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Uncomfortable questions

Nick Robinson | 14:39 UK time, Monday, 1 September 2008

Not only is it worth taking another look at Alastair Darling's Guardian interview, it is also worth watching the whole of my colleague Brian Taylor's interview with the chancellor on Saturday.

Alistair DarlingAt one stage his lip trembles, he shuffles awkwardly in his chair and has the crushed look of a schoolboy who's been caught stealing from teacher. This comes when BBC Scotland's political editor quizzes him on whether he said that Wendy Alexander, the former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, was "unlikeable". First Mr Darling says he has "the utmost respect for her", then he denies saying "unlikeable" and then, when realising that he almost certainly did say that, he begins to visibly crumble (which you can watch here).

Earlier, when asked to justify his statements on the economy Mr Darling repeats the same formula four times in answer to four different questions.

First he's asked why he had given such a bleak assessment of the economy. He replies: "I think it's important that I tell people that we, along with every other country in the world, face a unique set of circumstances where we have got the credit crunch coming at the same time as high oil and food prices..."

Then Taylor asks: "But isn't it the job of the leader of the opposition to say - and I use your words - "we are pissed off" about the economy?"

Darling: "I think it's important that government ministers and me in particular are level with people..." etc.

Taylor persists: 'But chancellor, the strategy here is puzzling. Shouldn't you be reassuring people rather than talking down the economy and saying it's the worst for 60 years?'

Darling replies: "I think it's important that..." (you can pretty much guess the rest)

Taylor ploughs on: "Do you regret blurting out the truth in such a frank fashion?"

Darling briefly falters and abandons the "I think it's important" formula saying "I have been saying for many weeks now that we along with every other country in the world are facing a unique set of circumstances: the credit crunch along with very high oil and food prices...'

Taylor spots that this is a different way of saying the same thing and says: "Chancellor, forgive me, but you have made that point a number of times. What I am after is what was the thinking behind this? Usually chancellors of the exchequers should provide calm reassurance. You are talking about people being 'pissed off' with the economy and the worst crisis for 60 years. Won't this make things worse?"

Darling is having none of this. He reverts to the answer he gave previously: "I think it's important that ..." etc. (You can watch that section here)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Despite all this kerfuffle it is interesting to note that the predictions of all the political oberservers and reporters in late July that we would by now be in the middle of a coup by Labour MPs and ministers against Gordon Brown have all come to nothing.I assume that Brown will survive the Glenrothes by-election defeat just as easily as he has survived Glasgow East.You couldnt even get prediction sof a september reshufle right!
    If only everyone hadnt gone o ff on a months summer holidays politics could have been a lot more exciting right now....

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm pissed off with being told it's going to be bad. I want to know:

    1. What is the governemnt going to do about it?

    and

    2. What I am suppposed to do about it?

    Call me stupid but I thought leadership was about telling the nation what to do in times of crisis. Do we all just flounder along in the same old way? How long is that going to wash, really?!



  • Comment number 3.

    English readers may like to take a look at Darling's interview with the Stornoway Gazette

  • Comment number 4.

    I get the impression Nick is making too much of this and seeing games where there aren't any or, at least, making hash of saying whatever he's trying to say. Alistair Darling is making a good if awkward effort to bridge the gap between himself and regular folks, and I personally doubt his position as Chancellor was seriously in question. Some folks in the media make claims, and other vested interests want a chunk of his ass, but it's all wind.

    I understand enough of the economics and how people may feel about issues to "get it", and looking beyond the "authorities" and "high attention earners" I'm pretty sure a lot of other folks "get it" as well, so Alistair Darling has much, much less to fear or worry about than he thinks. And it's by getting on with it and reaching out to regular folks as he so unwillingly and uncomfortably did that will help people develop an interest in generating success and shrugging off difficulty. If Alistair Darling can focus on that and stay happy, I reckon, everyone's a winner.

    So, there you go. Problem solved. Easy, innit?

  • Comment number 5.

    Charles once compared Gordon Brown to Ieyasu Tokugawa; in fact the idiot meddler is surely the Tsunayoshi of our age.

    The Tories have been some 20% ahead in the opinion polls for six months now. It's the usual rule that a government gains back ground during the summer but Labour have, at best, stood still. If all this represents a "fickle" lead, Charles, then a firm one would have to be harder than diamond!

  • Comment number 6.

