Magazine article Public Finance

A Tactical Retreat

Magazine article Public Finance

A Tactical Retreat

Article excerpt

It seems that Lord Turner has achieved the impossible and won over his most vociferous opponent in the increasingly heated debate over pension reform.

The man in question, Chancellor Gordon Brown, actually claimed this week that he was 90%-95% signed up to Turner's proposals. He denied having any objections in principle to the restoration of the link to average earnings and the move away from means testing.

This is no small victory, given that previous Treasury responses to the review varied from doubtful to outright hostile - an approach that Turner memorably dismissed as 'fairytale economics'.

But Turner knows too well that gloating could be premature. He might have won the battle, but there must be huge doubts that he will win the war.

Brown was facing a media storm over his fundamental disagreements on pensions with Prime Minister Tony Blair - hence the two men's show of unity' at the launch of what will be a vital local election campaign.

Whatever his inner thoughts, the Iron Chancellor recognised the tactical need for a swift public rapprochement. …

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