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Economy debate: Three very different world views

Stephanie Flanders | 21:51 UK time, Thursday, 29 April 2010

Birmingham: There is such a thing as the economy. It's just not the same as the state." In effect, that was David Cameron's pitch tonight - his way of explaining why cutting government spending would not be a threat to growth. In many ways, it's a more telling representation of the Conservatives' philosophy than Mr Cameron's better-known slogan about society.

When it comes to growth, David Cameron thinks government is the problem. He thinks the sheer growth in size of government over the past decade has not just put our credit rating at risk: it's put our future growth at risk, by stifling productivity and growth.

From almost his opening words in this debate, Gordon Brown showed that he took precisely the opposite view. "Don't believe that we can fail to support the economy this year," he said. Government isn't the problem, he says - it's the solution. It was government - his government, incidentally - that helped Britain avoid another Great Depression. And it will help maintain the recovery as well.

Even when he admitted that there would be cuts in spending after 2011, he found a way to remind us of the good side of Labour's massive spending spree since 2001. We can cut public investment, he said, "because once you've built a school, you don't need to build it again." And, he said, once you've raised public-sector pay, you can control it.

As ever, this basic difference on the proper size and role of the state is the key dividing line between the two largest parties in Westminster - and not just when it comes to their spending plans for this year. It helps explain why the Conservatives want to raise taxes less than do Labour - or the Liberal Democrats. And why they want more spending cuts instead.

On paper, the Liberal Democrats are closer to Labour than the Conservatives on this point: they would raise taxes by £20bn to cut the deficit, compared to £24bn for Labour and £14bn for the Conservatives.

However, you didn't get the same clear rhetoric from Mr Clegg tonight. His big message on the economy - if there were any - was the need for a "fairer" tax system, with the radical reforms that his party has called for. The IFS is still trying to decide whether all those ideas, taken together, would actually achieve the shift in fairness that he suggests.

So, no news on how they would cut the deficit. Surprise. But plenty of evidence of their very different world views.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Stephanie:

    Why, there are 3 different views on the economic debates because---there are parties that want to have things that they believe in....

    (D)

  • Comment number 2.

    "Economy debate: Three very different world views" ?

    Sorry I've just watched it and I don't recognise you analysis. Cameron and Brown were almost indistinguishable - neither wanted to face up to difficult questions. Who ever selected the questions seemed to avoid the obvious questions. For example: the chartered accountant and wife who do not earn enough to buy a house - none of the politicians seemed to understand that the average house is too expensive for the average earner and further that they the politicians and their co-conspirators the Bankers perpetuate this abuse. No amount of co-ownership will solve this problem that the politicians (and Bankers) have created. In short neither of the participants demonstrated an acceptable degree of numeracy - and we are stuck with these men as leaders - heaven help us. Why was the question not framed as: why can't a family on the average income afford the average house?

  • Comment number 3.

    Gordon Brown's record on the economy is a disaster. 13 years of failure first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister. Has it ever occured to him that he is just wrong ? No, because he isn't capable of believing such a thing.

  • Comment number 4.

    'Even when he admitted that there would be cuts in spending after 2011, he found a way to remind us of the good side of Labour's massive spending spree since 2001'

    Let me remind everyone of the bad side of the spending spree. A £30,000 debt for every man woman and child in this country. Thanks Gordon.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Conservatives might think cutting Government spending would not be a threat to growth, but for that to be true they would need to find ways to expand the private sector just as fast as the public sector was contracting. And they would need to do this while banks are unwilling to make loans, and while export-led recovery is unlikely because of the fragility opf the world economy.

    If it's possible at all, it could only be done very slowly - probably over decades.

  • Comment number 6.

    'It was government - his government, incidentally - that helped Britain avoid another Great Depression. And it will help maintain the recovery as well.'

    Under his government incidentally we were first into recession. Under his government incidentally we last out of recession. Under his govenrment incidentally we racked up a bigger deficit than any other major economy and under his government incidentally they've turned a golden legacy into rust.

  • Comment number 7.

    'his way of explaining why cutting government spending would not be a threat to growth. In many ways, it's a more telling representation of the Conservatives' philosophy than Mr Cameron's better-known slogan about society.'

    and just to remind everyone what you yourself have said on more than one ocassion. There is plenty of evidence that the way to secure recovery is through cutting waste rather than raising tax on jobs. (OK you didn't quite put it that way :))

  • Comment number 8.

    As usual, questions about Government debt - but no questions about the even larger levels of private debt, which are just as damaging if not more so. As the gap between rich and poor has grown, so inevitably has the level of debt, as the savings of the rich fund the spending power of the poor (which is in turn needed to keep the economy afloat). Such debt cannot keep on growing forever.

    Much greater "fairness" in the economy and a reduced gap between rich and poor isn't just a matter of morality. It is essential to making the economy function in a sustainable manner.

  • Comment number 9.

    Politicians, especially Mr Brown (and I dare say George Osborne) fail to recognise the difference between the State (bounded by its borders) and the economy that is global and corporatised. As events over the past couple of years emphasised, our chancellors, treasury people, you name 'em, can do very little when the economy at large goes wobbly, should they subscribe to free markets. Investors large and small control the global economy in the free market. If a nation does something that investors don't like they just move their capital, operations, etc, elsewhere. Something that politicians should ponder when threatening to tax our most successful organisations (or the British arms of them).

  • Comment number 10.

    6. At 10:37pm on 29 Apr 2010, jobsagoodin wrote:
    'It was government - his government, incidentally - that helped Britain avoid another Great Depression. And it will help maintain the recovery as well.'

    Under his government incidentally we were first into recession. Under his government incidentally we last out of recession. Under his govenrment incidentally we racked up a bigger deficit than any other major economy and under his government incidentally they've turned a golden legacy into rust.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Absolutely. Brown is no economist and it would be nice if he got his brain in the same gear as his mouth.

    "There will be no more boom and bust"

    Yep...and look at it. Well, that's because he controls almost nothing of economic conditions. But he was either brazenly naive or too smugly complacent that his policy of credit expansion could go on forever. He made absolutely no provision for what must have been obvious bubbles that would burst.

    Sure, he was ready to blame everyone but himself for the disaster. The banks. It was their reckless risk-taking that did it. But note that he turned a blind eye to their reckless risk-taking as long as he was raking in tax to splurge on his reckless spending. He was perfectly happy not to regulate or enforce regulation on the banks. Now he's running around like a headless chicken saving the world with strong arm regulation.

    Did you hear him tonight: "But I do know how to run the economy..." He really hasn't a clue. Just look at the state of things.

    And he still insists that most ordinary householders who saved to buy their homes will still pay his death tax...oh, I mean the despised inheritance tax, sorry, (at 40% over the threshold after you were taxed possibly at 40% if you could actually afford a home while alive). Disgusting. Economist? Bah!

  • Comment number 11.

    I found it telling that Gordon Brown was once again emphasising the importance of keeping interest rates low and to keep inflation at bay as has been done for most of this decade.
    Today we are told by Nationwide that house price inflation is at an annual rate of 10.5%. If that rate continues it will double house prices within 7 to 8 years. This is precisely the kind of inflation that Brown chose to ignore when he was Chancellor as we entered the previous housing bubble. How will the accountant and others ever get onto the housing ladder unless the government recognise this is a major source of inflation?
    Brown seems to believe that low interest rates seem to guarantee growth and recovery. He should remember that Japan has experienced years of low interest rates without recovery. It is also a hopelessly simplistic view of how the term and structure of interest rates work across their various markets.
    The fact that this man believes he can guide the economy back to growth, when he was a contributor to wiping out such a huge amount of this country's wealth over the past decade really is amazing. He squandered money on public spending and government expansion and part presided over the creation of an enormous bubble. He cannot blame it all on global forces.

  • Comment number 12.

    #2 JFH

    Absolutely spot on as usual. Just too many vested interests still for now.

  • Comment number 13.

    So David Cameron thinks that when it come to growth, big government is the problem.

    Is it not obvious that it is the shortage of money and credit which is stopping many businesses even keeping going, let alone starting up or expanding to generate growth?

    After the credit crunch trauma, banks will not start lending again as freely as before, at least not until they have acquired sufficient money to build up their reserves.

    Recovery will only be possible if the money supply is increased further. To do this the so called "structural deficit" will need to become a permanent feature and be funded by QE so that it generates new money.

    As has happened so often before, today's conventional wisdom in economics will turn out to be completely wrong.

