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It's the real economy, stupid

Nick Robinson | 09:48 UK time, Wednesday, 15 October 2008

An MP who'd just been canvassing in the Glenrothes by-election told me that just one person had raised the financial crisis with him. It's a reminder that the financial crisis that has been gripping the attention of the political and media classes must seem not just baffling but also remote to many people.

Man entering job centreIf you're not employed in a bank; if savings are what you can muster for a decent night out on Saturday rather than diversify into Icelandic banks; if you're more likely to be found watching Ant and Dec than Peston or Robinson (yes, such people really do exist) then you'll be much more worried by yesterday's high inflation rate and today's big rise in unemployment than the movement of the Libor rate.

The stories that will emerge in the days to come will not be about bank rescue plans but plans to cut jobs and to cut government programmes to pay for the rising costs of inflation and unemployment (see today's Times front page, for example).

Gordon Brown has been presented by many as a Churchill figure in the war to save global capitalism. Quicker than he might wish, politics will now turn to dealing with aftermath. The prime minister, I'm told, wants to create a mood of national unity and solidarity to help us all cope with the trial ahead. He's hoping to create a spirit of the economic Blitz. His opponents believe that we're more likely to see anger and frustration in a period of economic rationing.

UPDATE, 10:00 AM: The Ministry of Justice say that the Times story refers to old plans to limit government spending in their and other departments, and does not result from the credit crunch or economic slowdown.


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  • Comment number 1.

    No comment on brown returning to form lying about 'Boom & Bust' then?

  • Comment number 2.

    And that is when the people will really turn on him.

    To create a mood on national unity needs leadership, passion and inspiration.

    So NO chance then!

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown may wish to be seen as a "Churchill figure", but we should not forget that Churchill was warning about the impending danger long before the war began.

    Brown on the other hand has been telling us for ages that everything is now OK as he had personally ended the years of "boom and bust".

    The fact is, this tax, borrow and spend labour government (under his stewardship) has left us very vulnerable.

    Where is all this rescue plan money coming from? Let me guess.....

  • Comment number 4.

    "Gordon Brown has been presented by many as a Churchill figure"

    You must be joking. Churchill was everything that Gordon Brown is _not_.

    What an insult.

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    The banking crisis may not be part of the real economy, but the money needed to pay for it is.

    It will be just-deserts when Gordon takes the blame for higher taxes domestically, while no-one actually understands what benefit they are getting in return...

    Gordons reputation for throwing (taxpayer) money at things with out getting anything in return may be about to come back with teeth.

  • Comment number 7.

    El Gordo does really occupy space that isn't where we are.

    I'd like to hear exactly how he's going to fund the blank cheque he's given the worlds banking industry, whilst getting the rate of inflation down (where he underying costs are outside domestic control), and provide more jobs or provide financial support to those epople without jobs, and improve the health service, and improve education, and resolve transport problems, and extricate us from Iraq and Afghanistan without further loss of life, and win the euromillions lottery.

  • Comment number 8.

    Gordon Brown would have more chance of assuming the mantle of Churchill in the eyes of the British people if we hadn't spent the past decade watching him being Neville Chamberlain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Talking of browns reputation and the real economy...

    As we (the public) know - labour never lie, its just that noone ever quite understand what they meant.

    Brown says he never promised to end "Boom and Bust" - he just promised to end "Tory Boom and Bust".

    Not quite as you remember it? Must be your memory, labour never lie.

  • Comment number 10.

    Gordon Brown miraculously just stumbled on an opportunity to cast himself as Churchill Mk 2, but of course the difference is that World War II was caused by Hitler, and not by Mr Churchill. In contrast, Mr Brown's debt-fuelled boomfest was presided over by...yep...Mr Brown. So who do you think you are kidding, Mr Brown? As we return to more sombre times during our 'Life on Mars' moment, perhaps the music will improve. More likely though is that the Beeb will have to dig out the old tapes of 'Boys from the Blackstuff'.

  • Comment number 11.

    I truly think the media are too ready to talk uip disaster. Something moves down half a cent and it's plummetting. It moves up half a cent and it's soaring. But I'll bet most intakers of news don't even begin to understand the web of fundamentals let alone the details. Some do, obviously, but all the media are doing is creating yet another climate of fear.

    Nobody talks up the positive side: the drop in house prices for instance. If they fall another 50%, homes will be in reach of first time buyers. They'll need to borrow less, the banks will be less worried about how much they lend, stamp duty will be less, etc.

    Brown is no Churchill. He's desperate to put right something that he himself allowed, even caused.

  • Comment number 12.

    A mood of national unity? Under Gordon Brown?

    Read Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today to see how long this mood will last.

    It's becoming clear on both left and right that bankers will be bankers, but government and regulators are to blame for letting the housing market and the mortgage market and consuner credit get completely out of control.

    Gordon Brown was warned about this over and agian by the tories and the libdems but refused to take to punch bowl away before the party was over.

    As a result of his disgraceful lack of oversight the credit bubble grew to enormous proportions and now we have bust and nationalised banks to show for it.

    Shriti Vadera and Gordon Brown deciding 'lets' play banker' is a sight for sore eyes; neither have the talent, foresight or qualifications for the job.

    The architects of the boom are now mending the bust? We are the laughing stock of the international community. US Nobel prize winners are flocking to Gordon Brown because they don't want their own architect - George W Bush - associated with fixing the bust.

    Comparisons with Churchill only go to show what a vain and hubris ridden individual GOrdon Brown is.

    The bigger they are the harder they fall, I suppose.

    This one's going to be almighty crash landing.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with you, Nick. Much as I'm loathe to give the Tories any advice, they just need to keep out of the way and bide their time until the beginning of next year. The darts they're throwing at Brown at the moment have the air of desperation.

    As we move out of the current firestorm-fighting phase and into the real, day to day impact of the crisis (job losses, rising price of basic goods, investment cuts in public services) the resentment towards GB is going to resurface and potentially be more potent than it was a few weeks ago.

