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Prime ministerial performance?

Nick Robinson | 12:44 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

We have just witnessed a prime ministerial address to the nation. Well, we would have done if David Cameron were actually prime minister. It was memorable not so much for the actions he proposed but the tone he struck.

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"We are all in this together, let's stick together and together we'll find a way through" he declared in a message targeted directly at people he described as "worried, confused and concerned". His pledge was not to repeat the political wrangling seen in America because "today was a day for safety, security and protection".

After a few days of failing to grasp how the national mood was changing, David Cameron sought to capture it. The consensus here (in what is, of course, a conference bubble) was that it was politically pitch-perfect. What, though, about the substance?

In reality, there is no chance of the extraordinary scenes in Congress being repeated here, whatever Mr Cameron said. Our system gives the prime minister much greater power to get his way than the president enjoys. There are, also, no elections here to frighten parliamentarians into vetoing proposed bail-outs.

The Treasury says that the Tory leader's specific proposals are either unnecessary or would have no impact on the immediate crisis:

• David Cameron promised to drop opposition to the Banking Bill which is being debated in the Commons next week. However, the chancellor believes that he already has all the powers to handle failing banks that he needs as the partial nationalisation of the Bradford & Bingley demonstrated. The Bill is a long-term replacement for emergency powers (granted to ministers after the run on Northern Rock) which run out in February.

• The Tory leader called on ministers to accelerate new legislation to protect savers' deposits beyond the £35,000 currently guaranteed, and to compensate savers in seven days, not months as now. The Treasury say that they support extending the guarantee but insist that the FSA already has the power to do so. It is considering the impact on the banks before doing so.

• Finally, the Conservatives are calling for a temporary suspension of what's called "marking to market" - a process whereby banks daily price their assets which, it's argued, is causing bank stocks to spiral downwards. This is an issue that Alistair Darling has discussed with other EU ministers because he believes it would help banks reconstruction. However, he believes that it would have "zero effect" on the current crisis if it were announced tomorrow.

The Conservatives have looked wrong-footed by this crisis - unsure whether to defend the financial markets or to criticise it, uncertain whether to condemn state intervention or to support it in the national interest, unclear whether this is a crisis of regulation or of Gordon Brown's making.

Opposition leaders know that, in times of crisis, they can offer only words and not actions. David Cameron used his words today with considerable skill.


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  • Comment number 1.

    So, the Tories are dropping their opposition to sensible law and getting chummy with folks because it gives them an illusion of authority and caring? Maybe, I'm just being cynical but they could've done that with corporate governance and fair wages and, maybe, we wouldn't be in this mess.

    The Tories and their CBI pals were up to their knecks in creating this crisis and I get no sense of accountability and self-sacrifice - no sense they as people fully get it. Will Mr Cameron apologise on behalf of his party and the CBI, or is this just more of the same chameleon like sociopathy?

    When I see more respect from bosses and shareholders not sucking the marrow out of Britain, I'll take them more seriously. Words aren't enough for me to trust the Tories again. They had their chance and blew it. Until they kill the rotten heart of Thatcherism inside themselves their talk of change is just rhetoric.

  • Comment number 2.

    "unclear whether this is a crisis of regulation or of Gordon Brown's making."

    Surely that's one and the same thing?

    If it's a crisis of regulation then it's of Gordon Brown's making because he's been in charge of regulation for the last 11 years.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes Charles you are cynical and obviously one of the clowns still supporting the incompetent Brown religously (either because you have always voted Labour or been brainwashed by the government spinning over the last 11 years), instead of listening to what is said by each political party impartially, or perhaps I am being a bit cynical !

  • Comment number 4.

    That's it Charles. Tell it like it is. Whenever the Maximum Leader comes up with his latest bit of lunacy all we get is reams of Fung Shui moonshine. But when the Tories recognise the dangers this incompetent government has got the UK economy into and offer to help or at least not rock the boat while this all gets sorted out then you're off blaming Margaret Thatcher. No pretentious gobbledy-gook when you've got something negative to say about the Tories. Crystal clear.

    Maybe Cameron should just do what Labour did after the ERM debacle. In fact are still doing. Just jeer from the sidelines at how incompetent they are. All the time. After all, if it's good enough for Labour...

    Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.

    Catch you later Ghost Dog.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it just me thats getting just a little tired of Nick Robinsons, oh so obvious, bias. Not too happy about Gordon but at least he gets a grilling. This bunch of shysters only ever get fawned over by Nick the Quick. That wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so bad.

    I met our shadow chancellor not long ago and was impressed by his ability to look like a recently redundant estate agent - not someone I would trust with my own business let alone the economy.

    If your going to fawn nick - fawn over them all. If your going to put the boot in -do it equally. This week is starting to look like the Political equivalent of hello magazine.

  • Comment number 6.

    I haven't watched Cameron's speech yet, but Nick is quite right about the way the Cons have given the impression of being well off the pace in recent days. Brown and Darling have been seen to act decisively to deal with problems as they have come up, and have so done a lot to dispel the 'dithering' charge that never had a lot of substance in it anyway. By contrast, the Cons have been rushing out statements of 'new' policy that to a large extent seem simply to duplicate what the government is already doing, or has already done, and in some cases to reverse positions previously taken (eg in respect of the nationalisation of the bank which cannot be named on here - my thanks again to Grawth and Brownedov for pointing that out).

    If Nick's summary is accurate, it seems that Cameron has realised what has been happening.

  • Comment number 7.

    Is this the moment Nick's head is turned to the younger, more attractive (political) model?

    How soon before the relationship with Gordon begins to unravel.

    No honestly Gordon, it's not you, it's me.

  • Comment number 8.

    1 Chuck

    Wow.. youve come out then.

    Its nearly all over.


    To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.

  • Comment number 9.

    The vision of Gordon Brown in his bunker with his calculator trying to work out which Paul he can rob to pay which Peter would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious.
    The appearance of the great treasury spin doctor or should we say 'novice' herself on TV this morning saying a lot which as always meant nothing would also be amusing at any other time.
    At least David Cameron has captured the mood that Tories are much better at sorting out the mess than anyone.
    But is Gordon listening or is he still trying to play politics with an ever worsening situation.
    Or has he fortified the bunker so no one can get in or near him
    Will it take a state of emergency to get him out.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cameron offers a new approach.

    Brown scoffs that this is no time for a novice, and simply offers more of the same.

    The need for change has never been more urgent.

  • Comment number 11.

    Is it what Cameron says now, as you identified on Panorama last night, or what he says in office that counts?

    What was not covered last night, and I do think his heart is in the right place, is who is there to over-ride his leadership and his intent?

    As a for instance apparently it was the palace that got Cameron his seat.

    The palace probably don't want to see Scotland become independent even if the monarchy is left "in place".

    Cameron was apparently holding "secret" talks with the SNP a few months back.

    There is nothing wrong with that although I would stress if he started doing deals then do the English and Welsh get twitchy and then the Union falls apart anyway.

    Who does he owe favours to and how solid are the ranks?

  • Comment number 12.

    The only real answer at this time is a governmnet of national unity. It should have been Gordon Brown who addressed the nation. It is an absolute disgrace that he has yet again gone into hiding.

    He should have announced when he came back from his visit to America that the situation was very grave. It is now dire.

    Gordon should announce his reshuffle before parliament resumes on monday. The cabinet is in total disarray and Darling must go. Gordon Brown is not prime minister he is chancellor and should return to that role.

    At the end of the day we are still fighting at least two wars , neither which we can afford. We must withdraw from Iraq, and announce a timescale for Afghanistan, America will soon be bakrupt and the lkast thing people want when they are being thrown on the streets is for money to be on unwinnable wars. We are just so bankrupt.

  • Comment number 13.

    #1 Charles

    Paragraphs two and three of your post. Replace "Tories" with "New Labour" and "Cameron" with "Blair", then read it again. Leave Thatcherism in there for both.

    I think you are being a little naive if you hold on to the belief that one of these major policital parties is different from the other when it comes to courting the affections of the City and big business.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think it is somewhat unfair to say that David Cameron promised to drop opposition to the Banking Bill.

