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Cameron's economic problem

Nick Robinson | 08:38 UK time, Monday, 20 October 2008

On the banking crisis, he can't say "I told you so" because he didn't.

He can't say "we had a better answer" because he didn't propose one and he's given his backing to the Brown plan.

David CameronOn what looks like a looming recession, he won't say "let's cut taxes to stimulate the economy" - as the American and Australian governments have - because he's already declared that "the cupboard is bare" and that as a "fiscal conservative" he's not prepared to borrow to finance tax cuts.

Thus, he's limited to proposing small-scale policy responses - yesterday a VAT holiday for small businesses, today a short-term tax cut for them - or to saying, like the Irishman in the old joke, "I wouldn't have started here".

What's more, Gordon Brown, fresh from taking the plaudits for saving the world's financial system, is busy laying a new trap for the Tories. He's pledging to carry on spending and borrowing in the downturn as the old master John Maynard Keynes recommended. There are political as well as economic reasons for him doing this.

The government wants to sprinkle magic dust on the record borrowing and debt statistics which will be published soon so as to turn them from a negative story into a positive one - from evidence of past failure to a platform for future success.

In addition, the prime minister is addicted to his favourite electoral narrative - Labour investment versus Tory cuts - and sees the chance to run it again. Specifically, if - and it is a very big if - the government can bring forward its programme to re-build schools that would cut the money which the Tories have allocated for their "free schools" programme and allow ministers to ask "what would you cut to pay for your plans?"

This morning David Cameron warned against a government spending splurge which would keep interest rates high. However, he went on to say that if all ministers are planning is a re-ordering of their spending priorities he would back that.

Thus, the Conservative leader finds himself in the extraordinary position of facing a government presiding over a failing economy for the first time in 15 years and with relatively little he can say about it.

Now some suggest this is a turning point in politics. They point to the fact that the Tory poll lead is now down to single figures. They argue that the state and Gordon Brown are back in fashion and the Tories' inexperienced leaders find themselves on the wrong side of history.

This is massively premature. Let's remember a simple point. A government that was, in any case, vulnerable to the "time for a change" argument looks set to go through the long, slow political agony of a recession with the job cuts, housing losses and spending constraints that will accompany it.

What's changed, though, is the fact that the Tories can no longer make the political weather and will often be spectators as ministers return to centre stage. David Cameron believes that at times like these the key task he has is to avoid making blunders. That's why he refers to backing the Brown bank rescue plan as "a big call" and believes that he hasn't had enough credit for it. The next year is going to be a huge test of his and his party's nerve.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Well, the tories can maybe propose raising the IHT threshold to a million pounds ... something eyecatching, reactionary and completely irrelevant like that.

  • Comment number 2.


    Nick.

    Once again you call into question David Cameron and the Conservative Party - this time it's their nerve. Once again I say it'sthe government you should be questioning and their way forward.

    The government's nerve is known to all of us and it's very worrying.


  • Comment number 3.

    Given that tax and overspend (with horrific inneficiency and over budget on nearly everything) has given us this bare cupboard will GB please explain why even more spend is such a good idea?

    Virtually every other serious economic commentator says a major cut in interest rates to ease everyones cashflow and stimulate the economy is actually a much better thing to do than spending money you haven't got. But of course that isn't in the governments power- unless of course they change the inflation target?

  • Comment number 4.

    I think it quite likely that the polls will start turning in Mr Browns favour as winter slowly turns to spring.
    A June election after an electoral striptease autumn statement and spring budget would be a gamble that our friend in No 10 might jut be persuaded to take.
    He would be advised -by those in influence- that the British public have a right to be both consulted and to decide how the next few very difficult years should be managed and whether they want an experienced heavyweight or a novice in charge.
    It might just work? I bet Lord Mandelson has already thought of the idea.

  • Comment number 5.

    Gordon Brown claims that the credit crunch was an American problem exported to the UK. If some of the weekend papers are to be believed a lot of the problem was caused under the "watchful eye" of the FSA.

    The economic miracle of the last 10 years has been caused by increasing debt both private, company and public. It wasn't so long ago that shareholders demanded that companies increased debt to provide greater returns for themselves and companies were taken over by the use of debt. Indeed a well know businessman made his private fortune by increasing the debt on his own company.

    The worm has turned, banks won't be able to lend the amounts that they did previously and the number of cheap rate mortgages will plummet. Likewise the Bank of England will be faced with having to raise increasing amounts to finance government debt against a depreciating sterling, we've seen it all before, interest rates will have to rise while the country is in recession.
    And "superman" will find that the easy part was the last 10 years and he will be faced with something that he hasn't had to do; govern in a recession (of his own making).

    View the latest opinion polls as a dead cat bounce.

  • Comment number 6.

    When oh when is the BBC going to stop being a party political broadcast for the Labour Party and start fair unbaised reporting or at the very least prefixing statements with "in my opinion..." rather than insinuating fact....

  • Comment number 7.

    so gordon overspends during the good times and now he wants to overspend during the bad

    when exactly are commentators, such as yourself, going to pull him up on points like that rather than wittering on about what the other parties have / haven't or will / will not do?

  • Comment number 8.

    A shame you don't seek to analyse the governments position in anything like this detail.

    Labour have nothing to crow about, so their campaign strategy is "There isnt any thing better on offer".

    A campaign that you, and much of the BBC are very actively supporting with our money...

    There are many things the tories haven't played well as an opposition - they bit their tongues to avoid criticism, rather then speaking what they knew was the truth.

    Labours BBC resolutely supports the misguided philosophy that SPENDING CUTS are the new N words. And they will automatically heckle, critcise and run down any suggestion to the contrary.

    Overall the Tories have not risen to the challenge of tackling this head on -- a highturn over of leaders has not helped.

    It is not dissimilar to the BBC (and other socialist organisaions) approach to things like immigration control - the mere mention of such subjects being condemned, with out considering any argument... at least not until the truth is undeniable, and even the labour government have to come clean and say that unfettered immigration is unsustainable -- where were the BBC looking at this (for the publics benefit and information) prior to their government paymasters telling them that it was OK to talk about now?

    If work currently undertaken by the state is *really needed* and *really wanted* by the people, then the people will use their tax cuts to pay for them directly... The state (in the form of a few well paid, rich ministers) need to butt out and let people spend their own money as they see fit.

    The Tories need to stop worring about what the BBC will tell the country about them - and stay connected directly with the people of this country.

    And they need to ensure the government new ideas on 'regulating' blogs does not cut this channel off to them.

  • Comment number 9.

    Perhaps the one thing the Tories could shout loud about is the Ecclestone affair and demand that all MPs involved be questioned about how truthful they were especially Golden Brown saviour of the universe.If there is one person who we can trust to be a straight sort of guy it must be the famous son of the manse.

  • Comment number 10.

    No faith whatsoever in the Cameron crew. If the tories dont face facts, people will vote for the devil they know rather than a floundering group of moppets. Bring on Boris! Boris is the natural leader to pull the party up and be ready to face a formidable, even if unloved Nu Labour.

  • Comment number 11.

    Everyone I speak to says Cameron's the one to get their vote come election time.

    Just saying it like it is.

  • Comment number 12.

    so all we can look forward to, is months of yet more spin via the media, then a snap election and another 5 years of gordon brown.

    god help us all.

  • Comment number 13.

    "The government wants to sprinkle magic dust on the record borrowing and debt statistics which will be published soon so as to turn them from a negative story into a positive one - from evidence of past failure to a platform for future success."