  • Comment number 14.

    This was the first of the three debates which I bothered to watch live. The former I reviewed after the event in the media.
    Based upon this evening's performance, it struck me that Brown and Cameron are living on different planets to the rest of us and that Clegg may have some good ideas for change, but seems a little light on the substance.
    Brown can talk all he likes about what he wants to do next, but the fact is that he held a joint leadership of this country with Blair for the first decade of New Lab. Blair clearly was not particularly knowledgeable or involved in the economy's management; hence Brown should be judged on his record. Of course, it is not all bad, but on balance it is pretty appalling. So strike one.
    There is no argument against Cameron or Clegg on the basis that they do not have the experience to do the job, whereas Brown is the international statesman. Brown may have made the political contacts over the past decade, but that is not a reason to be leading the country. Nobody outside Chicago knew about Obama until recently, but he seems every bit the statesmen, whatever one thinks of his policies within a few weeks of becoming President.
    Cameron and Clegg have the advantage that they are 'innocent' of the mess created by New Lab. Therefore, their performance must be rated on their ability to convince the audience that they:
    1) have some better policies than New Lab;
    2) would be willing to make the hard decisions;
    We know that Brown is not willing to make the hard decisions, since if he was, then half the policies he was trying to sell this evening would have been implemented over the past decade, e.g. on immigration and bankers' bonuses.
    Cameron talks about 'change' but he looks like a return to old Tories. He is also much weaker in his claim to 'change' since Clegg has effectively stolen this mantle. Whether it is fanciful or not, Clegg and the Lib Dems represent a much fresher image of 'change' than a few old Etonians could ever muster. Cameron's gaff about immigration caps was pretty bad, since it portrayed him as being ignorant of where most immigrants come from, i.e. Europe. Further his unwillingness to place a number on his planned restrictions sounded like the same old games as played by New Lab whenever they are in a spot.
    The joint ridicule of Clegg's idea of amnesty for certain long-term immigrants by Brown and Cameron showed just how poorly these two men have understood the issues. For Brown to accuse Clegg of encouraging illegal immigration shows a lack of intelligent analysis of the problem. If you offer a one time amnesty to a group of 'offenders', it does not mean that future 'offenders' will receive amnesty, particularly, if you have introduced entrance and exit controls as suggested by Clegg. Brown's thinking on this subject appears to miss the point of Clegg's approach entirely; although personally I suspect he was just being disingenuous.
    Overall, I think Clegg and the Lib Dems deserve the chance to really try some new policies for this country. Of course there are risks. However, more of the same from Brown and New Lab is an even greater risk, given they have been major contributors to so many of the economic problems. Cameron just does not offer radical change. He comes across as a 'nice chap' from a priviledged background trying to encourage 'family' and 'society'. The kind of 'back to basics' of Major with a more polished presentation style. However, I don't feel he appears particularly trust-worthy; anyone who pretends to be environmentally concerned by cycling to work once or twice a week, whilst a government car follows behind is hardly big on the integrity stakes.
    Unfortunately, despite the approximate 30% split three ways at the polls for the three candidates, Clegg is not very likely to be walking into No.10 anytime soon. Only if we have a 'hung parliament' with the Lib Dems holding the balance and able to negotiate for electoral reform will that day eventually come. Until then, we're most likely to continue the same old game of ping-pong between the blues and reds.

  • Comment number 15.

    The debate was too superficial - even Brown sounded like a competent politician when he was sounding off with his wish list that would cost trillions of £'s spare that the UK does not have.

  • Comment number 16.

    Who really cares what the 3 clowns said or did not say - it's not going to change anything in the long run.

    What really go us into this mess is 30 years reliance upon the financial services industry growing 'profits' that were based mainly upon incremental increases in public, corporate and private debt. Whilst these vested interests hold sway no politician has even the remotest hope of forging a recovery.

    If I had to chose one party (and then very reluctantly) it would be the Lib-Dems and then only because they have some comprehension of the concept of fairness.

  • Comment number 17.

    13. At 11:26pm on 29 Apr 2010, stanblogger wrote:

    "Recovery will only be possible if the money supply is increased further. To do this the so called "structural deficit" will need to become a permanent feature and be funded by QE so that it generates new money."

    Sorry to sound stupid, but can you explain how it is possible to sustain consuming more goods and services than you produce by printing money?

    I'd love to know because I just assumed that the way for the UK to recover from being in debt was to start producing more than it consumes until it's back in balance. How naive I must be.

    By the way, if the UK can continue to consume more goods and services than it produces via quantitative easing, presumably all countries in the world can do the same thing? Just print more money, and everyone in the world can consume as much as they want? In fact, if they go far enough, nobody would actually need to produce anything - everyone would just QE their food, shelter, heating, transport, health care and education into existence. Brilliant! I can't believe nobody tried it before.

  • Comment number 18.

    Brown's QE programme - printing money - has already weakened the pound by 30% against the Euro & future QE will weaken the pound further.

    The troubled Bank's should have been allowed to fail as happened in the US in the 1880's - 150,000 businesses went to the wall but then the US economy recovered & flourished - without ANY National Debt.
    Mass dependency on state services makes this more difficult today but the fundamentals remain.

    BROWN was increasing National Debt BEFORE the Banking Crises when other countries were repaying theirs.
    BROWN still calls govt spending ' investment ' - it's not - it's just govt spending.

    Only private investment is sustainable in the long-term, creating sustainable jobs, wealth, strengthens the currency & attracts further investment WITHOUT creating National Debt.

    The private & public sectors are more often than not opposing economic entities. The private sector creates wealth & the public sector spends it.

  • Comment number 19.

    Brown's favourite phrases trotted out time and again..."risk the recovery" being one of them. Come on, Mr Brown! What recovery is that? The 0.2% growth in productivity?
    Why did nobody challenge Brown's ridiculous allegations against previous Tory governments? Has the man lost all sense of reality? When he tells us that the previous Tory Governments caused the major recessions of our recent past, he is just utterly wrong. It was the Labour Governments who plunged us into the most serious messes we had ever, as a nation, experienced. Remember how we had to go begging for a loan to the IMF? Does he really think those of us over 50 cannot still recall with shuddering horror the 'Winter of Discontent'? The Trade Union power, the endless strikes, the sheer damn misery of being the basket case of Europe, mocked and scorned by all the developed world?
    What good did Blair ever do for this country? He began the deconstruction of the UK, he destroyed the House of Lords (removing people with a sense of Noblesse Oblige, and replacing them with his own cronies), he forced us into an illegal war. Oh yes, he banned fox hunting, thereby driving many rural businesses into ruin. I will never vote Labour ever again. It's the same every single time, without fail. They take on a stable economy and blow it to pieces. The Tories fix it all up, at huge pain to every single one of us (except the incredibly rich), causing so much resentment that Labour get back in again - and the whole sorry cycle starts over again.
    And tonight just confirmed to me that Clegg is a naive idealist, with no clue of just how much it would cost this country to give up everything he wants us to give up. Banging on about 'fairness'! Life is not fair, and Government cannot make it so! Governments can enforce justice, but can never get rid of unfairness. Because the rain falls on the just and the unjust! We all know you think it's your turn, Nick, but you ain't convinced me you are ready for the real world yet.
    Cameron is not perfect, but we have nobody better. We have to pick the best of a bad bunch. UKIP is in cloud cuckoo land, BNP is obnoxious and Green...well, come on!
    At last I feel like my mind is made up. It's not perfect, but it'll do.

  • Comment number 20.

    Straightalk

    'If you offer a one time amnesty to a group of 'offenders', it does not mean that future 'offenders' will receive amnesty, particularly, if you have introduced entrance and exit controls as suggested by Clegg'

    As GB said in an earlier debate, get real. Every single time an amnesty has been implemented the problem has got far worse. Only the Lib Dems don't seem to have noticed this.

  • Comment number 21.

    stanblogger wrote:
    "So David Cameron thinks that when it come to growth, big government is the problem.

    Is it not obvious that it is the shortage of money and credit which is stopping many businesses even keeping going, let alone starting up or expanding to generate growth? "

    Haha, you totally choose to ignore the reason why banks are not lending!

    1. Government leans on BoE to print £200 Billion
    2. BoE swaps £200 Billion for banks loan book
    3. Banks forced by Government to buy Government Gilts as high propertion of their tier 1 capital reserves
    4. Government bypasses the real Gilt market to fund its insane deficit spending

    Lets not forget that the banks didnt really complain about the above. they get to borrow money at 0.5% from the BoE using their arguably dodgy impaired loan books as colateral.

