What was surprising was the way it was packaged, and it came as more than a surprise to the squirming Cameronites to hear that Labour would cut the basic rate of income tax. Sure, it was a cut that gives with one hand and claws back with very many others (both the green of eco-taxes and the grey of Her Majesty's Inland Revenue Office), but a cut it was, and a cut was what Brown wanted it seen as -- he wants to be seen as a tax-cutter, even if when all the calculations are done he isn't. This, at least, is progress.
Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata summarises the strategic implications of Brown's 'Green' budget, and of the tax cut, for Brown's Conservative opponent.
Watching the House of Commons debate on Brown's speech, several things struck me. Tory leader David Cameron was plainly rattled by Brown playing the tax-cut card - however bogus a ploy Brown's is. It might - just might - be enough of a shock to the Tories to realise that competing over which party can push up taxes the most and not get caught might not be a smart strategy with the voters. Brown is trying to pose as a tax-cutter. How odd it is that the Labour Party is now trying to make the running in this direction. Even though it is all hooey, it is interesting to see how Brown's gambit may pay off.Too true, and only too relevant back here since NZ's own Pink Tory took over his party, and began rather pathetically trying to outflank our Labour Party over on the left flank.
The whole point of this budget, as far as I can see, is in Brown trying to squash Cameron: stealing some of his 'Green clothes' while also trying to persuade middle-income voters that Labour is actually more of a tax-cutting party than the Tories.
Even if this is utter rubbish - it is - the very fact that Brown wants to create such an impression is interesting. I am increasingly coming round to the view that libertarians and free-marketeer Tories should let Cameron realise that they prefer to keep in Labour than let the Tories win on a Big Government agenda.
As David Cameron has just learned with the help of a little sleight of hand from Gordon Brown, that isn't necessarily a safe place to be.
LINK: Thoughts on the UK budget - Jonathan Pearce, Samizdata
Gordon's last fling: The chancellor promises tax cuts but there will be a bill for them - Economist
RELATED: UK Politics, NZ Politics, Hollow Men.