Alex Massie

Never mind me mate, what about the other mob?

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Commenting on this post Ian Leslie - aka Marbury - argues that we're on the brink of a new era and that just as Callaghan was right to appreciate that one era had ended in 1976, so Darling and El Gordo may be correct to suppose that another has been shipwrecked now. Maybe.

Look, I'm not sure this will work, and if it does work it might be partly by accident and yes I know that Brown hasn't really earned his authority over the last ten years. This is a gamble. But taking a gamble at this stage is better than doing nothing and hoping things will return to normal, as the Tories propose. They won't.

Well, are the Tories really proposing "doing nothing"? Granted, their proposals haven't been especially persuasive either. But to say - for the sake of argument - that Labour's proposals are better than what the Tories have to offer is a long way from supposing that Labour's plans should be supported. A rotten plan is not necessarily better than no plan.

At times like these it doesn't really matter what the opposition hae to say: after all they're in no position to do anything. It's rather like the ERM debacle* - the electorate rightly viewed Britain's ejection from the system as a humiliating defeat for the government and a repudiation of their claims to sound economic management and so on. Never mind that the Tories were vastly less enthusiastic about joining the exchange rate mechanism than were Labour. The opposition's policy was revealed to be even more lumpen and untenable than the government's but because they were the opposition they got away with it. And that's more or less how it should be.

Perhaps Brown's gamble will work, but I'd be more enthusiastic about it if he hadn't told a bunch of lies while selling it. Also, I'm peeved, once again, that taxes on booze and tobacco are going up. Again. Nearly 80% of the price of a packet of cigarettes now goes to the government - a rate that would be considered immoral and confiscatory if applied to income - so if there are any Russian/Polish/Balkan smugglers reading this, well, do get in touch...

*Norman Lamont, the hapless Chancellor presiding over the disaster was, like Alistair Darling, schooled at Loretto, a smallish Scottish public school outside Edinburgh. Can this be a coincidence? I think not. The lesson is obvious: never appoint a Lorettonian Chancellor.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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