When I reviewed David Cameron's options in an earlier blog item, I wrote:
"Tax cuts? Brown will get a tax cut in before the next election and then ask what the Tories are going to cut back on to pay for more tax cuts."
I never imagined that it would be done with such bare-faced cheek as Brown and Darling did this week!
Despite hopelessly misplaying his hand and boosting Cameron when he was on the ropes, Brown's position is still fairly strong as - regardless of some of the more febrile commentary - the UK economy is still ticking over nicely. Even if, as seems likely, the economic waters become choppier, it will be against a background of low inflation and low interest rates - very different from the nightmare scenario that Major faced in 1990 or Callaghan in 1979.
Cameron's next big stick to attack Brown with is the upcoming European Treaty. The press and the Tories have made a lot of fuss about how the Treaty is 90% the same as the previously proposed Constitution - and are demanding a referendum - as was promised by Labour for the Constitution. Brown's argument is that the UK will have specific opt-outs from the parts of the Treaty that he doesn't want.
At the moment, it's all up in the air; Cameron won't say what he specifically doesn't like in the Treaty because of the danger that Brown will come back with opt-outs for all those things. Equally, Brown's red-lines are a bit vague at the moment because the Treaty hasn't been finalised.
The opt-outs are, of course, the crucial point. If Brown can fillet the Treaty, as it applies to the UK, of anything controversial then Cameron's demand for a referendum will start to look silly. I don't believe that Brown will sign up for anything that plays into Cameron's hands because he has too much to lose now, and I can't see the other European governments trying to force his hand. The danger might be that something in the Treaty will be open to multiple interpretations...