    In other words the government wants to lie - sorry "spin" the massive increase in national debt this will involve as "investing in the future"

    And this is a good thing?

    Sadly there are a large section of the population who will foolish believe that. And I am sure if the Government needs help selling this to the population the BBC will be there to help portray it as a good thing.

    Don't worry comrades you might lose your house and your job but the Motherland will remain strong!

  • Comment number 14.

    Wow. Has he considered the implications for VAT carousel fraud?

    Those fraudsters operate as small businesses and would just love a VAT holiday. It has already cost the tax-payer billions!

  • Comment number 15.

    A bit like the credit crisis, this was bound to come.

    The Tories have been ineffectual in opposition, offering no more/less than "Vote for us because we're like Labour really but, er, just a bit different here and there ...". This is about the pointless politics of capturing and holding the centre ground. OK (arguably) when things are proceeding nicely. Disastrous in the face of a crisis.

    So here we are, not only with the failure of our financial system but also a failure of our political system. Once again, the political class have sold us citizens short (now that's topical too).

    Unless and until a true statesman emerges from this unholy mess and offers the British people a credible alternative to the long-term, economic and social nightmare now being planned by Gordon Brown and his apparatchiks, then believe me we're in deep trouble.

    I simply don't think that Cameron, Osborne et al get it, unless they've got one almighty rabbit tucked in to their top hat. The Tories will only have themselves to blame (again) if they fluff the next election and get shown the door. I'm a 'traditional Tory voter' (a dying species, no doubt), but I despair at the ocean-going mess Cameron and his dizzy team are making of opposing Gordon Brown. They're not.

    Time to emigrate?

  • Comment number 16.

    I am a true floating voter, I have voted Labour twice and Conservative once since I became eligable. I rely on the BBC mainly for information on which to form my views. I am a little disturbed lately by your tone, it does not seem objective. Yesterday Radio 4 said 'conservatives now only have a 9 point lead over labour.' The words used turned a clear Tory lead into somehow a bad thing and made Labour look better than they are doing. Is this deliberate bias in how the news is presented or is it unconscious? I am also annoyed by the spin over the Tory/Labour truce. On question time and any questions it was clear that whilst the Tories may have had a truce, Labour did not. Apparently Labour are the cause of all the good things like schools and hospitals but the last conservative government was the cause of the bad new now. The BBC presenters let the Labour people get away with this and even let them then accuse the Tories of being party political.

  • Comment number 17.

    If "Brown" had spent more wisely the country might have had more cash reserves to ride out this recession but he didn't and it doesn't and so we are all in the mess for the next 2-5 years.
    If and when Tories get back in power they will have to sort out the mess, reign in government spending and therefore become the nasty party again.

    The "Boom and Bust" is that Labours over zealous spending echoes down the economy for years resulting in multiple Busts as the economy spits and falters back into life. They take the legacy of a honed lean economy, claim it for themselves and then proceed to run around the sweet shop buying everything in sight

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh dear Nick you seem to have hit a raw nerve with Tory supporters on here. They look on in horror as they see the next election being snatched from their grasp.

  • Comment number 19.

    What can an Opposition do Nick, when we are in the middle of an economic car crash with Gordon Brown in the driving seat? All an Opposition can fairly do is to pin the blame for the crash on the man in charge - I see the SNP are backing up the Tories in this.

    The good thing is that Brown is culpable - he is culpable for creating the regulatory system which has so manifestly failed. He is culpable for deficit spending during the boom years, leaving the public finances in a mess now the downturn has come. The public are not stupid and they will repeatedly see over the coming months just how much the Government is having to borrow, with Brown breaking all his precious "golden" rules.

    In short, all the Opposition have to do is to ensure that the mud sticks to that boastful, bully Brown!

  • Comment number 20.

    Dear Nick
    The Tories are off the boil, they have surrendered as Opposition, Cambell should be hammering Brown, especially over the 22,000 repossessions that have takn place because of the crisis created by the bankers in the first plafce.
    This is anarchy, driving people out of their homes for situation they did notcreate.

  • Comment number 21.

    ARE YOU FACING REPOSSESSION?

    PROCEEDINGS CAN BE BROUGHT AGAINST: LEGISLATION, REGULATION AND DECISIONS THAT THEY MADE. AND AGAINST THEIR FAILURE TO MAKE AND ENFORCE PROPER REGULATION THAT WAS THE CAUSE OF THE SITUATION IN WHICH YOU FIND YOURSELF.

    HAVE YOUR MORTGAGE WRITTEN OFF, AND INSIST THAT YOUR BANK OR BUILDING SOCIETY, PASS ON TO YOU, THE CUT IN INTEREST RATE BENEFIT RELIEF, INCLUDING BACK DATED BENEFIT, FROM THE BANK OF ENGLAND, TO YOU, AND IF YOU LIVE IN THE USA FROM THE FED TO YOU.

    AND WHY NOT?

    After all, Bankers were gambling with mortgage-backed-securities using them as collateral in unregulated volatile markets and they lost them causing a crisis – the effects for you as a homeowner and taxpayer are devastating.

    At no time did homeowners and taxpayers give authority to any bank, building society, institution or any government to create, or gamble with instruments used as collateral putting their homes at risk. At no time did your lender in principle and in law have the authority of the regulators, or authority of law.

    Why should you pay for the greed and ruthless behaviour, most foul, of the super-rich bankers, who caused the credit crunch and contributed to it? – Not only is it the biggest modern-day bank robbery but the biggest robbery of the economy leaving it vandalised. It was all avoidable. It didn’t have to happen.

    At no time has the taxpayer been responsible for the conduct and dealings of private investors or for loses incurred by private transactions of banks, mortgage lenders or any financial institution.

    Many homeowners struggle for years to get on – and stay on – the property ladder. Why should they pay for bank loses by way of: Increased interest rates; negative equity; repossessions - made homeless with predatory bailiffs plundering their property?

    Why should they pay with: financial hardship; not able to put food on the table; mental stress; and devastating effects of it all for the rest of their lives and their children s lives - whilst the bankers are having a party?

    CHANGE OF THE SYSTEM

    Up until 1997, the Bank of England controlled the Banking system. It was common knowledge that prior to 1997, mortgages were protected from such abuse, under existing safeguards of regulations and the law, and that mortgages, in particular, were sacrosanct.

    Mortgages were only to be used for the purchase of property; loans for all other purchases had to be through a bank loan or hire purchase, which were short term and had a higher rate of interest, there was a separation of deposit banking and mortgage lending. The lending banks and building societies were strictly regulated.

    However, Mr Brown decided that he didn’t like that anymore. So he introduced a system were we had, the Financial Services Authority, the Treasury, and the Bank of England, (the Tripartite Authorities) carving up the job amongst them. Just one big problem – when there was a crisis, apparently nobody knew who was in charge. The effect of all this – the system unregulated.

    The bankers most certainly knew the enormous value of your mortgage backed by the secure asset of your home, and that they would be the driving force behind a powerful booming economy. They knew they would make a fortune if they could trade them on the US financial markets in the same way as US government-sponsored-enterprises, or GSEs. However, the bankers knew they couldn’t be traded unless they were taken out of their protective regulation. So how did they get their hands on them?