    As he said in his speech, there was only one issue between Labour and the Convervatives on the bill, namely whether the Bank of England or Financial Services Authority should "pull the trigger" on a failing bank.

    David Cameron said that, given the urgency of the position, the Conservatives would fall into line with Labour on that one point.

    So Charles E Hardwidge is completely wrong to say that "the Tories are dropping their opposition to sensible law".

    I also fail to understand how he can blame the Tories and the CBI for the present crisis. In case he hasn't noticed, the Tories have not been in government since 1997. If and to the extent that government is to blame, it is Gordon Brown's fault. Nor is the CBI sensibly identified with the failed banks.

    Nick Robinson is right about Cameron's tone: it was most impressive and showed him to have the gravitas needed in a prime minister.

    The present problems are mainly the result of events in the USA.

    The particular banks have failed because they borrowed money for short periods to lend to others for long periods and now find that they are unable to re-borrow at viable rates. That is primarily the fault of the management of those banks.

    The government - and Gordon Brown in particular - is responsible to the extent that they encouraged the view that there would never be another economic downturn (abolishing "boom and bust") and borrowed heavily themselves in the good times so that they are left strapped for cash and with little to offer now that things have turned sour.

    But, as David Cameron rightly said, the issue today is to sort out the problem, not to launch an inquiry into who is to blame.

  • Comment number 15.

    So he goes on the stage at a conference with national coverage and he is not making a political statement. This guy is dangerous, and did you catch George's weird speech yesterday and those mistimed pauses for....(slightly worried they're not going to clap)...applause.

    Of course they like the City, why don't they just say it? Maggie never hedged (get it?) her bets and just said it as it was. Didn't lke her, but couldn't help but respect her. This lot are just too, too canny by half. Did you know Cameron's Mum jailed Swampy?

  • Comment number 16.

    charles Hardwidge has got it spot on. This is high capitalism in crisis. and the Tories and their cronies are responsible for imposing this greed culture on us(We won't Thatcher's loadsamoney in a hurry!) on us. now they are trying to ship the blame onto Brown. For sure he has been at the helm for the last years, and yes, he should have done more to rein in the financial crooks. But that doesn't detract from the real issues facing the Western World...untethered Capitalism is failing. The one silver lining may be a more equitable, caring and sharing society for us all. ..and hopefully the final nail in the coffin for Thatcher's legacy. Perfect timing fot the Tory party conference one feels...despite the false smiles, you can sense them squirming.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dont we just know it that our Prime Minister has more power.
    We have been paying for that over many years and I would not mind betting that Gordon Brown would love this crisis to continue for some time and why. Votes.
    Bet you did'nt think about that one Nick, did you?

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    What is important is - should the financial market (meaning us) plumb the depth quickly so we can think of growth sooner or have slow torture with the proposed US $700bn bail out going through in some form. Tories and the Labour both do not have a clue. Cameron is a jolly faced guy but with out any susbstance. Tories/Cameron look attractive by default. They should give credit where it is due and hail Gordon Brown as the saviour of Tories.

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't quite get this "he doesn't care he is a toffy Tory" nonsense, followed by a trip down Memory Lane to 1997.

    It was 11 years ago, get over it. Judge them on their merits. Labour are where they are due to harping back to the past and people being fed up of 1997 being their "get out of jail free" card whenever an awkward question is asked.

    Cameron is not a Thatcherite. Thatcherism served its purpose, did what it had to do, destroyed many and improved a lot.

    However, she is no reason to not see Cameron as Cameron: 'Tory' and 'Labour' are just names now. New Labour came into being because Labour had to become more Tory - Cameron came about because Conservatism had to become more New Labour.

    Judge each person on their merits. It was a good speech, did little for me, I wouldn't vote for either as they are both useless and if Vince Cable were leader of the Lib Dems he would be PM - he isn't, so the Monster Raving Loony Party get my vote!!

    But hatred of Cameron for what happened in 1997 (#1) is just a bit mad. He is only a Tory because blue is his favourite colour!

    Plus, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were in opposition in 1997 - can't remember any marvels coming out of their mouth at the time.

    When GB retires (or gets booted) he will get a red Ferrari and it will prove my point! Just names, just colours.

  • Comment number 21.


