BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

The axe begins to swing

Nick Robinson | 05:11 UK time, Friday, 18 September 2009

Now the C word - cuts - has passed the prime minister's lips, the process of identifying what will actually be cut has begun in earnest. This week the chancellor, Alastair Darling, began meetings with senior cabinet colleagues to ask them to establish their spending priorities and to identify possible savings in their departments. Sources say that the Treasury has not yet set ministers a percentage target for cuts although this might follow.

Consideration is being given to the idea that the cabinet as a whole should agree where the spending axe should fall so that, as a previous chancellor once graphically put it, all get to dip their hands in the blood.

Some ministers believe that the ID cards programme should be scrapped as a symbol of the government's willingness to take painful decisions. However, Home Office sources insist that this has not been raised with them although they are looking at ways to deliver the scheme more cheaply.

The Ministry of Defence is confident that its plans to renew Trident are not under threat but it is under pressure to replace the current fleet of four Trident submarines with a more reliable fleet of three new subs.

This political process of identifying areas for cuts follows an exercise carried out by Treasury officials over the summer. What is called the public value programme examined the scope for savings in areas covering around a half of total government expenditure. The PVP has generated ideas for improvements to police working practices, better use of hospital space and a scheme to reduce the overlap of different government spending programmes in areas of deprivation which, it's hoped, could save billions of pounds.

Some of the savings identified are to be revealed in the chancellor's pre-Budget report due this Autumn which is now likely to give much more detail about future spending plans than previously planned. Alastair Darling is said to believe that it is only when Labour has set out its spending priorities that the Conservatives will come under real pressure to spell out theirs.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Are we to forget that Gordon Brown spent the entire summer lying to us about his intentions?

    Nick: you aren't doing your job if you don't continually remind the viewing public that Gordon Brown was actively and knowingly dishonest. He lied to Parliament every Wednesday when asked directly if he would cut. He lied to the public in his press conferences.

    Darling can wield his axe, but 'Labour investment versus Tory cuts' li(n)e will not be forgotten.

  • Comment number 2.

    What an interesting choice of timing! The TUC conference is over - so Mr Brown didn't have to lose their support by being too definite. Now the Labour Party Conference looms - and he needs to establish himself as 'decisive' (difficult!) before the party faithful.

    Interesting also that the Chancellor is now planning to give more details than previously intended. Has the realisation finally dawned that the present obfuscation has not gone down too well with the electorate in general, and that all that is left is to admit the truth? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 3.


    while you were busy there was a big story on spending cuts.

    Apparently Straight Guy Brown had treasury papers that told him he would have to make spending cuts of 10% even though he was telling Parliament and the people that he was investing with no cuts.

    Did this pass you by it seems you were imagining Cameron was in power and how you would report that?

    Does lying to Parliament register so low on your political radar?

    This is the biggest story around the fact that we cannot trust a word that comes out of the Liebour Government.

  • Comment number 4.

    Im wondering what happens when qe ends and interest rates go up? then cuts in public expenditure?, this country is in 1 hell of a mess.brownwatch 256 days.

  • Comment number 5.

    We really have to go to someone like Frazer Nelson to get a true picture now.

  • Comment number 6.

    Its a bit late in the day nick for them two start considering cuts.They have had a terrible long period of time to have orchestrated cuts fof some time now, I hold them all in con temp for administering huge amounts of spending as if money were going out of fashion, Instead of foolhardy spending at a rate of knots unknown in previous eras gone past this despicable shower need ousting as soon a it is humanly possible, And as for David Cameron he should let them slither and slide in their own muck that they have excreted and continue a stance of silence until in office if thats what the public desire.

  • Comment number 7.

    '4 rvp where you been ive been posting you to give us your tally of days now, to let us know when the poor suffering joe public can rest some what, after taking too much stick from a waste full addministeration.?

  • Comment number 8.

    Proof that socialism can never work.

    Slash spending or as labour would have us believe 'make incisive cuts'.

    I am curious to know what the difference between a swingeing 10% cut is against a 10% re-allignment of spending.

    Spin maybe?

    The fact that our politicians and more to the point our Prime Minister has to resort to word games and deceit to hide the unpallatable truth that their policies don't work should be a lesson to us all.

    Except for the fact that it has happened before, it will happen again and proves that man is incapable of learning from history.

    Idealism is a wonderful concept, but there is always a price. Currently heading towards £1 Trillion.

    What a price? What a shower?

  • Comment number 9.

    If Labour axed the ID card scheme I would be impressed.

    They have invested so much political capital in this sceme in the face of widespread criticism and public dissaproval.

    We can hope....

  • Comment number 10.

    As it is alomost certain that Labour will be out at the next election, what point is there in going through the motions of trying to draw up any meaningful spending plans?
    There is no time for anything they come up with to take effect and they are likely to make what is already a complex mess even worse.
    Far better if they just admit defeat, accept that some other party are going to haqve to sort it out, and call an election now.
    Why prolong the agony?

  • Comment number 11.

    I think it would be prudent to take the public value programme with the usual large pinch of salt needed when considering government communications these days. Page 8 of this week's Private Eye sets out how Labour has wheeled out announcements of efficiency initiatives on a regular basis over the last few years. The reality though, as is the way of things with this government, is that the actual delivery has fallen way, way short of the spin of the intention.

    Of course, what anyone with his head screwed on would have realised by now is that discretionary spending doesn't stay discretionary for very long. No sooner is a new commitment made than it begins to be woven into existing services in such a way as for it to very quickly become impracticable to switch it off when funding becomes tighter. We surely by now should have learned to anticipate this course of events before making high-sounding commitments in times of plenty.

  • Comment number 12.

    What a pessimistic bunch of comments so far!
    I agree with the running theme that New Labour is in electoral freefall and will be hammered by the Tories next year. However, the PM's government has always relied heavily on the ability to spend from the centre (in common with usual socialist thinking).
    The recession, with the accompanying need for spending cuts, could mean a significant reduction in the size of the state. Whilst in general I agree with much of Labour's positions (on paper, anyway), the state is now encroaching on our day-to-day private lives.
    Hopefully, someone could identify the massive subsidies being given to the fossil fuel industries and finally give Brown the wiggle room he's been lacking to get a green economy going.
    Unfortunately, the ultimate problem with Gordon Brown is that whilst he may have convictions and that fabled moral compass, he has concentrated on international problems (rightly or wrongly, he is seen as the man who gave the world the plan to weather the financial storm) to the detriment of domestic ones. And all politics, I'm sure Nick will confirm, are local.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick - it may have escaped your attention but there's a general election round the corner. You'll have to stop being a government mouthpiece with free puff posts like this, particularly when other areas of the BBC are becoming more balanced and reflecting the mood of the country.