    Well, first, you must know what you are doing, and know how to have them deregulated. By changing the banking system in 1997, banks were able to trade CLOs and other stealth products through institutions, but an institution is not called a bank, and therefore operated outside strict bank regulations. This was the key to the unscrupulous bankers making a fortune. The question one should keep in mind is, was it Mr Brown's idea, or the Bankers' idea, or both? Who persuaded who? Brown was the only one, in his position as PM, that could make such a decision.

  • Comment number 22.

    The notion here is that the government can cause all kinds of catastrophic mayhem but the pressure is still on the opposition to come up with initiatives.
    GB is blaming everybody for the financial troubles while at the same time taking the credit for "saving the world".
    I hope that the British people are not so stupid to buy in to this.
    If they are and GB is voted in next year then UK plc is finished.
    The thought of Mandelson master-minding a labour strategy for an election is nauseating!

  • Comment number 23.

    #7." At 09:32am on 20 Oct 2008, imdx80 wrote:

    so gordon overspends during the good times and now he wants to overspend during the bad

    when exactly are commentators, such as yourself, going to pull him up on points like that rather than wittering on about what the other parties have / haven't or will / will not do?"

    Absolutely spot on! Come on Nick - when are you and the other BBC hacks going to hold the Government to account??? They are the ones who were in charge as this mess was being created! Challenge Brown for God's sake - it is about time he was interviewed with the same ferocity as members of the opposition are!

  • Comment number 24.

    Cameron well knows it's a bit pointless trying to score points at this stage.
    By next year we will be in a full blown recession which Brown has caused.
    Unemployment will rise to an unmanageable level. And the economy will be in debt for the next 20 years.
    The elephant in the room (government pensions) will be a major battleground.
    The only chance of Brown winning an election in early 2010 is if he mounts a Mugabe style coup and I would'nt put that past him.

  • Comment number 25.

    Labour policy: Borrow and spend, borrow and spend, borrow and spend.

    They know that they will not be around to pick up the pieces.

    A literal scorched earth policy would be more honest: at least it wouldn't be couched in hypocritical Nu Labour language such as 'investment'.

    If Gordon Brown government were to win the coming general election it would be a sad confirmation of the dictum: people the government they deserve.

    Fortunately, the British people deserve better - and will, I trust, vote accordingly.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nick,

    it seems to be consistently forgotten that Gordon Brown is not the chancellor any more, he is the Prime Minister.

    The rescue plan for the banks was not his, you seriously cannot believe that Gordon sat up at night just thinking about how he would solve the 'crisis'. He and the government have so many advisers, it was the idea of nobody in particular. That is the problem with Gordon, he takes all the praise and will not accept when he is wrong, it was not only the 10p tax rate, it was giving the pensioners 50p because that is what the figures dictated.

    Maybe now that he has sorted out the world economic problem, he would like to tell us all what he is doing about Iraq, and our continued occupation. What is he going to do about Afghanistan and the ever continuing kill rates, and for what, so that we can retreat ignominiously like many before us. What is he going to do about Dafur.

    What exactly is he doing about the dictatorship of oil, what is he going to do about nuclear weapons, why are we having them. Why has money been allocated to it. What is he going to say about the false consultation on nuclear energy. What does he think about the Human Embryo bill, does he seriously accept that our society can continue to tolerate 200,000 abortions a year. I regard this as an abomination of the original principles behind the original abortion act. I can accept the premise about back-street abortions but how many back-street abortions are known to have occured before David Steele brought his proposals to parliament.

    We, the public must not allow Brown to get away with this, come on Cameron there are so many issues which need attention.

    How could anybody, for example, be against any planning proposal which will boost the economy, no matter what the environmental or social impact may be. We could all become roof laggers if we want a job, who said that, why Gordon. Immigration! The proposals are appalling. What about the unfortunate Iraqi interpretors who are denied access to Britain, when they have helped the British and are now seen as collaborators. How about so many things, you have so many advisers, what do they do for their money. If I can do it why can't they.

    Finally, why do MPs need such a long christmas holiday, what sort of example is that to set for productivity. there is an economic crisis, mind you it means that Gordon will not have to answer PMQs, and we know what happens during long holidays don't we, crisis! what crisis?

    Gordon Brown is a one trick pony, lock and load David, prove that you are a man, you have in your sights, don't miss the opportunity again.

  • Comment number 27.

    A rather contradictory post when compared to 'The truce is over'. Today you say the Tories are in "the extraordinary position of facing a government presiding over a failing economy for the first time in 15 years and with relatively little he can say about it." However, on the 17th you say that the Tories are on the attack, condemning ""the complete and utter failure of Labour's economic record." Yet, I tend to agree with the sentiments of your post. Cameron is currently wandering no-man's land whilst Brown is seemingly leading the Labour advance, who would have thought this possible a few weeks ago? Brown still has a long hard slog to the election (whenever that may be) and I hardly see him managing to keep his current bubble intact throughout a period a economic downturn. The Tories have to continue hammering home the argument, 'who exactly has been running the economy since 1997 and is therefore ultimately responsible?'

  • Comment number 28.

    We all know that Brown's economic miracle was a bit of a mirage. But we voted for it in three (well at least two) General Elections. True some people were sounding warnings, but not very volubly. And those who were making noises were also complaining about the state of our hospital equipment, crumbling schools etc etc. We all wanted improvement there. So no one comes out of the blame argument too well.

    What Cameron is doing really well is that at the moment he is appearing more statesmanlike and not a cheap 'sound bite' merchant. He is biding his time. The credit crunch has given him an opportunity to abandon his doomed 'name calling' strategy and enabled him appear to be a much more solid character. It will help him in the long run and make him a much more dangerous opponent at the next General Election.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear Nick

    Just as the markets appear to be calming down and the banking system is possibly, albeit very slowly, rediscovering its true vocation - to attract deposits and lend prudently, so politics is returning to normal - the next British general election remains there for the government to lose.

    If Labour mismanages the recession, the Conservatives have to do nothing more than avoid looking less competent.

    Saving the banking system from its own folly will not of itself deliver a 4th term.

    Peter Kenyon
    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/

  • Comment number 30.

    The real problem for Tory Toff Cameron is that the majority of those who think about it, realise that he has no answers either. Just what would a rich Eaton boy know about the unemployed, other than they are a good way of keeping wages down.

    I don't see many of his peers and friends in the City of London jumping out of windows, ruined,most of them will be in the Caribbean keeping warm and comfortable on the profits and bonuses they got whilst betting your real savings and investments on imaginary products, CDs, Swaps and Derivatives, things that even they don't understand or even have to. The 'Brokers' always win, going up or coming down they take a margin.

    When it's a bit dark and cold this winter or next, just think of the fund managers and bailed out bank execs, cosy and warm in their Swiss skiing chalet, drinking and eating the only bit of your savings and investments left.

    Remember Mrs Thatcher, as Mr Cameron reminded us in his conference speech, Mrs Thatcher deregulated the banking markets. It's just taken 20 Years for the policy to mature.

    Just to assure you I am a political agnostic, I think Gordon is an idiot for continuing these policies into a Labour government.







  • Comment number 31.

    At last the media will finally put the Tories under the spotlight.

    They have no answers to this problem because they are fanatical free marketeers. Labour have borrowed and used the situation of unrestrained capitalism to take taxes for schools and hospitals.

    Those days are over forever. the difference between the parties now is that Labour have a way out of this mess in their locker the Tories can only prescribe more of the same.

  • Comment number 32.

    The first sentence in this blog is inaccurate. The Tories and others have been warning GB about the spiralling levels of debt in the economy for many years now.