    Two blogs in one day Nick, you're spoiling us. Ta for the link oldnat,

    "I remember falling into the pier at Stornoway Harbour when I was fishing for cuddies. It was pretty dirty in those days and I was covered in oil and fish. I remember my friend just watching on and my auntie thought I was a gonner but I managed to get out."

    It seems the tax-badger is in a similar situation now, but maybe he won't be so lucky this time! He knows the game is up...

  • Comment number 7.

    Beware people, the zen-master is trolling again.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks Nat. A good read is the Stornaway Gazette.
    I think it tells us all we want to know.... "unblocking the drains is my most pressing problem now" says Alistair Darling... not trying to sort out the "worst economic crisis for 60 years", then ? ... or perhaps he's already had one of Gordon's famous phonecalls and know's he's getting the sack...

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick,

    At one stage his lip trembles, he shuffles awkwardly in his chair and has the crushed look of a schoolboy who's been caught stealing from teacher.

    Him and the whole ZanuLabour shower have been caught stealing from us!

  • Comment number 10.

    Usually chancellors of the exchequers should provide calm reassurance. You are talking about people being 'pissed off' with the economy and the worst crisis for 60 years. Won't this make things worse?

    What Alastair Darling should say is:

    'Covering up the true state of the economy isn't going to make it better. I am preparing people for what will be a tough time ahead. If I say everything is wonderful and they believe me and make financial decisions based on what I know to be untrue then I would be rightfully regarded as disingenuous at best.'

    If the economy is bad and getting worse then people should be warned otherwise they'll continue to make it even worse.

    Now the truth is out there we can all start planning accordingly. Too bad nobody in government was worried about excess borrowing and squandering when it really got started back in 2001. Or when GB put in a phone call to the BoE when it all started to wobble a bit back in 2005. Back then it was government policy. Now it's a once in 60 years global phenomenon. Oh yeah?

    If GB was still chancellor then he'd still be leering out of the papers telling us how fantastic everything was even as the economy went into a tailspin.

  • Comment number 11.

    Do I detect the Chancellor backpedalling? Surely not. Wonder who's had a word with him.

  • Comment number 12.

    I enjoyed watching AD wriggle when caught out dissembling about his comments on Wendy Alexander and Cherie Blair - and was amazed when he immediately followed this by saying: "... it's important that I'm straightforward with people".

    You couldn't make it up.




  • Comment number 13.

    If we are going into analyse what Darling said then I think that we also should be critical of yourself Nick.

    Have you noticed, because I have, how many commentators are now saying, 'As I said so many weeks, months ago about this issue'.

    Furthermore, the number of times where the man in the street has known for an awful long time how bad things are yet we need to be told by an expert to give it credence.

    I think that the BBC and the media in general have completely lost the plot. We know that you are using these blogs as a source for your stories, at least be honest when you and other commentators reveal something.

    For example, all quotes must be attributed to the source. We must be told who is telling you what you subsequently reveal to us Nick. So let's have some honesty.

    For example, I do not hide, I do not mind if people know that it is T A Griffin giving his views, nor should anybody else.

  • Comment number 14.

    Again you are making too much of this. Most people are still on holiday or dealing with 'back to school issues', watching BB or arguing about the result of Last Choir Standing. Where I work people are talking about the hurricane in the USA. No one is talking about what Alistair said.

  • Comment number 15.

    Sky News has "Brown Edges Closer To The Gloom-mongers"

  • Comment number 16.

    I thought that after Ed Balls' pathetic attepmt to pass the buck over the Sats marking fiasco it would be a long time before I would see a politician in such denial of the obvious truth. How wrong I was.

    How on earth can anyone give, parrot fashion, the exact same answer to 4 or 5 totally different questions stretches credulity!

    I can understand that he has a right to be 'p***ed off' like the rest of the public, as most of the dramas he has had to deal with were actually created by his predecessor.

    It just seems that all Labour can do is continue to implode and nothing and noone can stop it.

  • Comment number 17.

    For those who think Nick is "making too much of this" and "seeing games where there aren't any"....

    That is the prupose of this weblog - to engage in discussion about the issues of the day. Of course no one in nuLabour wants to actually get into a discussion because someone might actually challenge their authority.

    Secondly, it appears that for the whole of the past twelve months the said apologists for Gordom Brown think we've "been making too much of everything".. from the resignation of Peter Hain to the 10p tax debacle to Brown's disasterous performances at PMQs.