    Interestingly you've ignored your own BBC which has featured a Newsnight poll showing only a quarter of voters trusted New Labour on the cuts front - and a whopping two third disapproved of the PM. More people trust Cameron to make the right cuts.

    Moreover, your lack of a post reflecting the secret treasury documents showing Brown has misled MPs and the public over spending cuts, just adds to the insult - and that was revealed on the BBC's Today programme.

    In case you were dozing this is what all the fuss was about. Why haven't you reflected this in your post today?

  • Comment number 14.

    What annoys me most is the lab-our spin machine demands to be informed of the Tory manifesto be for they are in office wasn't it Blair that said wait and see?things can only get better repeat things can only get better. I will answer him now two the tune of £1 trillion If thats better i would like to see when its really bad wouldn't you.? Can we have a calculation as two when this figger will be repaid Mr brown ?Or will you be drawing your pension then With that smarmy grin on your face?

  • Comment number 15.

    It's always sad to see the one-dimensional thinking of New Labour.Whenever, we get into a financial crisis the focus inevitably comes round to cuts.You never seem to get a government that actively generates income in beneficial ways so that good policies can proceed.

    Even when there are cuts the one thing politicians never cut is their own salaries,expenses & pensions despite the fact that they are the ones who made the decisions that led to the crisis in the first place.

    Given that the election is not too far away, Gordon Brown is probably now thinking how he can take some action which appears to demonstrate that he is actually tackling the problems, when in fact,like all their policies the reality is completely different.New Labour are, after all, a party of image rather than substance.

    The constant rhetoric from Gordon Brown telling us what the Conservatives would do if they got into power shows a government so short on ideas, solutions and moral fibre that they attack the opposition rather than tell us what they are going to do.

    David Cameron on the other hand is keeping most of his plans ( and /or cuts!!) to himself and will resist pressure from Gordon Brown to divulge Conservative thinking to avoid giving GB a way out.He will disclose his plans nearer to the election so the public can compare his plans with New Labour's as part of the election campaign, thereby depriving New Labour of the opportunity to steal ideas and make a comeback.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick -- perhaps you should suggest to Gordon B. that the first "revenue saving" would be to fire Baroness Scotland for employing an illegal immigrant. Also a hefty fine is in order as per the law.
    All in all GB should also be challenged for lying in the House of Commons for the past few months. His morals are unbelievable !

  • Comment number 17.

    G. Brown is truly hapless as having told us (correctly) that cuts would delay or even undermine the recovery he is now trying to present his U turn as a positive act of a decisive PM. Will there be a part of the Labour movement he has not managed to alienate by the next election?

  • Comment number 18.

    Whats your title Mr Robinson?
    Political????? for the BBBC?

    Seems you've missed a couple of real stories this week , ones which I thought would be pertinent.

    Never mind, us bloggers will fill you in - remember us ?
    We're the ones who pay the TV tax so that you and your buddies can swan around pretending interest in what happens to the " little " people of the UK.

    Seems like somebody has been telling porkies and you missed it!
    Did'nt catch the wonderful interview with Yvette Cooper ( Mrs Balls) like a rabbit in the headlights / headlines?!
    Missed the Tongan lady being fired too!?

    Seems like us bloggers will have to keep you on your toes, give you the neccessary info so that you can make a thorough investigation on our behalf, as opposed to musing on the "what ifs "of life under any other leader.

  • Comment number 19.

    Interesting stuff. If they are at all serious about saving money, I look forward to an early announcement on ID cards. It's such a complete no-brainer. It's going to cost billions (certainly far more billions than whatever the current budget is) and pretty much everyone outside the cabinet agrees that it's not only useless but also harmful.

    If they don't agree to scrap this, then that will be absolute proof that the are only interested in their own agenda and couldn't give a stuff about the country.

    BTW, Nick, I really look forward to your answer to post #3. I always thought that lying to Parliament was considered somewhat bad form in political circles.

    Ditto having an Attorney General who breaks the law. Any comment on that?

  • Comment number 20.

    "Public Value Programme?"

    That sounds like the episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa has become President and in order to plug a huge budget deficit she plans a "Temporary Refund Adjustment," i.e. tax hike!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Cuts are not required for the sake of cuts BUT a systemic review. for example

    The ISA (independant saftey authority) implicating 11 million people at a cost of £20+ per person just to stop 20,000 to 40,000 people from having contact with children and there is not evidence that it will actaully do that. What should happen is that ALL peodo , rapist murderers should be jailed for life, then these people would not be out on the streets to "hurt" others not just children. its a faiure of the law and order polices that has caused the so called need for the ISA.

    just another example of a SNAFU_Labour policy mess costing billions but gives them control over the majority peoples lives and puts them in fear. Fear ofgetting any sort of police record that would stop them being near children. that then stops people from protesting for instance against governement policy or other legitimate political conflict with the state. A very sinsiter developement indeed.

    just an example of the systemic review required or undwinding of some of the daft SNAFU_labour policies

  • Comment number 22.

    "19. At 08:22am on 18 Sep 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:
    Interesting stuff. If they are at all serious about saving money, I look forward to an early announcement on ID cards. It's such a complete no-brainer. It's going to cost billions (certainly far more billions than whatever the current budget is) and pretty much everyone outside the cabinet agrees that it's not only useless but also harmful. "

    According to Today this mrning Labour are claiming that scrapping ID cadrs will only save 40million as thats the "Extra" cost of them over the cost of biometric passports! They spent 18million on one report last week!

    When will this goverment start telling the truth!

    Tory Cuts v Labour Investment!

    Can someone get the Pink Floyd Pig and fly it over the House Of Commons.

  • Comment number 23.

