Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Public Humiliation of Alistair Darling

I have just watched Alistair Darling's humiliation by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. He looked diminished and appeared to be a man not on top of his subject. His body language and mannerisms betrayed a lack of inner steel and a lack of self confidence. This was a man at the end of his political tether. And all because of a massive error of judgement by his predecessor - the man who only a few weeks ago assured us that it would cost "substantially less than a billion to put right".

44 comments:

TrevorH said...

And I have just seen it on Newsnight that this 'give back' is also partly funded by lowering the allowances for the 40p tax band.

Not made clear in Parliament.

It does not affect me but it does my wife. Get that Tory vote out in Crewe/Nantwich !!

greg b said...

Thought Osbourne badly misfired today and despite your best efforts Iain this is all running rather well for the government.

Its a stupid attack for osbourne to claim its just a pre-election bribe when everybody knows the govt didnt want to do this but were forced into it.

Moeover, Cameron's specifically called for the crewe election to be a referendum on the government's 10p tax compensation, so the tories cant exactly act all coy when the government puts its compensation package out there ahead of the election - thats what they insisted on when they said this would be the central issue of the crewe election.

Osbourne should have gone much harder on the fact this is borrowed money and a humiliation for the chancellor. As it is, I think he has missed the opportunity to put labour on the back foot and am inclined to agree with Nick Robinson - tories look wrong-footed for the first time in ages.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, I was struck by the way he kept opening and closing his mouth as Paxo was doing the lead in question. I couldn't decide if he resembled a floundering goldfish or a rabbit in the headlights!

greg said...

To trevorh, I dont think it is funded by the top rate tax band payers. I think the 40p band changes just make sure that us 40p payers dont benefit - so the tax cut is just for 20p tax payers.

Daniel said...

Oh I missed it :(

The Sun's front page is damaging tomorrow, Mail sticks the knife in too.

BBC are not very polite either.

PSJ said...

This was the team that was supposed to be dull but competent. Well, they've certainly not been dull, but I don't think we'd ever had a more incompetent government.

Sugar Free said...

I'm sick of Darling and Brown now belatedly claiming they made 'a mistake'...as if they just didn't notice what they had done in the budget… ‘ooops, Gordon I have just noticed you made a silly mistake in your last budget!’ The real truth is, that they thought they could get away with it, and now they realise their own necks are on the line, they come out with the false caring attitude. Gordon Brown thought he could get away with it, no doubt because he thought that 'the working class' would always vote Labour...Gordon Brown isn't special, he doesn't care about the poor any more than the next man...

Also, is it just me, or is Newnight, apart from the first 10 mins becoming some kind of weird dumbed down programme full of 'and finally' stories...? On a day like today, surely the whole programme should focus on the fallout from Darlings crisis mini budget?

Percepied said...

Iain, I am sure you are right, but where did the 'substanitally less than 1bn' quote come from?

Pat said...

If you thought he was panned by Paxman have a look at Jon Snow's disection of incompetence and waffle on C4. His summary was devastating and stopped Darling in his tracks and if this was before Paxman then it would account for the gasps and gulps as he waited for the first question. Jon Snow'

"All this does, in the end,is sum up a complete shambles. You nearly lost the Finance Bill, the Prime Minister could not focus on the reality that the 10p was a problem. Then you have had to do what no Chancellor in our lifetime has ever had to do - change income tax arrangements between budgets. Why should people trust you after this, if things can go so badly wrong?"

John Pickworth said...

In respect of the by-election, I think todays fiasco makes Labour's position worse.

To paraphrase... "you can tax all of the people all of the time but you can only compansate some of the people some of the time".

No one is fooled.

Anonymous said...

"Not made clear in parliament" and "is also partly funded by lowering the allowances for the 40p tax band."

Extract from the statement

23. Mr Speaker, higher rate taxpayers were largely unaffected by the reforms announced last year.

24. So it is fair to focus this additional support on basic rate taxpayers only. However, as the £600 increased personal allowance applies not just to basic rate taxpayers but also to those paying tax at a higher rate, I am therefore reducing the threshold at which an individual starts to pay tax at the higher rate by £600.

25. The net effect of these changes is that the tax liability of everyone that currently pays tax at 40 per cent will be unaffected by the increase in the personal allowance. For those brought into the higher rate, they will gain by up to £120 this year.

So, (a) it was made clear in Parliament; and (b) the reduction in the basic rate band caps the cost but does not contribute towards its funding.

Iain Dale said...

Nick Robinson's interview with Brown a few weeks ago.

Rex said...

Does this additional £600 tax band allowance include pensioners?
Or will they miss out along with a million or so of the lowest paid who STILL will not get their full tax reinstated.

I still think that this saga has not yet gone away!

Anonymous said...

But wait ! There is more !

Gordon Brown is tipped to appear on a 'reality TV' programme and to become 'more famous than Alan Sugar' !

You don't say...

