From almost the moment that Gordon Brown sat down at the end of his Budget speech, the blogsphere and the media have attacked the proposals. "Tax Con" screamed the headline in the Express while the Mail was also far from sympathetic. Some support for this view was given in the first polls which suggested not only a decline in support for Brown but a general "thumbs down" for the Budget.
Today, however, a poll for the Independent tells what I believe to be the true considered public response to the Budget, not the fevered ramblings of desperate Tory activists:
Conservatives 35% (down five)
Labour 31% (up two)
Lib Democrats 20% (up three)
Behind the headline figures, however, lurks the real story. Labour has begun to recover support among middle-income earners and this is where the Budget was aimed. The not inconsiderable number of people (including myself) who earn between £20,000 and £40,000, are the barely-mentioned "winners" from the Budget. This group has had time to reflect on the figures and has begun to realise what a good Budget it is for them.
Across the suburbs of Britain's towns and cities and across the south-east, the Budget has been aimed at voters in marginal Labour sests who had shown signs of switching to the Tories sinbce 2005. This Budget is the start of the strategy to win them back.
Wednesday March 21st 2007 might not be seen as the day that the Conservatives lost the next General Election but it might be the day when Labour stopped losing it and made much harder for David Cameron.