    The banks then lend to the government at 3.5% for pretty much zero risk creaming their customary 3% margin.

    BOOM TIMES BACK, banks are in profit again, paying bonuses and all for NO RISK.

    Taxpayers get lumbered with an ever increasing national debt.

    Yes financial genius indeed, Mr Brown has cynically ruined this nations finances to once again support his banking buddies and fund his profligate statist vote buying manifesto.

  • Comment number 22.

    @jobsagoodin
    "Gordon Brown's record on the economy is a disaster. 13 years of failure first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister. Has it ever occured to him that he is just wrong ? No, because he isn't capable of believing such a thing."

    Gordon Brown has had hugely difficult circumstances to deal with, and took a leading International role in tackling the financial crisis. We survived and we're still here. Had the Conservatives been in power they would now be sitting in the same situation with the same debt. Don't forget that. It's a very blinkered view of yours to pin this on Gordon Brown when he's made the best of a bad situation and led us into recovery. I'd love to have seen how David Cameron would have coped with the collapse of the world's economy.

  • Comment number 23.

    The idea of a meaningful choice between 'big' or 'small' government is an enticing concept. Bring it on! In reality, the choice is between 'big' and 'slightly, marginally, less big' or 'big and slightly bigger' government. The successful control of large and complex societies requires balance and continuity. Step changes and U turns may be the stuff of headlines but they don't work in practice. (You may notice that they rarely happen). The future is written already. There are not two, (or even three), choices. Despite the size of the deficit, the winners of next week's election may only nudge the strategic tiller a jot. Solving the deficit problem may require dramatic use of the 'heavy lift' tactical revenue tools, (NIC's, VAT or Income Tax) and and it's going to hurt the governed, but when the dust settles, government will still be large. Accept it and move on.

  • Comment number 24.

    Doctor Bob (11.11). Yes, but don't you just have to admire Tony Blair's timing?

  • Comment number 25.

    #22 Tom wrote:

    '...would have coped with the collapse of the world's economy.'

    Coped - by implication that the world's economy has already collapsed and now we are in the aftermath.

    You ain't seen nothin' yet.

    This is just the start, 2 years ago the banks started to collapse, their debt was transferred into the public sector, now you will see the public sector collapse.

    Brown coped (at the time) as best he could, Cameron and Clegg could have done no better and could very well have done worse.

    None of them seem willing to mitigate against future shocks (they are stuck in the past)


    History. (doomed to repeat)

  • Comment number 26.

    The big thing for me about the debate was all three leaders avoided addressing the issue of house prices when asked about the affordability of houses. They talked of making mortgages easier to get and of keeping interest rates low - both of which are going to increase the price of houses. I find it very difficult to understand the view of the politicians, the public, and the media on this one. Wasn't the overvaluing of houses the cause of the credit crunch in the first place, or at the very least a large factor? Why do the public want to go on paying more and more for houses? Don't they understand that the more the banks lend, the more the prices will go up? Do the public want to be in more debt? Surely the higher house prices go, the more likely the bubble will burst, the more likely negative equity will cause banks to collapse, the more likely economic armagedon for the country and personal bankruptcy and homelessness for the individual?

  • Comment number 27.

    The most impressive part of the 'debate' was the apparent ignorance and incompetence of all three participants, who clearly demonstrated the unfitness of themselves or their parties to govern our country.

    Not only that, but their criminality disqualifies them from standing for election.

    All three parties and their members and supporters are guilty of thievery over parliamentary expenses, all three parties are guilty of treason by signing us up to the EU, the two main parties are guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and of wrecking our economy by dereliction of financial supervision.

    The whole lot of them should be booted out and put on trial.

    Vote for somebody who you can trust who is not a gangster.

  • Comment number 28.


    Barclays just declared huge profits for the last quarter.

    Perhaps the JobCentre should organise forelock tugging classes for serfs.

  • Comment number 29.

    @jobsagoodin
    "Gordon Brown's record on the economy is a disaster. 13 years of failure first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister. Has it ever occured to him that he is just wrong ? No, because he isn't capable of believing such a thing."


    ====================================================================

    Not a view shared by economists or Brown's peers in the G7 and G20.

    The worst effects of the worst recession since the 1930s has been mitigated by policies opposed by the Conservatives.

    Hopefully at the next election we will dispense with the televised debates. They put too much emphasis on style and presentation and gloss over the issues. If we must have them lets have them on radio.

    The only good outcome from the election will be PR. We cannot have a minority government sladhing jobs and at the same time give tax breaks to their rich friends.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sorry lefties. Your boy Brown took a helluva a beating. His dreadful record of the last 13 years is starting to catch up with him. Clegg got drowned out in the crossfire and looked distinctly lightweight. Advocating joining the euro will never be a vote winner in the UK,

  • Comment number 31.

    #14
    "Cameron's gaff about immigration caps was pretty bad, since it portrayed him as being ignorant of where most immigrants come from, i.e. Europe."


    The truth is he does not seem to know much about Europe which might explain the Conservatives choice of friends in Brussels - east european niche parties that deny climate change, are homophobic, and (some) celebrate Hitler's birthday.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick Clegg on the Liberal Democrats increase on the Income Tax threshold to £10,000 is in principle a good idea. However, when during last nights debate he gave the example of a Teaching Assistant (TA) who earns around £10,000.00 per annum benefiting from this idea to the tune of £700 per annum as being really good. BUT is the salary paid to a TA enough??? I think his example was a poor one and shows his lack of understanding of the true worth of TAs throughout the UK and the essential work they carry out. They should be paid a realistic salary and be given the respect that they deserve.

  • Comment number 33.

    #24
    "Yes, but don't you just have to admire Tony Blair's timing? "


    It was spot on.

    Secure place in history with 3 election victories. Start a war that killed a quarter of a million people probably for no other reason than to ratchet up his after dinner speaking fees.

    Why I won't be voting Labour.

    If the ordinary people pay through job losses and tax hikes (the NIESR reckon income tax will rise 6p) for a 'bankers recession' there will be trouble on the streets. Prepare for 'IRA style' resistance in every major city; can the Army cope, they lost in Belfast.

  • Comment number 34.

    Isn't it strange that those who wish to keep borrowing and spending claim that anything else would be "putting the recovery in danger", as if the recovery was some kind of reversion to the mean that is bound to happen sooner or later? It is not. The mean is based on a structurally flawed economy.

    True recovery can only happen by restructuring towards competing for trade with other countries, which is a monumental task, and requires substantial investment - the exchange rate alone will not do it. At the moment, this investment is still sucked into non-productive property and an over-sized public sector, crowding out the very sectors that might produce growth, if only they were allowed to, and further imbalancing the economy (you cannot export public services).

    The further you go down this line, the more dependent you get on your trading partners being willing to reinvest sterling in the UK. The more dependent you get, and the more sterling falls, the less willing they get, and more interest they want. Eventually you end up importing inflation *without* a recovery, and more and more of GDP gets devoted to servicing debt, not producing goods and services.

    The gamble on achieving a meaningful recovery in time for the election failed - people would not be fooled. There can be no recovery based on returning (even temporarily) to an economy based on imports, debt, inflated property and a huge public sector. Write-offs are needed before savings will find their way into export generating production, and they are needed yesterday.

  • Comment number 35.


    The question that has not been faced regarding what happened to our manufacturing base in this country,to enable us to return to growth. Banking and the Stock Market which replaced industry failed , leaving a vacuum.
    Have any of the Political Parties come up with a way out of a Catch 22 i;e the Banks won"t lend to industry & industry cannot grow to replace Banking!!.......so where do we go from here? Surely it is for our new Government to finance industry directly bypassing the Banking /Stock Market cartel. Of course, we always
    turn Britain into Disneyland!!!



  • Comment number 36.

    If last night told us anything it is that Brown is the problem and is finished - we have less than a week to suffer him.

    Clegg and Cameron may not have all the answers but they will get their chance to start the healing process.

    I think dissaffected Labour supporters are going to hold the key to this election result. They look at the party and the reality of what has happened to it is only just dawning on them. They were duped by Blair and betrayed by Brown.


    Will they vote for for Cameron probably not, Clegg possibly but many won't accept his line on Europe and immigration - some may be lured by the BNP but I think a big chunk will just not bother at all. So, even though Labour are polling in the mid 20% - on polling day with the absentees I think it will be more like late teens - in which case they will be hammered. Out of the wreckage may come a true party of the left - not this Janus like NuLab.