    Brown lies to Parliament and the country? He does it so often it's a non-story.
    Nick doesn't question this? Same again, he never has done so why expect it now?

  • Comment number 24.

    News Flash April 2010.....

    Labour has canceled the general election, a value for money review proved that it was not a cost effective way of re-apointing Brown for another 5 years.

  • Comment number 25.

    To all those hoping Nick might comment on the real political stories this week... No chance Meddlesome wont let him.

    You're just a Labour mouthpiece aren't you Nick? I hope you're proud of the country we live in now, it's people like you have brought us to this state.

  • Comment number 26.

    With posts like this, it's not hard to see where the axe will be swinging after the GE.

  • Comment number 27.



    If the other 4 don't meddle, perhaps Darling can try to make some mature choices based on common sense and the wishes of the electorate.

    What are the chances ?

  • Comment number 28.

    Is there any point having a comments section to your blog anymore? While you appear to attempt to balance your comments, the vast majority of contributors have just put down their Daily Mail prior to having a good old, self righteous rant. The analysis they make is thin and the standards normally biased. As to the contributors who childishly throw in Liebour and Gordon Clown: how very droll - and ironic coming from the party of Aitken, Archer and Hamilton.

    The world narrowly avoided a depression this year - not a recession - and all they can think of to say is that your analysis should exactly mirror theirs. I am glad Mr Osborne was not in charge of UK finanaces this year, but if he wants any advice on what to cut once he is in power how about financial support for any university that has courses in PPE (Politics Philosophy and Economics) - they are clearly failing us.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Prime Minister is a liar.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nick - Can you do me a favour and call Andy Kerr MSP of the Scottish Labour Party and see if he would now like to apologise to John Swinney for having lambasted the SNP Govt over the cuts they are now having to propose.

  • Comment number 31.

    Bloggers, yes lets put all our trust in them. Afterall, I'm sure they are just nice people trying provide a fair, perceptive and impartial commentary. Obviously, none of them have a political agenda to propound or have any financial support from pressure groups or political parties - no of course not. yes, lets put all our faith in someone whose real name we will never know.

    Trust me :)

  • Comment number 32.

    Gordon Brown tells us he will cut "unnecessary projects"

    If they are unnecessary, then why do they exist in the first place?

  • Comment number 33.

    my political analysis, rather than what's right and wrong ... the thing they must avoid at all costs is "efficiency savings" and "cutting back on waste" ... that type of stuff ... since it brings on the slam dunk charge of why haven't you been doing that all along? - public sector pay freeeze (or job losses) is also out because it would lose a ton of Lab votes, plus the people who'd be really impressed by it are (in all probability) committed clowns who may flip their lid on a regular basis, but not their voting intention - dropping ID cards can't happen, because the Tories have long opposed it and it would give them major bragging rights just as an Election approaches - so no to that one - Trident? impossible to cancel that, I'm afraid ... it's "Man of the World" stuff and therefore sacrosanct - defence can't be cut with a war on, education is underfunded to start with ... health nobody can even hint at cutting, else the end of the world is nigh and acid rain starts to falleth from the sky - and benefits? well they are what they are, just depends how many people claim - off limits - so, pretty much boxed in on the spending side - tax rises make a lot of sense (as we most of us, on here, agree) but just before a GE? pull the other one! ... we know how tax rises go down in the heartlands, don't we? - god the whole thing is extremely difficult for the government, and in particular for Gordon Brown - I bet he found saving the banking system from collapse, and the economy from a tailspin from which it would have taken the best part of 25 years to recover, a stroll in the sun by comparison

  • Comment number 34.


    I can think of no time in my past long life that I have yearned for an end to a government as much as this one. I feel our country has now been ground into the dirt by incompetent financial management, the erosion of human rights, the incompetence that allowed in the BNP, Iraq, the lies and untruths from every quarter of this nasty spin obsessed government.

    Well conservatives be any better? Who knows but if Brown and his dreadful cronies had any sense of honour and cared about our country they would go now and allow someone else to try. But, instead all they are doing is working out which paletable cuts can be made now and which ones they will leave to their successors - whoever they are - who will have no option.

    In my my mind such disregard for the well being of our country is treachery.

    And to think I voted Labour in 1997. Never, NEVER again. Never

    Nik - you must be more forceful, within the limits of fairness - and pin these people down on the facts not their spin. It is your obligation since you have access we do not.

  • Comment number 35.

    All fine and dandy Nick, especially following on from your snipe at Cameron over Europe. But the simple fact is Nick, that no amount of dressing up will disguise the fact that your NuLab friends have lost the plot. Year after year they overspent, not even looking at how, where and when the money was spent, as long as it kept flowing, that was ok. Warnings from all sides, IMF, LibDems and Tories alike were all brushed aside by the then Chancellor. A mere three weeks ago, the ex chancellor, now PM, was insisting that Labour would continue "Investing" I know and most of the populace know that this is complete poppycock. Lord Mandelson has successfully forced the PM to face up to some of his delusions (At what cost I wonder?). Mandelsons (For which read New Labour) strategy is blindingly obvious, look at what the other parties are saying, pick the attractive bits, and peddle it as your own, and just basically agree to anything as long as it gives you a chance to get elected, for which, some pundits laud him as a genius, I, on the other hand find him completely transparent and not a little pathetic.

  • Comment number 36.

    Old Forgotten can remember the last Labour Government that wielded the axe in desperation to stay in power.
    Sorry Guys, It didn’t work then & it won’t work now – the die is well & truly cast.
    Still, a while ago I remember a certain John Smith (remember him) coming out with an alternative budget, so why can’t we have an alternative cost cutting agenda put forward by Ozzy?
    Come on guys – If you expect to become the next Government, isn’t it time you started to behave like one?

  • Comment number 37.


    Difference is, those three went down or were made bankrupt.

    Break the law in the Labour party and no-one gives a monkeys. Laws are for little people, a bit like taxes.

    Its got nothing to do with the damned Daily Mail, its about whats right and proper. And for NL to claim that they are the party of the ordinary hard working families... my a##e.

  • Comment number 38.


    Such is the perils of high office Saga. As the old saying goes, he maybe starting to regret what he wished for.

    We sure as hell all are.

    Not an unreasonable political analysis btw.

  • Comment number 39.


