Magazine article New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 133, No. 4676
It was not for nothing that the Tory high command sent Oliver Letwin to a retreat during the last general election. Some naive commentators may say that the shadow chancellor has started a "mature" debate over tax and spend but the problem is the voters won't have a clue what he's on about.
Talk about percentages of GDP does not make for election-winning slogans. They will now know he wants to make savage cuts in public spending. They will know how much, because Labour will tell them.
Letwin's problems aren't just that his sums don't add up. He is the problem. What on earth was he doing debating with a Labour MP on the Today programme? Can you imagine Gordon Brown, even in opposition, going on the radio to talk about his tax plans and discussing them with a Tory? On Newsnight, Letwin also had to face the Lib Dems. …