    I know its hard to believe but not everybody who doesn`t share your point of view is either a clown or has been brainwashed, a typical negative Tory attack , why don`t you start trying to sell your policies, oh sorry I forgot you have none

  • Comment number 22.

    Excellent speech.

    No big, headline grabbing, short term polices, just clear, concise words on how we can start to dig ourselves out of this mess.

    Now, if Brown can meet Cameron half way, policies can be formed and implemented quickly and efficiently.

  • Comment number 23.

    No honestly Gordon, it's not you, it's me.

    He'd have no trouble believing that. It's your fault. It's the yanks fault. It's the banks fault. It's Greenspans fault. It's all those irresponsible people's fault.

    Too right it's not Gordon. He's only responsible for the good stuff.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.


    Mr U - you obviously have a problem with the British constitution.

    The Labour Party hold a majority of the seats in the House of Commons at Parliament, as the result of the 2005 General Election.

    By convention, the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons is Prime Minister (though our elected representatives are perfectly entitled to either hold a vote of no confidence in him or choose someone else entirely if they wished).

    The Leader of the majority party is Gordon Brown (or our "maximum leader"). He is our democratically elected Prime Minister.

    If you don't like it, try and hold a coup (maybe you could get Mark Thatcher to fund it for you?).

    Yes - that sounds a lot more democratic!

  • Comment number 26.


    and when will Gordon Brown apolofise for ramping up the national debt and presiding over and creating a reglatory system that allowed consumer credit to get completely out of control.

    You've had your eleven years in charge and behaved like an adict at a party; careering around from one person to the next begging for another fix. You showed an immature lack of self control when at the tiller.

    With power comes responsibility and newlabour behaved irresponsibly from the moment they stepped into 10 Downing Street and accepted a cheque form Bernie Ecclestone.

    Bedazzled with power and influence and money they showed no sure touch but instead a wanton greed for more.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 27.

    Removing mark to market accounting will achieve exactly the opposite of what David Cameron thinks.

    We are very fortunate that we have survived so long without a major banking crash. The heart of the matter is this: the high gearing of banks means that shareholders, when protected by limited liability, have a positive incentive to ask those running their banks to look for high risk. The shareholders know that in the event of failure they can walk away, so it is in their interest to look for high risk outcomes which maximise their payoff. To put it simply: if a bank owns 100m and owes the same amount, the net assets belonging to the shareholder are zero so it is worth their while to encourage those managing the banks on their behalf to go for broke.

    We have limited options for avoiding this agency problem: remove limited liability and reenact mutualisation, insist on much higher equity participation to remove the risk incentives attaching to high gearing, or three selectively penalise high risk taking through taxes or by other means. Regulation that does not focus on this, or hides it by removing mark to market accounting will fail and we will go through the same sorry mess again and again.

  • Comment number 28.

    The youngs guns shoot themselfs twice
    Osborne on tax cuts
    Cameron on a complete change

    Does anyone trust these tories?

  • Comment number 29.

    Did you know Cameron's Mum jailed Swampy?

    She did? Fantastic. Is his mum standing for parliament?

  • Comment number 30.

    #6 jimbrant

    B&B can be named, but you have to type B&B in the Your Comment box.

    For once, I tend to agree with you that the BluLab Tories aren't making the most of their conference opportunity, but I can't see that "Duff" Gordon or his poodles are doing much sensible about it either.

    The Irish and Benelux governments seem to be doing the necessary while our lot just dither. Pity we didn't join the Euro at the outset.

  • Comment number 31.

    spot on No.5. Robinson really should do better to mask his pro-Tory stance, given that his past involvement with the Conservatives is so well documented. A quick Google will reveal that:

    "At Oxford he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

    In 1986, he spent a year as national chairman of the Young Conservatives; he does not state this in his own blog biography."

  • Comment number 32.


    If Brown and Darling want to dispel the 'dithering' charge which wa perfectly reasonable after the bank failure then they need to act tough not talk tough.

    Words at a conference are meaningless without action.

    Buying computers willnot sort out the gravest banking crisis in a century; part of which is sefl inflicted form the lax regulatory system.

    Get real, jimbrandt and act don't talk. but, of course, that's against your nature.

  • Comment number 33.

    15 brownforever
    16 byronbj

    one posting directly after another from seemingly different people, both referring to thatcher; are you Derek Draper in disguise starting on your bbc blog attack?

    What relevant does Thatcher have? What have your beloved party been doing the last 11 years?

  • Comment number 34.

    Cameron proved to me today that he is not the material for a good leader.

    He also accused America of political wrangle. It was not, it was democracy and at least the ELECTED representatives got a say in the decision making process unlike Britain and its dictatorial Prime Minster who is Judge and Jury
    My business is suffering due to the contruction melt down but that is no excuse to allow the bully boys to ride rough shod over the whole country.
    Another bail out will dissapear into the Wall Street black hole and prolong the agony, lets get it over with and start moving forward on a proper financial basis.

  • Comment number 35.


    "The Tories and their CBI pals were up to their knecks in creating this crisis and I get no sense of accountability and self-sacrifice - no sense they as people fully get it. Will Mr Cameron apologise on behalf of his party and the CBI, or is this just more of the same chameleon like sociopathy?"

    I see. So just to get this straight... Are you saying that the Conservative party caused the credit crunch? Taxed us to the edge of existence, over regulated everywhere but made a farce of the banking regulations, burdened the taxpayer with trillions of debt and left us today with a UK plc account balance of -11 billion. Really Charles? Really? 11 year in opposition and it's still there fault? Oh but of course I hear you cry it's all that Thatcher’s fault.

    Please Charles, if you aren't going to argue sensibly then don't bother at all.

    Oh and just for the record. The financial industry has bought untold wealth into this country in taxes and business creation, jobs etc - which was great when the going was good. Everybody helped themselves to some of it even you Charles. However now it's all gone pear shaped it's "those CBI" people

    Strangely I've been around here long enough to remember when you used to cry impartiality and Zen.

  • Comment number 36.

    The address was just spin. DC is almost devoid of substance. How can the king of punch and judy politics suddenly transform himself into someone who will rise above the machinations of petty party politics.
    The change has been bought on by recent polls showing people have more faith in the economic competence of Brown and Darling.
    The only purpose of the intervention was a 2 minute slot on the lunchtime news.
    Terrific media management that is all.

  • Comment number 37.

    #13 E_Murdstone

    Absolutely spot on, but then #1 isn't far off the truth - a 1st for CEH?

    Maybe a majority in England still have some faith in NuLab or BluLab Toryism, but another dose of it will probably break the union, as many English nats on the NR threads seem to want.

  • Comment number 38.


    For me it's not so much the "Toffy Tory" argument. It's more he does not understand what life is like for most people.

    Last night he said that for most people social class is irrelevant. That's ridiculous. Is he telling me that someone who grows up on an inner-city estate to parents in minimum wage, irregular employment has the same life chances as someone whose father is a barrister and sends him to Eton. Class still matters. The political class tries to pretend it doesn't, that is all. All research disproves this assertion - a clever child from a poor background is rapidly overtaken in the education system by their dim middle-class peers, and these advantages are exacerbated by their parent's better social networks. There is a large poverty penalty to people's chances of getting on.

    He also portrayed the proposed Inheritance Tax reforms as helping the majority of people, when he knows full well that they only benefit people with assets exceeding £1.2 million. Die with £1 million worth of assets - gain from policy = £0. Die with £2 million+ worth of assets - gain from policy = £800,000. He's playing on people's misunderstanding of the inheritance tax system to benefit the wealthy. Very dishonest.

    These are just two examples.

  • Comment number 39.

    Cameron is a Scottish name so how come the party of England likes him so much?

  • Comment number 40.

    #15 brownforever

    Hello, newbie. Are you a Derek Draper clone?

  • Comment number 41.

    Interesting speech on the day that Thatcher was voted the best ever Tory by the people that stabbed her in the back, booted her out and stamped her out like a beetle. Are they still the stupid party?

  • Comment number 42.

    It is interesting that the single most important thing which government could do, Labour don't want to do, and the Conservatives do. Changing the requirement to mark-to-market for illiquid assets would have nipped this crisis in the bud if it was implemented at any point over the last year. Doing it now would allow a recovery finally.