    And of course, you would be agenda neutral too, wouldnt you?

  • Comment number 40.

    'The Prime Minister is a liar.'
    ALL politicians are liars. Gordon Brown is just a very bad one. So which is worse? A good liar or a bad one. That's what our 'democracy' has come to: A choice between the frying pan or the fire!

  • Comment number 41.

    32. CruisingForABruising wrote:
    Gordon Brown tells us he will cut "unnecessary projects"

    If they are unnecessary, then why do they exist in the first place?

    Answer: Because no Government has a crystal ball they can look into when they make the decisions they do.
    They have to work with the information they have at the time.

    Example in point: Trident – Do we need it?

    No – The world is probably safer than it has ever been & we need the money for other, more essential, projects.

    Yes – With North Korea & Iran working to develop nuclear weapons, our long term security may be at risk if we don’t replace Trident.
    At the very least, we will lose our place at the nuclear bargaining table if we don’t have it.

    Now, ID Cards, thats a different issue...Mmm

  • Comment number 42.

    It is a difficult area for Labour as they have had a leader who in public has been saying he won't cut. I hope the review isn't done in a rush and that it doesn't end in a shambles.

    On another tack Nick is there any news on Baroness Scotland and her application of the laws she introduced?

  • Comment number 43.

    #33 Saga
    Excellent apraisal of the problems GB faces in even trying to propose any reductions in spending, you can add to the list the Union backlash that would result in any public sector cuts.
    One comment if I may on the saving of the banking system from collapse, this is something that Brown will claim as positive action on his part however the truth is that it was presented to him with no option apart from total collapse of the coutries financial structure. Realisticly then more a fait acompli than positive action.

  • Comment number 44.

    I remember a moment in time when A Darling actually told the UK we were in economic trouble and if the public actually knew they'd be really
    " Pi$$ed off" with the labour party.
    That moment of truth came and went in 2008.

    I was kind of hoping the Chancellor would have been busily scrutinising all possible savings for the last year and a bit.

    Whats that awful phrase?
    Ah yes!
    "Preparation takes the panic out of presentation"

    P.S I learn more from the bloggers and the items they point up in various news items of the international press than I have ever learned from any UK or US biased broadcaster.
    Blog on!

  • Comment number 45.

    The current financial crisis started almost exactly two years ago with the collapse of Northern Rock. Lehman Brothers went to the wall a year ago. Over the past two years the country's finances have been in chaos and our deficit has risen to unprecedented levels. Can any of the Labour supporting contributors to this post explain why Gordon Brown has waited until now to cut "unnecessary projects"?

  • Comment number 46.

    Re: The world narrowly avoided a depression this year - not a recession .....


    The niavity of some people is simply breathtaking. Government policy was a major contributor to this recession and preventing a depression has only come at a terrible cost that we are now £ 1 Trillion in debt. As a direct result of this we will now suffer a slow recovery and lower economic growth and prosperity and there will be far less money to invest in public services for years to come as a result of this. Most of the world refused to follow Gordon Brown following his high profile world tour earlier in the year and it is because of this that they are emerging from recession faster than we are. Branding people who have the sense to see through all this labout spin and not believe this nonsense that Gordon has saved the world as Daily Mail readers is pathetic.

  • Comment number 47.


    I have a formula to answer your question.

    Think of a number.
    Double it.
    Multiply by 1.5.
    Divide by 3.
    Subtract the number you first thought of.

    There's your answer.

  • Comment number 48.

    #31 muadib good morning

    .....Bloggers, yes lets put all our trust in them. Afterall, I'm sure they are just nice people trying provide a fair, perceptive and impartial commentary. Obviously, none of them have a political agenda to propound or have any financial support from pressure groups or political parties -no of course not. yes, lets put all our faith in someone whose real name we will never know......

    First question, is muadib your surname or forename?

    The bloggers you refer to, myself very much included, are a cross section of the electorate sick to the back teeth of the most deceitful, incompetant and bungling administration it has ever been anyone's misfortune to have to endure. Sure, quite a few are Daily Mail readers, it's a very popular newspaper, me? I prefer the Daily Telegraph, (Henry Winter is excellent).

    You identified in your post #28 three Conservative types who, quite correctly, were punished to the full extent of the law. At what point do you think Baroness Scotland, just to pick one example at random, might be asked to explain herself and then suffer the consequences of her own actions. The list of Labour types in the same (sinking) boat could go on and on.

    Go back a few blogs and pick out some contributors who, before, voted Labour and have vowed never to do so again, why might this be do you think?

    Prime Minestrone Brown, (minestrone being a weak soup of unpalatable vegetables just like the Labour administration), has been caught like a rabbit in the headlights, cuts were always inevitable, the difference is Cameron and Osborne were upfront from months ago. Only now has Brown been compelled to be honest. I've never been entirely certain about the ability of the Shadow Chancellor, Alastair Darling, free of the interference of Mandelson, Brown and others might have had a fighting chance without the control freak character flaws of his boss. A cut is a cut whichever fancy phrase the spin doctors choose to use instead.

    The conversations Darling is supposedly having this morning with Ministerial colleagues should have taken place some time ago, the benefit of such action would not then be, as always with Labour, closing the stable door long after the horse has bolted. Brown and co. have squandered yet another golden opportunity, one of many, to be honest with people and give them an informed choice. The manner in which Gordon Brown has appeared to mislead Parliament is one reason he will be out of a job by the autumn of next year and the Labour party face annihilation at the 2010 General Election, which really cannot come quickly enough.

  • Comment number 49.

    new think @ 43

    the truth is it was presented to him with no option apart from total collapse of the country's financial structure

    well yes, but it was a genuine crisis ... a massive one ... and perhaps Gordon was an absolute rock, hard to say unless one was "there", isn't it? - I have a hunch Darling is quite good, actually - Cameron and Osborne? cool heads in a crisis? ... nothing to say they would be, plenty to indicate they wouldn't - a scary thought to be honest, that pair in charge, because this quality of unflappability ... staying resolute, hanging tough under the most intense pressure ... is so important for a political leader - the fact that Harriet Harman, for example, has that quality in spades is one of the reasons I'd like to see her as PM one day

  • Comment number 50.

