It would not have been hard for Brown to win popular support amongst traditional Labour supporters, those struggling on low incomes, and those on middle incomes feeling the pinch.
He could have cut taxes on working people by ending the costly wars in the Middle East, scrapping Trident, ID cards, and ending the expensive privatisation policies.
He could have kept his promise on the EU referendum and held that General Election.
Now he’s stuck with trying to ride the wave of Olympic success.
God knows, he hasn’t the bollocks to change course, yet big business is worried he might make some surface alterations they’ll have to pay for – the modest suggestion that corporations should contribute to the meeting the costs of the 2012 London Olymics was met with alarm.
It is interesting to note that whatever you do for the ruling class, they are never pleased. There’s never enough, as the FT reveals:
Business has launched a pre-emptive strike against the “unacceptably high” level of corporate taxation, in an attempt to persuade prime minister Gordon Brown not to make companies pay the bill for his autumn relaunch.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Miles Templeman, director-general of the Institute of Directors, criticised Mr Brown’s first months in Downing Street and urged him not to inflict further damage on the UK’s competitiveness in a move to recover political popularity.
“The government, in the last five years particularly, has not really embraced the business agenda thoroughly enough,” said Mr Templeman. “The Brown premiership has carried on that trend. And then you’ve got all the economic pressures and some of the tax cock-ups as well.”
Mr Templeman dismissed the multimillion-pound relaunch package Mr Brown is expected to unveil next month, offering help with fuel bills and stamp duty, as largely irrelevant to business.
“In reality, there is very little room to move fiscally,” he said. “I hope we don’t get into a year of small-scale electioneering, rather than addressing the bigger picture of how we’re going to compete for the next 10 years.”
The IoD and other employer organisations fear Mr Brown will be tempted to use business as a “fall guy” if economic pressures force him to raise more taxes.
Business groups are aware their call for a moratorium on tax increases may appear as special pleading. “We’re now at a level of tax to GDP that is in danger of inhibiting growth,” Mr Templeman warned. “The tax burden, in terms of level and administrative cost, is at an unacceptably high rate.”
The CBI has chosen tax as the theme of fringe meetings it is sponsoring at next month’s party conferences.