    They don't like it up 'em.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Yet again a great kerfuffle mainly engendered by journos' inability to understand plain English. Darling didn't say that 'the economy' was in dire straits; he said that the 'economic climate' (ie the environment in which the economy is operating) might well be facing its worst crisis since WW2. What will matter is whether the UK economy comes through that crisis in better shape than most or all of our comparators/competitors, and we won't know the answer to that for some considerable time.

    All the rest is just the result of incomprehension and the febrile search for the latest 'story'.

    As time goes on it becomes ever more clear that Alastair Campbell was right; he wasn't the problem, the problem was (and still is) our dreadful media.

  • Comment number 20.

    #9 pttp

    Thought you might like this section from Machiavelli's "The Prince"

    "Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony. Besides, pretexts for taking away the property are never wanting; for he who has once begun to live by robbery will always find pretexts for seizing what belongs to others; but reasons for taking life, on the contrary, are more difficult to find and sooner lapse. But when a prince is with his army, and has under control a multitude of soldiers, then it is quite necessary for him to disregard the reputation of cruelty, for without it he would never hold his army united or disposed to its duties."

  • Comment number 21.

    If it wasn't so tragic for the country, the demise of this odious government would be a delicious thing. So much for relaunch - that has clearly gone out of the window - how about a vote of no confidence.

  • Comment number 22.

    This was a most interesting interview - was AD distancing himself from the Brown past or mere incompetance? But please Nick, stop referring to Mr Browns reputation for competance etc. His pension raid was either malevolent or incompetant and since 2001 he has been deliberatly wrecking the British economy in yet another socialist splurge while batterering and blathering his ways through interviews and speeches. This has finally become apparent to the wider public and no amount of flannel about world wide problems can gloss over Gordon Browns rip snorting failure.

  • Comment number 23.

    So, Jimbrant @19, it's all the messenger's fault.

    And Chuck Hogwash @18, Is "big business is raping them in the ass" something you do in Zen classes?

  • Comment number 24.

    And for the record: Does the current economic situation count as a 'bust'?

    (Surely not, as Brown and Nu-Labour abolished boom and bust economic cycles together with child poverty and illiteracy).

  • Comment number 25.

    #19

    As usual you completely miss the point and the zeitgeist of your voters.

    People want to know waht on earth is going on and Government ministers seem incapable of making themselves understood.

    This is a fundamental flaw at the heart of New New Labour - you no message, no vision so no amount of money spent on PR can help explain a non message.

    Not being able to communicate with the electorate is an electoral disaster waiting to happen (and has happened at Crewe and Nantwich, Glasgow East, the London Mayor and on and on). You can't blame the media for NewLabour's lack of acceptable or credible policies. You've had eleven years to put them into practice and we're now left without a properly funded private pension system and a bloated government sector fuill of diversity officers.

    People don't like it and want their country back. This dystopia is parallising business, enterprise and opportunity. New Labour needs to go and Gordon Brown needs to go first.

  • Comment number 26.

    For all you red-flaggers still hoping for a resurgence, get real.

    Brown's hiding deep underground
    As Labour devalue the pound,
    Their knee-jerk reactions
    And dodgy transactions
    Are not the solution, we've found!


    re: 20

    Wise words from Niccy M. In some parallel universe Labour are not thieves.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nick,

    Two postings are too much, unless there are two different issues to be discussed.

    Getting at the heart of the problem is what we need, not comments about people "visibly crumbling" or lip-twitching or whatever.

    Frankly, I don't care about whether Darling is upset, paranoid, a good or bad TV interviewee or just another Scot running the UK.

    Cut out the personalisation of all this stuff.

    Fact is that Brown screwed up the economy by spending money he didn't have, without a realistic control over how much and for what lasting benefit. Darling picked up the poisoned chalice (which Blair allowed to develop, as he was too lazy to understand the economy and too scared to sack Brown).

    Churchill was propably a drunk depressive. But a great man.

    Attlee was a good guy who made a huge mistake by nationalising wide swathes of the UK's productive base, instead of helping industries stressed during their war-time efforts to get back on their feet.

