Yesterday's pre-budget report and CSR announcement were necessary and good politics. Being accused of being a magpie and stealing Tory clothes is not a charge to keep the PM or the Chancellor up at night. (Nor is David Cameron's accusation at PMQs today that Gordon Brown 'looks phoney': the colour scheme for pots and kettles springs to mind.) In education, there is more money for primary school building and a new raft of targets which require minimum achievements in both English and Maths at each stage. So far, so sensible. But, Gordon should study two comment pieces in this morning's papers. Jonathan Freedland sets Brown his main task in the months ahead.
From now on, the Brown administration needs to do less politics and more governing....One minister tells friends that the trouble with the Brown team is that they are obsessed with politics, never able to resist a neat manoeuvre here, a little jab there. The PM needs to prove them wrong, getting on with the quiet, steady business of running the country well.....A year from now and we shall be in the run-up to the 2009 election. He has 12 months in which to think and act big, not play catch-up with the Conservative party. This was the Gordon Brown we waited for. Now we want to see him.And, although it may be a little tongue in cheek given its source, Danny Finkelstein makes a good point about the Year Zero tendencies of some Brownites. The public think of 1997 as when the new Labour government was elected, not 2007. Ministers need to remind people of what has been achieved and learned, and build on those achievements and lessons, as well as promoting new ideas and borrowing from the Tories.