  • Comment number 14.

    Whatever his other failings, Winston Churchill was a man of great courage - Gordon Brown is not.

  • Comment number 15.

    # 5 carrots

    You are referring to the Yacht that NHS wants to buy for £400, 000.

    Apparently, it's OK because the money is coming from its "surplus of £40m"

    I think that really tells us everything we need to know!

    Tax, borrow, waste....

  • Comment number 16.


    Ah the Frugal NHS....

    Never mind Life Saving drugs, cleaner hospitals or concentrating on improving itself.

    Concentrate on something that isn't even part of the NHS Remit.

    Someone no doubt will state that it is a drop in the ocean (no pun intended).

    ....thanks you've just set me up for the mood I shall be in today :(

  • Comment number 17.


    I may not be employed by a bank but I do want to keep an eyr on the current ecconomic situation, as an ordinary punter.

    Also, I'd sooner watch you and Robert rather than Ant and Dec

  • Comment number 18.

    I think you're spot on with this comment Nick.

    Gordon Brown has been saving the Universe on Planet Credit Crunch, and his every move has been reported by the media.

    Meanwhile, back in Brown's Britain, things carry on pretty much as before eg house market in decline, inflation rises above 5%, now unemployment rising, and our lives blighted by petty regulation and political correctness.

    Most people view the credit crunch as a rather etherial problem, played out on an etherial level by etherial people. Gordy will return to earth with a bump when reality eventually kicks in again. Will it all have fundamentally changed how he is, his view of the world, his fundamental beliefs and the way he works? Not a chance!

  • Comment number 19.

    To reuse an overused cliché.....

    No one questions the Captain of the Titanic after striking the iceberg in his efforts to save the passengers

    When the survivors are shivering in the lifeboats and watching the grisly spectacle of the one proud boat sinking fast whilst the crew high-five one another for a "job well done"; discussion switches to
    - how come the Titanic was going so fast in a sea full of deadly icebergs?
    - why didn't the Captain spot the danger and tell the engine room to slow down?
    - why didn't the lookouts spot the iceberg?
    - why did the Captain boast about how unsinkable the boat was when that was clearly a lie?
    ..and finally
    - why didn't the Captain go down with the ship?

  • Comment number 20.

    Ooh I hope Labour are absolutely smashed at Glenrothes. The Scots tend to be quite canny--- we shall find out whether that's true in the early hours of Nov. 7th.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well at least El Gordo is able to use part of one of Churchill's speeches with a frightening degree of accuracy

    "Never has so much been owed by so many".

    Fill in the blanks.

  • Comment number 22.

    On the Today Program Brown was actually compared to Jim Callahan, except it was stated that Callahan was a better Prime Minister and Brown the better Chancellor....

    ...make of that what you will...

  • Comment number 23.

    Churchill was a man of immense character and strength. A real father figure to the nation. His speeches will live on forever and they were with passion and from his heart. Although he did not feel happy there he did receive a traditional academic schooling at Harrow. He served in the armed forces abroad. He had his downtimes - black dog - but who doesn't? The whole country was singing from the same hymn sheet.

    He was not a big lumbering unkempt man who picked his nose in view of millions on tv .

  • Comment number 24.

    # 10 Backseat_Driver

    "So who do you think you are kidding, Mr Brown?"

    Very well said!

    Harking back to the days of Dad's Army, isn't it a pity we don't still have proper bank managers like Captain Mainwaring?

    I think Brown is off in the realms fantasy...

  • Comment number 25.

    Churhill Saved us from Destruction

    Brown claims he may have saved us from economic Destruction

    What happened after Churchill achieved victory, when the nation went to the polls?

  • Comment number 26.

    re: 14, Brownloather


  • Comment number 27.

    Inflation kept low by importing from China.

    Demand kept high through house price inflation.

    Public sector expansion partly financed by pension tax credit (clever, no one actually "sees" it)

    Public sector expanded partly financed through private finance initiatives (buy now, pay later)

    Public sector expanded partly financed by balance of payments deficit.

    Looked like a boom didn't it?

    You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time...

    Now comes the correction and it's going to hurt.

  • Comment number 28.

    15. DistantTraveller

    I do indeed.

    No doubt NHS Titanic will hit the harbour wall as she leaves port and sink.

  • Comment number 29.

    I am completely unqualified to make any suggestions as to how the country should be steered through this economic crisis. On the other hand, by a lifetime's experience of the ups and downs in world markets, and the attitudes of men and women, I believe I can forecast the result of the next General Election. Despite a great personal dislike of Gordon Brown and Nu Labour, which is shared by many, I believe that the upsurge in unemployment will actually assist this government in being returned to power. Unemployment will probably grow, and the number of citizens on benefits will increase, bringing with it dependency on government offices and a growing sense of despair. Once families and individuals are caught in this trap, having basic needs taken care of, a roof of sorts over their heads, they will go for the "better the devil we know" philosophy and vote Nu Labour back.

  • Comment number 30.

    This argument is now building momentum:

    Gordon Brown thinks he's pulled a trump card by saving the banks; actually he's just made the noose for the hangman to finally deliver his nemesis.

    He is about to be nailed with the crime of letting the boom get completely out of control with his spendaholic ways and his half baked advisors.

    He will be nailed for deregulating the regulators.

    Lord (Eddie) George, the prior governor of the Bank of England has already come forth to say he was far form independent when it came to setting interest rates.

    Interest rates were cut in 2005 to fuel Gordon Brown's boom.

    Next it will be the Economist who will come out and give their withering verdict on Gordon Brown and Shriti Vadera's 'let's play banker' act. Then they will savage his claims not to have inflated the boom.

    There is no way out for Gordon Brown.

    He's boxed himself right into a corner.

    Nice one, Gordon.

