It beggars belief that an intelligent man should lash out against the media for daring to run the story that many people are against the abolition of the 10p tax band. Why on earth in a free society should the media ignore such a story? It makes Gordon Brown, like his post Thatcher predecessors, appear to be the poodle of the headlines rather than in charge of the government.
Let me explain to the PM why this 10p issue is a story. It is story because a large number of Labour MPs are saying they disagree with the policy and might vote with the Opposition parties, who also disagree with the policy. If enough of these Labour MPs keep their word, the government could be defeated on a central plank of Gordon Brown’s last budget. That would be big political news.
It is a story because prices of food, heating and travel are shooting up, in a way which hits the budgets of those on low incomes especially hard. Gordon Brown’s decision to remove the 10p band hits several million people on low incomes, taking more tax off them, at exactly the same time as they face these surges in their bills. The political world has to understand that it cannot fix such a real problem for the voters, by better spinning or media control. Real problems need real solutions, not more expenditure on better spin doctors.
It is a story because removing the 10p tax band puts up the taxes of all of us at a time when most feel under pressure in our daily budgets thanks to rising taxes and rising prices.
If Gordon Brown cannot understand why this is a story he does not have much of a future as PM. What he should do is respond. He can do things to make it better for people – the rest of us can merely complain about what he is or is not doing.
There are two ways out. My preferred way would be for him to admit it was wrong, announce the restoration of the 10p band, and make proportionate reductions in government waste and overheads to pay for the change.
The other way is to explain to his hapless backbenchers why it is right to increase taxes in this way, so he can be sure he can win his vote. Then between them, they have the other task of persuading the rest of us that a tax increase is good for us!