Fraser Nelson

Brown tries to outflank the Tories on welfare reform

Brown tries to outflank the Tories on welfare reform
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The Tories had a head start on welfare reform, but Brown is fast catching up.  When Chris Grayling launched his Wisconsin-style proposals last month, there were (typically) fears internally that they were too harsh. Yet there were two surprise factors: the overwhelmingly positive public reaction, and Brown's inability to decide whether to accuse them of heartlessness or plagiarism. Brown then decided to follow, perhaps sensing the anger over this. He is making fast progress - rhetorically at least, which at election time is 80% of the battle.  Reading today's press trailing a Purnell announcement, it seems Labour is briefing hard and recognises in welfare reform a powerful agenda which Brown rightly does not want to let the Tories champion. You may think this is natural Tory territory. But this is precisely what scares many off in the Cameron era. Brown has no qualms about being accused of being too tough on benefit claimants. A race is now on to see which party can be boldest on welfare reform. And it is a race which Brown may yet win.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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