Maybe setting the bar at becoming 'more well liked than Andrew Lloyd Webber' is setting the bar at a more attainable level...

TrevorH said...

If you raise the threshold for basic 20p payers and lower it for 40p payers then how is this neutral for 40p payers? Surely its only neutral if the allowance stays the same?

Reported? Touche. It was not reported in the news. I was at work, not in Parliament. And as you see above, I am not convinced.

Whats going to happen next year?

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

greg b said...
"...and despite your best efforts Iain this is all running rather well for the government."

f*** it have just spat a mouthfull of tea over my lap top.

We need warnings when such comments are left here, warnings I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again .... my little spinster neighbour working 28 hours a week on the minimum wage pays £240 a year extra tax because of Gordons balls-up ..... but now she gets £120 back ... she's still £120 out of pocket ..... oh and everyone of her richer neighbours gets £120 as well .... can't make up my mind if Labour are criminals or idiots

C Powell said...

If the higher rate tax band is lowered by £600 then 40% of £600 is £240. Even if higher rate tax payers gain with the £120 it seems to me that they're paying £120 more tax than before this mini-Budget. Have we been stung with another stealth tax or have I got it wrong? Note that more people have now been caught in the higher rate tax band, a million poor people have not been compensated and Labour have now introduced an unfunded tax cut for which we'll all have to pay and this little scheme only lasts for a year anyway. A shambles.

The Last Boy Scout said...

Hang on. Darling is having to borrow the £2.7 billion to pay for this cut. So if he didn't have the money in the first place, doesn't that make this an "Unfunded tax cut".

The phrase about a pot and a kettle springs to mind.

judith said...

This is not for the over-65s, and it's only for this year, and it's costing billions that have to be borrowed, when the Chancellor has already had to increase borrowing beyond forecast.

It's Gordon's god-almighty cock-up, and Alastair looked pretty grumpy and ill-at-ease during both the Snow and Paxman interviews, as well he might!

Anonymous said...

Northern Rock, Iraq, Afghanistan and now tax bribes. All unbudgeted. So where is the money coming from? Are Brown and Darling in charge of the most out of control Treasury in history?

Anonymous said...

If you thought that was bad, make sure you listen to him being Monstered by Montague on the 8.10 slot on Radio 4 Today this morning..

I really thought his Special Adviser was going to have to throw the towel in at one point...

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

In the wonderful world of politics I've seen some strings pulled in my time but announcing tax cuts in the middle of a by-election campaign?

When will Gordon Brown and Labour ever realise that their comes a time when the electorate have just about had enough.

Enough of their constant dithering, enough of their bickering on the backbenches and enough of their broken promises.

This is a government running out of respect, a government running out of ideas and as well as being a government living on borrowed money we now have a government living on borrowed time.

Anonymous said...

TrevorH said...
"If you raise the threshold for basic 20p payers and lower it for 40p payers then how is this neutral for 40p payers? Surely its only neutral if the allowance stays the same?"

Because what higher-rate taxpayers would gain through the increase in the 20% threshold is cancelled out by the reduction in the 40% threshold.


"Reported? Touche. It was not reported in the news. I was at work, not in Parliament. And as you see above, I am not convinced."

It was on Radio 4 news and is in most of the newspapers.


"Whats going to happen next year?"

I don't suppose Brown and Darling know yet. The changes announced today will give them a breathing space in which to work out what to do next year.

strapworld said...

Iain,

I watched the Paxman interview and also the Jon Snow earlier one on Channel Four News.

To be fair to Darling, it must be extremely hard to have to take all the criticism when the idiot that created the problem is elsewhere!

Yes Darling looked extremely uncomfortable in both interviews and jolly unconvincing. But he has bought peace on his side of the Commons and may have placed the Labour Party in a good position for the Bye Election. They may get second place and they will call that a success!

As for greg b said, no doubt writing from the Number 10 crech!

Osborne did very well BUT why could he not memorise a few sentences. Having to read his script made it unconvincing!

Anonymous said...

The Sun Headlines -

"The Bribe Minister"
"The Darling Bungs of May"

Love it!

Travis Bickle said...

Never fear , apparently Gordon is setting out his plans again today.

Give us strength.

Chris Paul said...

It could have been put right for around £700M. But the other £2 billion is a top up (vide USA) for the mid range as further compensation for utilities and fuel costs. That is deliberate.

The only lowering re the 40p tax band is to stop 40 pee-ers getting this £120 windfall. Which seems reasonable to me. They've already had at least 22,000 tuppences under the other changes.

£440 for those hard of thinking.

That's not "partly funding" anything. But it is stopping the cost running to 4 Billion.

Anonymous said...

Strapworld

Osborne had to respond to Darling within seconds of him finishing. How do you think you would have fared?

I'm not a fan of John Snow, but he tore the Chancellor apart yesterday and his colleague did a masterly presentation of the facts.

Chris Paul said...