    Now call that election and let the electorate deliver its verdict on your lies and damned lies.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's interesting to see the reports today about the loan books of Northern Wreck and BandB being amalgamated.
    The comments from Mr Sandler would indicate that everything is not well at the Nulabour Bank with the best loans going elsewhere and the defaults rising by 50% on the poor ones. Add that to the BandB books and we are going to be left with our very own taxpayer funded Toxic Bank, overseen by an overpaid banker.
    How long before this mess will be quietly shunted onto the government debt as unrecoverable and the social housing stock in the UK increased in size? My bet is that a Northern Rock Housing Association will be quietly brought into being to take on the defaulted houses and keep voters in Labour seats with a roof over their heads.

  • Comment number 32.

    Ref the update:

    So if the times article refers to the governments plans to cut spending before the global economic crisis we can safely assume that the cuts will have to be even deeper post crisis.

    So the message from government that says dont worry that was our plan before is not helped by that revelation it is made worse.

    Cor Blimey Nick how did you fall for the "dont worry" line this time. Use your noodle man

  • Comment number 33.

    Mmmmmm, interesting stuff Nick. So it looks like Gordonbennet is still in choppy waters. Can't say I'm surprised. He and his woodentops thought we'd all just conveniently forget that they've been steering the ship for over ten years. Sorry Gordon, it doesn't work that way, you may strut the world's economic stage and you may occasionally smile and crack a joke, but oh dear, we're not laughing along with you are we? Nope we're not. Did you mean a mood of national disunity Nick? That's about all he'll achieve in the coming months.

  • Comment number 34.

    Too true .. the financial crisis involves numbers and banks that are remote from peoples lives. The question that should be answered is 'whay does this mean for me?'
    When people either work out personal consequences or see the results of unemployment, reduced access to credit then I suspect that GB will get in the neck again for 'saving us for this?'
    My personal suspicion is that Darlings speech on the Monday when shares first collapsed will be remembered.. this is good cleaning up , maybe, but in fact people will start to ask ' Iwonder how we got into this '

  • Comment number 35.

    vstrad @8 wrote:

    "Gordon Brown would have more chance of assuming the mantle of Churchill in the eyes of the British people if we hadn't spent the past decade watching him being Neville Chamberlain."


    And Chamberlain had the decency to resign in order to let Churchill lead a government of national unity.

    I cannot see Brown resigning from anything. Come the General Election he'll have to be pried out of Number 10.

  • Comment number 36.

    Good topic and a surprising reaction.

    At the time of writing there are 18 posts published and none of the 15 awaiting moderation are from the usual NuLab apologists.

    Could it be that difficult to put some positive spin on "Duff" Gordon's situation? Where's grandantidote when you need him?

    As I agree with all posts so far and have little new to add, I'll look back later.

  • Comment number 37.

    I see that we, the taxpaying public, will now have to stump up the money for the Olympic Village too because our Government has no money and sponsors are tightening their belts.

    Tessa Jowell tried to gloss over this by saying that the British bid for the Olympics was won in one economy and we are now in a very different economy.

    We couldn't afford to host the Olympics when the bid was won. How much more will we all have to pay for?

  • Comment number 38.

    Brown as a Churchill figure I don't think so

    Never before in the field of British politics has so much hype been given to so much tripe

    roll on the election

  • Comment number 39.

    If the good people of Glenrothes do not feel any empathy with the square mile in London, it is no surprise. If Brown wants to try and parade as a saviour it is no surprise. If Brown wants to tell the world how to solve its problems it is no surprise. However if Brown thinks that his actions mean anything to the good people of Glenrothes or similar towns up and down the UK he has to do something positive to change their lives for the better and it is doubtful he will be doing this. That is his problem. National debt has to climb, services have to be cut, or be at a standstill at the very least, probably cut. Unemployment has to rise. Businesses have to shrink or fail. Inflation looks set to rise, the squeeze on household budgets looks set to continue. Trust in institutions and the banks has evaporated. All of these factors have not really bitten yet. Brown has already lost the game. The pressures are all down not up. Can he pump up the housing market again, doubtful. Will he smile more or less from now on. If he smiles more he will be seen as a lunatic, if he is gloomy he will be seen as an undertaker. At the moment he has the look of a man tidying up after a party that got out of hand. It is difficult to see what Mandelson is supposed to be doing, other than wanting to be joined at the hip to Brown, a mistake of judgment some would think.

  • Comment number 40.

    After you with the cyanide pills then.

  • Comment number 41.

    The government is to make an extra £100m available to re-train workers who lose their jobs as the economy slows.

    The number of people on Jobseekers is 1M

    Therefore £100 of retraining money each.
    That wont buy ANY retraining. Except maybe a course in how to write your CV

  • Comment number 42.

    From Daniel Finkelstein in the Times:

    In his book The Black Swan, the financial analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb provides a useful analogy. In the months before Thanksgiving, turkeys begin to build up a theory about mankind. Man is benevolent. Every day he appears with more food, and the turkey is allowed to get fatter and fatter. And then, about a week before Thanksgiving, the turkey will, as Taleb puts it, 'incur a reversion of belief'.

    Our view of the Brown decade is like the turkey's view of mankind, utterly destroyed by what has now happened. The stability was a trick of the light, the lengthy period of growth was fuelled by house prices and debt, the low interest rates (of which Brown is still, amazingly, boasting) were an error. The length of the good years is being paid for by the severity of the crisis we now face.

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

    Gordon should remember what happened to Churchill when the war was won!

  • Comment number 45.

    Gordon Brown has been presented by many as a Churchill figure ....

    By you he has Nick.

  • Comment number 46.

    @25 HarryPagetFlashman

    Great point....this explains why even though we have had 11 years of unbroken growth and prosperity. The person largely responsible is kicked and booted.

