Magazine article Public Finance

Last Orders

Magazine article Public Finance

Last Orders

Article excerpt

The gold watches and booby prizes have been handed out. The embarrassing speeches and living obituaries are (almost) done with. A stampede for the Westminster exit door has started in earnest, with John Reid leading the charge.

As Gordon Brown surveys the barren political terrain vacated by Blair, he must be wondering what kind of legacy he has inherited.

Local and national election results in which Labour is 500 council seats down in England, and has lost political control in Scotland; a hastily conceived splitting of the Home Office; an electorate made still more cynical by malfunctioning voting systems (see cover feature on pages 18-21).

It hardly adds up to the 'perfectly good springboard for victory that a demob-happy Blair chirpily announced in one of his many handover speeches.

The chancellors strong suit has always been prudent economic management. But even that is under fire, with rows over pensions tax relief, rising inflation and £5.8bn tax credit overpayments.

The Opposition, who this week dubbed the current administration 'the government of the living dead, can be expected to make hay with Gordons reputation in the months ahead.

When ministers are in trouble, the temptation is to reorganise everything. …

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