We never resisted the chance to laugh at Gordon Brown for conjuring up schemes which always promised round-number cash figures, usually of £1bn or £10bn or £100bn. It gave him a certain Dr Evil from Austin Powers quality, as we frequently pointed out.
Therefore it would be unfair not to point out that David Cameron appears to be going down the same path; yesterday the coalition promised a £1bn growth fund for regions hit by public spending cuts.
No matter that the money will probably come from existing budgets including the £1.4bn spent on regional development agencies.
Other recent examples of Cameron’s round figure tendencies include a promise of a £1bn energy smart meter programme; his £1bn plan to help marriage via a tax break; an Olympics-based marketing fund worth…..cue sinister laughter…£1bn.
One Labour frontbencher says the growth fund is ludicrous given that it will come from other budgets being decimated. “Why not set up a new £1bn health fund and dismantle the entire NHS at the same time,” he says. Then again, still a bit early for New Labour to question this kind of double-speak given that they excelled at it.