    Gordon Brown is 10 times the person, most of the posters are on here. He is disabled also, which in no means is a call for pity, but more to point out that he has more than most to cope with and he got to the top and has oen well.

    the UK deserves Mr Cameron and nothing more!

    i feel ashamed to be British.

  • Comment number 47.

    Anger, frustration and an abiding sense of helplessness are the emotions I suspect many feel as they see some family and friends succumb to these financial gales.

    The people rightly look to the Government as the only organisation who are effectively capable of providing the essential long term strategic thinking and planning that is needed to ensure a stable society.

    We are being buffeted by external forces and some self-inflicted actions.

    The people will judge for themselves whether or not the Government had previously done enough to shelter us from its worst effects or exacerbated it through misguided policy.

  • Comment number 48.

    On the subject of the forthcoming cuts in public expenditure - which is in no way related to current problems - so much, much, more to come I guess. There is a wacky logic in cutting the number of courts and therefore not taking criminals to court, it would appear there just are not enough prisons for them to occupy, solves so many problems at once. Saves money, puts judges on the dole - saves on wig production so helps climate change targets be met, suddenly there is no prison crowding, and crime convictions are down so crime must be less. Can buy more CCTVs to monitor the members of the public who never break the law, or collect more personal data to lose and spend money investigating why these security breaches keep repeating, good for job creation. We will fight them on the breaches, we will fight them on the banks. So who is the oppressor in this.

  • Comment number 49.

    Reports today that the NHS wants to blow £400,000 on a yacht are accompanied by the news that NICE has decided breast cancer patients should be denied life saving drugs.

    Equally worrying, people with Alzheimer’s are still denied anti-dementia drugs as recently highlighted by Terry Pratchett on Panorama.

    The idea that an NHS trust has "a surplus" of £40m to waste on pet projects sums up Labour's whole attitude to finance.

    They should realise, it's not their money. It's ours!

  • Comment number 50.

    So, the worst unemployment figures in seventeen years. And we're only at the beginning of a recession. This is just an amuse-bouche of a figure.

    My wife, who does these Myers-Briggs personality type assessments, tells me there really are people out there like Gordon Brown. People who are so immune to criticism and blind to well-meant advice that if something good happens (even if proposed by somebody else) then they genuinely believe it was their idea. And, by contrast, if something bad happens they have no trouble at all identifying somebody else to blame.

    I'm a different type so I just cannot believe that such people exist despite the evidence of my own eyes. I just figure they're simply insane. How could it be possible...? I ask.

    But nope. She assures me that people like Gordon Brown genuinely cannot see how they're perceived or that their behaviour is so far outside the scope of normal as to be downright weird.

    Hence he prances through a decade of government and bank-borrowing fuelled boom and pats himself on the back. Immune to warnings that it's all a debt fuelled time-bomb. The Chinese flood the Western world with cheap electronics and he hails himself as a financial genius for defeating inflation. He doubles the national debt and claims to have reduced it.

    And as soon as one of the wheels falls off his chariot of delusion he pulls out his pointy finger and suddenly it's all our fault.

    We've been irresponsible. It was the yanks. It was the banks. It wasnae me.

    Then, when Warren Buffet rescues Goldman Sachs he pulls the same stunt with the UK banks and proclaims himself a genius. Saviour of western civilisation. Uuuuhhhh?

    Meanwhile inflation is out of control and he has to cut interest rates to afford the repayments on his borrowing. Which will only serve to fuel inflation. Unemployment just increased by more than the worst of the last recession. No doubt that's somebody elses fault too.

    But don't worry. He'll just make the school leaving age 28 which will wipe out one million unemployed at a stroke of the pen. Why not? He's done similar before.

    He's like a spoilt child in a toyshop. He's like a Viz character. Just wandering about, pulling stuff off the shelves, pulling it out of it's packets, playing with it to destruction and then leaving an indulgent mother to apologise to the staff and pay off the manager behind his back. Only the parliamentary Labour party is the indulgent mother and they're looting us all to pay off the store.

    Gordon Brown is an absolute catastrophe. Has been since May 1997 and it's only now that the true extent of his destruction is being brought into focus.

    Spiraling budget deficits, collapsing banks, inflation out of control, interest rates back under political control, unemployment rocketing.

    Tch. Nu-Labour? More like Old Labour. Why is anybody surprised.

  • Comment number 51.

    Nick Robinson sums up very well the anticipated mood of the Nation. Aside from Politico's, Financiers, those individuals with affected investments and of course, the Blogosphere, the working public have little understanding or interest in high finance and it would be a huge mistake for El Gordo to expect a pat on the back at the ballot box for his recent efforts, the effects of which won't immediately be obvious.

    I use these words without intending in any way to disparage that section of society I generically term "working public"

    The real test of Gordon Brown's General Election credentials are day to day political decisions that have an immediate impact and often adverse effect. In this regard I think right now he would be found wanting by calling a rumoured early Election, and I remain to be convinced about his chances of success as late as 2010. Brown is beleaguered, what we need is Cameron or Clegg to step up to the plate and offer a credible alternative and high profile opposition that consistently challenges poor decisions and dithering by Brown.

  • Comment number 52.


    wonder if I could use that excuse with my creditors, saying that I took out all these borrowing under one set of economic conditions, which have now become un.

    I'd be told where to go, as will this lot once we get an election......

  • Comment number 53.

    Yes Lord Georges revelation is nothing much new.

    Interest rates were cut to boost spending because at the time there were indications of a recession. All that cutting interest rates did was delay the recession. Infact had we had a recession 5-6 years ago it probably wouldn't be half as bad as it is now or is going to be.

    Boom bust is inevitable in all economies, the governments position is supposed to be there to step in when busts come for the benefit of its citizens and support them.

    Gordon cutting interest rates again this week is a shrewd move politically and economically.

    Economically it should in theory trigger spending and further demand in the economy but again delay a serious recession. The political side he knows he is out and this will time an economic slump either mid way or towards the end of a new tory term. The labour party will then pipe up about how the Torys are no good with the economy and look to get back in to power.