  • Comment number 37.

    Richard Dingle (#31):
    ... the Conservatives choice of friends in Brussels - east european niche parties that deny climate change, are homophobic, and (some) celebrate Hitler's birthday

    Interesting combination of 'niche' beliefs there. Far fewer than 0.1% of the UK celebrate Hitler's birthday. But a whopping 74% doubt the dogma of dangerous climate change caused by man, according to the latest BBC poll:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8500443.stm

    Were these increasingly mainstream views represented in the three debates? If any of the main parties were as clear on this subject as UKIP, I'd have no hesitation in voting for them. It simply isn't niche any more to doubt climate change. And emission reduction policies are going to be a disaster for ordinary people in this country - and especially the billion and a half in the world without electricity. To justify this kind of global meddling the science would have to be rock solid, on a par with Einstein - and believe me, it isn't anything like that, it's in a very primitive state. As much of the world will be if the policies continue.

  • Comment number 38.

    29. At 08:07am on 30 Apr 2010, Richard Dingle wrote:
    @jobsagoodin
    "Gordon Brown's record on the economy is a disaster. 13 years of failure first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister. Has it ever occurred to him that he is just wrong ? No, because he isn't capable of believing such a thing."

    ====================================================================

    Not a view shared by economists or Brown's peers in the G7 and G20.

    =====================================================================

    I think you are being a little biased as economists are split on what should be done in the current climate. There has been a move more recently by a number of eminent economists and finacail commentators to pay down rather than injection as a way of dealing with the current climate.

    As far as the G7 and G20 backing Brown, you have called this one completely wrong. The EU believe that what Brown has done for the banking sector and the economy has been totally ineffectual at best and do not believe the "I saved the global banking sector" claim in fact it was reported recently that they thought it was a complete exaggeration.

    Lets face it even the BoE / Mr King has now rounded on him.

    Back to facts ;-

    Was the banking collapse Gordon's fault - No
    Was it made worse in the UK by the lack of regulation - Yes
    Was spending on public services a good thing - Yes
    Was it out of proportion with net receipts - Yes
    Is our economies state totally down to the global recession - No

    Like most people Gordon chose from Kinsey what he wanted and disregarded the rest. Gordon chose the spending element however forgot the bit about putting money away in the good times.

    I would like to point out one other thing on last nights debate - Gordon said that capital spending can now be reduced as all the schools and hospitals are built.

    Point 1. Most of the schools and hospitals that have been built so far have been done under a PPP or PFI programme which means that the pay back for these is over decades rather than up front so you can't cut capitol spending on these.

    Point 2. According To Edd the Balls more new schools are still needed as was intermated re hospitals by Johnson. So does this mean that these will not be built under Labour or are these going to be under a PPP / PFI programme so don't count under the accounting practices of "Gordon" as capital spend.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think marginal differences in world views. It is down to trust in the view more than trust in a leader. After all the leader will not be there long term, and world problems are now with use all for the long term (more than 5 years).
    I would have liked to hear a view that plans that do enhance the country more than a term in parliament for a change.

  • Comment number 40.

    Interesting observation Ms Flanders, for those looking for a difference between these parties scrambling for the centre ground this is it.
    No one with any understanding of history and human nature can possibly believe that a healthy economy can be fabricated in Whitehall. Take China for example,the most draconian of governments has supercharged its economy by allowing individuals to benefit from their own enterprise.
    The best a government can do is to create an environment for a successful economy, anyone who still believes that government can synthesize a healthy economy by borrowing, wealth redistribution and micromamangement is dangerously deluded.

  • Comment number 41.

    Have I stumbled on a Tory Central Office propaganda ring? Fact: all of the economic indicators of the period that Gordon Brown was chancellor were at historically good levels: inflation; interest rates; employment; unemployment; tax take: you name it it was better than anything the Tories achieved in their dominance of our politics from 1948 until 1997.
    Is Brown culpable for the world economic crisis? No more so than any other western leader caught up in the globalisation / self-regulation mythology, i.e. all of them.
    Has he been right on what has been done to rectify the economy? Everybody outside of this country seems to think so and as at least 60% of the adults of this country have a vested interest in saying that he has failed - how can you believe anything they say?
    As for the downright lies being peddled on this blog? You people should be ashamed - but being a Tory I suppose the first thing you lose is any sense of shame or honesty: first into recession? Far from it. Last out of recession: not a chance - we came out of recession exactly when Darling predicted. The weak pound? Of course it is - a BoE and government plan to make exports cheaper and imports more expensive to make us spend more at home.
    If you want to have a go at Gordon Brown's stewardship then look at the fraud that is PFI; the nonsensical choice agenda that is costing the NHS millions and opening it up to privatisation: and then tell me which of the three parties would do it differently because I would vote for anyone who promised to scrap PFI, renationalise our greatest social achievement and remove all public utilities from foreign investor hands.

  • Comment number 42.

    Stephanie,

    I'm surprised there has been no coverage of the extent to which the public sector has been using "off balance sheet" methods of raising finance over the last 10 years. No one knows how much of this is out there that should be added to the public sector debt.

    At the start of the "Credit crunch" I was in two separate meetings with private equity/infrastructure funds. One mentioned in passing "We own all the Police stations in Suffolk" (The council had undertaken a sale/leaseback with them). The other mentioned that they own over 1 million square feet of London office space that the home office had done a sale/leaseback or similar structure on as well.

    That's just two relatively small players in the London finance market, you then have all the Public/Private Partnerships on hospitals etc etc and goodness knows how many other Local authorities/government departments have been doing similar "cash raising" exercises.



  • Comment number 43.

    #37
    It simply isn't niche any more to doubt climate change. And emission reduction policies are going to be a disaster for ordinary people in this country - and especially the billion and a half in the world without electricity.


    The science on climate change is too complicated in the short term. However the evidence still overwhelming points to a 'man made factor'.

    It is common sense to argue for a cleaner world less wasteful of resources.

    As usual climate change deniers are clutching at straws.

  • Comment number 44.

    #38
    "As far as the G7 and G20 backing Brown, you have called this one completely wrong. The EU believe that what Brown has done for the banking sector and the economy has been totally ineffectual at best.."


    The consensus amongst the economists and members of the G7 and G20 holds that timing when it comes to cuts (aka withdrawal of the stimulus) is crucial and Cameron has called it wrong.

    As for the banks I have always argued for 'letting them fail'.

    You should know that I am not a Brown or New Labour supporter I just think that a Conservative majority will be a disaster.

    The only hope is a hung parliament leading to new type of consensus driven politics.

  • Comment number 45.

    #41 "all of the economic indicators of the period that Gordon Brown was chancellor were at historically good levels: inflation; interest rates; employment; unemployment; tax take:"

    Inflation: true
    Interest rates: true - but now so low to stop recession becoming depression so probably not best to crow about it
    Employment: untrue. The percentage of people employed as a percentage of working population is actually down at 72% which is low
    Unemployment: these figures are so fiddled (and were by Tories as well) that they might as well be meaningless
    Tax take: at c 40% of GDP it is very high by historic levels and much higher than the population has been willing to accept. I suppose you are right, NuLab takes more money from real people (the sort Gordon does not like meeting) than any govt in peacetime.

    How about a couple of other statistics:

    1. Pre credit crunch, the difference between public spending (44% of GDP) and tax take (37%) was the highest in peace time

    2. Public spending this year of 53% of GDP is the highest on record for peace times, the previous highest was also under Labour

    3. Despite the armed forces being engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan defence spending is (as percentage of GDP) much lower than historical averages

  • Comment number 46.

    What I still don't get is how cutting over one and half million jobs in the public sector os going to reduce unemployment or crime, help demand that can be met by a reinvigorated private sector or do anything to mend 'broken Britain' given the dependence of some of those 'broken' parts of the country on the public sector.
    Same old Tories - cuts, unemployment and crime. We'll be fine as long as we live in the south, work at a senior level for a bank, or can afford to emigrate to Australia...

  • Comment number 47.

    Illegal immigrants are of benefit to the "black economy", but who benefits from the "black economy" and why might they oppose bringing illegals into the legitimate economy? Are these people in anyway connected with the "captains of British industry" that Cameron cited last night? Only by offering an amnesty for illegals and recognising that they are victims of the worst aspects of the capitalist system can the interests of the rest of society be protected and the social dumping associated with the exploitation of "illegals" be brought to an end. The alternative is a draconian pursuit of all illegals and their ejection from the country and we all know that there are not the resources and the political will to do this. They are too useful and enable the Tories and their friends to play the Smethwick card again and again.

