Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Brown’s Big Lie provokes Cabinet tension

So it seems Yvette Cooper and Alistair Darling are uneasy about Gordon Brown’s Big Lie and told him so in the last Cabinet. The Sunday Times has a story about how they confronted him over the “Labour investment v 10% Tory cuts” strategy last Tuesday – and the Dear Leader was so unchuffed that he finished Cabinet early. As the newspaper says:

Unease flared in last week’s cabinet when Brown said of the Tories: “First they will cut by 5%, then by 10%. That is an ideological decision, not a pragmatic one.” But Darling pointed out that Brown’s Tory cuts figures did not  represent the party’s policy but were merely “extrapolations” based on figures produced by a think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Cooper, previously the Treasury minister responsible for public spending, echoed his concerns and warned that ministers must beware of making spending pledges they could not deliver. One cabinet minister at the meeting said: “There is a big difference between us and the Tories on spending, so the cuts versus investment argument is still valid. But we must not allow it to sound that crude. We need to finesse the argument into something more sophisticated.”… According to one source who was present, Brown was visibly irritated at the way he had been undermined, and brought the meeting to an early close, avoiding further debate.

Now, I would dispute Darling’s rather mean-spirited description of figures produced in Coffee House as “merely extrapolations”.  Our 10 percent figure was a solid means to quantify verbal Tory promises made at the time, and Brown was quite right to pounce on it. He should have admitted that he’d cut by 7% and include health under his axe – but he’s too dishonest. Had he waited, he could have had a juicier figure.

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