Thursday, 1 November 2007

Command Chancellorship no more

The relationship between the Prime Minister and Chancellor is one of the most important and sometimes the most fraught in British politics. For ten years we have been used the first Command Chancellorship since Neville Chamberlain was in the role when Baldwin was prime minister.

Not any more. It looks as if Gordon Brown's fingerprints were all over the leaked govenrment decision to make concessions to business on capital gains tax, showing that the PM has not abandoned his old Treasury fiefdom. This contrasts with Tony Blair's relative neglect of economic and financial policy and the defiance that Gordon Brown showed when he did try to intervene.

Alastair Darling had vigorously defended his CGT regime in defiance of criticisms from business. Now he has learnt about his admittedly limited climbdown from the press and will have to make a formal announcement to clarify the position.

Chancellors who have been subservient to the prime minister have never done very well in the job, Antony Barber being the prime example. For some time Alastair Darling has positioned himself as someone who was close to Mr Brown but not under his control. However, as a somewhat confused Downing Street intervention on bin tax showed, we can expect more of the same.

The King is dead, long live the King!

No comments: