David Cameron: Anything but the economy

David Cameron Events brought the PM back from holiday early twice

The prime minister sounded very comfortable on the Today programme this morning talking about Libya and the riots.

He even found a common theme to connect them - just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you shouldn't do something.

So it was right, he argued, to take military action in Libya which the Arab world was prepared to back - or, at least, tolerate. However, it could not be pursued in Syria where they were, so far at least, unwilling to even back sanctions.

So, Britain's most dysfunctional families would be given "tough love" even though bankers, politicians and, yes, former members of the Bullingdon Club had behaved irresponsibly.

What occurred to me as I listened to him is how relieved he must be to be able to be talking about these things - indeed any things - other than the economy at a time when the latest statistics are alarming, the international climate uncertain and the markets are volatile.

He will be relieved too that the economic debate over the next few days will be shaped not by questions about how the government can stimulate growth, but memories of the arguments the last government had over how to respond to the banking crisis, the need for spending cuts and tax rises.

The respected economics commentator Martin Woolf of the FT declares today that: "The UK is in the midst of what is set to be the longest - and among the most costly - of its depressions in over a century. The characteristic of this depression, compared with its predecessors, is the frightening weakness of the recovery phase".

In preparation for a BBC documentary series I'm currently making on the politics of tax and spend I read Alistair Darling's memoirs.

Sadly I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before doing so.

The leaks are a taster of richer fare to come.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    CHINA is both the problem and the Answer. You cannot have a Fixed exchange rate in a free market, it has sucked ALL the low skilled jobs from everywhere. Politicians of the WEST need to grow some round things and take this head on. This will bring some jobs back to the UK and other western countries and then leave CHINA with a very big problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Foreign adventures and petty scapegoating are indeed the default distraction technique for politicians of all ilks when they don't want the voters looking at the elephant.

    I can think of another politician who engaged in foreign adventures and petty scapegoating of sections of their society. That didn't end too well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Britain's most dysfunctional people work in our banks! Their mugging of the taxpayer and warmongering in Libya have done more damage than 100 riots could do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Very disappointing interview this morning and Cameron got off lightly with no talk about the economy which is the Holy Grail. If this is not fixed, Libya, dysfunctional families and the much maligned defence review will all be irrelevant. We need jobs,less red tape, the banks sorted out and targeted tax cuts to stimulate growth. Education is also high priority. All else is secondary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Apart from distraction from other matters, wars are ALWAYS about power and wealth even when valid altruistic reasons are present.
    Many internet blogs have for several years been calling our current economic phase a depression. It seems mainstream media are starting to be allowed to hint at it too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    that you and the Today programme advocates seek to propose and promote equivalence between student clubs and riots that resulted in death , arson and looting says more about you and the bankrupt nature of your own mind set.
    the characteristic of this recession is the fiscal deficit the UK was in before it started and remains in to this day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I think quit soon that he will have wished he had not won the election or formed a goverement with the Lib-dems and rather let "New Labour" finish of recking the economy then coming to power with the ability to do the right things to sort the mess out. It is going to take more than one parliament to sort this out possibly up to 3 parliaments and that a real problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    #3 home allowed that mugging to happen Blair/Brown et al just to get the tax in for there spend spend spend waste policy of buying speacail interest groups. police chief with Luxury Cars being one of the outcomes etc.
    So when the cuts come they are all "protesting" that front line services will be effected, They are ALL playing politices with thier budgets that the Blair/Brown legacy

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Re A. Darling's memoirs -- if thats is what politicians
    think of their collegues, I wonder what they think of us ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    9 I would think what most politicians think of us can be summed up as follows:


  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Why did Evan Davies not question the PM about the economy? Was it his choice or Mr Cameron's? The interview was not worth waking up for, apart from the linking of the anti-social antics of the PM's Bullingdon Club, which were merely "foolish" and the recent riots. I can't help thinking that the Club would have looted TVs themselves, if they had not had enough TVs already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Those that don't know are being presided over by those that haven't a clue.

    However we should be worried by those that have nothing to lose.

    The clueless are bolstering the numbers of those with nothing to lose.

    Beware he who has nothing to lose.

    But the clueless ones merely shovel wealth into their chums' pockets.
    Not just money, wealth too. Pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    re #1 Never being one to scrupulously stick to thread themes myself, I can hardly criticise! So I'll agree 100%.

    There is so much that is 'Broken in Britain' that its hard to know where to start. Creating a jobs creation climate must be essential foundation for anything else to change. I get the impression that Dave thinks just talking about tackling debt+deficit will do that.

    It will not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Cameron's common theme should have been - just because you can't just take all of Libya's oil, doesn't mean you shouldn't grab some of it. Maybe by the time, Britain grabs some of it, the home-front will have changed.
    Someone should tell Cameron you can't stimulate economic growth with crunch, & the only way to eliminate crunch is to split retail & commercial banking, restoring trust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    As for that meeting about Libya = wrangling in corridors as countries jostle for post-war contracts - infrastructure, utilities, & oil. There's going to be some arguments among those countries that have contributed most to slaughter & getting rid of Qaddafi. Also, number of countries, including most of the AU, have NOT recognized, & will not recognize the NTC as legitimate government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The characteristic of this depression, compared with predecessors, is the frightening weakness of the recovery phase. And what is the cause of that? Failure of growth, productivity. To get growth & productivity, you must eliminate the incestuous relationship between retail & commercial banking AND YOU HAVE TO ENSURE THE TAXATION SYSTEM IS CLOSED i.e. loopholes and offshore accts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Yep - we've had phone hacking, libya, looters ... absolutely anything to avoid discussing the collapse of the domestic economy

    We currently have rampant inflation, 20 shops a day closing, unemployment (of English folk) rising, GDP growth down etc etc etc

    Even their much vaunted manufacturing sector is now floundering.

    Well done snooty!

    Tories: taking labours mess and making it worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    #13 as others have pointed out it the elephant in the room again. This time the BBC are doing another bad job of interviewing our leaders, if they had pressed Blair/Brown harder we would no tbe in this mess. The Title had economy in it which CHINA has a considerable impact on. Reforming the Banks is only a side show compared to the CHINA CRISIS that needs sorting out,a Few ? from the BBC wld help

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Anyone who has read anything understands that what took place to allow the financial crisis was a collusion between banking, rating agencies and government.It was a criminal and ethical collapse of the system.Influence pedaling by the lobbyist, governmental failure to protect the interest of the people and banking greed.Not very complex and in any other sector would have brought criminal charges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    re #2
    Oooh! A bit rough?

    To be fair, Dave is good at 'talking the talk'; what a lot of people want is 'walking the walk'.

    Perhaps it will start with the Conference? We have to remain hopeful.


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