The mission for the Tories in the New Year is to communicate to the electorate just how bad a state the public finances are in. The Tories need to hammer this message home until the proverbial man on the street knows the numbers. Only when people realise that we were first in and last out of recession of the major economies and that, as Rosemary Righter points out
in The Times today, the deficit is roughly twice as large in real terms than it was when Healey was forced to go to the IMF will Brown’s standing collapse as much as it should by rights.
Brown’s defenders will say that he has been dealing with exceptional circumstances. But his pre-crash handling of the public finances was reckless in the extreme. Just before the crash—and after a decade of growth—Britain was borrowing more than two percent of its GDP.
The problem for the Tories is the consequences of Brown’s policies—a ratings downgrade, a gilts strike—mean little to most voters. While the Labour attack line that the Tories will cut your services and raise your taxes is easily understood.