    This invalidates the second sentence as the "better answer" you refer to would have been to keep a lid on the debt in the economy.

    In your third sentence you seem to be attacking Cameron because he has no solution to an insoluble problem. This is most unfair.

    I could go on.

    Why don't you just join the Labour party and be done with it, Nick?

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick,

    The government have an army of advisors and civil servants at their disposal. They should be expected to make the right decisions.

    Opposition parties have much less 'advisory' resource available. Hence there is no need for Cameron to be on the back foot - he can take the government to task over their failures of the last 11 years. (Starting with the gold sell off).

    Looking forwards - Cameron doesn't need to be boxed in - he can support the short term emergency measures, but he can also spell out his longer term vision and framework for government. Easy.


  • Comment number 34.

    I heard Dave on the Today program and he was praising Sweden again for having reserves to allow them to get through the current crisis. Does he realise the reason is the Swedish Government is Socialist and has realistic rates of Tax? Also they don't have the same problems of Tax avoidance and evasion that we have in this country which Dave's Party seems to be strangely in favour of. If Dave is converting his New Tories into a Socialist Party to outflank labour I might consider them, but if it's just Dave trying to be all things to all men in the hope of picking up votes I don't think I'll be convinced.

  • Comment number 35.

    Seems to me all the Tories have got going for them is Labour having problems. When Labour start pulling together they get sidelined. This seems to show how little they have to offer. The UK would have faired no better under a Tory administration during this financial crisis as its affecting every country, so its a mute point blaming Labour for it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Some people may have noticed an interview with Sir Brian Pitman, former chief executive of Lloyds TSB Group. It's worth reading as he highlights some points I made a few days ago that this economic difficulty isn't a huge deal and the key to success isn't necessarily finance but management. Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson is working on a plan to get business focused in a forwards direction. So far, all I've heard from the Tories is a bullish flagwaving speech to get attention and a shower of short-term financial gimmicks. This just shows me how they lack vision for building a better Britain and are more focused on winning votes for the sake of votes.

    My general view remains that developing a more positive business vision, developing staff loyalty, and taking a longer-term issue to finance is key to both getting through this difficulty and fixing Britain's broken economic fundamentals. Issues such as management listening to their staff and allowing them to perform, and retaining staff and having fair employment conditions, and a little more shared reality on finance will help cherry pick the best practices of top American and Japanese business practice instead of the backwards approach that's the default today. The pay-off is an industrial powerhouse instead of sliding of the edge of the continental shelf with shame.

    I remain convinced that Labour are more clearly than ever the best placed party for government as mere cost cutting and sacking workers is a recipe for disaster. The last time that was tried it stripped the fat off Britain and bit deeply into the muscle. Now that we've only just recovered this far more Thatcherism will be have us gnawing on the bone. Well, no. That's just depressing and recessionary. Really, the best thing the Tories can do is accept the need for consensus and regain some stature by helping persuade the CBI to get on board the government's plan and continue rehabilitating their own party so it's relevant in a changed world.

  • Comment number 37.

    26. T A Griffin (TAG)

    What exactly is he doing about the dictatorship of oil, what is he going to do about nuclear weapons, why are we having them. Why has money been allocated to it. What is he going to say about the false consultation on nuclear energy. What does he think about the Human Embryo bill, does he seriously accept that our society can continue to tolerate 200,000 abortions a year. I regard this as an abomination of the original principles behind the original abortion act. I can accept the premise about back-street

    Tag, this is not exactly a government of renewal and life, so what can we expect from them? Destroy and crush is their policy since they can neither create nor nourish.

  • Comment number 38.

    Want to reduce your monthly outgoings?

    Overspent on hospitals and the credit cards maxxed out?

    PFI initiatives proving to cost more than you thought?

    Need a little extra to get you through to the end of the month?

    Then consolidate your debts with UKgovernmentbailout.com just give us a call and our friendly advisers are here to help.

    (Remember, your banks may be repossessed if you fail to keep up with payments...)

  • Comment number 39.

    Only a 9 point lead ????
    that makes me laugh at the rate at which Northern Rock a government owned concern is repossessing houses the Tories are assured of keeping that lead all the way to the election.......

    One or 2 ministers have already realised this and are calling for stays of execution for people over repayments a very wise move on their part....


  • Comment number 40.

    Why are so many people unable to distinguish reporting from supporting? Nick Robinson is not praisingthe cunning politics which Labour may employ. He is simply saying this is what they will do to try to win an election.
    Do try to understand, folks!

  • Comment number 41.

    The notion of Brown and Mandelson 'working on our behalf' fills me with fear and trepidation.

    Haven't they working on 'our behalf' since 1997?

    And look where we are today...


  • Comment number 42.

    If the Tories really want to help... they should push for - assist with - the changes in law that are required to allow home owners not to be repossessed...
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7442cc98-9e11-11dd-bdde-000077b07658.html

    Come on David... make your mark...

  • Comment number 43.

    A general comment about BBC reporting/programs.

    Is the BBC supposed to only report - not tell stories?

    In this case what are the facts of what each political party is proposing.

    A Panorama program about this credit crunch included the following.....

    Someone stated that the government and the FSA could do nothing about curtailing 125% mortgages, because the media would have objected.

    The BBC reporters sat there and said nothing about this statement.

    What happened to government taking tough decisions?

  • Comment number 44.

    "They have no answers to this problem because they are fanatical free marketeers. Labour have borrowed and used the situation of unrestrained capitalism to take taxes for schools and hospitals."

    So the way to get out of a recession caused by reckless borrowing is MORE reckless borrowing?

    Sounds like a Baldrick plan to me!

    Borrowing is a pyramid scheme, all we are doing is adding another layer to it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Whoa there! Many Conservatives have been warning for years about the impending doom of the "Debt Society". For starters, see:

    "NHS debt threatens local hospitals, Tories say" - The Guardian, November 15 2005

    "Conservatives launch policy offensive on debt crisis" - The Observer, 19 Nov 2006

    "Tories plan 'cooling-off' period on store cards to cut spiralling debt" - The Times, 19 Nov 2006

    Heck, the party even held a Debt Summit in November 2006.

    True, the Conservatives, like everyone else, didn't see the sub-prime banking crisis coming, but they DID see forsee massive problems surrounding debt; they DID forsee the credit crunch.

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick

    This latest blog is well below your usually high standards. I am aware that both Cameron and Salmond are hogging the political headlines but the Labour spin machine usually has something to say especially at the start of the week.

    When Brown was chancellor, he often disappeared when bad news was about. Has this "malaise" now infected the entire Nu Labour cabinet?

  • Comment number 47.

    Nick

    In order for London to become the financial centre they relaxed the rules America to keep up did similar How can Brown not be to blame? Its a ridiculous assertion from the media that he can just walk away from this and save the day using Billions of taxpayers money.

    Subprime loans have been known about for years Bush in 2003 tried to do something and although he failed could have bought more awareness and changed rules.. He didnt..

    What he did was allow the eleven million mexican immigrants to borrow and for those who couldnt afford to borrow and changed the rules so fanny mae and freddy mac had to take on this debt. He knowingly made sure those who could not pay back got huge loans.. Bankers mortgage advisors stock markets all made huge bonuses and then left the taxpayer to clean up the mess. At the very minimum charges should be bought on those rule makers and those who were irresponsible but the biggest charges of all should go on Bush for not changing the rules when he was so obviously aware and also made it worse.

