Towards the end of a government, the u-turns come thick and fast. So, after last week’s letter from a group of ex-ministers to Gordon Brown complaining about his plan to abolish a childcare tax break, the credit will now only be scrapped for those paying above the basic rate of income tax. (The Sunday Times reported the story this morning and Ed Balls pretty much confirmed it talking to Adam Boulton).
Balls tried to argue that this is the Labour approach, support for those at the bottom paid for by taking away benefits from those at the top or taxing them more. But the u-turn means that the saving will only be a third of what was intended. If Labour really want to start bringing down the deficit, then they are going to have to have the political courage to advance measures that will spread the load of deficit reduction across more people than just top-rate taxpayers.