Peter Hoskin

Brown ignores the small issues which precede the “big choices”

Brown ignores the small issues which precede the "big choices"
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James has already highlighted the New Statesman's interview with Gordon Brown, but it's worth flagging up this passage as well:

"Again and again, throughout our interview, Brown refers to the next election as being about 'big choices', not the small issues, which he says the Conservatives would prefer. 'What was the latest thing? The cost of food in the House of Commons?' he asks, referring to David Cameron's recent gimmicky pledge to cut public spending by reducing subsidies on MPs' food. This theme of 'big choices', say Brown's aides, is one he is likely to pursue in his conference speech and beyond."

To my mind, this exemplifies one of the main reasons why Brown will struggle to be trusted on the issue of the public finances.  Yes, Cameron's "cutting the cost of politics" agenda may be small change when set aside the country's debt mountain; the Tory leader admitted as much himself.  But politicians need to show that they're prepared to shoulder some of the burden if they're to keep the public (and the public sector) on side with a wider "Age of Austerity" programme.  Simply put, small issues like the "cost of food in the House of Commons" will pave the way for the next government to make and implement the "big choices".

By being so dismissive of this approach, Brown not only undermines his new, "whatever it takes" rhetoric about getting the deficit down.  He also displays a complete disconnect from public sentiment.  You suspect his predecessor would have done things differently...