    Eitherway it highlights government should not get involved in markets, let them equate.

  • Comment number 54.

    #24 Distant Traveller
    The rise in unemployment was just a crisis waiting to happen. The employment situation here in Greay Britain has probably, together with the global financial crunch, agitated am already sick economy. There is now talk of a huge rise in the unemployed, but many of these jobs are nothing more than make-work. Hardly any manufacturing to speak of, no heavy industry, no real apprenticeships, despite the claims of this government that they exist.
    #24 Distant Traveller regrets the passing of real bank managers. This blogger is absolutely correct. Today, banks are run without real managers at the helm. Most are half-baked young men or women who have taken a course in Business Management/Banking or other allied discipline, but without real field experience. They rely on computers and statistics, but do not know their customers intimately. They do not spend time assessing their capabilities to control funds, nor do they actually inspect business premises nor make spot checks. They rely on 'business plans' which can be pulled off Google. Mortgages were obtained, and allowed by the most unsuitable simply by telephone or online. Again these Mortgages were often based on figures that were unstable and insecure.
    Shops are staffed by shop assistants, often called Consultants, who neither know their stock, or who have received any training in retail practices.
    Despite all the TV programmes on cooking and chefs, most eating places are still staffed by underpaid foreign workers.
    Before everything came crashing down, plumbers and builders were used from the areas of Eastern Europe. How many times has anybody actually seen a young British born apprentice bricklayer, plumber, electrician, etc?
    Care homes are staffed by barely qualified mostly foreign workers, I could go on and on.
    Let's get real and face the fact that full employment has been a fallacy. A lot of people collected wages or a salary is more like it. Call centres, half-baked language schools, the whole realm of make-work. Easier to buy junk from China than to bring back the proud motto "Made In Great Britain."

  • Comment number 55.

    Still, never mind, at least we have robust manufacturing and agricultural industries to see us through.

  • Comment number 56.

    40. T'uga Mawilli (aka Duoteste)
    After you with the cyanide pills then.

    I usually back losers, never win anything. So let's hope I'm wrong this time too!

  • Comment number 57.


    Erm that wasn't entirely my point.

    I think Brown is a bit of a Walter Mitty really, and has been lucky has claimed the credit for economic sucess, when he really had no right to do so

    Now is being hung out to dry, due to the economic downturn (something else that he had no control over).

    You can't have your cake and eat it Gordon (unless of course you have two cakes).

  • Comment number 58.

    So back to the subject of the thread, political reality after the "rescue".

    I'm merely parroting Beeb headlines, but "Bail-out shows Union strength", had to be read to find that its aimed at the Glenrothes bye-elction, and is praising the rescue of two scottish banks. Maybe we should get the Scottish assembly to shoulder the financial burden?

    The jobless rise last month is at the highest monthlky rate for 17 years, and the public sector (in future including banks) is still shedding jobs. Sound economy, eh?

    Increased data collection plans when they can't secure the data they've got. Is that really going to work?

    Little Ms Blears believes the governments advice to public bodies vis a vis investing in Icelandic banks was prudent, and will stand the test of time. I'll have a pint of what she's on please.

    Harperson's just had a go at PMQs. She just made the astinishing claim that the government has increased investment (you betcha) whilst paying off public debt. Obviously the answers were written before the weekend, and the announcement of over 500bn pounds of new debt being announced.

    So, what's the government going to do next?

  • Comment number 59.


    PMQs today - discussion about the dire situation in the country.

    Your immediate response is to put down the Conservative opposition saying they don't know which way to go. Some ten minutes later your final comment is again to question the opposition and their way forward.

    Surely the question at this time is what is the Governments's way forward? After all, we are in their hands for the next eighteen months.

  • Comment number 60.

    National Union and solidarity

    You only see that from the Welsh and Scottish nationalists!

    You know, the ones Gordon Brown despises.

    The view from the provinces - let the City of London burn

    Oh and it's not too late to give the Olympics to Paris - at least they'll be able to afford more than a Tesco Value games.

  • Comment number 61.


    I've felt ashamed to be British for the last 11 years!

  • Comment number 62.

    All that Gordon Brown did was get someone in The Treasury to pull together a deal based on one previously achieved in Scandinavia before the entire banking system collapsed.

    This was a complete no-brainer really. The banks are going bust so shore them up. How do we do that? Well, they did something like it in Sweden a few years ago. Get it out of the file and see if we can use it?

    This is nothing much more than what any reasonably intelligent person would have done. Even David Cameron could have done it!

    No, the issue is why The Treasury and its very well rewarded regulators in the FSA did not see this coming? The signs were there as other people were pointing them out: even the Bank of England mentioned it!

    The reason they did nothing was because there was no political will to do so, no leadership, no concern as to what was actually going on in the City. Just loadsamoney!

    Was anything done about the progressive collapse of manufacturing in the UK? No, just lots of ringing of hands and questions as to whether we could afford the few pennies to save paltry working-class jobs.

    The economic illusion is now over. The political illusion still exists: for now. Stalin did turn into Mr.Bean, now we have Superbrown whose reputation will in turn become something else of a similar colour and I don't mean a brand of wholemeal bread.

  • Comment number 63.

    #50 U9461192

    He's like a spoilt child in a toyshop. He's like a Viz character. Just wandering about, pulling stuff off the shelves, pulling it out of it's packets, playing with it to destruction and then leaving an indulgent mother to apologise to the staff and pay off the manager behind his back. Only the parliamentary Labour party is the indulgent mother and they're looting us all to pay off the store.

    A very credible explanation and a fitting analogy. There'll be tears before bedtime - trust me.

  • Comment number 64.


    Any attempt to liken Gordon Brown to Churchill, only serves to erode in the public mind the achievements of Churchill pre, during and post World War 2. There is a vast and yawning gap between the two men.

