OPINION: Miliband spin simply aims to topple Brown

So the Tories fear David Miliband more than Gordon Brown do they? If that's what they are telling people in private then you can bet your house that they don't really fear him at all.

One of my favourite tales from life as a spin-doctor involved Alastair Campbell and I leaking a fake memo to the BBC showing fake Labour private polling making out that Ken Clarke was the people's choice for Prime Minister and how we feared him most. This complete parcel of rubbish actually made it on to the Today programme.

The Tories have just one task now and that is to discredit Gordon Brown. The Miliband spin is aimed at destabilising the Chancellor.

They are, of course, being helped by Brown's old enemies. Peter Mandelson's intervention in favour of a real leadership election was timed to damage Brown. Mandy knows there is no possibility of David Miliband actually standing for leader and that finding a candidate to beat Brown is wishful thinking. The Labour Party wants Brown to be its next leader and there is nothing the Prince of Darkness, or anyone else, can do to stop him.

But for Brown, the polls showing him behind David Cameron in the Prime Minister stakes will be worrying, and the budget was a chance to change things. His delight in seeing the Tory leader wrongfooted by his 2p tax cut may have only lasted a few hours but it did have real impact.

The jury is still out on who won the budget war, but don't be fooled by the argument ‘what he gives with one hand he takes with the other'. When the Tories cut income tax and put up VAT, Labour used that argument and it didn't work. People like low tax rates and, in any case, the Tories don't have a clue what to do about tax themselves.

Brown and his team reckon that once he takes over as Prime Minister his poll ratings will begin to soar as he announces new policy and benefits from the inevitable honeymoon period.

The Tories, on the other hand, want to inflict as much damage as possible on Brown before Tony Blair hands over the keys to number 10. They want to portray their man as Prime Minister in waiting.

Team Cameron will not be very happy then with the latest Channel 4 programme portraying him as an impostor. The allegation that he will do and say anything in order to win rings true though, and you can also bet your house on the fact that Brown will launch his real attack on Cameron only when Blair has gone.

The reason is simple. I'm told his line of attack will be something along the lines of ‘who wants another Tony Blair as Prime Minister?'
charlie.whelan@haymarket.com

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