    The federal reserve waited its time and then suddenly kicked off about sub prime mortgages after massive sub prime loans had been allowed. They kept quiet for years..

    Funny how the banks are now in the hands of governments....

    Funny how the EU just got its constitution?

    Funny how the banks now actually belong to the EU by default and not our government ...

    Here in the UK we vote in a new party every five years if they dont please us they get thrown out that is democracy..

    The EU doesnt need to please us as they stay in power forever and with out an electorate to please can do what they want.. Thats a dictatorship.. The EU has MEP elections which is the same as electing any labour MP as long as its labour..

    The point is Nick we are all being taken in a single direction which is not in the public interest and controls and owns the wealth and people of the west... Democracy is being replaced by a psuedo capitlist dictatorship controlled by an elite.

  • Comment number 48.

    Yeah,

    carrying on knocking Cameron if you think it helps any Nick, but at least he has spoken out on behalf of business which you have not and no doubt would be acting to help them given half a chance, which the Government are not.

    I hope he continues to speak and I hope someone with a slightly firmer grasp than Mandelson, Cooper and Darling gets on with it.

    Having just spent an absolute fortune selectively helping some businesses (called banks) I take it from Ms Cooper's remarks toward a cut in NI ie: 'who's going to pay for it' that the Government won't be helping anyone else from here on in.

    Remarking on the urgent need to stop the repossession, foreclosure rollercoaster Mandelson said on Sunday, in that usual ghastly dismissive way of his 'well I don't think the government can actually force the banks to help people..'

    Missed that off the small print did they?

    Well, actually, let's not call it 'help'.
    Let's call it serving the REAL interests of the UK population or else do they let the greater proportion of the nation dissolve into a mass of unemployed homeless bankrupts?


    GC

  • Comment number 49.

    Cameron's problem is not that hard to see.

    He is the leader of the Conservative Party - the UK party that most strongly supports free market capitalism. Free market capitalism has failed. What can he say? ("I apologise that we kicked off this disaster with Thatcher's decade"?)

    Gordon Brown is the leader of the Labour Party - the UK party that historically has been the most sceptical about free market capitalism. Okay, in a misguided post-Thatcherite world Labour lost its bearings and became zanily capitalist like everyone else. But now it can return to its historically balanced roots, using the state to counteract the inevitable excesses of the free market.

    I would say Brown is now in pretty good shape. But I wouldn't like to be in Cameron's shoes. (And in one of history's great mistakes, Clegg's Liberal Democrats finally embraced the unfettered free market - just before it collapsed.)

  • Comment number 50.

    @30 miketyler

    The issue isnt that Brown continued the policies.
    Its that his deregulation and tripartate system made the situation worse.

  • Comment number 51.

    Nick's comment about Cameron and the Tories facing a test of nerve is spot on. The media narrative over the last 12 months has been will Labour have to get rid of Brown in order to avoid electoral meltdown. The new media story is mix between Brown being the "comeback kid" and the the "father of the nation". The media is now much more positive about Gordon Brown and this is making the Tories spectacularly nervous - even when they still have a 9 point poll lead.
    Cameron says he wishes to transorm social policy with a focus on the family and really trying to do something about an effectively forgotten underclass. This is big politics and an issue that will reasonate with the broader electorate. This should be the focus. Punch and Judy politics (which he is brilliant at) looks mean and lightweight given the current climate. However, focusing on a real social agenda will require leadership as well as nerve. Interesting to see if DC can show any in the coming months.

  • Comment number 52.

    Just imagine if Nick were to slant this blog the other way . . .

    On the banking crisis, Gordon can't say "I saw it coming" because he didn't.
    He can't say "I put protections in place" because he didn't and the “Brown plan” that he’s taking credit for isn’t even his.
    On what looks like a looming recession, he won't say "let's cut taxes to stimulate the economy" - as the American and Australian governments have - because he's a tax-raiser at heart and won’t change the habits of a lifetime, and that as a "prudent financial steward" he's only prepared to borrow even more to try to spend his way out of the recession.
    Thus, he's limited to cheap party political pot shots – last week at PMQs, more recently refusing to even answer justifiable criticisms of his policies - or to saying, like the Socialist in the old joke, "It’s all Thatcher’s fault you know".

    What's more, Gordon Brown, fresh from unjustifiably claiming the plaudits for saving the world's financial system, whilst refusing to accept his own role in the UK downturn, is busy laying a new trap for the Tories. He's pledging to carry on spending and borrowing in the downturn, continuing the policies that helped create it, as the old master John Maynard Keynes recommended. There are political as well as economic reasons for him doing this.
    The government wants to sprinkle magic dust on the record borrowing and debt statistics which will be published soon so as to turn them from a negative story into a positive one - from evidence of past failure to a platform for future success, although it is difficult to see how he can argue that more of the same will lead to a different outcome.
    In addition, the prime minister is addicted to his favourite electoral narrative - Labour investment versus Tory cuts - and sees the chance to run it again. Specifically, if - and it is a very big if - the government can bring forward its programme to re-build schools that would cut the money which the Tories have allocated for their "free schools" programme and allow ministers to ask "what would you cut to pay for your plans?". Cynics may argue that changing government spending plans simply to outfox your political opponents rather than help the country is symptomatic of this government, and has strong echoes of the 10p tax rate fiasco.
    Thus, the Labour leader finds himself in the extraordinary position of being in government, presiding over a failing economy for the first time in 15 years, claiming no responsibility for it despite spending years claiming the boom was all down to him, and having to suggest that continuing the very policies that got us here is somehow a good thing.
    Now some suggest this is a turning point in politics. They point to the fact that the Tory poll lead is still substantial, despite all the media coverage of the Prime Minister claiming credit for the Swedish bailout plan. They argue that the state and Gordon Brown are failing to understand their role in helping create the current crisis, and that more of their ‘experience’ can only do more damage.
    It is still a long way from an election but let's remember a simple point. A government that was, in any case, vulnerable to the "time for a change" argument looks set to go through the long, slow political agony of a recession with the job cuts, housing losses and spending constraints that will accompany it.
    What's changed, though, is the fact that the ministers will have to return to centre stage and attempt to explain why after 11 years in power they bear no responsibility for current events. Gordon Brown believes that at times like these the key task he has keep smiling and deny everything. That's why he refers to the Brown bank rescue plan rather than crediting it’s original authors and believes that he should be given all the credit for it. The next year is going to be a huge test of his and his party's nerve.

  • Comment number 53.

    "Belmons wrote:
    Why are so many people unable to distinguish reporting from supporting? Nick Robinson is not praisingthe cunning politics which Labour may employ. He is simply saying this is what they will do to try to win an election.
    Do try to understand, folks!"

    That would be true if this was a news report - it isn't. It is a blog - which is opinion.

    There is a big difference.

  • Comment number 54.

    So Gordon Borwn and Alistair Darling are going back to the old tax and spend keynsian ways of the predecessors,

    Do people understand that the general theory of economics ws written to punish the world for robbing Keynes of all his wealth? He wa a day trader while at University in the eighties.

    Do people undertand that the last time this was tried we ended up with a wage/price spiral that took two decades to bring under control?

    Everytime this governemnt spends money it puts its foot in a cow pat. Look at the list of construction companies being sued by the attorney general forprice collusion; we'll have another list within five years.

    This is a disaster of a spendahloic government whose only hope is to offer its addicted patient another fix.

