Senior civil servant reveals Brown’s by-election panic

11 Aug 2008

Newly elected Glasgow East SNP MP, John Mason, has described reports in the Sunday Times at the weekend that Gordon Brown is considering a one-off winter payment to households in receipt of child benefit as a “panic reaction”, after they were inadvertently revealed by a senior civil servant, Sir Brian Bender, who was overheard discussing the secret strategy on a train the day after the SNP sensationally won the Glasgow East seat from Labour.

Mr Mason said: “The fact that senior civil servants were rushed back to London hours after the SNP’s sensational by-election win leave little doubt that these proposals are a panic reaction to Labour’s humiliation in Glasgow East.

“First we got a freeze in fuel duty during the campaign, now we get an energy bill rebate for hard-pressed families. Clearly, while the proposal may be inadequate and half cocked, the SNP’s win in Glasgow East is concentrating minds wonderfully in London.

“While any action to help hard pressed families with the soaring cost of energy is welcome, with the average energy bill going up £400 since the beginning of the year, the prime minister’s proposals are a mere sticking plaster.

“It is no longer tenable for Gordon Brown to rake in a windfall of billions of pounds from North Sea oil taxation yet put nothing back into helping the economy or the hard pressed public.”


Sir Brian Bender is Permanent Secretary at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.