    @ 46:

    It's worth adding to your very good post that throughout the world, throughout the 'first world' countries, throughout the G7/G8 nations, all have, over the past decade, changed personnel, and therefore cannot point to a single administration or a single individual as having guided their nation into the mess we are in.

    All that is, except the UK. Where Gordon Brown has held the purse-strings and the tiller for the past 12 years and therefore can rightly be expected to shoulder blame for our situation.

    Only he won't. Will he?

  • Comment number 51.


    Please don't assume that everyone having a go at the government is a Daily Mail reader. I have never bought the Daily Mail, and if I were ever to do so in the future, I would probably buy a porno mag at the same time and insert the Daily Mail inside the porno mag so that no-one could see what I'd bought as I left the newsagent.

    The fact is that a great many people from all parts of the political spectrum have become sick and tired of the current government. I was a lifelong Labour voter until a few years ago. I voted Labour at the general elections in 1997 and 2001 (and indeed many previous ones, for all the good that did). Sadly, it's now all too clear that they have totally failed to live up to the expectations that I and many others had for them at the time.

    Like you, I'm glad the Osborne is not in charge of the UK finances, as on the whole I'd characterise him as pretty clueless. But that doesn't mean that I don't think he'd probably do a marginally better job than the complete bunch of wasters we currently have running the country.

  • Comment number 52.

    What is missing here is that the Labour Party has been in power since 1997 and the next election won't simply be about how to manage the worst budgetary deficit in living memory.

    Its about time we had a reasoned analysis of Labour's 12 years in government looking not just at fiscal management but other areas such as education, law and order, combating poverty etc. Gordon Brown's record as Chancellor is questionable and his premiership has been exceptionally poor.

  • Comment number 53.

    Comment 28 : muadib

    "As to the contributors who childishly throw in Liebour and Gordon Clown: how very droll - and ironic coming from the party of Aitken, Archer and Hamilton."

    I'm sure that it's just a mistake, but for someone so obviously keen on fair and balanced commenting, it's surely somewhat of an omission to fail to differentiate between the shoddy personal-advancement behaviour of Aitken, Archer and Hamilton, and the universal, institutionalised lying and misinformation that is the central political strategy of this government. I expect that normally you would check that your comparisons are valid before making them, but on this occasion a false one seems to have got through the net.

  • Comment number 54.

    #22 was going to do a purple elephant for fathers some time ago ??

  • Comment number 55.

    We thought we were in the deep Brown stuff already, but you really know when things have gone wrong when Labour mention cuts and then start to look for cuts, the Tories should keep quiet a while longer as you cannot help but think there is soemthing labour have been hiding, like the black hole within the black hole perhaps? The real time of dread will be one week after the general election when Cameron has to tell us the truth of Labour spending over 12 years, still Brown's example can be used by politicians for years to come, socialism is a failure and Brown will be one of the biggest failures as a PM in our national history! We need an election sooner rather than later as everything the Pm touches lands us in the Brown stuff!

  • Comment number 56.


    I don't dispute your comment along the lines of Bertrand Russells assertion that the only thing we learn from history is that man never learns from history.

    But what has socialism got to do with it? Or are you referring to the state bailing out bankrupt financial institutions?

    The current mess is the fall out from the failure of free market capitalism and the de-regulated, neo-liberal economic policies followed for the last 30 years. I am not advocating socialism, but merely pointing out that tax rises and spending cuts are necessary as we all now have to pay for those astronomical salaries and bonuses earned by the financial 'geniuses'. I hardly think that was what Marx had in mind though.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Cameron and Osborne? cool heads in a crisis? ... nothing to say they would be, plenty to indicate they wouldn't"

    Such as???? Or is that just more character assassination?

    "staying resolute, hanging tough under the most intense pressure ... is so important for a political leader - the fact that Harriet Harman, for example, has that quality in spades is one of the reasons I'd like to see her as PM one day"

    Oh dear God.... ++sound of open palm thwacking on forehead++ You mean theres more than one reason?

    (Then again, on reflection... if HH becomes PM, the resulting alienation between the Islington Champagne Socialist set that she's part of and the rest of the nation would be so wide, you'd be able to add another 10-20 years onto the amount of time Labour will spend in the wilderness. Maybe not such a bad idea after all...)

  • Comment number 58.

    'Harriet Harman... I'd like to see her as PM one day.'
    (Sprays tea over monitor!)

  • Comment number 59.

    Tell you what ... Why not Offshore the entire admin functions of the HMRC, DWP, HMCS, NHS etc. Okay .. hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost but through offshoring to India for example the cash savings would be astronomical and would easily pay off the entire national debt fairly soon.

    OH !!! The government would never do this because it would be completely disgusting and immoral to do so.

    Funny that no one ever challenges the Aviva's, Tesco's etc of this world whose office working population has been ripped apart through offshoring.

    Roger (due for redundancy in one month thanks to someone cheaper in the world than me)

  • Comment number 60.

    #51 DisgustedOfMitcham2

    You just summed up far more eloquently what I was getting at in my own #48

    This entire blog during my time contributing has been populated by people
    from both sides of the political spectrum, many of whom write brilliantly and make their points succintly.
    Not wishing to embarrass anyone but, Fubar Saunders, Great Hayemaker, Eaton Rifle, Grandantidote (wherever you are I hope you're happy and healthy), John from Hendon etc.
    Of course not forgetting the "floaters" the de-facto leader of whom is sagamix. (Can we call you undecideds, floater always reminds me of an unfortunate incident years ago in the lavatory at the house of my girlfriends parents).

  • Comment number 61.

    It's very sad to see how politics has become so degraded, with people showing utter contempt for all politicians. No doubt this explains the low turn out at elections.

    The truth is, they are not "all liars" - but some of them clearly are.

    Labour policies once again have ended in failure. Rather than trying to implement a change of policy to cut spending, something that Brown has never supported, he should just call an election.

  • Comment number 62.

    Looks like Brown will go down in history as the failed liar and deceiver.

    I reckon they should scrap the ID card scheme and that ridiculous NHS computer system now. Let's face it, short of a cruel miracle Brown will not be in power next year so as the other parties have stated they'll scrap the ID card system (hopefully this NHS system too) let's do it now.

  • Comment number 63.

