Magazine article The Spectator

Socialist Engineering

Magazine article The Spectator

Socialist Engineering

Article excerpt

We have yet to be given a thorough refutation of the Granita agreement, the pact made in an Italian restaurant 11 years ago between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Its terms, we were told, were that the refreshingly normal Mr Blair would be allowed to run for leader of the Labour party, in return for which the decidedly odd Mr Brown would be Chancellor of the Exchequer. As part of the deal, Mr Blair would control foreign affairs - and so could be blamed for perceived cock-ups like the Iraq strategy - and Mr Brown would, as Chancellor, oversee the domestic agenda. Mr Brown has capitalised on this carte blanche, each of his Budget speeches becoming more and more like a State of the Union address. And therefore, to those of us with logical minds, it will be absolutely clear that if things are wrong with this country (and there seems little doubt in the minds of voters that they are), then Mr Brown must be to blame.

Yet Mr Brown has redefined the power of Teflon. His colleagues, his political opponents and the media all seem scared of him. His conduct of office is apparently so brilliant that vandals may throw stones, but not hope even to wound. The NHS is wasting billions and still not treating people. Billions are being pumped into education and yet the only way the government can meet its targets in schools is to abandon them. Business complains that it is being regulated out of any chance of being able to take on its overseas competitors. Vast sums are wasted on projects of social engineering. All this is at the Chancellor's instigation: yet he has, so far, got away with all the damage he has been doing.

Like our wonderful public services, the very principle of Mr Brown is beyond criticism. His socialist, anti-middle class, antiEnglish agenda is inflicted upon its victims remorselessly and they raise hardly a note against him. He was at it again last week in his Budget. Hardworking people were punished by being allowed only measly rises in their tax allowances. High-earning companies, of the sort this country needs if it is to survive, were punished by a cavilling new initiative on stamping out tax avoidance that will, de facto, become another tax on enterprise. Meanwhile, unmotivated and uneducable young people were to be bribed £75 a week to stay at school. Welcome to Gordon Brown's wonderful, twisted world of 'fairness' and 'social justice'.

Mr Brown enjoys an untouchable status in the Labour movement of a sort probably not seen since the glory days of Aneurin Bevan in the late 1940s. Despite having sustained some spectacular self-inflicted wounds, Bevan was not finally shot down until he found himself on the wrong end of a coruscating, lacerating speech by Iain Macleod in the Commons in 1952. We still await a Macleod to point out not merely the sheer wrongness of Gordon Brown, but also his dishonesty, his self-servitude, his manipulativeness, his substitution of rhetoric for truth (such as when he described his wonderfully divisive 2000 Budget as 'a Budget that unites the whole country, a Budget for the people') and the cost that his self-indulgence and ideology will cause our country to have to bear.

It is probably because the media are so busy hating Mr Blair that Mr Brown has got away with his charlatanry for so long. Admittedly, Mr Blair was taking questions from the media last week when he was eviscerated over the lies he was telling about the Tories' spending plans. But Mr Brown often says such things without the slightest attempt being made to disembowel him. He simply grins next to the Prime Minister when Mr Blair is in trouble on the subject. One cannot help wondering, at such moments, whether the Chancellor (who is notoriously self-regarding and thin-skinned) would have the guts Mr Blair has shown recently in dealing with endless personal attacks; or whether the instability of character that shines through in so much of what he does would, instead, take the upper hand.

Let us be clear about what Mr Brown has done to Britain, and what more he intends to do. …

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