Smell that? That's Gordon Brown, that is...

  • Comment number 49.

    I heard that Gordon Brown's Jag has been fitted 7 gears.

    1 forward gear and 6 for reverse

  • Comment number 50.

    All this has confirmed my belief that MP's lack any principles whatsoever - if the rebels back down as they say they will after this fudge the only interest they have is in keeping their jobs and not jeopardising their futures.
    They have no interest in the well being of the public or this country just their own positions.
    The situation of neither my husband, as a pensioner over the age of 65 nor myself as a part time employee will have changed and we will be far worse off as a result of the abolition of the 10p tax rate.
    A ten year track record of being worse off, first by Blair now by Brown. It is long past the time they were ousted, but who else is there to vote for eh?
    A total lack of choice exists.

  • Comment number 51.

    A budget usually results in 'winners' and 'losers' who normally complain about their own situation. This time the complaints are deafening from those sanctimonious souls who are bleating on behalf of those who are poorer than themselves.
    One year when the poorest have not suffered abnormally coinciding with a dip in house prices and you all come out blaming a dithering PM. Pity Tony didn't blither back in 2003 over Iraq.

  • Comment number 52.

    The BBC are repeatedly stating that the Government have agreed to "compensate those who have suffered from the abolition of the 10% tax rate". On first examination of the proposals so far, this does not appear to include everyone. For example the use of the Winter Fuel Allowance only seems to apply to those aged 60 and above, not to anyone who has retired before the age of 60. So presumably only those who currently claim the allowance will receive the additional payments. Also, the Chancellor's letter contains the following statement regarding the use of the tax credit system. "our focus is on potential changes to the tax credits system to allow the average losses from the removal of the 10p starting rate of income tax to be offset. " What does "average losses" mean? In any case, even if everyone is compensated, it will only leave the low paid no worse off, when those on higher earnings have actually received significant tax cuts. I think everyone has been duped again.
    It beggars belief that Gordon Brown didn't know the full effects of these changes at the time of the 2007 budget. After all, he had the resources of The Treasury at his disposal to work out the effects.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nick can we have a bit less of what you think the Population of the UK will think. It's bad enough with Politians and campaigners trying to tell us what we think without the media doing it. Stick to reporting the news and less of the unsubstantiated views!

  • Comment number 54.

    According to tonight's Newsnight, it is now only female pensioners aged 60-65 who will benefit from the Winter Fuel Allowance measure and Yvette Cooper wouldn't commit on any back dating on anything else. It's becoming apparent that this was another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Labour MPs which seems to have worked. Frank Field withdrew his motion far too early and has gone done in my estimation.

  • Comment number 55.

    Here afre some strategies for Gordon Brown since he seems to have lost his way.

    1 Government for ALL of the people and not as he keeps droning on about for child poverty and the poor.

    They are important, very important, but the majority of the population are neither and we have to live in this country too.

    We give to child charities by direct debit every month - its a better investment than letting the government do it for us.

    2 Sort out the UK first then worry about foreign affairs

    3 And cynically, only English born politicians to govern England. Black, white, any other race or creed provided they were born in England. NO Scots please!!! They are all I hear on the radio and I'm fed up with listening to people who do not live by the same rules as we English telling us what is good for us.

  • Comment number 56.

    Mr. Brown's answers to Cameron yesterday summed up his whole character.He attacked Cameron for, firstly not backing the 10p tax rate, then for abstaining and then for wanting it back.By withdrawing the 10p rate Brown has confirmed that it was a mistake so in reality there was no difference between the two,Brown and Cameron. The only difference between them was that once Brown decided to remove it knowing what the consequences would be any MP more concerned for the electorate than themselves should have objected to that action but most of the labour members chose to keep quiet.

  • Comment number 57.

    mikepko, yes, I sincerely hope that the English are turning.

    It is salutory for us English, when we realise that our best political friend is Alex Salmond.

    But that is the case ... England MUST BE governed by the English.

    We have had enough!

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick, you wrote: "Gordon Brown looked freer at PMQs than I have ever seen him ... "

    er ... to which PMQs were you referring. It couldn't have been yesterday's. He took a beating and there was no rhetoric just repitition.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some time ago, older people were encouraged to work part-time to extend their working life and balance stamina and health concerns. Many people work part-time for various reasons and therefore don't earn the'average' income.

    I am a middle-aged, single woman working part-time because of health concerns and living alone. I do my best to pay my way and plan for my future. I recently increased my working hours, despite being in recovery from a major operation, because I could no longer manage on my previous salary. Am I the kind of person Mr Brown was seeking to punish by changing the taxes?

    I await this month's payslip anxiously. I think many people will protest if they find their take-home pay is down by more than a pound or two. I doubt the people like me will qualify to be compensated by fuel allowances or tax credits or any of the ways already suggested

  • Comment number 60.

