IF Labour take a pounding in this week’s local elections it will be Gordon Brown’s fault.

Everything he has touched has turned to dust, with the result that the Tories are on a 20-year high in the opinion polls.

The Prime Minister’s ineptitude will be thrown into the spotlight again when MPs vote today on the crucial Budget clause abolishing the 10p starting rate for income tax.

Or is it ineptitude?

Mr Brown was, after all, the man who introduced the 10p rate when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

It was triumphed then as a measure which would help the poorest. So you would have thought that Mr Brown would be aware of the impact withdrawal would have.

The inescapable conclusion must be that he either chose to ignore the damage it would inflict on the most vulnerable in society, had forgotten or thought he could get away with a con.

Whichever way, it’s not very edifying.

It also has to be said that it does not generally inspire confidence that MPs – supposedly the greatest minds in the country – failed to spot this for almost 12 months.

Labour goes into the elections with the whispers that its leader’s days are numbered.

His dissidents have smelled blood.

No-one should be surprised if the party loses votes on Thursday because of the fiasco.

Mr Brown will be forever remembered for robbing the poor to give to the rich.