Should policy be about more than just wrong-footing Dave?
For me the defining image of the Brown premiership was the look on his face (above) while the chancellor, Alistair Darling, was announcing Labour’s inheritance tax plan just eight days after the Tories had made this the centre-piece of their conference.
Defining because whether this had been planned or not Brown was taking great pleasure at thwarting what the polls suggested had been an electorally popular initiative. Defining also because this apparent policy nicking became part of the anti-Brown media narrative which is still going on.
Yesterday’s affair of the amazing change of mind on detention limits by the security minister and former Admiral, Lord West, has further focused attention on what the Guardian leader notes this morning – that Gordon Brown’s policy agenda is driven far too much by his desire to wrong-foot the Tories.
For the plan to go beyond a 28 day maximum period is resolutely opposed by the Tories and Brown wants to use this to accuse them of being “soft on terror”.
Lord West’s unfortunate Today programme comment supporting 28 days undermined that plan – hence the clumsy climb-down. It all looked so naff.
The problem is that Brown has got himself into a position where every policy development can be viewed simply in terms of him trying to undermine the opposition and not what the policy would bring about.
His “vision” needs to be more than he does not like Tories.