    The gamble on keeping public sector spending high when the real economy has dropped at least 10 % has failed.

    For the sake of the country he needs to resign NOW.

    By April 2010 our public spending deficit will be approx £225 to £250 billion, the guilt markets will begin to withdraw from the purchase of our debt regardless of our acceptance of higher charges and the UK cash flow to pay for the public sector will dry up at lightening speed.

    The UK is on a edge of a cliff, we need a change of personnel now with a robust plan or we will pay for the consequences.

    PS.I would not get the treasury involved in any of the forecasting as they have proved themselves to be politically influenced and without backbone, to get a deficit budget wrong by at least 30% is surely grounds for their immediate liquidation.

  • Comment number 64.

    Darling could save £195k by getting rid of Brown. Oh how the country would rejoice. Brown going would be just the boost we need!

  • Comment number 65.

    #49 saga OK I've got the broom handle out and i have tied a white handkerchief two it HARRIET HARMAN is the best thing since gunpowder invention by china,Its a pity Guido Falk's didn't succeed as we wouldn't be in the current criss we are now embedded in and Mrs Harman could have stayed at home preparing lunch as thats where she is more at home.

  • Comment number 66.

    'Harriet Harman... I'd like to see her as PM one day.'
    Won't she need a sex change to become Peter Mandelson?

  • Comment number 67.

    willy @ 50

    Gordon Brown has held the purse strings and the tiller for the past 12 years and therefore can be expected to shoulder blame for our situation

    indeed, and that's happening (isn't it?) but wrongly, in my opinion - Wall St is to blame or (if you want an individual) its poodle, Alan Greenspan ... the man who set up the table and dealt the cards ... trouble is we can only vote for or against UK politicians, and on that score the following 2 questions (whatever you guys say) ARE relevant

    (1) looking back, would it have been worse under the Tories?
    (2) and looking forward, will it be better under Labour?

    now I don't know about anyone else, but I'd say it's a pretty resounding YES! followed closely by another YES!

    so sure, we're in a bit of a mess and Gordon is the guy who's presided over it, and he doesn't really deserve another term for that reason - would be rather unfair for it to happen, if you know what I mean - but this isn't just a game, is it? - we ought to consider what's best for the country, Willy, don't you think? ... that's how I'm approaching things anyway

  • Comment number 68.

    'Harriet Harman... I'd like to see her as PM one day.'
    On second thoughts.....maybe not...

  • Comment number 69.

    48. At 09:59am on 18 Sep 2009, Ilicipolero wrote:

    Spot on!

    I too rather thought the purpose of a blog was an interchange of differing views. What Muadib seems to want is that we should all blindly follow Nu Lab doctrine. Which of course, is what got us into this mess in the first place!

    More of the same? No thank you very much. I have now seen three Labour Governments in my lifetime and with each one they have left the country in a dreadful state. I am still trying to come to terms with the spectacular amount of damage this particular term has done, but of one thing I am sure, the damage done this time is of a scale unprecedented in our history and I for one am certainly not going to entrust the "Repair" to those who caused the damage!

    And can we please stop blaming the rest of the world for our current troubles, they weren't caused by Lehman Bros, or Northern Rock, or Iraq, or nibblenobblenoobieland, they were caused by the present government.

  • Comment number 70.

    #64, Telecasterdave,

    The Prime Minister has said he is not in politics for the money anyway so perhaps he might set an example and carry on with no pay and no pension? That would at least be a start on savings on what he himself has called unnecessary spending.

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    The axe begins to fall as speculation of an April election raises it's head?

    Are these both rallying cries to the supporters or the beginning of the death knell of this administration?

    I also believe that the BBC charter needs to be viewed and amended if Nick can't seem to bring himself to report the Baroness Scotland episode, or the leaked treasury documents that show Brown and his cronies as some of the largest obfuscaters around.

    I'd also like to know if we are due a report from the IMF or other financial body that has caused this government u-turn on CUTS

    What effect will Darling's dealing have on the bond market where he is trying to finance his fiscal incapacity? Or are there problems trying to finance the debt which is causing this u-turn?

  • Comment number 73.

    There is another important point that #63 Hughesz has raised and that is the politicisation of the Civil Service. If, and that is a huge if, Cameron is elected he will need to have a clear out of all the top mandarins as they will be an obstacle to any form of progress; Labour has put its place men in position and they will do a Sir Humphrey on any major shift that the Tories will try and bring in.

  • Comment number 74.

    shoot @ 56

    The current mess is the fall out from the failure of free market capitalism and the de-regulated, neo-liberal economic policies followed for the last 30 years

    you, me and the gatepost may think that (and it's true, of course) but there's another school of thought which says it's down to purely domestic factors, such as the number of Quangos and Diversity Officers

    fubar @ 57

    character assassination? - well if over 2 year's worth of cool, dispassionate observation of the pair of them ... what they say, who they mix with, way they act ... and the drawing of logical conclusions therefrom is character assassination then, yes, guilty is me

  • Comment number 75.

    #34 Myhomeismycastle

    All I can say is spot on. Brilliant post.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think it is now time to make politicians live by their own sword. Put them all onto St Kilda, with all their special advisers and experts for one year. (With all that expertise and experience they can build their own shelter...)

    For each and every new proposal of legislation that passes, one month is added to their time. Two months deducted from time if majority of eligible voters are satisfied with their running of the country. Online voting once a month.

    I neither read the Daily Mail, nor have any party allegiance; just desperate for some competence and common sense.

  • Comment number 77.

    I was just about to make a serious comment here when I read Saga's "Hattie for PM" post.
    Have since then spent 10 minutes rolling on the floor laughing, scaring the dog and wasting a perfectly good bacon buttie in the process.
    I need to lie down for a while.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 67 Sagamix

    "(1) looking back, would it have been worse under the Tories?"

    Probably. It's certainly difficult to see how it could have been worse.

    "(2) and looking forward, will it be better under Labour?"

    I can't see any place at the top table for Labour when I look forward, so I really can't answer this question. However, the thought of four or five more years like the last twelve leaves me cold.

    "we're in a bit of a mess and Gordon is the guy who's presided over it, and he doesn't really deserve another term for that reason"

    I agree 100% with you there, Saga.