    Brown is reaping the whirlwind that he sowed with the stealth taxes. Stealth taxes were so clever and complex that no-one realised they were being taxed; now he is trying to get out of the hole he has dug for himself by giving people tax credits that are so clever and complex that no-one will realise that they are being credited, so they will kick him in the local elections anyway. His downfall is an exact mirror image of his success - it's SO ironic, and absolutely delicious!

  • Comment number 61.

    This government has lost the plot, thanks to Brown, who we did not vote for, had imposed on us, and who is on a ego trip.

  • Comment number 62.

    We are told that pensioners make up most of the electorate, with the increase in the tax rate has Brown shot himself in the foot again.

  • Comment number 63.

    You think Gordon Brown is confused did you watch Bully Boy Cameron stumble and squirm on the Andrew Marr show this morning 27/4/08 not a policy in sight and not a glimse of sincerity, did you notice that he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights when asked were he was going to get the money from. let the poor people come to us he said well just in case he was away with the fairies for eighteen years he will know that the people did go to the Tories but I'm afraid that they recieved the same response as Oliver, if voters are silly enough to vote the self serving Tories back into power then it will be a very sad day for this country, think for heavans sake about all the things the Tories have said they will remove if they get back in and all the things they have voted against while in oposition.

  • Comment number 64.

    Can somebody tell me what is wrong with what in common parlance is a U turn,a policy is proposed, its not popular and upsetting for some members of the public so the Government listen and change the policy, so whats wrong with that I would have thought that was a desirable quality to have, but it seems to have driven all the screaming Tories into a frenzy, so tell me you did'nt want the PM to as you say do a Uturn, is that it, as for the supposed U turn on the constiution it never happened there was no constitution to hold a referendum on as even a few die hard Tories agreed and had there have been a referendum would you have trusted some of the writers in these columns to read the constitution and to take a measured view about how they would vote even the Tories own David Davis when asked admitted that he had'nt read it

  • Comment number 65.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with u-turns; it seems to be a political/media weird quirk that when a politician changes their mind they get jeered for it.
    I think it's a problem that's basically media-created; if politicians knew that changing their mind would be seen as positive if the change itself is positive then they'd do it a lot more and the world would be a better place for it.
    In this instance I think it's the real motive behind the u-turn and the fact that it's not a full u-turn (ie most of the people adversely effected by it will still be effected by it) that's making it more newsworthy than it otherwise would/should be.

  • Comment number 66.

    It is going to cost millions in administration (paperwork etc) to remove the 10p tax band, and now the government will spend millions more in giving people extra heating and other benefits. What a waste of time and taxpayers money.

    Red saxons

  • Comment number 67.

    As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown was an extremely fortunate man. The world economy was such that there were no major catastrophes during his time in the job, and he took all the credit for that by saying that he was "The Prudent Iron Chancellor". If he was as prudent as he said he was, the country should have a very healthy bank balance. We have not.

    Just before the proverbial poo hit the fan, he landed Britain's top job and handed over the poisoned chalice to Alasdair who, no doubt, will take all the flack and may even lose his job because of it. Gordon will stay at No. 10 for as long as he can, and just find some other sucker to do the job.

    Labour introduced HIPs for home-buyers last year which was the beginning of the death knell for our housing market. How could this government, who profess to have it's finger on the pulse of world economy, not know that the credit crisis in the US would inevitably affect our banking system in the UK? Everybody knows that when America sneezes, we catch a cold, and the US economy has been on a downward trend for some considerable time now.

    With our housing market virtually at a complete standstill, mortgages are becoming more and more expensive. We are all paying considerably more at the petrol pumps and in the supermarkets, and money is getting tight in most households. I am reliably informed that when people start to lose their jobs, things will start to get very tricky. I live in East Anglia, and we have already seen reports of businesses closing on our local news.

    Gordon says the Government has no funds and yet, astonishingly, it "found" tens of billions of taxpayer's pounds down the back of the sofa when Northern Rock needed bailing out, and then there's the ever-increasing amount of money we have to find for the Olympics! All this beggars the question........just where is all this money coming from?

    Teacher's are striking over pay, oil workers are striking over pensions, and it's only a matter of time before other disgruntled public sector workers do the same. Ordinary law-abiding, tax paying people are being hit in their pockets in a big way and are quite rightly complaining about it. I'm sure MP's will vote themselves a nice pay rise and substantial pension increase before the next General Election!

    Nevertheless, Gordon bulldozes on regardless, constantly trotting out the same old stuff - about how Labour have lifted so many children out of poverty, and put so many people back into work - not surprising really, considering the number of immigrants who are now working here. I wonder how many of them are on income supplements?

    The problem I have with all this is that Gordon obviously has his own agenda, and it doesn't include us. I think the puffed up self-importance of actually being Prime Minister far outweighed his capability of actually being able to do the job. (Perhaps we should employ MP's on a PRP basis?!!)This is living proof that we are now under the cosh of a very badly managed Labour Government and the sooner we get rid of them all, the better.


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