    If he's so confident he's got a bounce then Gordon Brown should:

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nick,

    I'm amazed that you have filled your blog entry with so much anti-opposition claptrap.

    The government is the one taking the lead, as should be expected. However you seem to accept that whatever lead is taken by the government is auotamtically good since the current conditions are bad.

    Please, for the sake of everybody's sanity, stop and think and elucidate exctly why you think overborrowing and spending is good.

    Keynes promoted the idea 70 years ago, when things were much different than they are today, and his idea of the magnitude of such borrwings were much lower than thex currently are, and as a proportion of what was THEN the GDP was much lower than it is now.

    Neither the tories nor lib-dems are able to change the goverment actions, and your attempts to belittle any attempt they might make, does them a disservice.

    Why, in a democracy, do you think it makes sense for political opponents to provide a poor government with ideas that it can use to promote itself at their expense, and then attempt to grab another 5 years of power?

    Frankly, the people of this country are not that stupid, and are simply waiting for the chance to vote.

  • Comment number 56.

    #49 true,

    but I would not mind betting that Cameron gets a pretty hard time from some of the old School Tory MPs and Grandees for his 'borderline egalitarian' view.

    But. He's got more guts than Brown, at least he speaks for folk like me with firms like mine.

    The UK has to face up to a reality which is that the financial crisis and the recession combined (for our country alone, and leaving aside the human cost per se) are quite as dangerous to us as a working nation now, as (without naming names) far-right Germany was in 1939.

    And this government are about as much use now as Neville Chamberlain was then. To fix a problem you have to first admit a problem exists and precious days are being lost.

    GC

  • Comment number 57.

    >Democracy is being replaced by a psuedo capitlist dictatorship controlled by an elite

    wake up .. it always has been ever since the working classes got the vote.. sheep voting for the dog as my grandfather would have said.

  • Comment number 58.

    I would suggest that Mr Cameron actually knows nothing about small businesses. All the ones I have had dealings with deal in mostly cash and never pay any tax or VAT anyway, they just go bust and do the "Phoenix company" trick every couple of years when HM Revenue and Customs can be ignored no longer.

  • Comment number 59.

    I didn't realise Cameron had an "economic problem". He's in opposition. I thought Gordon Brown had a economic problem. Some mistake, surely?

  • Comment number 60.

    Spot on with this one Nick. Cameron has two real problems.

    The first is he is playing catch up to the quick (in government terms), and internationally lauded, action with the financial crisis. He offered to help to gain political points but was sidelined by the speed of the action and his obvious exclusion from it.

    The second is that when you examine his past comments he just wasn't calling that hard for paying off debt in the good times. Mainly he was saying split the process between tax cuts and spending. He probably wanted to pay off debt, but he was too busy trying to win votes promising tomorrows tax cuts.

    Finally, his plan for companies employing four or less employees is a joke. 40 or less would help stimulate the SMB sector, preferably 100. It's a smoke screen to appear to be offering innovative solutions and most thinking people can see through that.

    He would be better advised to let the Government have its head for a few more weeks and appear more of a statesman.

  • Comment number 61.

    If your analysis is correct (personally I think you over state the positives for Labour) and the polls get to a point that would indicate Labour could secure a fourth term, will we still have the endless 'Election now!" shrieks from Tory supporters on here and HYS. After all, most of the calls were justified on the basis of needing an election for the 'sake of democracy'. I guess they were really calls of opportunism and if a Labour success looks likely the 'Election now!" shrieks will be from the other side. Funny how things start to improve for Labour when Campbell and Mandelson back behind the scenes. I think the 'end of spin' is all spin.

  • Comment number 62.

    It is interesting that everyone is completely ignoring the fact that a conservative government wouldn't have led us into recession in this state. It is not entirely surprising that they have not announced any decent answers because this is a problem which would not be possible under a tory government. If the UK were a company, we'd be bust.

    In 1997, Labour inherited high debt but a balanced budget.
    If the Tories win in 2010, they will inherit even higher debt and a budget with at least a £50bn overspend.

    Labour accuse the Tories of unfunded promises, but when was the last time Labour promised anything that was not funded by more borrowing?

    If Labour are not out in 2010 then I fear for the future of our once great country.

  • Comment number 63.

    #45 AndrewOakley

    You are right Andrew. The first sentence of this blog is factually incorrect. I made the same point in my entry above but it hasn't made it through Labour's Ministry of Truth.


  • Comment number 64.


    #40 Belmons


    'Cameron's economic problem'

    'The rebirth of Gordon Brown'

    'At least Gordon's smiling'


    All headings from Nick's recent blogs.

    Spot the difference.

    Some would say there's a subliminal message here. The use of Christian name or surname, the positive image (rebirth, smiling) - or the negative one (problem).

    It's not the BBC's job (or Nick's) to relay the party message from Labour or any other party.

    The blogs are interesting, informative, humorous, frustrating and annoying. It's up to the contributors to bring personal opinions to the table, not Nick's.



  • Comment number 65.

    Must admit, it's quite a relief to see that Labour finally get the idea of sound management and connecting with regular folks concerns. Their conference pretty much nailed that in outline. The way they're capturing the high ground while the Tories are making like white van man careering around on a wet road looks like Labour are grabbing hold of the underlying political trend with both hands.

    You can't buck the market and it's clear that Cameron's stock value has been pumped too high. He tried to pull a Hannibal but got stopped at the gates of Rome, and we know how that story ended. While he's been playing Flash Harry to get in the door his product wasn't squaddie proof, so the Tories are having to go back to the drawing board. That may take a while.

    My view is that if you take an interest in people and look after them, they tend to give their best and will make sacrifices when they have to. I've always admired Silicon Valley and Japanese business practice, and if the government can use this crisis as a platform to go MACH 1, I think, that will do a lot to turn Britain around.

    The Tao comments that you can encourage good by preventing the the bad, making people want to avoid the bad, or encouraging them to want to do good. If the government can crystallise a vision people hunger for, facilitate it, and give all credit where it's due, one tends to think the problem biggest headache will be knowing what to do with so much national success.

    How can we make things faster, cheaper, better? How can we be more bold, flexible, and enduring? By asking ourselves these questions and winning support, by daring to look ahead and put petty office politics aside, the sort of focus that can stimulate is more likely to develop the economy. Plus, there's huge markets emerging that haven't even come fully online yet.

    Oh, yeah. And today's pitch for Zen Buddhism is that where companies embed that method in their company culture they can enjoy up to a 10% productivity gain for no additional expenditure. Open minds create new ideas. Open hearts get along with each other. That's a win-win and free money on the table. It comes with no gaurentees and even if it didn't work folks wouldn't be so stressed and chewing the arms off their chairs. Okay, so you're sceptical. That's fine - you could always sing a company song instead. LOL.

  • Comment number 66.

    #58 mrshamilton

    Your comment is highly irresponsible, demeaning and spiteful to all small businesses, that even in the good times have to work extremely hard to stay afloat as well as demonstrate good management skills.

    If you do actually have evidence of the abuse you claim, then this should be channelled to the relevant authorities etc. Tax evasion will always exist but mostly through loopholes in the tax legislation and badly drafted legislation.

    The link to Cameron is tenuous at best.

  • Comment number 67.


    I think the focus by Cameron has to be on the "age of irresponsibility". It's not hard to see.

    For years the current account has been in deficit - a gap that could only be filled with borrowings and/or taxes, and/or government sell-offs and/or cuts in services, or continued growth in GDP - the expectation of the latter being an extremely risky game to play.

