I have castigated the former Chancellor, the Queen's ghillie, for his unwonted and ill-deserved reputation for competency within this high office.
The time has now come to give credit to his successor for paying heed to the advice that I proffered a mere three weeks ago.
Let us remember that Mr Brown declined to follow good advice and indeed revealed for all to see the hollowness of his Chancellorship, its dependence on conjuring and trickery, by his response to the clamour following the belated discovery by Parliament of his sleight of hand. For Mr Brown had proposed to scramble out of his predicament by offering more charity, some to the elderly, some to the poor and always nothing to some; for his scheme was unworkable and would have merely served to increase the complexity, nay the incomprehensibility of the taxation system.
My advice to Mr Darling was that he could resolve his problem while continuing in the government's stated, if ill-served, objective of simplification. He could reintroduce the 10 percent rate of tax, raise personal allowances or reduce the 20p rate a little more. And I stated: it is my belief, that a progressive Chancellor could, if events warranted it, recover his shortfall by reducing the threshold at which 40p becomes payable.
That is exactly what Mr Darling has done this day. He has raised personal allowances and reduced the threshold at which 40p in the pound becomes payable. These are measures which are progressive but not of necessity socialist.
It has taken too long for Mr Brown's government to come to this point. Mr Darling is nevertheless to be congratulated for taking my advice and, at last, demonstrating some competence within his office.