Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What's the difference between Boris and Blears?

When the part-time MP known as Boris -- long before he became joke-candidate for London Mayor -- insulted the city of Liverpool, he made the long journey up to apologise. When Blairite Blears insults the council estates of Oxford, she stays at home and blames anyone but her tongue-tied self. Instead, laconic Mr Brown turns up for a cuppa at Andrew Smith's house.

Now, I wouldn't want it to be imagined that an unfavourable comparison of hazardous Hazel to Mr Johnson is some sort of praise for the latter. The point's that there's a way of responding when you've done wrong and Ms Blears' stubborn approach is not it. I doubt the clamours for a visit for her to give an apology in person will die down soon.

The presence of Mr Brown in Andrew Smith's living-room must be seen as endorsement of the present MP for Oxford East by the Prime Minister who was one of the architects of New Labour. I doubt that, though, impresses many people. After all, that endorsement works two ways: it means that Mr Brown can expect Mr Smith to be loyal on contentious issues. That he will, in other words, continue to represent New Labour to the people of Oxford rather than stand up for us in Parliament.

The same old story, then, as has been recently shown not just by Andrew Smith's two-faced approach to Post Office closures but also by his backing for hiking income tax for low earners up from 10%. His argument on income tax is apparently that evidence suggests this hike will only hit the young and single people. Oh, that's OK then.

Of course, there are problems with the 10% rate: LibDems have said for a long time that it would be better to bring more people out of income tax altogether, and that's patently sensible. But, if there is not going to be any really significant uplift in tax thresholds, having a lower rate was an acceptable second choice. But now even that concession to poor working people is going.

Clearly, it's not just Ms Blears who should make a personal apology. Messers Brown and Smith could have used their jamboree the other day to give a joint apology for letting down yet more people deserving of help. Another opportunity missed.

1 comment:

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