  • Comment number 43.

    Whether you approve of Cameron or not, whether you take his speech at face value or as an attempt to gain some political advantage, you must see that the substance of the speech is correct.

    The two parties need to sit down together and knock together a bunch of policies which will get through Parliament fast and start to make a real difference immediately.

    It is all well and good us on here moaning about Tory this and Labour that, but ultimately, until the parties can find some agreement and get down to the business of saving our economy, things can only get worse!

  • Comment number 44.

    Hello Oldie Brownedov, just watching the Tory stuff makes me sing "Are you CBeebies in Disguise"....

  • Comment number 45.

    Well done Cameron and Osbourne yesterday.

    Churchillian. Give people the truth.

    Yes we are broke, in more ways than one.

    Yes the government must act at once, and all of the parties must be seen to be acting TOGETHER to get EVERYONE onside.

    Yes, the next couple of years are going to be difficult.

    Most of us know that this is true, we neeed someone in politics to confirm it. Cameron and Osbourne has passed this test with flying colours.

    I look forward to Cameron's speech tomorrow with confidence in GREAT Britain after the next election.

  • Comment number 46.

    The speach is a triumph of posturing and presentation which disguises a distinct lack of substance.

    Cameron appears to be advocating free market enterprise whilst at the same time approving of bank nationalisations.

    He can't have it both ways. Is he sliding into socialism by the back door too?

    I suspect he's waiting desparately for the Washington bail out to take form .

    Nice style, very presidential but lightweight - what the Tories used to call a Wet !

  • Comment number 47.


    Whilst what you say is absolutely true. It doesn't change the fact that all the parties work that way.

    Don't for a minute think that Brown's speech wasn't just as devoid of substance and cliches

    As was Tony's

    The million pound question is can David and Co step up to the plate and deliver when called upon. We can all see that Blair struggled but I believe he truly tried. Brown has so far failed spectacularly and I suspect Cameron will do alright given a chance.

  • Comment number 48.

    Am I right in saying that a number of you would have liked Gordon Brown to have addressed the Tory Conference with an invitation to discuss the economy with him? That doesn't sound likely to me.

    The truth is, Cameron's speech identified that we don't want to act like the Americans; I think that's a given, on any front. Cameron also suggested that he is in support of what the Government are doing, and to say that this isn't about Party Politics. Perhaps he should have kept George Osbourne on his leash over the past few days/weeks.

    It wasn't a speech that convinced me that he has got a clue what to do, he didn't look quite as baffled as George Bush, but he did look like a man with no where to go.

    You may not like Gordon Brown, but if David Cameron wants to support our chirpy Scottish PM, perhaps one or two of you could find it in your hearts to offer an olive branch, or a few billion quid if you have it.

  • Comment number 49.



    Shades of the Queen having to be dragged out to give her 'Diana' statement live from Buckingham Palace...

    Wonder if the Currant Bun will have a 'The country needs to hear from you !' headline tomorrow ?

    On second thoughts, maybe not...

  • Comment number 50.

    #16 & (identical) #18 byronbj

    Hello, another newbie. Are you a further reincarnation of Draper or did the BluLab wing of your party touch a nerve somewhere?

  • Comment number 51.


    I'm not going to go over the whole 'ramping debt up' argument.

    One indisputable fact - we pay exactly the same IN CASH TERMS (£30 billion) to service our national debt as we did in 1996/97. In real terms that is some 31% lower, allowing for inflation 1997-2007.

    Another indisputable fact - Debt as a proportion of GDP is lower than it was in 1996/97, even allowing for PFI-debt as analysed by the IFS to work out which bits of it are actually debt and represent obligations that a future Government cannot escape from if it chose to. This excludes Northern Rock-related debt, but again the independent experts tell us this should result in extremely small losses to the taxpayer.

    I'm afraid you are left in the slightly ridiculous position of claiming inflation and affordability do not matter in considering whether the size of our debt is affordable or not. Simple examples on other posts show why this is the case.

    A different argument is whether the Government should have been reducing debt between 1997-2008.

