Gordon Brown really believes his “Mr 10 per cent” jibe at David Cameron is working. He really, really, really wants it to work. And he spent PMQs trying to hammer home the point. Again. Again. And Again.
(With the help of a few friendly, ie planted, questions.).
The Tories are the party of cuts. Labour is the party of investment. The Tories are the party of cuts. etc, etc.
Unfortunately it showed the prime minister at his worst.
No one will be fooled by his attempt to create dividing lines where they don’t exist (Andrew Lansley may have slipped up but the Tories subsequently made very clear that the idea of 10 per cent cuts across departments – if the NHS budget is ringfenced – is based on existing Labour figures).
In doing so (accusing Cameron of a “dogmatic” desire to cut investment) he looked simply desperate. As usual, he resorted to reeling off strings of figures, ignoring the fact that Labour’s own spending “rises” in the coming years are nothing of the sort – if you strip out an expected rise in benefit payments and higher debt repayments.
Cameron was left with the best jokes, eg, “A prime minister who won’t ever tell 10 per cent of the truth.”
And the Tory leader’s accusation that Brown was “just sinking and sinking” rang true.
In private, the Tories are incredulous. They can’t believe that Labour isn’t going for the more obvious attack line: that both parties will have to make cuts, but the Tory ones are likely to be (relatively) deeper.