    Brown simply used clever dopes like Balls and Cooper, who were never tried in the real world, to create a smoke screen within which New Labour would operate. He needed folk like them, as his speciality was obfuscation and using the laughable (Ed Balls justified) "post neoclassical endogenous growth theory". For goodness sake! Most economists only deal with theory which is why so many (360+) said that the Thatcher approach would be a disaster. Then what happened? Bit of reality injected into the UK, a period of true growth (which has little to do with politicians inteferring witrh business).

    Real economists have to deal with real life. Which is why I have a lot of sympathy with Vince Cable, who had real experience within a global company (and of whom Brown said "You don't understand the economics" - what a stupid comment). Doesn't mean that I'd become a Liberal, but I prefer people who have experience of the realities!

    Just what exposure did Brown, Balls, Cooper have to the realities of business life?

    Well, none really.

    Time to say goodbye to all of thyem.

  • Comment number 28.

    Poor guy. Why is Darling putting himself through this? Surely he should just do himself a favour and resign? Darling giving his reasons e.g not prepared to continue being the fall guy for actions taken by my predecessor, would clear the way for Miliband to launch a challenge. Shame it won't happen.

  • Comment number 29.

    You can get 2/1 on Balls as Chancellor (as opposed to Chancellor is balls)

  • Comment number 30.

    Nick,

    Two postings are too much, unless there are two different issues to be discussed.

    Getting at the heart of the problem is what we need, not comments about people "visibly crumbling" or lip-twitching or whatever.

    Frankly, I don't care about whether Darling is upset, paranoid, a good or bad TV interviewee or just another Scot running the UK.

    Cut out the personalisation of all this stuff.

    Fact is that Brown screwed up the economy by spending money he didn't have, without a realistic control over how much and for what lasting benefit. Darling picked up the poisoned chalice (which Blair allowed to develop, as he was too lazy to understand the economy and too scared to sack Brown).

    Churchill was propably a drunk depressive. But a great man.

    Attlee was a good guy who made a huge mistake by nationalising wide swathes of the UK's productive base, instead of helping industries stressed during their war-time efforts to get back on their feet.

    Brown simply used clever dopes like Balls and Cooper, who were never tried in the real world, to create a smoke screen within which New Labour would operate. He needed folk like them, as his speciality was obfuscation and using the laughable (Ed Balls justified) "post neoclassical endogenous growth theory". For goodness sake! Most economists only deal with theory which is why so many (360+) said that the Thatcher approach would be a disaster. Then what happened? Bit of reality injected into the UK, a period of true growth (which has little to do with politicians inteferring witrh business).

    Real economists have to deal with real life. Which is why I have a lot of sympathy with Vince Cable, who had real experience within a global company (and of whom Brown said "You don't understand the economics" - what a stupid comment). Doesn't mean that I'd become a Liberal, but I prefer people who have experience of the realities!

    Just what exposure did Brown, Balls, Cooper have to the realities of business life?

    Well, none really.

    Time to say goodbye to all of them.

  • Comment number 31.

    Ha! cracking pic! But if Balls does to the economy what he did to education, we might as well top ourselves now because in a few months we'll have plastic bags on our feet and maybe a bath every Spring if we're lucky. Woe is Britain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Surely at some point journos should be sued for the deliberate panic they cause. By twisting words and actions to achieve the sensational.

    Ensuring that 24Hr news is busy they insist that we are too fat, too stupid, too drunk..

    this is another journalist create storm in a tea cup.

  • Comment number 33.

    Charles E,

    Are you OK?

    I don't often agree with your postings, but they tend to be well written.

    Different viewpoints should be reflected, but are you sure you meant what you wrote?

    "Perhaps, Gordon Brown is prone to taking to strong a position but when folks begin to click that big business is raping them in the ass and the media are just riding a wave, the pigeons will come home to roost. Arrogant management and corrosive media have to deal with that."

    For goodness sake, man. Any business tries to take advantage of the consumers. That's how you sell things. The "stuffing" of customers was true of nationalised industries (who failed to invest in innovation and delivery the benefits - think gas, electricity and phone companies pre-privatisation) as well as private companies. A good reason for competition to help keep prices - if not costs - within reach. But businesses, private or public, should be controlled.

    Just what has Brown done to rein in the banking or other industry leaders being paid way beyond their competence? Or to ensure that banking gamblers have their bonuses frozen for a couple of years until the apparent gains are proven to endure for the benefit of their customers - not just being a short term blip on the market, which could be manipulated for their benefit? Not a lot, methinks.