    "we ought to consider what's best for the country, Willy, don't you think?"

    Yes - I agree again. That's just what I and many of my fellow countrymen are doing when we clamour for the back of this deceitful, inept administration.

    I do take issue with the first thing you say: "indeed, and that's {GB taking the blame for the way he led our country into recession} happening..."

    Because it's NOT happening. GB still refuses to admit that his financial and economic policies have anything to do with the problems we face, even though the impact to the UK economy is deeper and more long-lasting than almost all of our EU neighbours, we are having it tougher than they are in the US, and the far east economies are doing much better than we are.

    So sorry, it certainly won't be a 'head in the sand, better the devil you know' approach from me when we finally get the chance to vote these buffoons out.

  • Comment number 79.

    Gordon Brown's continual denial of the obvious reality over the last year has been breathtaking in it's stupidity. Obviously the government rescue package has to be paid for - even the dumbest twonk can see this. He has played into Cameron's hands and made a bad situation catastrophic. Or perhaps that should be he has made an ecconomic catasrophy politicall catastrophic. They will now beat him to death with his own obviously false denials.

  • Comment number 80.

    Dear Nick

    Hopefully, news of more forthright ministerial discussions about future public spending plans will be noted by Labour's conference managers. Provision needs to be made for delegates to add their contributions to the debate in Brighton the week after next. If Labour wants to protect its core vote and reconnect to the millions more that might now be out of work had it not been for swift intervention by Brown and Darling last Autumn, it needs to think more about giving members a say in what goes in the next manifesto.

  • Comment number 81.

    'The truth is, they are not "all liars" - but some of them clearly are.'
    And the others cover up for them!

  • Comment number 82.

    7. At 10:56am on 18 Sep 2009, sagamix wrote:
    willy @ 50

    Gordon Brown has held the purse strings and the tiller for the past 12 years and therefore can be expected to shoulder blame for our situation

    indeed, and that's happening (isn't it?) but wrongly, in my opinion - Wall St is to blame or (if you want an individual) its poodle, Alan Greenspan ... the man who set up the table and dealt the cards ... trouble is we can only vote for or against UK politicians, and on that score the following 2 questions (whatever you guys say) ARE relevant

    (1) looking back, would it have been worse under the Tories?
    (2) and looking forward, will it be better under Labour?

    now I don't know about anyone else, but I'd say it's a pretty resounding YES! followed closely by another YES!
    1) No - Because the Tories would not have had the same high levels of borrowing and spending commitment that Labour had when the crisis hit. They would have saved for a rainy day in other words.

    2) No - Labour have had twelve years to prove they can competently run a nations finances and have failed spectacularly. There's no reason to think another five years would see an improvement - just a better level of incompetence.

  • Comment number 83.

    The biggest problem with *any* cuts for Labour is that, over the last 12 years, they've extended the state apparatus so that something close to 40% of UK employment is either directly employed by the state, or employment-reliant on it.

    Any meaningful cuts will then mean massive layoffs in the public sector, with the associated strike action and rise in unemployment. The Tories will be similarly hampered when they enter power.

    Just as Browns economic 'miracle' was mostly smoke and mirrors, based on debt, so has the low employment stats been due to an expansion of the public sector and economic immigration in the private sector.

    If I were either Brown or Cameron, I would look at the huge hole Labour have dug for the UK and despair - an unsustainable public sector or massive unemployment? What a choice.

  • Comment number 84.

    I do find this finger pointing at Brown/Labour worrying. If anyone out there believes the Conservatives would have got us through this crisis had they been in power then you are sadly mistaken. The same economic decisions would have been taken ... resulting in the exact same state we are in now and the shadow Labour spokespersons would be vying for the head of the Tory PM etc etc etc.

    Warning: Do not trust the Tories ... they will look after their own, rich will get richer, fox hunting will become legal, you will need an IQ of 200+ to even begin understanding the stealth tax system and after 10 years of Tory rule we will all be begging for a change.

    This is all the cycle of polotics ...

  • Comment number 85.

    The Trident cuts and ID cards mentioned don't get anywhere close to the savings figures we need. They are simply the large symbolic savings which make headlines.

    The last estimate I saw of UKs debt interst costs in 2012/13 was £60bn+. This is considerably more than MOD's entire budget and about 2/3 of what we spend on the NHS.

    The simple fact is that labour have spent too much money over the past 12 years. They have over inflated the salaries of public servants - most notably doctors nurses and teachers - to a point we can no longer afford. Internally the government knows that there will have to be huge cuts across the board to avoid going into a debt spiral, but they would prefer that the conservatives were forced to make these cuts so they can spin it as the tories fault.

    I firmly expect whatever spending plans Brown comes out with to be unrealistic, unaffordbale and entirely politically motivated.

  • Comment number 86.

    #67 Sagamix,

    Your attempt to blame the US for everything is amazing.

    Yes the US financial organisations created a lot of the products which ultimately exploded but the effect on the UK would have been minimised if our banks hadn't bought them; who was in charge of regulating UK banks - certainly not Alan Greenspan.

    The troubles experienced by NRock and HBOS were not because of dodgy investments but rather they ran business models based on a never ending supply of external funds. Who regulated these organisations?

    In my opinion the FSA failed this country miserably with regards to banking regulation but perhaps this was not surprising given that they were handed the job by Brown when the BOE had much more experience.

    Yes, GB was not directly responsible for the mess we are in but not only did he create the system that failed us he also was reckless with the country's finances by continually increasing spending in his deluded belief that the good times were anything other than a debt driven boom.

  • Comment number 87.


    "Proof that socialism can never work."

    It worked for the private banks and now the public are paying the price.

  • Comment number 88.

    My #78 should have been a "Possibly" rather than a "Probably".

    Copying and pasting from so many posts from these New labour stooges addles your brain a little, doesn't it!

  • Comment number 89.

    The best way to save the frontline services like health and education is to swing the axe towards the quangos, regulators and agencies. The total function of government with all these add ons is greater than the outcome it delivers. Government is no longer enabling, it is costing.

  • Comment number 90.