    We were going to hit the buffers in any event (but clearly not so hard) regardless of the liquidity crisis.

  • Comment number 68.


    I am amazed that no one thinks that the Thatcher years were not spend spend spend, lets face it they spent, Water, Gas, Telecoms, National Freight,nuclear energy(only the good bits) and the Railways.

    The worst of it is we are now paying for these things again, Railways the biggest subsidies ever, Water putting up prices to cover the infrastructure upgrades of something they knowingly bought as old and broken, BT charging us at every turn, Gas bills, mine has doubled in the last 12 Months, I don't see it rocketing down right now.

    The real problem is the lobbing by business and the revolving door into high paying jobs for the Ministers and Civil servants that work with the same industries, it should be banned on pain of imprisonment.

    All those in any way connected to the Idiot ID cards scheme should be banned from the £300 Billion gravy train that it will become, when they leave office or their government Job, then see how popular it will be with all those who will advise the contractors.

  • Comment number 69.

    "mrshamilton wrote:
    I would suggest that Mr Cameron actually knows nothing about small businesses. All the ones I have had dealings with deal in mostly cash and never pay any tax or VAT anyway, they just go bust and do the "Phoenix company" trick every couple of years when HM Revenue and Customs can be ignored no longer. "

    Maybe that says more about you then it does most small companies! I have only came across one company who asked to be paid in cash (and the guy was "honest" enough to say it was so he could avoid the VAT)

    Of course those who don't pay their VAT aren't going to benefit from his proposal of a VAT holiday so for once only the honest will benefit - that in itself should be a news worth item!

  • Comment number 70.

    We know someone quite high profile in the media who knows DC. She says he is much tougher than people suppose.

    It is not his problem at present to sort out Gordon's crash. ""Still tongue in a wise head" as MY grandfather used to say. I nearly always found him to be right.

    My grandfather also used to answer people when they voiced concern about politics:

    "people are paid to worry about that, let them get on with it"!

    Just wait till election time though, and the polls are a good guide n'est pas?

  • Comment number 71.

    #58. That's an odd comment to make.

    Tax rates and regulation can drive many businesses underground, although I would hadly say this is typical. The fact is that to legitimate small businesses the extra few hundred pounds worth of cash flow is highly significant. Overdrafts tend to be low and the businesses are owner-managed; personal guarantees for leases and borrowings (especially security based on property and business assets) are the norm.

  • Comment number 72.

    #36,

    I saw the interview you refrred to and wrote about it yesterday in Nicks log.

    What I wanted to know is exactly how biased, if at all should we see Sir Brian Pitman as being. We have to ask how many shares does he have in LloydsTSB, or any any family settlements or charitable holdings. Does he any beneficial interest at all? How much does he receive in dividends every year. Does he stll act as a paid, or otherwise remunerated consultant to LlyoydsTSB.

    If the government proposals for LloydsTSB involve the government preventing any dividends to shareholders then Sir Brian would surely not appreciate any government stake which resulted in dividends not being paid or reduced.

    I no longer go for accepting anything said by anybody, especially if they have been given a knighthood.

    Finally, I wonder if anybody else will pick-up on the comments made by the Lord Mandelson with respect to the government dropping some of their so-called family friendly policies. I wonder what Harriet Harman thinks of these changes to government policy. Have these people got no principles.

  • Comment number 73.

    As CEH would say

    "Things can only get buddah".........

  • Comment number 74.

    The fact that Mandleson is back sats so much...

    Out of ideas, out of touch and at the next GE, out of office.

  • Comment number 75.

    With no political axe to grind, the problem here is Nick Robinson's need always to have a simplistic narrative. His naratives are naive and risible and fluctuate as much as the markets. The post of Political Editor at the BBC surely needs much more gravitas and better judgement. His introduction to the Cameron interview on the Today Programme this morning was childlike.

  • Comment number 76.


    Moderators

    #64

    Please advise where I stepped out of line.

  • Comment number 77.

    We know someone quite high profile in the media who knows DC. She says he is much tougher than people suppose.


    He doesn't have any insight or stamina. That's pretty much crucified him at a time when people need to be looking ahead of the curve in a tough situation. Being 'hard' isn't everything. A little dose of patience and humanity would do him and his party some good.

    "Things can only get buddah".........


    Dharma, dharma, dharma, Chameleon...
  • Comment number 78.

    Nick,

    about MPs and the extended christmas holiday they are taking. I think that there will definitely be a spring election. The MPs are going to their constituencies to prepare their labour electorate for voting. There will be a lot about how labour is thinking of the working family, their safe custody of the economy in the global economic crisis. They will soon announce further troop withdrawals from Iraq, in other words the Iraqi government will not accept an extension of the UN mandate. They will accept the Americans but there is no further point in the British presence. anyway, we are needed in the killing fields of Afghanistan.

    Furthermore, back to the MPs holidays. First reports on the Today programme referred to the longest christmas break since records began. I pointed out in a mail the error of that comment because I had referred back to Hansard in August 1914 to show that MPs had taken a holiday within days of the declaration of war against Germany, so there were records. Now, they refer to the longest christmas break in recent history. See how the wonderful Internet can work!

  • Comment number 79.

    1. I think David Cameron can say that he backed the banks bail out in principle, but disagrees with the strategy taken. Can't he?

    a. Is a 12% coupon going to be good for the UK economy? What if the US chooses 5% instead?
    b. What kind of banker will want to be CEO of HBOS under these terms?
    c. Will Mr Brown give categorical assurances that 'other Govt information sources' will not find their way to the nationalised banks vis a vis their healthy competitors?

    2. He can also demand to see the true Govt picture on borrowing. He can demand tha off-balance-sheet liabilities be included in all figures and he can ask how these will be paid back?

    3. He can ask what the £4.5bn currently being raised in the money markets using 4.5% Treasury Bonds is for?

    4. He can ask Alastair Darling whether he wishes the epithet on his gravestone to be: 'I bankrupted England - what better legacy for a proud Scotsman'?

    5. He can ask whether Mr Brown has ever worked OUTSIDE the Public Sector? And if not, why does he consider himself a fit and proper person to regulate the PRIVATE sector?

    A few more like that........

    But more importantly, he can ask whether the Labour Cabinet will pay the Tories £1m for every policy they repackage, rebrand and steal?

    He can ask Gordon Brown his policy on Intellectual Property and then highlight the Govt stealing Tory and LibDem ideas. A sackable offence, maybe?

    The thieving is so brazen that a magistrate's court is a waste of time. Borstal perhaps?

  • Comment number 80.

    OH DEAR NICK!!!!

    YOU ARE ABOUT 20 YEARS BEHIND THE NEWS!!!!!!

    WE HAVE THE AMERICAN UNION...USA CANADA AND MEXICO JOIN TOGERTHER IN A UNION WITH A NEW CURRENCY..THE AMERO....SOON...WAKE UP!!!

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    #76 jonties

    I echo that sentiment. I can't see what was objectionable about my earlier comment (#32) either. Maybe the moderators are censoring comment that is a multiple of 32. That's all I can think of at the moment.

  • Comment number 83.

    Sophie was a great relief instead of Andrew Marr.
    She had bite and purpose Well done Sophie!

  • Comment number 84.

    JCook @ 33

    ... "he can take the government to task over their failures of the last 11 years. Starting with the gold sell off" ...

    Oh no! - okay, I give up.

  • Comment number 85.