    What has Brown done to limit excesses?

    You don't like the corrosive media? Nor do I. But New Labour = Al Campbell, brought a new dimension to news management and manipulation.

    Is it surprising that the media is being so aggressive? I don't like it at all, but are you really surprised?

    The pigeons ARE coming home to roost.

    Brown sprayed our money around, without asking whether we - and our children - would like to borrow some more, so he could spray even more into odd areas of the foliage.

    I could go into the garden and pee on the lawn. Don't think it would do it too much good, but I wouldn't ask my neighbour to pay for a case of beer to let me piss their money away.

    Isn't that what Brown's been doing? Except he doesn't need to ask. Just fixes taxes - or borrows against my kids' future.

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 fairlyopenmind

    Do it on the compost heap, it accelerates the decomposition process.

  • Comment number 35.

    Re: #32

    Mugen 1 ... as a daft, fat drunk, I can only agree with you. Problem is that it's difficult to equate the claim that journalists/media people are manipulating the news about the government with the proven fact that about 90% of us pay bugger-all attention to what the media says... but then, what do I know ..

  • Comment number 36.

    The pigeons certainly are coming home to roost.

    But you might have noticed that as usual it is the proles who getting roosted/roasted.

    That is, the working people of this country must suffer for the failures of politicians and bankers.

    Well, the only power that the people have is the vote and I suspect that this bunch of politicians, despite ten years of relative, possibly illusionary, success, have finally come unstuck.

    The voters cannot predict the future but they can and will judge the {recent} past.

    At this rate, you would wonder just how much of Labour will actually survive the next General Election.

    So the political caravan will probably move on to 'Dave', the last Prime Minister of Britain and the first Prime Minister of England.

    The Eton Rifles he dully noted, doffing his imaginary cap.

    It just the natural order of things that the elite show the way.

    I'm sure the English won't put up with that for too long.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nick, you are well aware that GB is still PM.

    You are also well aware that Darling will still be chancellor.

    Did you not predict last year that by the beginning of summer 2008, GB might be already out?

    Do you not see that your contribution in tonight's news was completely irrelevant?

    By the way, we were not amused either.

    Where have you been for your holidays Nick?

  • Comment number 38.

    #36 JohnConstable
    "So the political caravan will probably move on to 'Dave', the last Prime Minister of Britain and the first Prime Minister of England."

    I share that fear, but it's a very high probability that the choice he faces when he climbs to the top of "the greasy pole" sometime in 2010 will be just that or to become the first non-unionist Tory and offer a Federal solution to a Scotland which by then could well have single-digit numbers of Labour MPs while the Tories perhaps double their numbers up to 2 and the SNP have a clear majority of Scottish MPs, and good prospects of an overall majority at Holyrood in 2001.

    You ought to share your views on Brian Taylor's Blether with Brian. oldnat and others are close to convincing me he'll do a lot to try to save the union, but others are concerned that he'll be Maggie T with a nice smile or Britain's Milosevic.

  • Comment number 39.

    Correction to my #38
    For 2001 read 2011. Time for bed said Zebedee.....

  • Comment number 40.

    Whatever political persuasion any of us are one thing we can ALL agree on is that this country is now in a political and econonic mess! Fact!

    The Government has run out of authority, ideas and energy. Fact!

    The Government has lost the trust of the people and it will NOT recover before the election.Fact!

    To save themselves the people need to take action and force a General Election now..... not wait for hundreds of ineffectual relaunches!

    It's time for a Jarrow style march from the North to the South of all the people, Labour, Tories and Libs to give the Government one message.

    Yes we are " pxxxed off" and it time to "pixx you lot off"!

    We can't go on any longer with such utter incompetence!

    Who wants to come on the walk to Downing Street with me?

  • Comment number 41.

    #38

    I do not fear it {the dissolution of the Union} ... in fact I welcome it with open arms.

    The English have been too apathetic about politics for far too long and now the Scots seem likely to do the job for us English and probably vote for full independence in 2010.

    Thus leaving us English to sort ourselves out, politically speaking, which is long overdue.

    I don't expect the English to be particularly enamoured with a barrel load of Tories at Westminster so we shoudl expect some currently small players like the English Democrats to gain signifciant support.

    In the short term, Dave will probably do quite a bit of postering, pretending that he is keen to keep the Union together, but in reality, the Tories have very little support in Scotland, so I don't expect his heart will be really in it.

