Gordon Brown is funny fellow.

His defiant Old Labour-red ties have now shaded back to pastel pink, but nobody questioned his egalitarian credentials.

In a Blair Government there was no place for a Robin Hood Chancellor, taking from the rich to give to the poor - and boasting about it like Hugh Dalton, Stafford Cripps and Denis Healey.

So Gordon did it by stealth, very successfully, too.

It suited his temperamental love of intricacy to slip the nasty bits through in the small print. He had promised to leave income rates alone, so he just failed to raise the start points for the standard and higher rates in line with earnings - and bumped up National Insurance, about which he had taken care to promise nothing.

The same with inheritance tax. Ahead of his early Budgets there were scares about his doing this or that to sharpen it up like other Labour Chancellors. He did nothing - so it seemed. He just raised the starting point for the tax in line with the subdued retail prices index, while house prices galloped off into the ionosphere.

Just sitting and watching he has nearly doubled the money he rakes in from inheritance tax, most of it now from the estates of not particularly wealthy owners of detached houses.

That alone should confirm Mr Brown's status as a Chancellor with a taste and a gift for social engineering.

It is not his fault that the bonus culture has multiplied the gap between rich and poor on his watch - anyway his life would be very uncomfortable by now without the taxes on those City bonuses.

That first oddity is his attitude to windfalls for 18-year-olds.

Family solicitors are traditionally wary of placing large sums of money in the hands of teenagers. They are even more likely than they may become a few years later to squander it in unattractive behaviour, possibly doing themselves an injury in the process.

Not long ago, Labour candidates would denounce the parasitic antics of gilded youth. But not Mr Brown.

First there was his Child Trust Fund. He encouraged parents and grandparents to top up his largesse from the taxpayers - but insisted that every penny built up in a child's fund must be handed over on the 18th birthday. Without strings.

Now he has done it again. His anti-trust small-print accompanying the Budget is aimed at "accumulation and maintenance" trusts used chiefly by prosperous parents to prevent their offspring getting their hands on an inheritance until, typically, they are 25. Mr Brown prefers them to go on a teenage spree at 18.

Then his broadly beneficent pension reform contains a colossal tax-break for anyone who can find a lump sum.

Inherit a house, sell it and pay your tax. Then you drip feed what is left up to the full amount of your income, with a limit of £215,000 a year into a pension fund - and end up paying no income tax at all.

Mr Brown may have felt he should make amends for wrecking company pensions, but devising a special favour for owners of capital, fits strangely with a red tie.