Fuelling the flames

IT has not been a good period for the Government. Indeed, since last week’s Budget, controversies over “Granny Tax”, the millionaires’ tax cut, pastie tax and fuel duty have come as a run of embarrassments.

As we said in the immediate aftermath of the Budget, the tax changes affecting pensioners were bound to create a backlash. With so many plans leaked to the media in advance of the Budget, the Granny Tax was a new line for the media to pursue and the Government failed to see it coming.

George Osborne has also had a good pasting from the national media over his advice that the VAT hike on hot food could be avoided by buying cold pasties, pies and sausage rolls. Not very clever, Mr Chancellor.

And yesterday’s major talking point was the Government’s clumsy handling of the fuel drivers’ dispute.

It is our belief that the Government missed an opportunity in the Budget by failing to cut fuel duty – or even August’s scheduled rise of 3.6p per litre – and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude managed to fuel the flames unnecessarily yesterday.

You do not have to be Red Adair to know that storing jerry cans full of petrol in your garage is not a good idea. Not only did it require a demand from the Fire Brigades Union for Mr Maude’s advice to be withdrawn on safety grounds, but motoring organisations and energy firms were moved to appeal to people not to panic buy.

Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the direction followed by David Cameron’s Government, even his political opponents acknowledge that he has proved himself to be a sure-footed operator so far.

But the Prime Minister will be acutely aware that a solid start can swiftly go downhill. Just ask Gordon Brown.

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