    In the recent past I have participated on some Scottish blogs, e.g. The Scotsman, encouraging the Scots to do the right thing and support Alex Salmond and the SNP, who, in my opinion, are the best political friends that English people have right now.

    My experience of those Scottish blogs is that many Scots are ferociously political beings and I have had a rough ride on occasions and it is no wonder we English have had Paxmans 'Scottish Raj' calling the shots for the last ten years.

    These predominantly English blogs are very genteel in comparision.

  • Comment number 42.

    #41 JohnConstable

    "many Scots are ferociously political beings and I have had a rough ride on occasions"

    Yeah, you got us right. To be fair, you wouldn't have got any rougher treatment than we dish out to each other.

    We're actually reasonable on Brian Taylor's blog just expect villification if you don't produce evidence to support your arguments.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is a classic case of the new boy (having waited a year) telling the old boy you left a right mess for me to sort out. So I'm gona tell it as it is. Hence if I dig us out of this mess I will be a winner. Interesting AD - will GB fire you, or do you think he's too weak to do that?

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick Robinson's campaign to get Cameron elected carries on apace. Darling is a seasoned politician- instead of allowing the public to say 'you never warned us' Darling has given us a clear forecast as a prelude to his plans to protect the public from the worst problems! In the world of BBC politics, of course, anything Labour does about anything has to be negatived. The BBC team make assertions about how government ministers feel, react discuss or fight without one credible piece of evidence. Hopefully, the sight of Nick Robinson and the BBC team's endless gloating over Labour's discomfiture will simply persuade the public that the channel can no longer be trusted to be free of bias as it is stuffed with Oxbridge 'Young Conservatives' past their sell-by date.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Darling has spoken some truth about the UK economy, i.e. it's in an awful mess and people are extremely angry with the government because of it ... why on earth should that land him in trouble? ... I thought we wanted more of that sort of thing from our politicians?

  • Comment number 46.

    #44

    Poor old Nick, in one blog he is accused of pushing NuLiarbur's spin and in another he and the BBC are now Cameron's Fifth Column!

  • Comment number 47.

    #45 sagamix

    If the government is the cause of the UK's problems why are they World wide? The Labour government will be blamed that is true, but they are not solely to blame.

    All the Labour government did was to carry on with Tory policies of laissez-faire free market capitalism and like the rest of the World after having removed most effective from of regulation.

    OK our government used a statistical dishonest concoction the cpi to force the BoE to reduce interest rates to almost zero and make money (capital) effectively worthless. They are to blame for this. But so are the Fed in the USA.

    It looks like the UK Government is about to try to do the same again and create yet another false and overvalued market in property - it will all end very badly. Subsidising money is devaluation - the pound in your savings bank is being devalued!

    Interest rates must get up to a reasonable level and any attempt to fiddle a reduction in interest rates will be catastrophic. If they try I fear that we 'ain't seen nothing yet'! Anyone for shares is a soup kitchen!

  • Comment number 48.

    So the Japanese government has announced a £60Bn package to stimulate Japan's economy.

    In the US they are cutting taxes by 1 percent of national income.

    In Sweden they have a 2 percent budget surplus to help them out.

    In the UK there is zero surplus and only Hungary, Pakistan and Egypt have worse deficits.

    Our government as whizzed all our money up the wall and we get some announcements that 'crash the pound' and fiddle with the housing market a little.

    Congratulations Labour.

  • Comment number 49.

    I do not mean to upset one of the best institutions in the UK but I am going to anyway.

    I have been studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics with the OU. Now, I have to say that I am a mature student with experience in banking, and working in central europe after they achieved their freedoms.

    I have to say that if our politicians have been relying on PPE to enable them to be elected as politicians then we really ought to abandon all hope. If they seriously think that PPE is in any way related to how the real world works then please, it is purely theoretical. It does not work in any way related to course materials, and as for tutors who inhabitat ivory towers, then words fail me.

    What has happened to the revolution!

  • Comment number 50.

    #44's protestations are rather daft, if I may be so bold. For years we have heard about the end of boom and bust; in recent times we have been hearing about how everything is going to be ok, as long as Gordon and Alastair are left in charge. Now we hear from the Chancellor no less, that actually things are going to be the worst they have been for 60 years! And to cap it all, he didn't grasp the severity of the problem. Nick is attacked for being negative. When he reports the Government being negative about itself he's attacked for that too! I guess that's a cross he'a always going to have to bear.

