Peter Hoskin

Brown’s slow-burn politics

Brown's slow-burn politics
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The news that ID cards will be delayed until 2012 perfectly characterises the Government's modus operandi: namely, the politics of delay. Many of Brown's policy approaches have a very long fuse indeed – a house-building programme to be completed in 2020; a new generation of nuclear power stations which will take a decade to complete; and the establishment of a twelve-month NHS review when, as the Reform think tank puts it, “urgent decisions on cost control and reform are already one to two years overdue”.

Of course, exercising due care is no bad thing in itself. However, when pressing problems need fixing now, due care is a luxury and delay starts looking like weak-mindedness. With change in the air, will voters be satisfied to wait until 2010, 2012 or 2015 to see the Government's vision for the country? For Brown, the danger is that they won't, and that the Conservative charge that he is a ditherer will stick.