Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Darling steals Conservative Ideas on Inheritance Tax

What a great political stunt, lifting your political opponents ideas and passing them of as your own. Look at how Brown grinned as Conservative Inheritance Tax proposals were repackaged and parroted by Darling; that will show Cameron and his crowd, won't it? In fact I suspect that the more politically savvy members of the Labour Party are holding their heads in despair at this latest stunt. The trick to political leadership, especially for a Prime Minister, is to be seen to rise above the party political battle, to reach out to the broad sweep of your people, and to do what is right for the country. Tony Blair understood this, so did Margaret Thatcher, and Bill Clinton was a great exponent in the US. The reason why this is a good idea is two-fold, firstly because it is actually what a national leader should do, and secondly because it encourages electoral support from people across the political spectrum, not just your own base. The statesman was the narrative that Brown promoted for his first 100 days, and that he has junked in the last two weeks. Yesterday, he went for the partisan, again, which is good for a headline, but toxic to any attempt to build the kind of broad centre-left coalition that Tony Blair managed to maintain. Worse, by lifting Conservative ideas on tax-cuts he actually legitimised both Conservative ideas and tax-cuts, and both will be harder to dismiss in the future. David Cameron has certainly figured this out, and in today's PMQ's he went for Brown in a way that would have just looked petty before.

Darling looks like Brown's puppet and Brown looks like the leader of the Labour Party, which is a world away from looking like a Prime Minister. As for David Cameron, he looks like a winner and it is a measure of the sea-change that even Simon Heffer was writing nice things about the Conservatives in today's Telegraph. Brown may live to regret not calling that November election.

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