    Gordon clearly can't fight Glenrothes on the governments record of the last 11 years, that would be suicide.

    I suspect that is why Brown has turned his attention to the break up of the Union and Scotland going it alone.

    There is a strong chance that Labour will try and turn this by-election into a mini-referendum on 'Scottish nationalism' - the same way David Davis tried to run a by-election as a referendum on 42 days.

    Personally I don't want to see Scotland break away, nor do I think it particularly viable option.

    The problem is Gordon Brown and Labour are so appalling I'd like to see them defeated.

    I hope the SNP (and Scottish Conservatives!!) are able to keep the debate focused on the governments track record and plans for the future - and keep the question of the real referendum off the agenda until a more appropriate time.

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting analysis above, but I think Churchill can only be compared with our present PM in one respect.
    Early in his career Churchill sent armed troops to persuade striking Welsh miners back to work (1910). Many might applaud him for his handling of the Siege of Sidney Street (1911), which ended in the death of two policemen and two suspected anarchists (no chance for them to prove themselves innocent!). Churchill was also held responsible for the losses of British, Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli (1915). He was opposed to giving India greater freedom and independence. He gave us the idea of an "iron curtain" a defining image of the cold war. But in spite of his aristocratic background and apparent distrust of working people, he proved to be the right man for the job of leading the country through WW 2.
    Gordon Brown has a completely different background and track record. He can only be compared with Churchill if the apparent success in getting world governments to underwrite their banks is proved to work in a positive way on the global economy.

  • Comment number 66.


    'The prime minister, I'm told, wants to create a mood of national unity and solidary, in order to help us cope with the forthcoming trial'

    Did I miss something, is Brown to go on trial then. Or is he just thinking that the election will be the equivalent of a trial and judgement on him. It's all a bit too Freudian for me.

    Thought he was doing a good job of creating a mood of solidarity ready for the election though.

  • Comment number 67.

    50 U9461192

    Good summary - sorry to be a pedant - but we do know at least one person with whom Brown shares a personality type.

    You also debate whether we have seen Nu Labour or Old Labour. I'd vote for the 'third way' - and suggest we have had 11 years of:


  • Comment number 68.

    so the system works and the government has ridden to the rescue saving the day.
    putting the country further in debt,stealing ideas from overseas and claiming them as there own, unemployment up, interest rates up, media praise for the governments quick actions saving bankers and those on the stock markets from loosing there highly paid jobs.
    whilst every one celebrates in the governments corner they fail to realise the end is near and the confidence of the public in the majority has fallen to its lowest point but are they bothered ?
    no they know all they have to do is bamboozle the public with typical government retoric and spin, add a few cuts like petrol and booze and they will win round the mindless masses and not have to worry about there overpaid jobs.

  • Comment number 69.

    Apearing to be an effective "leader" in a short-term crisis is very very easy. All you have to do is avoid shouting "don't panic", "we are all doomed", "the sky is falling", or "I don't know what's going on", etc.

    This is the one and only skill that Brown seems to have. It earned him his initial popularity blip (foot and mouth, terrorism) and he's benefited again in the short term.

    WWII was not a short-term crisis. The comparison between Brown and Churchill is ludicrous. Brown has shown no ability whatever to lead for the long term. In fact his non-performance for most of 2008 has shown precisely the opposite.

    Once the immediate panic is over, it's back to the real world of more stealth taxes, unemployment, inflation, falling house prices, lower pensions, 42 days, healthcare, education, Iraq, and everything else that Joe Public will blame (rightly or wrongly - that doesn't matter) on the last 10 years of government policy.

    Brown's only hope of political survival is for another short-term crisis to emerge just in time for the general election. Personally, I wouldn't put it past his total lack of respect for the electorate, or the country, to deliberately engineer that situation - or to try to postpone the election indefinitely because of some trumped-up "national emergency situation".

  • Comment number 70.

    No one who currently bestrides the political stage can be compared in stature to the so-called "titans" of long ago.

    Political reputations nowadays are regularly shredded by the media and so never become established, unlike "leaders" from an earlier age who were treated with over-weaning deference by the media of their time.

    I have no futile wish for a new Churchill - just competence will do for me.

  • Comment number 71.

    @61. shellingout

    "I've felt ashamed to be British for the last 11 years!"

    John Major, Norman Lamont? made you proud then?

    The Daily Mail has produced some pickled minds over the years...................

  • Comment number 72.


    Yes - it's great.

    This blog should be a political rally for the hard right-wing, unpicking the lies of Nue-Liebore, NuLabore PF, Gordon Clown and the rest rather than a place for evidence-based debate!

    More satisfying that way.

  • Comment number 73.

    GB has staked his reputation on the Lloyds / HBOS deal going through...

    He REALLY wants it to go through...

    If it doesn't... where will that leave him?

    So I say - "Stupid ! It's the economy... "
    and the economy may kill the deal...

    I stand by my previuos posts....

    We are heading for....

    FTSE less than 1000
    Dow less than 5000

  • Comment number 74.

    Unemployment has risen by 31,000
    however there are still 600,000 vacant jobs in Britain today.

    3 million more jobs than there was during the tories reign.

    Every major economy in the world is adopting the Brown plan for recovery.

    A global crisis that started in America, will have an effect on our economy but I'm sure most people understand that the reality of todays markets cant be driven by an element of joy stick riders, the virtual reality of gameship needs a master of the universe to drive out the greed and coruption of the few fat controllers, as C.E.H. pointed out, the viruses and bugs are being smashed by the colossal analyst Mr Brown P.M.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Gordon Brown has been presented by many as a Churchill figure in the war to save global capitalism. Quicker than he might wish, politics will now turn to dealing with aftermath." - If Gordon wishes to be seen as a Churchillian figure perhaps he should remember what happened to Churchill in 1945 when victory was in sight!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Im puzzled by this Churchill analogy.