    I agree that the current financial situation for those at the bottom would have been and will be worse under the Tories than under Labour however government is not just about finance.
    Under both Tory and Labour administrations going back decades we have seen outrageous personal excesses that have not resulted in an honourable holding up of the hands and 'fair enough, I made a genuine mistake, I will not carry on as to do so would bring the office I represent into disrepute'.
    What we have seen in the past and continue to see today is a clinging onto power 'I have broken no rules' having to be dragged kicking and screaming from office mentallity that is bringing the whole country down. There is no moral leadership at the top.
    It is all very well complaining about sink estates and hoodies and the don't work/don't care/ whatever they can get away with attitudes of those at the bottom but they are taking their lead from those at the very top of our society.

    'Politics, like banking depends on something it cannot create - honour.'
    'That’s a law that needs to be written in our hearts, not just in the rule book.'

    The first line was said by Gordon Brown, the second by Baroness Scotland.

    Will either of them do the honourable thing ? Would their replacements from the opposition do it either - No ? Thought not

    Cuts - Cut from the top and then let's see the trickle down.

  • Comment number 91.

    With an election less then ten months away, I am wondering how much of today's discussion with the Chancellor will be based on what can be done to save their seats rather than what is good for the Country.

  • Comment number 92.


    Very kind of you.


    "nibblenobblenoobieland".... Have they got any oil? Would they like to buy any UK Gilts?

    Or have they got any helicopters we can borrow?


    I bet the dog didnt waste the buttie though....

  • Comment number 93.

    So as I understand it, the leaked treasury documents suggest that public spending should be cut by 10%...

    This amount is equivalent to the entire amount Gordon Brown has splurged since 2001.

    So, in effect, the treasury is telling Gordon Brown we couldn't afford it in the first place. No matter how many times he restated when the boom began or tried to pretend whne the bust never came.

    What, exactly is the point of newlabour? They can't add up; they spend money we can't afford; they can't control immigration; they denigrate education standards and they waste our money on pet projects.

    Where is the much needed infrastrucuree spending? What happened to PRescott's transport infrastructure revamp? (a bus ,ane on the M4 is all we have to show for it). Where are the power stations? How is this economy going to survive with such tragicallly shrt term, politically motivated thinking? When are newlabour going to die of shame at the mess they have inflicted upon us and stop whinging about it all being the fault of a woman who hasn't held public office for 20 years?

    Blame everyone but themselves, lash out at anyone who dares to differ; indeed - launch inquiries at our expense into any gainsayer - this is totalitarianism faced with its nemesis and we are having to pay for their anger and indignation at our failure to be won over by their spendaholic ways.

    This is a truly desperate state of affairs and brings us back 30 years to when the popular mantra was that governemnts were in power to 'manage decline' This is total bunkum and newlabour needs to be sent off with its bags packed for ever, never top darken these shores again with its endless agendas and doing the right things.

    The political cognoscenti of the 1980s and early nineties who rebelled agaainst this nation becoming strong again and decided to spend it all as fast as humanly possible waging illegal wars and showering the public services with cash, they now know they have had their chance and completely blown it. It will never come back.

    Leave now.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 94.

    #49 Saga
    Thank you so much, after a moment of weakness in which I found myself agreeing with you I truely appreciate you correcting the direction I was going in by suggesting that HH would make a decent option as PM.....I don't think so. And as for saying that Brown was an absolute rock in the banking crisis, I think you must have a different keyboard to me as on my keyboard the c is nowhere near the r!

    P.S. Borrowing for August was 16.1 BILLION.......ouch.

  • Comment number 95.

    I see the word 'cuts' but I keep reading paying paying paying...
    UK Gov says "having paid a lot into the biometric passport system..."
    Uh? I seem to remember being shafted with a price difference one could by a hi-fi with let alone a wire coil and plastic film! We're paying for it!!! Our rip-off Euro-style driving licences needs that stupid A4 paper when we hire a car! Are any of us sane???
    In Germany an ID card can be shown to a town hall say, or pension offices, a police station, it's even enough when flying within Europe, even to/from the UK. I always have to bristle with NI card, licence, passport, birth certificate, etc... you name it!!!
    We've paid for a lot of waffler's rubbish in the UK and so I reckon a UK ID card would be simply blank with the phrase "just a minute luv while we search for your records" printed on it. NO! Categorically NO! I don't want to see a UK ID card. It wouldn't be enough would it.
    I don't want this or any future British government to spend a penny on anything because it will waste ten in doing so. I wish the British public could chuck this Dickensian establishment out and start again.

  • Comment number 96.

    lying toad. yawn. call an election

  • Comment number 97.

    can the voting public public of this once great country believe anything this government say's or will we be hoodwinked again.
    do those employed in government really think they have ultimate power and can continue to wreak havoc upon those they are employed to represent.
    can the people of this country soak up any more from a government hell bent on ruining whats left.
    who in their right mind would support this lame duck of a government that has made bad choice after bad choice bringing this country into ridicule and almost bankruptcy, wasting money saving banks that they then hand off to overseas ownership whilst cutting finance to military upgrades whilst our troops are being killed in overseas operations.
    there needs to be a change we the people shouldnt fear government, government should fear the people. if they make errors in judgement that wastes public money or brings death to anyone they themselves should be brought to book and forced to face the weight of the law just as any one would who creates illegal acts are.
    will it ever be possible to have an honest trustworthy government that will do all it can for the greater good of the nation ? i can only hope so.

  • Comment number 98.

    #84 Sigh_Sigh

    I do wish that the lazy stereotyping of tories as rich toffs could stop - are you saying that there are no rich Labour or Lib Dem supporters?

    It only seems to be the left that is this blinkered - I can't remember seeing any posts spouting similar blinkered views of Labour supporters.

    Regarding your last point I agree although it may not be 10 years - eventually all governments run out of steam and become self indulgent. The 1997 Labour landslide was not as a result of tory economic mis-governing, more because the public were fed up with the backbiting, sleaze etc.

    The current government is guilty on all charges!

  • Comment number 99.

    #28 Muadib

    The gentlemen you mention (Aitken, Archer and Hamilton) all resigned in disgrace. If you are looking for parity I would be satisfied with Brown following their lead...

  • Comment number 100.

    #28 FYI I'm, niether a daily mail record or a tory. but can think for myself and analsys problem for myself. Something the current gov does not seem to be able to do


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.