Mirror, mirror on the wall
OMG! Breaking story from April 2002! The Mirror really is an extraordinary newspaper. It is, of course, entirely acceptable for newspapers to follow a party line, as slavishly as they can get away with. But it is just bizarre for one to be quite so astonishingly blasé about its own credibility in the process. I seem to remember a front page splash that David Cameron had been putting meals for his staff on his staff expenses. Um, yes?
And now there comes the revelation that David Cameron described Gordon Brown as chancellor as “a figure of colossal power and intellect” and that “the economic record in terms of growth is undeniable.” Well the second statement is still true, albeit in an entirely different direction to that in 2002, and I suspect that Cameron would still stand, perhaps a bit less stridently since Brown’s disastrous performance as Prime Minister, that Brown’s “presence in the Commons and command of the chamber are indeed awesome”. It was, after all, all written down in his Guardian diary at the time – previously remarked on here – in a column about Labour’s record on taxation.
So, do these comments live up to the Mirror’s billing?
The revelation of the comments will be a huge embarrassment to Mr Cameron as he prepares for tonight’s TV debate with Mr Brown and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
No. No they don’t. For a start the piece is titled Gordon Brown's latest Budget shows how terrible he is as a tax reformer, writes Tory MP David Cameron. If that weren’t enough, here’s some more of the column:
Is he any good as a tax reformer? My answer would be a determined "no." In fact, he has been a disaster.
…we now have the most complicated tax and benefit system known to man…
Mr Brown's obsession with tax credits means that his Budget does not even do what everyone thinks it does…
The 2002 Budget is not "a Budget for the NHS". It is the product of an inveterate fiddler and fixer who sits in the Treasury dreaming up ever more complicated tax incentives and wheezes to determine how we should live our lives.
It ends with a wistful vision that may now be rather closer to fruition.
I long for a chancellor who stands up and introduces a Budget which abolishes all of Brown's endless reliefs and credits - and uses the money to cut tax rates at the same time. "My Budget has no title", the peroration would go, "it's your money, spend it as you choose." Am I alone?
But the most delightful thing about this column, dredged up by the Mirror to discredit David Cameron? It is all about how Labour put up National Insurance Contributions last time too…