    Can anyone offer just one personal comparative.

    In fact this comparison is an insult.

  • Comment number 77.

    Derekbarker - I hand you my congratulations, your ability to spout the Labour Party line revaels you to be an individual devoid of any credibility whatsoever, a fine achievement, bravo!

  • Comment number 78.

    Is this Churchillian behaviour by Brown:


  • Comment number 79.

    Comparing Gordon Brown to Churchill is indeed a massive insult to the memory of Churchill. It's almost as bad as people who deny the holocaust.

    To make such a comparison is simply obscene.

    Nick; Gordon Brown is not the supreme being, the master of the universe, or a Churchillian hero. Only the BBC/labour party (I draw no distinction between the 2 now) could be biased/ignorant enough to say such insane things in public.

  • Comment number 80.

    Considering Brown is old enough to remember the social consequences of the last recession and given his declared stance on poverty, social justice his government have gotten off to a pretty pi** poor start to coping with the trainwreck that's coming.

    Instead of seizing the initiative by introducing a 'new way' of coping with it, he and his cronies (like Harriet Harman 'the assistance given to the banks will benefit British business' etc etc) are just going to let the carnage of repossessions, foreclosures, court judgements, liquidations and all the draconian might of the British legal system run its course. As it unfolds he will hold court at No.10 like some ghastly mediaval bishop saying 'we're doing our best' and in reality doing - nothing.

    Churchill at least - could get things done at the stroke of a pen. Brown seems to have to talk about everything for weeks and 'do it to death' before acting. My 3 year old could work out what this country needs now, it's not exactly rocket science, and though it might mean a lot of hard work, it would result in a better and more able. prosperous country at the end of it. Most politicians think we can now just carry on as if nothing had happened. Barmy, completely barmy. Worse: ignorant and blind to the issues.

    I lived thru that recession brought on by similar crass stupidity under the last Tory Govt. It's taken 15 years of terrific effort and sacrifice to get back to where I was in the 90s and now I stand to lose the lot all over again.


  • Comment number 81.

    A random selection of factoids with a common theme.

    If there are 600,000 vacant jobs and over 1.7 million people without jobs, why?

    Wrong job types?
    Vacancies are in places where there are no jobless, and no means of transporting them?
    Wrong skill sets?
    Vacancies are specifically being held for new economic migrants, who will work for less?

    The fact that are 3 million more jobs now than there were 11 years ago is a corollary of the fact that there are 7 million more jobs now than there were 50 years ago. Its called economic growth. Without it there is stagnation, which is what we are all trying to avoid.

    Face it, the number of people without a job is rising.

  • Comment number 82.


    Every major economy in the world is adopting the Brown plan for recovery.

    Buffet Plan or Swedish Plan if you please. He's had a year since the Northern Rock debacle and we're all supposed to be grateful because he lets the crisis drag on to the point where the UK banks are literally on the point of receivership before a couple of weekends of all-night negotiations.

    Surely the job of the UK government was to get the handle on this as soon as Northern Rock reared its head and then sort this out behind the scenes, shore up our banks and, by extension the economy, with the minimum of fuss so that the UK and its institutions could emerge from the other side as a credible force.

    Instead he dithered until some grown-up pointed out the obvious solution for the umptieth time. 'Do what the Swedes did. Do what Buffet has does done.

    Then the BBC and the UK media obediently repeats the canard that we must thank Gordon Brown for saving the universe.

    What's he been doing for the past eleven years? Doubling national debt, turning a blind eye to an insane debt-fuelled consumer binge and housing bubble and then, when the yanks and banks call 'TIME!' he goes off on one about how the recession is all the yanks and banks fault.

    And what kind of continuous period of growth would he have enjoyed if the banks had just been sensible? How would the economy have 'grown' if Joe Public didn't feel good about their insanely valued house, borrow even more and splurge it into his Starbucks economy? ANd now the borrowing has to stop and he's acquired the UK banks for next-to-nothing his big macro-economic idea is to force his captive banks to re-inflate the borrow-fest.

    As clear an admission as you like that this boom was solely due to borrowed money. But if you'd suggested that in 2006 he'd have just quoted some freshly minted tractor statistics.

    Even now we apparently have his stand-in denying that he's doubled national debt at PMQ. Still denying that insane levels of borrowing and debt caused the boom and lack of borrowing is causing the bust. Total denial.

    A global crisis that started in America, will have an effect on our economy but I'm sure most people understand that the reality of todays markets cant be driven by an element of joy stick riders, the virtual reality of gameship needs a master of the universe to drive out the greed and coruption of the few fat controllers, as C.E.H. pointed out, the viruses and bugs are being smashed by the colossal analyst Mr Brown P.M.

    Pure insanity. We're utterly doomed.

  • Comment number 83.

    #59 jonties

    Good point.

    Although I didn't see the Daily Politics today, Nick, despite being a superb political correspondent, does allow himself to sometimes be drawn into the irrelevancies and machinations rather than the meat of the issue.

    #50 U9461192

    Superb description of GB as a spoilt child. LOL.

    #71 correctopinion

    I would have John Major and Norman Lamont back today if I could. We all thought we were so badly off in 95-96 but little did we know we actually had it so good compared to now. 'New Labour - New Danger'. Why didn't we listen!

    BTW Just because someone doesn't believe the spun lies coming out of Labour HQ as you seem to do, doesn't mean they are all Daily Mail readers.

  • Comment number 84.

    @78. jonathan_cook

    dear me!

    "Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP and blogs at"


    "Courageous Gordon Brown defend UK savers from vikings!"

  • Comment number 85.

    Labour find £500 billion just like that to save the banks.

    However, when pay negotiations commence again in 2009 we will all be told there is not enough money for anything more than a 2-2.5% pay rise.

    The vast majority will simply not understand and ask why Brown can find the money for the banks and not them.