  • Comment number 48.

    "all of the economic indicators of the period that Gordon Brown was chancellor were at historically good levels: inflation; interest rates; employment; unemployment; tax take"

    What about structural trade deficit, balooning public sector and double digit property price inflation?

    "we came out of recession exactly when Darling predicted."

    The growth figures are within the margin of error, and is again based on cheap money. It's a nice trick, but stewardship it is not. The money that has been printed has not gone into fixing the problem - instead you can see alot of it sitting on Barclays balance sheet this morning.

  • Comment number 49.

    re #38
    Was the banking collapse Gordon's fault? No. But, well, yes it was in that it was probably largely avoidable. No doubt that certain UK Bank CEOs and boards/senior management were at serious fault. No doubt that people in the US were even naughtier than over here. But GB was the one who gave control to the BoE and then took control away from the BoE. He was Chancellor who is accountable to First Lord of Treasury (PM) and thence to nation for financial probity. So GB is the link between question 1 & 2 and guilty. GUILTY. {There is other evidence if required, to secure a conviction!}
    Was spending on public services a good thing? Yes. But at what level? I can go out and give all my month's salary on 30 April to charity. Very generous. Very helpful to someone/lots of people/animals/trees/birds. Apparently very generous, commendable even. But I then have to go through the next month living on my credit card. Then through the next month eating half the meals I would normally eat, with the fire on half power and sitting in the dark half the time. That is just to make up for the money given away. The month after that I am still on half rations, in the cold and dark, to pay off the card interest!
    So the big question is: is past Labour policy sustainable even in good times? Is past Labour policy largely a deceit, living the high life today without thought to the consequences (PPP/PFI included) - whether self-deceit or an illusion performed on the nation? Irrespective of your answer YES, NO, MAYBE, the hard fact is that had the Tories been re-elected in 1997 they would probably have done a lot of the same. They were lining up projects for PPP/PFI. They wouldn't have shrunk the state sector but they probably wouldn't have grown it so big and so fast. They would have deregulated as much, possibly a tad more for many businesses. They would have backed the housing market and let it get out of control - they have form on that. They would have backed excessive pay for those at the top of business but would possibly have been tougher on pay at the top of the public sector. Nurses and teachers at the bottom of the heap would, possibly, not have done as well as they did with GB. But our pensions would not have been completely shot under the Tories and savings might have been at better levels. So this rambling response is reaching the point where I conclude. Labour: Record bad. Future promise. More of the same. Conservatives: Long-term past, record mixed. Future promise vague, maybe more of the same, maybe not. LibDems: Past record deep in the history books. More recent record of powerless activity - flaky. Future promise: becoming definite but not completely there yet, less flaky, more definite than the Conservatives, with a hint of real, cold, hard realism. So who is making progress?

  • Comment number 50.

    All three main parties could learn a lesson on how to get 'more from less' from the Peppa the Pig; with superb buseness strategies like:

    - aligning the business with an organisation that does not need 'complimentary outfits'

    Unfortunately, the potential partners' BIG IdiOT scuppered the deal but the economic thinking and business strategy was sound.

  • Comment number 51.

    So instalment 3 of the Compo Foggy and Glegg show and all we get is more tip of the iceberg points scoring whilst the SS Great Britain continues to sink with a gaping hole below the waterline. Only 7 more days of the Last of the summer wine. After May 6th it will be tapwater for everyone.

  • Comment number 52.

    On 26th April we learnt that the richest thousand people in the country had increased their wealth by a third in the space of a year to bring the value of their assets to £336bn. Why not present them with a BIL (Bankers' Incompetence Levy) for 10% of that, based on those valuations of assets, but payable in 5 equal annual instalments. This would create no discernable hardship but would generate considerable funds. Come to think of it, why stop there? Anyone with assets of £10m or more could easily be included in such a scheme.

  • Comment number 53.

    Gordon Brown made, in my opinion, as catatrophic an error in bailing out the failing banks, as Nick Clegg has done in supporting an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
    Just as surely as an immigrant would encourage more illegal immigrants, bailing out the failing banks has created a precedent whereby every bank, including those who were run properly, now knows that come what may and whatever risky ventures they enter into ultimately the taxpayer, me and you, has now been committed forever to bail them out.
    The banks that were failing should have been allowed to fail. The money the Government used to prop up the banks should have gone diectly to depositors where needed to ensure their retail customers didn't lose out, they could then have banked eleswhere.
    It would have been a mess (mostly of Gordon Browns making it must be said, can't really bemoan a lack of regulation when you have been chancellor and PM for 13 long years)but it would have sent a clear message to the banks, no bailout at the taxpayers expense.
    I was staggered last night GB stated blithely that the taxpayer will make a profit on the shares "when they go up in value", wasn't that the same reasoning behind robbing the private pension schemes of this country five minutes after he walked into no 11 Downing Street? Look what has happened there.
    He is a man who believes he knows all of the answers, yet refuses to admit or learn from his mistakes.

  • Comment number 54.

    Richard Dingle 31

    'east european niche parties that deny climate change, are homophobic, and (some) celebrate Hitler's birthday'

    You're beginning to sound as desperate as Gordon Brown. Lib Dems and Labour have completely lost touch with the people of this country over the issue of Europe as they have in so many other areas such as immigration. All you've got left to offer is fear mongering clap trap.

  • Comment number 55.

    21. Thank you for explaining so simply how QE has provided the return to profits for the banks. The next question is what are the consequences of that somewhat doubtful practice in the long term? Can someone explain that as simply?

  • Comment number 56.

    Stephanie

    It comes down to this. Cameron wants a smaller state and will cut more public sector workers and will begin immediately. Brown wants a larger state and will make no cuts now because so long as GDP is still technically growing he can use the 'recovery' word, while our country inches closer and closer to a communist style command economy where the state is by far the biggest part. A private sector drowned in tax and regulation. There would be no way to advance unless one was close to the ruling party. Time for a change of direction. Clegg has some interesting ideas and lets face it low paid workers like the £10k personal tax allowance and this would encourage more people to work.

    Problem is regardless how good people might think the Liberal economic ideas are last night they heard about the amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who could all claim benefits and housing etc etc. How is that going to be a fairer society for the millions of British people with children stuck on council waiting lists for homes and many without jobs and many more unable to have any chance of buying a home.

    Looks even more like a collapsing labour vote and a cameron win.

  • Comment number 57.

    3 different views?

    Stephanie you are so blinkered.

    All three will attack the working class, just the tories won't be so tough on their rich friends.

    Here's a different view:

    The root cause lies with finance capitalism.
    Take the banks into public ownership & write-off everyone's mortgage.
    As the stockmarkets collapse take into public ownership all those companies that we want to keep.
    All shares become worthless & the taxpayer doesn't bail out the rich.
    An assessment of needs & resources is made & people put to work accordingly.
    Direct democracy is established & all professional politicans become ordinary workers.

  • Comment number 58.

    44. At 09:07am on 30 Apr 2010, Richard Dingle wrote:

    #38
    "As far as the G7 and G20 backing Brown, you have called this one completely wrong. The EU believe that what Brown has done for the banking sector and the economy has been totally ineffectual at best.."

    The consensus amongst the economists and members of the G7 and G20 holds that timing when it comes to cuts (aka withdrawal of the stimulus) is crucial and Cameron has called it wrong.

    As for the banks I have always argued for 'letting them fail'.

    You should know that I am not a Brown or New Labour supporter I just think that a Conservative majority will be a disaster.

    The only hope is a hung parliament leading to new type of consensus driven politics.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Hundreds of large and SME business leaders AND some leading economists have written to the FT saying that Cameron 'has got it right'

    Perhaps your comments refer to another country - Have you got the right country or are you getting muddled up with those new countries in eastern europe?

  • Comment number 59.

    We're not out of recession - we're still in medium term depression - just wait until next year to see the 'real UK trend'!

    Inflation figures - fiddled
    GDP - diddled
    QE - a fiddle diddle

    Result = lies, lies and BIG IdiOT and underlying 'depression'

  • Comment number 60.

    Richard Dingle (#43), I had said:
    ...a whopping 74% doubt the dogma of dangerous climate change caused by man, according to the latest BBC poll ... emission reduction policies are going to be a disaster for ordinary people in this country - and especially the billion and a half in the world without electricity.