    Some posters, obviously coming from Cameron's viewpoint, have lambasted NR and questioned his journalistic integrity. I would suggest that you review the article again - NR is illustrating how the Tories have been out-manoeuvred politically during recent events; and how they have boxed themselves in by some of their own actions. In other words, this is not an economic article: it is political commentary. The governement may be right or wrong; that is not NR's point. The point is that the government has successfully exploited the situation - the Tories have not. As Machiavelli pointed out, it's not about who's right or wrong: it's about who's perceived to be right.............and wrong

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm not upset by perceived bias at the Beeb. Nick works for a news organisation and has to fill a large void everyday with comment and analysis.

    Could the reason for the perceived bias towards Brown and Darling be that Cameron and, in particular, Osborne; are silent on the big issues?

    I have no love for Brown, as I hold him in a large way responsible for UKplc's current parlous position, but I despair at the lack of leadership being displayed by Cameron. Osborne is clearly not up to the job and if Cameron does not replace him he lays himself open to being charged both of 'old boy' favouritism and weakness.

    With Mandelsonovitch back inside the tent the Cameron tactic of hoping for an election win based upon votes against NuLab rather than votes for Conservative may have to be revisited.

    Time to give the public something to VOTE FOR Mr Cameron. A good start would be to replace your Shadow Chancellor with someone who is able to convince the electorate that he/she has a ready understanding of the situation and has a remedial strategy in place.

    So, in short, I agree with Nick's analysis. And until the Conservaties have something to say worth reporting those daily news voids which Nick and his colleagues have to fill will continue to be full of NuLab's spin.

    The alternative is a blank page.

  • Comment number 87.

    Yes, Sophie was much better than Marr.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick,thanks for another objective and sensible article.If the Tory readers dont like the facts may I suggest they stick with Tom and Daisy "the doomsday twins" on a rival Channel!

    Frankly I think yet again Cameron has taken a pea-shooter to try to crack an atom bomb - what is the point in a 1% deduction in NI?

    I run a small consultancy business,I am owed over £100k by 5 local authorities,the invoices are over 100 days past due,all 5 authorities are Conservative controlled,maybe Mr Cameron would like to get out of the greenhouse before lobbing stones.

    Keynsian thinking in a recession works,point money at capital projects,building and construction,insulation work,schools,hospital,create employment to generate jobs and cash to ease the way out of recession,its proven and it works.

    Brown did'nt create a world recession,we would be in it however strong our economy,he is not blameless but cant be totally blamed,people I talk to increasingly think he is the only man with the big ideas and persona to get us,and the world, out of it! Andy

  • Comment number 89.

    Between 1730 and 1830 enclosure was authorised Parliament.
    The reduction and elimination of common rights was devastating for many smallholders and wage workers.


    Between the 1990 and 2010 foreclosure was sanctioned by Parliament.
    The reduction and elimination of common rights was devastating for many smallholders and wage workers.


    GC

  • Comment number 90.

    Our crisis is not about percentages, but about economic fundamentals and, unfortunately for all of us, none of the three main parties propose viable solutions.

    We can continue flooding the market with tax monies, but for how long before the State itself goes into a default?

    Remember Argentina. They announce big projects. Big projects cost big money.

    If the choice is between butter and canons - the ethernal economic dilemma - we should not build canons. We should try to revitalise agriculture and basic manufacturing. For decades we have under-invested in agriculture and manufacturing and look where we are now.

  • Comment number 91.

    David Cameron definitely DOES have stamina. I doubt if Crash Gordon could ride a bike, ROFL!


    (nb. if he attempted it he would CRASH again!)

  • Comment number 92.

    Here are a few questions that the GOVERNMENT need to answer.

    Will government owned banks be in competition with each other?

    Will the be competing with non-government owned banks for the same kind of business?

    Will government owned banks be more or less likely to purchase government debt whnenver it is mad available, and at whatever price?

    Will government owned banks be closing branches and subsidaries in other countries?

    Will government owned banks be opening new branches in other countries?

    Will government banks be attempting to buy banks in other countries?

    Will the slowdown in the economy, with zero growth and a lower tax take, make it difficult for the government to fund the current budget deficit, never mind any increase in debt announced in the past week?

    Since there is less money in the world's financial system, does the government believe that it will be able to lower interest rate AND gather sufficient funds to finance the budget deficit?

    Will the government have enough money to fund the various olympic sports during the years up to the 2012 games and complete the various stadia, given the propensity of the budget for these to go up, not down?

    How will the government fund the various climate change plans it announced last week?

    Where does the government believe the money is going to come from?

    Please note, these are questions for the government, not the opposition.

  • Comment number 93.

    Moderators - post #23 - please suggest where I stepped out of line. My post contained no profanity or abuse and as far as I can tell conformed with the house rules. I have received no email from the BBC as yet explaining why my post was moderated.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Taking the plaudits for saving the world's financial system". What planet are you on?

  • Comment number 95.

    Darling also needs a reality touch. I presume that the Beeb hasn't noticed that the current plan to rebuild Schools is running massively behind target. The Olympic village is being cut in size and the Private element of funding has evaporated. How much private capital is going to be available for future PFI schemes?

  • Comment number 96.

    There is a systemic problem in this country, in that we have a large client state (including the BBC) devoted to the notion that any wealth around must be spent by them, on them. And if there isn't enough wealth, just borrow (i.e. tax our children). We have had 15 years of hubris, now nemesis is approaching, but we won't reach catharsis until the rest of us accept that we have to confront the client state. Only the Tories can do this - Labour always lead the country to disaster.

  • Comment number 97.


    #83. I thought she got a little bit tetchy with Mandelson unnecessarily. Rather than sit on the edge of the chair I think she should sit back and reflect and take things a bit more calmly, and then go for the throat.

  • Comment number 98.

    #83

    You are absolutely right. Sophie was a blast of fresh air, especially when interviewing Lord Mandelson who I thought did look particulary shifty. When answering some questions he was looking not at Sophie or to camera, a bad mistake Lord Mandelson of etc.

    Lord Mandelson seemed really not to appreciate being interviewed by an attractive woman in a very fetching top, I may be wrong but I think he looked a bit, well, distracted, more of Sophie please. Just to confirm that I am not her agent, nor related in any way to her or her family, well from earlier posts of mine not that I know of anyway.

    I think that the Andrew Marr show has reached its natural end. It is almost as though the politicians know, or only allow, the questions if they have been made known in advance.

    Also, you get the paper reviewers, then some actor or other pressing a book, or a singer going on before we get to the real business. The editor needs to change the presenter and the format. It has been dumbed down, it is no longer acceptable, finally why is Marr allowed to carry the Sunday Times in the preamble walk through the office, stop it, and stop it now.

  • Comment number 99.

    Charle E Hardwidge #65

    You are dead right about taking an intrest in people and look after them they will tend to give their best and make sacrifices when they have to.
    That is why people have had enough of Trust me Brown and Nu Labour. He has taxed us got us in debt and never taken an intrest in us. And the only ones Labour have looked after is themselfs by feeding us spin after spin of lies.
    Blair and Iraqs WMD for one. Blair and F1 racing and smoking adverts are just a few. Then we have pensions, gold being sold for next to nothing.
    We need a change and you have to see 10 years of Labour needs to end.

  • Comment number 100.

    #93,

    don't worry too much, it happened to me too, I think an automatic word censor is used, ticklish things at the best of times. Just rewrite in different words,

    GC

 

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