  • Comment number 51.



    "46. At 08:57am on 02 Sep 2008, heraldicus wrote:
    #44

    Poor old Nick, in one blog he is accused of pushing NuLiarbur's spin and in another he and the BBC are now Cameron's Fifth Column! "




    Agreed. Don't take it to heart Nick. I have always felt the editorial stance of your organisation was Pinko-Liberal / Notting Hillbilly, but you seem to maintain a nicely ambivalent position.


    Based on your impressions above and your descriptions of the footage, (which I have not seen,) the Chancellor's demeanour seems like nothing so much as a small child caught stealing.

    Hmmmmm.

  • Comment number 52.

    Re 36

    "So the political caravan will probably move on to 'Dave', the last Prime Minister of Britain and the first Prime Minister of England."

    Have you lot all missed the proposed merger between the Conservative Party and the Ulster Unionists?

    'Dave' can be accused of a lot of things, but he's the first potential PM in a generation taking an active interest in preserving the Union.

  • Comment number 53.

    # 52

    I do not know that was happening ... a proposed merger between the Tories and the Ulster Unionists.

    What total insanity.

    Successive British Governments, of both hues have for decades, been trying to get rid of NI.

    One way or another.

    The biggest-mug-of-all-time, the English PAYE taxpayer has, via the Government, been literally throwing cash at these people in NI for decades.

    And, in effect, Dave wants it to continue.

  • Comment number 54.

    Do not feel sorry for Mr Darling.
    Do not vivlify the journalist who printed what he said.
    Do watch the squirming and waffling in the interview with Brian Taylor.
    Pay attention to the Cherie Blair book moment and the Wendy Alexander is unlikeable moment, then ask yourselves would you trust this man with your dog?

  • Comment number 55.

    I'd just comment that you can respect someone and really not like them (lots of Tory MPs view of Maggie?), and you can like them but really not respect them (lots of Tory MPs view of John Major?). Best when you can do both of course.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good blogging, Nick. Obviously Darling is a man on a tight leash here, fearing a reshuffle. Although frankly it's hard to know why anyone would want his job at the moment.

    I don't think there will be any significant reshuffling, for the simple reason that a tight control of his cabinet based on fears of unstated threats is all that Brown currently has going for him, and if he were to undermine that the government would appear to be in meltdown.. and he would rapidly lose any hope of controlling the news agenda.

    You can criticise Brown's government for incompetence all you like but, David Miliband aside, they are coming across pretty much united in incompetence. Which is worth something... If they are to have a hope of reelection they surely need to remain united, whilst praying for an economic upswing.

  • Comment number 57.

    Nick,

    Glad to have you back. I had hoped that by now, Brown and the rest of them would be gone, but it is after all only a matter of time, so I am not yet downhearted.

    I was pleasantly surprised that Darling came clean over his views of the economy, but not in the least surprised that Brown has since forced him to recant. What does upset me is the fact that the government has being doing all the wrong things over the last 2/3 years, and now give the impression of an innocent bystander at the scene of a train crash. Not one member of this so called Cabinet are able to take responsibility for their actions / inactions. If only it was possible to put them out of their misery now and elect a new group who can take action.

    For those who think that Labour should be given time - so do I, preferably 10 years in prison.

    All the best.

  • Comment number 58.

    That was the best lip-quivering moment since that poor Guy who landed up on live BBC24 instead of at his job interview!

  • Comment number 59.

    "he denies saying 'unlikeable' (about Wendy Alexander) and then, when realising that he almost certainly did say that, he begins to visibly crumble"

    Yes, that's right Nick, he did begin to visibly crumble, as anyone can see for themselves.
    So it came as a surprise to read an article by the BBC's political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue, which cheerfully informs us (in a no doubt impeccably impartial BBC way):

    "Politicians are always slated for not being straight with us and telling it how it really is. But that's not an accusation you could level at Alistair Darling."

    Right.

  • Comment number 60.

    I distinctly rememeber Gordon Brown Promising to link pensions to the rate of inflation. This promise was made when he was Chancellor.
    Is it possible that one of the BBC interviews during the next few days can remind G.B. of his promise and ask him how much longer the pensioners have to wait for this promise to be acktioned.

 

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