24 April 2009

The Economist is losing patience with Brown

The Economist has a critical leader, “Gordon Brown’s budget is a dishonest piece of pre-election politicking”, which deserves attention:

THE wheel of fortune turns swiftly in politics. Gordon Brown pulled off the G20 meeting in London on April 2nd, emerging with a plausible aura of global statesmanship. After a handful of Labour sleaze stories and a misguided statement on YouTube, the prime minister looked more like Richard Nixon: shifty, angry and with a list of enemies to smear. And that was before a downright dishonest budget on April 22nd.

The budget was a crucial one, for two reasons. First, Mr Brown is running out of time—he has to hold an election by June 2010—and Britain seems increasingly fed up with him. The public regards his party with distaste (see article). That’s partly because a dozen years in power tends to tarnish: when the home secretary’s husband charges the taxpayer for the porn he watches, one gets an inkling that a government’s time is up. But it’s also because of Mr Brown’s character. His strength, which the G20 meeting displayed, is dour pragmatism. Too often, though, he resorts to tribal politics, in a way that seems both scheming and incompetent.

Second, the budget marks the government’s attempts to deal with the fiscal consequences of the worst slowdown since the second world war. Mr Brown is partly to blame for this mess, but crisis management should have played to his strengths; instead, it revealed his worst side.

The leader goes on to trash the Budget and ends:

This must seem like clever politics to Mr Brown and his crew: folk have been inflamed by the greed and grubbiness of bailed-out bankers. In the short run, a bit of class war may work. But, like Nixon, Mr Brown is already struggling to escape the suspicion that he has a grudge against the world. And for every voter who likes the idea of soaking the rich, there may be several who remember that Labour pledged at the last election not to raise tax rates during the life of this parliament. In turning his back on the revolution in thinking that brought New Labour to power in 1997—that even though few Britons were very rich, many aspired to be—Mr Brown may be quitting the hard-won centre ground too soon. The entrepreneurial classes are now surely the Tories’ for the taking.

April offered Mr Brown two shots at reviving his flagging premiership. The G20 went well. But by attempting to use the budget for political advantage rather than engaging the nation honestly in a slow, shared transformation, the prime minister has done neither himself nor his country any favours. The public is losing patience with him, and so is this newspaper.

There is not a word or sentence in this article that I could take issue with.

Has there been another week when a Prime Minister has received such universal criticism from all media outlets?

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1 comment:

  1. Howard, having read that I would have said they've lost patience with him, perhaps some time ago.