    There are two crucial things here that you don't engage with in your response.

    One is the idea of dangerous climate change caused by man. That's the key issue for which the science is shaky. Of course there's evidence that man is affecting the climate - we have done so since burning the grass of the savannah ages back. But positive feedback from clouds and water vapour required to make CO2 emissions dangerous is far from proven, based on the latest data from satellites. Unlike say Einstein's general theory of relativity, whose predictions have been confirmed to many significant figures from our instruments peering into space. There is a world of difference between the two.

    The second point you ignore is the effect of carbon emission reduction on the billion and half in the world without electricity. Instead you come back with:

    It is common sense to argue for a cleaner world less wasteful of resources.

    Of course we'd all agree with that bit of motherhood and apple pie, on the surface. What bothers me is that you haven't shown that your idea of a 'cleaner world' - by which I assume you mean that Africa will not be allowed to use its plenteous coal to generate the cheapest possible electricity - will not be a disaster for the poorest. This is sloppy and wishful thinking, at best. Millions will die unnecessarily, through such lovely-sounding visions. This isn't a 'denier' clutching at straws. It's a passionate conviction, that causes me to engage in a debate that is otherwise far more trouble than it's worth.

    As the leaders of our main parties obviously think. No engagement there at all, on anything the least bit difficult. The Tories have one thing to learn from the allies in Europe, at least, if you're right about their doubts about the warming globaloney.

  • Comment number 61.

    #45
    "Employment: untrue. The percentage of people employed as a percentage of working population is actually down at 72% which is low"


    Is this correct or relevant. There has been an increase in people, for one reason or another, choosing not to work. We still live in a free choice society.

    As you are in statistics mode.

    GDP growth

    1979 - 1997 2.0% pa

    1997 - 2009 2.2% pa

    Interesting article by Johann Hari in the Guardian, part of which I reproduce below...

    "A leader describing himself as a "compassionate Conservative" is on the brink of victory.

    He has shown his party has changed. He puts his black and Asian supporters out front. He promises to "unleash" the potential "of volunteers to ... change our country". This time, he says, his party "will be different". It is the year 2000, and his name is George W Bush. It's no surprise to discover that George Osborne said in 2002 that "we have much to learn from Bush's compassionate conservatism".
    "


    This illustrates why I don't want this particular Conservative party in office. It is Europhobic, out-of touch and in favour of privilege, hardly surprising given the background of most of the front bench.

    To put it in proportion I would prefer Thatcher over Cameron by a mile.

  • Comment number 62.

    "because once you've built a school, you don't need to build it again." You dont have to build it Gordon but we still have to pay for it dont we?

  • Comment number 63.

    I cannot belive how the entire labour party is stuck winding out the same rubbish about the Conservatives.
    They talk about cutting 6 billion out of public spending is a cut in the economy. When did the public sector become the economy?
    The economy is based on wealth creation in the private sector.
    Cutting public sector waste will free up more money to pay off the deficit. A deficit created by the Labour party losers and the control freak Brown.
    The private sector has had to endure a large quantity of people losing their jobs, while public sector has become bloated.
    We simply don't need that many in public sector. Get rid of useless non jobs like racial integration officers and the endless stream of useless management staff.

    Also, as for the complete lies from Labour about how the tories will cut tax credits and only help out millionaires.
    They want to stop people earning over 50k claiming.
    Inheritance tax needs to be removed as it does affect a lot of normal people. It shows that this government hates anyone who goes the extra mile, takes the extra risks to provide more for themselves and their families.
    My parents worked extremely hard to set up a business renting out property.
    They have been told that the business is liable for inheritance tax as it is the wrong type of business.
    Why should their estate be liable for this?
    They are self made, they are not rich.

    Categorically Labour hates businesses doing well, families and hard workering people.

  • Comment number 64.

    One small moment from the debats that has stood out for me was GB's use of the term 'we' when talking about the setting of interest rate levels to promote growth. I was under the impression that interest rates were set by the BoE and not by the government. This slip didn't seem to be picked up by anyone during or after the debate and wondered whether anyone else noticed?

    I expect this sticks in my mind as there was very little else of substance to pick up on amoungst the the well versed answering of expected questions.

  • Comment number 65.

    57 - not sure how you reconcile your views with the comment of "direct democracy"

  • Comment number 66.

    #54
    "All you've got left to offer is fear mongering clap trap."


    Actually the people in this country have such a twisted view of Europe precisely because of 'fear mongering clap trap' from people like you and your chums in UKIP.

    It betrays the weakness of your argument if you always point to countries like Greece as an example. Give me a rational argument that proves that this country organises its affairs (not just economic) better than France or Germany and I will shut up.

    On immigration, where is the fire. It is hardly an issue in EU countries with open borders in the Schengen Zone.

    Wake-up and smell the coffee.

  • Comment number 67.

    Datvires wrote
    "21. Thank you for explaining so simply how QE has provided the return to profits for the banks. The next question is what are the consequences of that somewhat doubtful practice in the long term? Can someone explain that as simply?"

    1. Long term consequence is depressed credit lending to small business so a higher risk of more of them going to the wall.

    2. Long term consequence is a new housing and stockmarket bubble as £200 Billion = approx 12% of GDP and this new printed money is finding its way into the stockmarket and housing via bankers bonuses.

    3. Long term consequence is inflation, as more money chasing the same number of goods = prices rise.

    4. Long term consequence will be higher interest rates to cope with 2. and 3. above, potentially culminating in further house reposessions, possible house price crash and depressed economic growth.

    5. Long term consequence is that prodent savers, pensioners on fixed incomes and the poor will become poorer as their savings provide a net negative return, their pound is worth less in their pocket and the price of essential goods and services rise faster than their incomes (fuel, food, energy)

    But alas nobody really wants to discuss the long term risks of following the path we are presently on.

    Gordon Brown will only ever focus on the immediate future as it is politically expedient to do so. Why worry people about the future of their children and grandchildren when you can bribe their votes now in a disgusting attempt to cling to power.

  • Comment number 68.

    Like the majority of the voting population, I haven't read the manifesto's of the parties and rely on soundbites and media coverage (as well as good old fashioned bias and cherry picking of facts of what benefits me most) to decide where to put my X

    One thing that Cameron said last night which threw me was the comment that the first 10 workers of any business won't have to pay NIC's (I assume it is employers contribution) can anyone enlighten me - did I hear this correctly?

    Also, on Clegg's £10k tax free earnings - presumably this is effectively giving a tax code of 1000L to every employee? Is this the standard PA? Therefore adjusted for BIK's? If so, is this going to be adjusted year on year (like the PA?) Will it apply to all earnings (eg divi and interest) or just salaried (for example retiree's savings etc?) Will tax bands remain static or be adjusted for this change of PA?

  • Comment number 69.

    They might as well have had 3 cardboard cut-outs plus tapes from the prior debates. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh and one other point - I think Cameron promised that 25% of government contracts would go to smaller companies? How does this factor in with efficiencies in government spending?

    I've dealt with government (national and local) from a private sector enterprise before and they are certainly NOT efficient. They are set up to deal with the larger companies (by and large) because A) it is generally cheaper (economies of scale etc) to buy from them (and yes, I know the companies still massively profiteer from this!) and B) from a government point of view it is easier (and therefore requires less manpower which is the only real place where efficiency savings come from - can't see them extending to squeezing the supplier more...) to deal with a few large suppliers who can more easily accomodate government processes

  • Comment number 71.

