Leader – Things sure have changed

Why was there such a sense of anti-climax after Gordon Brown sat down last week? According to many commentators, the failure of the Budget to make a striking impact was the result of too much leaking in advance.

Not only did many of the ‘leaks’ turn out to be extravagant, but much of the hype in the speech itself about radical change turned out, on closer examination, to be so much hot air. But perhaps the real problem was that anyone expected him to be radical, when in reality politicians have lost both the will and the desire to be radical.

For most people, there are few reminders of how things have changed.

Certainly, many on the left were bitterly disappointed to find that last May’s Labour victory had merely ushered in another government committed to the same economic principles of prudence and low public spending as its Conservative predecessor. It is a measure of how much things have changed on what used to be the Left that when Tony Blair addressed the French National Assembly on Tuesday he argued against the French socialist government’s plan for a 35-hour working week.

So it would be wrong to blame Gordon Brown for not reforming the entire tax system or diverting huge sums to the worst off. We must get used to the idea that such grand gestures belong to the past and begin to expect less of our politicians as a consequence.

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