    Inflation will be down by then but we've had over 6 months of higher fuel, energy, food costs etc which are way above the official inflation figure.

    We were told financial armegeddon was just averted. No one really knows what that would have meant and that will be Brown's problem. The UK public will not see him as the alleged saviour but the person in charge for the last 11.5 years who has overseen boom and bust, housing price bubble, increase in unemployment etc. Basically all the issues he said he would avoid/prevent.

    No amount of spin will get him out of these hard truths. He can save the banks but not our jobs.

  • Comment number 86.

    #76 carrots

    They are both overweight. The similarity begins and ends there.

  • Comment number 87.

    74. Two more new jobs being created by this government, did you hear?


  • Comment number 88.

    83. Jonno_79

    "I would have John Major and Norman Lamont back today if I could. We all thought we were so badly off in 95-96"

    95-96? when then what about earlier?

    I think you are the one who is brainwashed sir...........

  • Comment number 89.

    74. Two more new jobs being created by this government, did you hear?

    1. Yacht buying consultancy for the NHS managers. Courses held on cruises.


  • Comment number 90.

    Gordon Brown is the Backdraft PM.

    He spent 10 years utterly torching the UK economy and kept the firehoses and extinguishers out of everybody elses hands. Denied all signs of smoke, disabled the fire alarms and the phones and basically did everything possible to get the economy well alight.

    And now he wants us to thank him for showing up just before the roof caves in killing us all and fire-axing the door open.

    It doesn't work like that Gordon.

    I know you've got much of the population suffering from Stockholm Syndrome with your repeated brutal assaults on our finances, our liberty and our common values but I for one am not grateful that the beatings have stopped (for now). I'm still furious about the beatings in the first place.

  • Comment number 91.

    74. Two more new jobs being created by this government, did you hear?

    1. Yacht buying consultancy for the NHS managers. Courses held on cruises.

    2. Minister for silly walks

  • Comment number 92.

    72. balhamu
    36. Brownedov

    .....Good topic and a surprising reaction.
    .....political rally for the hard right-wing.

    Oh absolutely, the people of the UK dont agree at all. Its just 30 odd fanatical anti labour posters here making a load of totally unrepresentative comments.

    In your dreams

  • Comment number 93.

    Nick, if you want to compare brown to churchill, then ask yourself this:

    Did Churchill create and actively encourage fascism?
    Brown created and encouraged and failed to regulate the setups in the financial system which created the crisis.

    From what I can see, Brown is simply a failed polytechnic history lecturer who never understood anything about economics, and who broke the whole economy, and is now using tax payers' money as a way to temporarily put a sticking plaster on a gaping wound that he created.

    The other night on newsnight, the "Credit Crunch Trial" didn't allow anyone in scotland to see the case against the government (the failed banks mostly being based in scotland, obviously the bbc didn't want the Scots to know anything about what's caused their banks to go the way that they did), they switched off the signal for scotland once they got to the government bit.

    I despair about the BBC; it's just a labour spin machine right now. I hope it gets abolished asap.

  • Comment number 94.

    Maybe Nick means Randolph Churchill. The one who died of a tertiary - um - malady.

  • Comment number 95.

    So if I spend ten years building a huge bomb, then watch it go off I can become a hero by helping sweep up the mess?

    Financial terrorist not saviour is how most will still regard Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 96.


    No need for denial, release your anxiety.

    Going it alone, will not solve anything,
    come and join the human race and the fight to make things right, for the majority, not the conservative idea of minority by wealth.

    conservative toffs from the planet Zorg-need to be re-educated.

  • Comment number 97.

    Brown saving capitalism? Bit of an anathema for a socialist I would have thought.

  • Comment number 98.

    The Brown and Darling comedy act in dealing with the financial mess would be funny if it were not so tragic! How anyone can compare Churchill with Brown is beyond belief!

    I honestly believe that when these two turn from the camera after an interview, their lips must be bleeding from trying not to laugh at us full on.!

    The deceit has to stop, parliament disolved, a new government formed across the political arena as in a 'hung 'parliament!.

  • Comment number 99.

    Amazing how all the anti-government contributions are being blocked, isn't it?

    Churchill is far enough away in time to be viewed with distinctly rose-coloured spectacles. There is no doubt that he was the leader we needed in 1940, to use his amazing powers of rhetoric to inspire the nation and to have the courage to ignore the very attractive option of making an accommodation with Hitler when many of his colleagues (led by Lord Halifax) thought he was just being foolhardy. But his performance as PM subsequently was not consistently wonderful, and he made some dreadful decisions that cost many lives. It has already been pointed out that his performance in office before WWII was pretty awful, and that his reputation was much lower among people in the North of the country. As a peacetime PM he was largely a failure, I think.

    But nonethelessI think that Brown is probably silly to compare himself to Churchill (if in fact he has), because the of the latter's status in the modern public mind.

  • Comment number 100.


    What is all this nonsense newlabour spout about 'started in America'??

    Every downturn of the last hundred years has started in America; we even have an expression for it "When America sneezes the world catches a cold"

    These people are showing their basic ignorance of economic history and reality.

    What did not start in America was the £117bn loan book of Northern Rock with only a fragment of equity and savings to backit; the absurdly high leverage at Bradford and Bingley in the buy to let market did not start in America; the foolishacquisition of ABN by RBS did not start in Amercai; the ridiculous ambitions of Andy Hornby who ran HBOS into the wall were not problems that started in America.

    These problems were all home grown, ignored by the regulators, ignored by Gordon Brown and attempts to contain them were discouraged according to the previous governor of the bank of England; disocuraged by Gordon Brown, no less.

    These problems are of Gordon Brown's making; they have his fingerprint all over them and like Sir Fred Goodwin and Andy Hornby he should be paying for these excesses by being fired.

    Nothing else is enough for this tower of hubris who couldn't win his party a Blue Peter badge never mind an election.

    Call an election now.


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