    The debate concerning recovery from recession conducted through Television and Radio channels is disappointing, and worse, shackles serious politicians (example: the timing of £6bn savings claimed to be the biggest obstacle to recovery).
    The quality of debate on rebalancing our economy is handicapped by the now popularly accepted fiction “Thatcher closed the mines and our manufacturing so we had to rely on a banking and housing boom” The collective memory seems to have forgotten the new ITC industries that grew in the 80's and 90's; in 1998 the UK led the IT and Telecom global market. A generation of technically skilled entrepreneurial start-ups and more established players such as Marconi (GEC, Plessey, Racal, and Ferranti) were blown away or like BT and Vodafone seriously damaged by the “dot com crash”.
    The 80’s new industrial strategy was based on using our skills as the route to competing with the emerging economies; good to hear our government getting back on message! Why is this national success followed by dramatic failure never discussed in the light of what followed and our present needs?
    Could it be something to do with Gordon, our PM and financial genius:
    “BBC News Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
    The auction for next-generation mobile phone licences in the UK is over, leaving Chancellor Gordon Brown with a £22.47bn ($35.4bn) windfall.”
    A tax windfall “too far” for an industry hit by investor confidence and stock value collapse. It triggered the loss of countless highly skilled jobs, closure of the remaining major UK high tech electrical companies and loss of leadership in the emerging telecom business.
    The “thick skin” demonstrated by Brown by his enthusiasm for the “new green energy jobs” (160,000 jobs, and plans for new nuclear power stations around 100,000) is amazing, "It will require real leadership from government - being prepared to make hard decisions on planning or on tax for example," A decade earlier his hunger for tax destroyed a leading UK industry and replaced it with a property bubble.
    Brown throws out the “sound byte” the future economy needs more engineers and entrepreneurs. As a graduate engineer with a good career but valued in this economy at the bottom of the pile, I became an entrepreneur and founded an IT company in 1985; As a consequence of deindustrialisation since 2000 it closed in 2006 with the loss of 200 skilled jobs.
    Entrepreneurs require competitive long term fiscal and monetary conditions, sensible banking and capital facilities, skilled workforces and a government that appreciates business activity as more than a taxation object.
    This X-Factor election campaign demonstrates the power of the media and the poverty of serious journalism. A poisonous combination that signals the end of 300 years of UK economical growth and global pre-eminence that started with Jethro Tull and innovation in agricultural technology!

  • Comment number 72.

    The three parties already accept that retirement age will go up. It is already increasing for women to equalise pension age with men within the next ten years and then it will continue to increase from then for both men and women.
    Only Cameron mentioned a faster increase in pension age. This and the existing scheme will result in a larger workforce. Where are the jobs? But then basic benefits are cheaper than the basic pension!

  • Comment number 73.

    I disagree with John from Hendon specifically about the average income/average house question in last night's debate. Surely the issue is that what people want and what they can afford are seldom the same thing. There are plenty of 'average' houses for 'average' incomes otherwise no house would sell! I think society has to realise that the days of living on excessive borrowed money are over and if you want to own a home, own one that you can afford the mortgage for. If you haven't got your act together by now and have rented for so long then more fool you!

  • Comment number 74.

    There is something desperately wrong with our political system when the overwhelmingly important issues - the deficit, and the need to cut spending - do not even get discussed in the run-up to the most important election for at least three decades. Do the party leaders think that the electorate are completely stupid?

  • Comment number 75.

    When I VOTE on 6th May I will remember:

    1) Tories obsession with cuts at any cost and George Osborne as Chancellor?
    2)Tories obsession with GB selling gold - but Tories never, ever, mention selling off our real gold: Our water, gas, electricity and and railways.
    3)Tories 15% mortgage interest rates.
    4)Tories abolition of state pension linked to earnings, even when earnings were low and combined with recession and high unemployment.
    5)Raising VAT to 17.50%.
    6)Abolishing free dental and eye check-ups.
    7)Cutting nurse training by 75%.

  • Comment number 76.

    66. At 10:31am on 30 Apr 2010, Richard Dingle wrote:


    Careful there you came close to a bigot moment.

    How dare anyone question the validity of the EU and the Euro.
    How dare anyone think that we may be better off out than in.
    How dare they point to the failing countries in the EU don't they know that you are supposed to only look at Germany and France, who by the way are both struggling.
    Most importantly of all how dare they have different views from mine.

    I would point out before you lambaste me that I do not subscribe to all the above however I do believe that we all should be allowed to have our own views. I was going to have a cheap shot at the EU at this point but thought it would devalue my point.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    #5 Randomthought... spot on we don't see legions of entrepreneurs steeled in the deep business skills to grow the economy out of recession. I don't see many youngsters steeled in the social skills needed for employment. What Cameron doesn't get is that greed and appetite for risk only gets you so far - you do have to have a viable business model and a lot of hard work to get a business beyond more than a few years plus working capital and a lot of luck.

  • Comment number 79.

    'Sorry to sound stupid, but can you explain how it is possible to sustain consuming more goods and services than you produce by printing money?'

    From one of the blogs above.

    I don't think this is a stupid point, correct me if I am wrong but wasn't this kind of thing responsible for the hyperinflation after the first world war in germany where people had to got to the shops with a wheelbarrow to buy a loaf of bread, leading to the rise of everyones favourite nobel peace prise winner Adolf Hitler? Note the current political pariah like status of the BNP and UKIP 2010.

  • Comment number 80.

    voice of reason wrote:
    "I disagree with John from Hendon specifically about the average income/average house question in last night's debate. Surely the issue is that what people want and what they can afford are seldom the same thing. There are plenty of 'average' houses for 'average' incomes otherwise no house would sell! I think society has to realise that the days of living on excessive borrowed money are over and if you want to own a home, own one that you can afford the mortgage for. If you haven't got your act together by now and have rented for so long then more fool you!"

    What nonsense.

    The Avergae House Price (Please dont go disputing Land Registry Data now) is well above £165000 at present.

    Teh Average salary is circa £25000

    So the Avergae House costs 6.5x Average salary.

    the historical trend is 4x so you do the maths. Stiop peddling yoru lies, the average homeowner CANNOT afford the average house FACT!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    yeah my office space[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] is divided into 3 groups of people like the whole Britain is.
    - labor - people who think that government has done fair enough and it's not their fault the bad economic situation in the country
    - conservatives - people who want change and charismatic leader like David Cameron

    - lib dems - people who want more freedom for country and are for revolutionary changes

  • Comment number 82.

    Oh dear 'Dilemma David' is in a pickle isn't he.

    He wants to be all things to all people, on the one hand he wants to start the socialist revolution - by handing control of various state entities to 'the people' (for those who don't understand what Socialism is all about) - but ssshhh, don't mention the 'S' word in front of the Tory faithfull as they will start bouncing around.

    On the other hand the poor chap has to wrestle with his parties ideology of a 'self regulating private sector' - but he knows this is very unpopular with the people of Britain who have just seen their economy battered by the lack of self regulating banks.

    To give both the Lib Dems and Labour credit - they are not currently 'dumping their ideology' in order to win the election.

    It's also noticeable that only one party is demanding absolute power as a condition of the election - sounds like there will be some promises dumped after the election and only an absolute majority will allow the unpopular legislation through.

    The poor old British electorate - I bet they don't know which way to turn - at least the 'X Factor' morons will be able to vote this year - but did anyone tell them they have to go to the polling booth and they can't simply 'ring in' their vote?

  • Comment number 83.

    Richard Dingle 61

    'As you are in statistics mode.

    GDP growth

    1979 - 1997 2.0% pa

    1997 - 2009 2.2% pa'

    Just a few of little points you're missing out there Richard.

    1979 UK bankrupt economic basket case

    1997 UK strong economy with rising exports, manufacturing growth, jobs growth, and healthy finances.

    2010 UK bankrupt economic basket case

  • Comment number 84.

    Friendlycard wrote:
    "There is something desperately wrong with our political system when the overwhelmingly important issues - the deficit, and the need to cut spending - do not even get discussed in the run-up to the most important election for at least three decades. Do the party leaders think that the electorate are completely stupid?"

    Erm, the electorate ARE that stupid, most of them anyway. Anyone who even remotely begins to materialize the unknown cuts to come is looking at political suicide, PRECISELY BECAUSE the electorate want to bury their head in the sand and pretend we dont have an age of austerity coming.

    Don't blame the politicians, you get the government you deserve. based on recent polling, 2/3rds of those polled didnt believe ANY cuts were necesary.

    How do you campaign against that? Simple answer is you lie, obfuscate and dissemble. Things politicians happen to be rather good at incedentally.!

  • Comment number 85.

    "So, no news on how they would cut the deficit. Surprise. But plenty of evidence of their very different world views."

    ...and yet their views to me are almost identical - they all will be continuing with Capitalism as a system, and therefore all are doomed to fail.

    All they are offering is a different colour car with which to drive off the cliff of Economic armageddon.

  • Comment number 86.

    Richard Dingle 66

    'It betrays the weakness of your argument if you always point to countries like Greece as an example. Give me a rational argument that proves that this country organises its affairs (not just economic) better than France or Germany and I will shut up.'

    We aren't going to have to spend billions of pounds of tax payers hard earned money bailing out Greece, unlike France and Germany. Now can you shut up.



  • Comment number 87.

