George Osborne was good on the Today programme at 7.09am this morning but he spoilt his performance at the end. He was good in that he highlighted the craftiness of the Chancellor and the fact that you cannot trust what he says. Mr Osborne reinforced the crucial point that it is the craftiness/ slyness/ lack of honesty that Mr Brown has displayed as Chancellor that makes people sceptical about him becoming Prime Minister. Where Mr Osborne would have confused people was in his suggestion that Brown was in some ways imitating Project Cameron. He said that on sharing the proceeds of growth, the environment and families, Labour was copying Conservative ideas. I don’t think that’s true. Yesterday Mr Brown did not share the proceeds of growth between lower taxes and extra spending – yesterday’s budget increased taxes very slightly (and after years of substantial tax hikes). Yesterday Mr Brown did not introduce green taxes of the kind the Tories are proposing – in fact he ridiculed Tory plans for taxation of domestic flights. And, thirdly, and most importantly he distanced himself from David Cameron’s support for marriage.
I’m afraid that it’s more true that the Tories are imitating Gordon Brown. The Tories only propose modest reductions in taxation and refuse to make the supply-side case for lower taxation… they have largely accepted his European levels of public spending… and they are afraid to seriously reform Labour’s complex maze of tax credits. I still think on tax and the economy George Osborne will be better for the economy and much more more honest than Gordon Brown but the gap between the Tory and Labour positions is far too small for my liking.