Finishing the Project : Making 2008 Dangerous for Brown

In the early days of the Cameron regime change, the Tory party’s recidivist right charged Dave with being policy-lite, all mood music and photo-opportunity. Privately the Cameroons explicitly agreed that they were about “changing the aroma”. Many of the recidivist activists, (hold-outs for Hague, Davis or Fox) charged that Cameron was Blair-lite and without substantial policies. On ConservativeHome the impatience this time last year was still manifestly clear. Guido argued at the time that the policy detail was irrelevant, what mattered was character, because Gordon Brown is a deeply flawed personality. Those flaws inform his tactics and political outlook. To defeat Gordon Brown his opponents should focus on him personally, something that Steve Hilton and CCHQ (prior to the arrival of Andy Coulson) were reluctant to do. Now, with the election put off for two years, 2008 should be about irreversibly breaking Brown’s reputation once and for all.

However much Brown smiles manically in front of the cameras, the public believe he is a grumpy, defensive, brooding control freak – because after ten years we know the truth. You can’t fool all of the people for such a long time. Recognition of his mincing, finger-chewing, snot-eating, greasy haired, foul tempered nature and weird dark ways has broken out of the confines of the Westminster Village and is seeping into a wider popular consciousness. His personal standing is polling at the lowest ever, lower than Blair ever reached.

Brown still clings to his supposed economic competence, although polls post Northern Rock’s collapse show that he has, after 15 years, lost Labour’s advantage over the Tories on this issue. As the economy slows the imbalances in the economy will become clear to see. Vince Cable and George Osborne need to ensure that the man responsible for those imbalances takes the blame. In good times a prudent finance minister pays down the national debt. Ken Clarke left Gordon Brown an economy in fine fettle, so much so that when Treasury mandarins breathlessly briefed the incoming Gordon Brown on the admirable state of the government’s finances in 1997 the charmless Chancellor retorted, “What do we want me to do, write them a f***ing thank you letter?”

Gordon didn’t strengthen the economy, he just taxed it and spent like a sailor in port. Taxed it to pay for an increase of 500,000 bureaucrats on the government payroll and an unreformed welfare system which now has millions more solely dependent on the state. A New Deal that failed to cut youth unemployment, a Sure Start system which has done nothing for social mobility and actually weakened families. Brown recklessly mortgaged our children’s future taxes to front load a capital spending programme (off the PSBR books) using an Enron-style PFI debt model that will be being paid down for decades. A strong growing economy can carry these policy mistakes, once the public finances weaken they become a heavy burden. Every bankruptcy and every home repossessed this year will be laid at his door. Every over-taxed young couple struggling to save for their first home, every retiree who has seen their pension plundered, every small businessman burdened by red tape should have their anger directed to the ultimate author of their woes, Gordon Brown.

The BBC has produced (for internal use only) an analysis of the Cameron Project, unpublished, it has been carefully kept away from the eyes of the License Fee payers. It is a good analysis of the 4 year Team Cameron plan, as originally envisaged and as actually implemented. It covers the anti-Brown strategy, policy development and party modernisation.

You can download a summary of the report here, courtesy of Guido.

UPDATE : The internal BBC analysis in full is here, it was written by Marc Williams in late October 2006.




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