Iain Duncan Smith’s somewhat lacklustre response to the Budget was to liken Gordon Brown’s offer of tax relief for small businesses while hiking employers’ NIC to ‘someone taking £10 out of your wallet, giving you a pound back and saying you should be grateful’. Impressed? You shouldn’t be. Think back a year. In his response to the 2001 Budget, then Tory leader William Hague said Brown was ‘like the thief who steals you car and comes back the next day to return your hub caps’.
So a case of so far, so familiar. But this wasn’t the insult’s first outing. Just 12 months earlier Hague again had compared the chancellor to a mugger who steals your cash but expects thanks when he hands back your bus fare home. But even then it was hardly original. In his response to the 1999 Budget, guess what Hague said? Yes, he described Brown as being like a pickpocket who ‘shakes your hand after stealthily removing your wallet’.
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