Sunday, June 01, 2008


Serious and Consistent can still give Gordon Hope

We learn that Alistair Darling is going to rule out the planned 2p increase in fuel tax planned for October. I think this is a mistake. Andrew Rawnsley argues today that Brown should now rule as if his re-election is already 'lost' but only pursue measures in which he believes, as in the case on fertilisation and embryology, where, two weeks ago, his impressive speech won the free vote.

Brown has spoken warmly on the need to reduced carbon emissions yet, despite the warnings of his former scientific adviser seems ready to unleash more of them upon the world by allowing the fuel lobby to have its way. A principled statement on the need to reduce emissions and the consequent desirability of higher fuel prices would be his better course, rather than allowing his Chancellor to be further undermined through pressure from Number 10. Some tax relief for hauliers and the like might sugar the pill for those hardest hit by the fuel price hike.

Riddell's cartoon in the Observer today brilliantly satirises public fickleness on the topic. In frame one a group of concerned looking people alongside cheaper petrol pumps say 'We need fuel efficient engines...hybrid technology, wind farms...'; the second, showing prices now up t0 118p a litre, has a group of demented customers roaring 'F**k that- we need cheap petrol now!!!'. Rawnley is right that these times need someone steady who is not blown off course by the daily swings of opinion and led into desperate measures like cold calling ordinary people at home for a chat. 'A sensible man for serious times' was the lable attached to Brown a year ago; there is still time before 2010 for Gordon to be true to such a role.

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