    Sorry Mr Brown, once you have built a school using PFI funding rather than state funding, haven't you got to pay for this through ongoing leasing costs? Or have I misunderstood?

  • Comment number 88.

    3. At 10:33pm on 29 Apr 2010, jobsagoodin wrote:

    "Gordon Brown's record on the economy is a disaster. 13 years of failure first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister. Has it ever occured to him that he is just wrong ? No, because he isn't capable of believing such a thing."

    Still looking for any opportunity I see - can you quantify '13 years of failure' with some tangible examples?

    Do any of Gordon's failures come close to the entry of the UK into the ERM and the 'breaking of the bank of England'?

    Sure Gordon is foolish believing he can control Capitalism - but then it makes him no different from any other party leader.

  • Comment number 89.

    #61
    "Of course we'd all agree with that bit of motherhood and apple pie"

    The point about climate change is that it is very hard to prove conclusively. Given the ramifications, if we get it wrong, the only intelligent course of action is to assume it is correct until the counter view is conclusively proven, which again is very hard.

    As for Africa a continent I have lived in (Ghana and Nigeria) do we really want them to follow the western economic model or take a different path. They have massive hydro-electric potential for example.

    You are certainly correct in that I don't do a lot of thinking on climate change. I see no need to do so any more than I need to consider the pros and cons of the flat earth argument.

    As an aside, I notice a change in tone from the Tory Boys on this blog; could it be triumphalism, counting your chickens before they are hatched on May 6.

    Climate change denying, Europhobia, immigration hysteria, how far this nation has fallen.



  • Comment number 90.

    #61
    "Interesting article by Johann Hari in the Guardian,"


    Should have read 'Interesting article by Johann Hari in the Independent'

  • Comment number 91.

    4. At 10:35pm on 29 Apr 2010, jobsagoodin wrote:

    "Let me remind everyone of the bad side of the spending spree. A £30,000 debt for every man woman and child in this country. Thanks Gordon."

    Still going I see - but wasn't the debt you refer to created by banking bailouts and not excessive Government spending?

    ...and isn't the problem the huge private debt - which was created by banks willingness to lend 'martini'? (anyplace, anytime, anyone)

    If you care to look at this graph - you will see clearly that the Government debt stood at about £500 Billion running up to 2008 - and then whooooooooosh - the banks collapsed and the result is a debt approaching £1000 Billion (that's twice as much)

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/downchart_ukgs.php?year=2000_2011&view=1&expand=&units=b&fy=2010&chart=G0-total&bar=0&stack=1&size=m&color=c&title=

    ...or are you going to argue that Gordon should have 'held back some spending' just in case the private sector banks decided to collapse under the weight of their own stupidity?

    If so, then can you explain to everyone why they should have less public sector services in the good times because Governments are expected to insure the private sector against the bad times?

  • Comment number 92.

    #76
    "How dare anyone question the validity of the EU and the Euro."

    The EU is desperately in need of constructive criticism, only that will help make it better.

    Unfortunately the Conservatives are not interested in playing a constructive role, New Labour record is not much better.

    I am now overwhelmingly of the opinion that this country should have it's membership withdrawn.

    There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism. The key word is in bold.

  • Comment number 93.

    #75
    "2)Tories obsession with GB selling gold - but Tories never, ever, mention selling off our real gold: Our water, gas, electricity and and railways."


    Good point.

    It should also be pointed out that our gold was exchanged largely for interest bearing securities. Gold has no real utility, though it can make one popular with the ladies.

  • Comment number 94.

    Can we go back to Greece and why the Germans are not rushing in to save the day.

    They are now being asked to stump up 23 billion with more to come. Now they are not being asked to put their hand in their own pocket but are being asked to stand guarantor and that is the crux can they trust the Greeks. I know the old saying beware of Greeks bearing gifts, This in Germany now has been changed to "beware Greeks looking gifts" for that is what most Germans now think these loans will become when Greece defaults. Now 23 + billion will not kill the Germans but it will have more than just a cold and recovery could be a long drawn out affair. There is also the concern being voiced about the others (PIIGS). Who is going to be there for them. Once again the Euro zone countries are looking towards Germany, too big an ask most Germans are saying.

    Greece is still very much in the balance.

  • Comment number 95.

    54. At 09:42am on 30 Apr 2010, jobsagoodin wrote:

    "You're beginning to sound as desperate as Gordon Brown. Lib Dems and Labour have completely lost touch with the people of this country over the issue of Europe as they have in so many other areas such as immigration. All you've got left to offer is fear mongering clap trap."

    ....yes - and can you remind us how is that Tory cap on immigration going to achieve anything considering it doesn't cover the majority of immigrants?

    ...not that immigration is a problem - I mean you might all think we have high unemployment because foreigners all took our jobs - but the fact is that we have high unemployment because all the capital is moving out of Britain as we pursue our course of ultra-low interest rates.

    ...and for the xenephobes out there - don't you realise we're all immigrants!! - or did you think Britain was populated by a stork flying from the continent with a baby in it's beak??

  • Comment number 96.

    60. At 10:03am on 30 Apr 2010, Richard Drake

    Well Richard - if the world wasn't full of liars then we might be able to make an informed decision.

    However, considering most people who deny climate change have a vested interest, and those who accept it don't - I think the balance of power rests with the latter.

    I mean do you really think the scientists of this world have a vested interest in promoting climate change - when they could easily get paid a lot more 'proving it's non-existence' by an oil company, or airline manufacturer?

    Surely the pursuit of self interest ensures this would be the case - and yet more scientiest accept climate change (and it's causes) than deny it - strange....

  • Comment number 97.

    #58
    "Hundreds of large and SME business leaders AND some leading economists have written to the FT saying that Cameron 'has got it right'

    Perhaps your comments refer to another country - Have you got the right country or are you getting muddled up with those new countries in eastern europe?"


    These letters to the papers are staged and meaningless. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

    If you ask a businessman of any flavour whether he would like less tax the answer is predictable, a yes.

    If you ask a businessman of any flavour whether he would like less tax at the cost of greater social instability the answer is less predictable.

  • Comment number 98.

    #83
    "Just a few of little points you're missing out there Richard.

    1979 UK bankrupt economic basket case"



    Should the growth not have been more spectacular given a low base.

    "1997 UK strong economy with rising exports, manufacturing growth, jobs growth, and healthy finances"

    Very debatable. Start of the Great Bubble.

  • Comment number 99.

    #86
    "We aren't going to have to spend billions of pounds of tax payers hard earned money bailing out Greece, unlike France and Germany. Now can you shut up."


    Are you sure. We are members of the IMF.

    It will of course mean that what is left of the rebate will have to go. The Greeks need it more than us.

  • Comment number 100.

    The Centre for Policy Studies puts the total public sector debt at £38,000 per person. Per full time worker it's £110,000.
    That's current debt. Not the liability for bank assets if the housing market collapses and mortgages default.
    The secret Tory narrative is that the investment banks deliberately created the housing bubble and then burst it to make money from us. They believe the banks who were caught out by the hedge funds accelerating the collapse, tricked a naive labour govt in to propping them up and are now milking the fiscal chaos created by their own bail out. Mervyn King and Peter Mandelson are on board with this narrative.
    The one nation conservatives plan is to wrest control of the UK back from these investment banks and hedge funds and bring them to heel. This is how it will happen.
    The Tories have to go for growth but do it without picking up the cost of banks failing. So they will continue the fall in the £ while keeping interest rates low, they will reduce the size of the public sector and the wages of it's workers, they will separate retail and investment banking, they will go through business rules and regs ridding the economy of those that add costs or restrict new business development, they will introduce and encourage apprenticeships and degrees in manufacturing and engineering, they will start to re-build the infrastructure of the North-East.
    Once the new investment banks and hedge funds are with this program relying on RMBSs and gilts to underwrite leverage, and the govt has sold off it's holdings in RBS etc , the govt will collapse house prices and hence the value of mortgages by going gung-ho for greenfield residential house building to create employment and enable space to raise taxes.
    The shock of UK investment banks and funds becoming distressed will for a short time cause the price of gilts to collapse and at this point the BoE will step in with a giant QE program and generously offer to buy huge volumes of them at a highly discounted rate knocking our debt for 6. It will all be over in a few weeks.
    It sounds fanciful I know. But 4 years ago only a few noticed hedge funds and the investment parts of high street banks were making vast profits from stoking clearly unsustainable house price inflation. And no one wanted to admit many of the same bankers were involved in bursting that bubble.

 

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