Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mr Brown must defend his Budget

It is right that a Chancellor should defend his budget; and if he were to become Prime Minister, he should remain proud of his actions when he ruled the Treasury.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the Queen's ghillie should return from visiting our American cousins, having, regrettably, played second fiddle to the Pope, intent on mounting such a defence. Yet he returns to rumblings of discontent, fuelled by the poverty of his judgement. For a Chancellor's honourable defence of his budget will not detract from the shortcomings of his policies; and in this case there are many shortcomings indeed.

I remarked a little while ago how long it took the labouring MPs to ascertain the sleight of hand exercised by their leader. Had it passed them by in total, had it been left to Mr Clegg and Mr Cable to expose the fraud, it might in time have led to Mr Brown's last budget being hailed as great in its reforms, in its long-awaited simplification of the tax system.

Indeed there was a time when we held high hopes for the representatives of the labouring people, believing a good education would make them great legislators, courageous tribunes of the people. This may have happened at some time; but I would never have conceived that their party would levy taxes which would take hard-earned pounds from those working people who earn the least and distribute those self-same pounds to those who earn rather more comfortable sums. Nor would it have been conceivable that these tribunes of the people would flock around their leaders like sheep, their slow-working brains taking some 13 months to perceive the inequity that had been heaped upon those they represent.

The late Queen was somewhat opposed to labouring people choosing their own representatives. I sought in statesmanlike terms to persuade her that our nation must change and adopt democracy - with little success, I fear. She would take some satisfaction now in seeing how badly served the people are.

There is a solution for Mr Brown, an honourable course to take. For it is oft forgotten that in my time ministers of the Queen became directly accountable to their electors. When we took office, we had to seek a fresh endorsement from those who elected us.

That is not the custom now; but it is a cause of discontent with the public that the Queen's ghillie should have assumed the highest office without asking their opinion on the matter. Now the first Budget of Mr Brown's premiership - and also the last of his Chancellorship - is questioned by his party. It must be a matter of high principle; let him therefore seize the moment and present his policies to the public for their approval.

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