Hang on people. Three or four weeks ago Osborne et al said hypocritically: "You fix this now" and now they say hypocritically: "You fixed this now, you bastard". That my dear Tories is unreasonable.

Of course it was a cock up and Gordon's at that. But there really is nowhere much to go with this now. It's fixed. Quickly. End of.

Huge shame is that New Labour's disdain for the Town Halls did not bring this forward a couple of weeks or four earlier.

Goodnight Vienna said...

It' simply that Mr Sandman has fallen from the eyes of the electorate. No amount of tinkering can rectify the situation in which Labour now find themselves. The abolition of the 10p tax rate and consequent cock-up is only one reason, amongst very many, why the Labour Party and it's defunct ideology are dead in the water. Goodbye Fabianists, Goodbye Trots and other assorted communist sc*m. Go and subvert some other country you miserable b*stards.

curly15 said...

What could the average low paid earner do with a measly £120 anyway?

It will only buy 66 school meals at next year's prices! That's four weeks of dinners if you have three kids.

John Pickworth said...

@Chris Paul....

"... But the other £2 billion is a top up (vide USA) for the mid range as further compensation for utilities and fuel costs. That is deliberate.

That's complete crap.

Its an accidental overpayment that cannot be tweaked out but is being spun as a 'USA style rebate cheque'. The whole thing stinks of a panic induced scramble to come up with something quickly. I seriously doubt they even had a plan in mind (or not at least this one) on Monday when they were busy stabbing Frank in the back... otherwise why bother, they could have announced they had something and Frank wouldn't have needed to been 'dealt with'.

And no... its NOT fixed. This is a massive political blunder of the first order. You think the original 10p business was a sticky mess? Wait till you see what happens from this fiasco.

judith said...

Mr Paul, it ain't fixed, in any sense.

Tax offices have been increasingly unable to cope with their work, mainly because of the inordinate complexity of tax matters introduced by Gordon Brown.

Everyone is going to have to be issued with new tax-codes, and can you imagine how many will need to be re-checked, because of course errors will be made.

This is going to be a massively expensive bureaucratic exercise, eating still further into the time spent/wasted on other HMRC duties.

I see no reason why the Treasury could not have taken longer to think this through, and then announced that allowances would be changed as of next April to 'recompense' the losers.

No reason other than Crewe&Nantwich, that is.

Richard Nabavi said...

There's an interesting further twist to this which I don't think has been picked up in the media. Having blown £2.7bn in this panic, it looks most unlikely that there is any chance of the government reversing or adjusting the other tax changes which are coming up - so bye bye to postponing the scheduled increase in fuel duty, and bye bye to correcting the blatant anomalies in their road tax changes.

So voters are going to be reminded again in the next few months of the consequences of Brown's profligacy.

dirty european socialist said...

Darling did good job in giving 120 quid back. But he could still do more.

scott redding said...

Montague really started getting to him at 7 minutes 20 seconds in, with her question "what happened about only borrowing to invest?" and Darling sounded like a faulty android, repeating again and again, "we're meeting our fiscal rules."

John Pickworth said...

dirty european socialist said...
"Darling did good job in giving 120 quid back. But he could still do more."

But he hasn't given anything back.

The Government have simply borrowed £2,700,000,000 in your name, which at some point in the future YOU will be paying back in higher taxes or reduced services.

Jonathan M. Scott said...

I know - incredible isn't it - new Labour's confidence is completely sapped. They need someone fresh to replace Darling, but the problem is all Labour MPs are burnt out (with the notable exception of Frank Field, who has apparently been 'ruled out', I know not why)...

Gary Elsby said...

Iain, £600 backdated for everyone and equal pay and rights for agency workers.

Is it not in the best interests of the Conservative Party to concede the 2010 General Election and instead, concentrate on the 2015 one?

Gary
"Things can only get better"

TrevorH said...

I give in I'm thick, I admit it.

If you lower the 40p threshold then higher rate tax payers pay less at 20p in the £ which balances outn the raising of the basic allowance.

But they start paying 40p tax earlier and so their gain is not simply evened out they pay 40p in the pound on the extra £600.

John Pickworth said...

Gary Elsby said...

Gary, it would be in the country's best interests if Brown called an election TODAY, not 2010.

The country is in an utter mess; favours for the powerful friends of the party, obsfucated speak from ministers, priviledge for the Government elite, rural economy ruined, fuel and bread prices rising out of control, unemployment up, inflation up, the currency in free fall and yet Robert Magabe will still hold an election! Why won't Gordon Brown?

By the way, its £120 not £600... short changed by Labour spin again.

Anonymous said...

Crikey , even the usually pliant B effing BC are sniffy about this. Time must be up for Brown if the normally reliable crowd are cold shouldering him.

Anonymous said...

iain -> i note that NOT ONCE did Paxman ever ask the bleeding obvious question...

"instead of borrowing, why didnt you cut government spending to fund it?"