    This Government decided (and was backed at 3 successive elections to do this) to not reduce the debt, but instead invest in public services. The alternative view (the one that lost 3 successive elections) was to not invest in public services and reduce the debt instead.

    I think the wheel has turned now and people want to reduce investment in public services, but to claim that the Government is irresponsible for doing what it was elected to do 1997-2008 is wrong. They never promised to reduce debt.

  • Comment number 52.

    Slippery spin or solid substance?; I think the latter.

    Three simple proposals, of which at least two can be achieved in less than a week.

    Maybe this will prompt Gordon to come out and bat for Britain rather than manoeuvre for his own place in the next test series.

    I do hope so, because 'things can only get worse' unlike the famous 1997 promise.

  • Comment number 53.

    Cameron has got this spot on.

    The only thing that is shocking, is that the Prime Minister himself has not come out and given an 'emergency statement' of a similar nature before.

    The PM seems happy in his bunker, popping out every now and then - to deliver statements in response to his critics - Brown has now taken to following the spin doctors branding and on emerging from the bunker he informs us that he has just been 'decisive' about something.

    Well done Cameron. That is the sort of steady hand, confidence building speech that the public have been needing to hear from a leader.

  • Comment number 54.

    You may not like Gordon Brown, but if David Cameron wants to support our chirpy Scottish PM, perhaps one or two of you could find it in your hearts to offer an olive branch, or a few billion quid if you have it.


    Lets get this quite clear. Cameron is not supporting Brown. He is saying we need to get legislation in place quickly.

    He agrees with the broad idea of some of the legislation but, on the details, he, and the Conservatives, have a few issues.

    He, unlike Brown, sees the need to get this through and in place now. The details where the parties disagree can be fought over later.

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm feeling mischievous. Is it time for GB to "open the the tent" and ask Cable and Clegg to join the Cabinet?
    Government of National Unity and all that?
    Cable for Chancellor and Clegg for the Home Office. Darling for Foreign Secretary and Milliband for the sack!
    Just trying to lighten the mood a bit. These are worrying times.

  • Comment number 56.

    The Conservatives have looked wrong-footed by this crisis - unsure whether to defend the financial markets or to criticise it, uncertain whether to condemn state intervention or to support it in the national interest, unclear whether this is a crisis of regulation or of Gordon Brown's making.

    Mmmmhhh! Singing a different tune now are we?

    Nick, for the first time in these last two years, may I draw your attention to the fact that Cameron is now saying the following:-


    One wonders why all of a sudden this change in attitude AFTER MEETING GORDON BROWN!

    Or has Cameron finally realised that sound-bites on their own do not solve National crises, let alone GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISES!

    Come tomorrow, will I listen to what Cameron has to say? Naaa, I’ll wait to see what Nick has to say first.

  • Comment number 57.

    The whole blogsphere is being infected by draper clones. You can spot them a mile off.
    Its quite amusing to see them blame the Conservatives for something that happened on Brown's watch. He had 11 yrs to so something about it but just fueled a debt ridden bubble that has spectacularly burst. There's only one persons fingerprints over this mess.. Gordon Brown's.

  • Comment number 58.

    #25 balhamu
    "Mr U - you obviously have a problem with the British constitution."

    So did NuLab according to Bliar & Brown (The B&B of British politics?) before '97 but when they got power they strangely forgot their pre-election promises.

    But it's the public that's daft for having believed them in 2001 & 2005.

  • Comment number 59.

    Gosh a lot of new name popping up supporing brown - theres a surprise...



    I remember reading a comment in an earlier blog entry.

    They asked why you hadn't reported any Tory comments on the Labour conference - then asked if you would be reporting labour comments on the Tory conference.

    True to form - you don't let the tories comment on labour; but here you quote labour comments on the tories.

    I am glad the bias is so obvious, so noone can be taken in by it.

  • Comment number 60.

    #27 CaptainBob1

    Hello, yet another NuLab newbie.

    Did Cameron really touch a nerve (still can't get his speech to play) or is Draper a really busy bunny today?

  • Comment number 61.

    nr1bacc: Of course Nick Robinson is fawning come Tory Party conference time. He is, after all, ex-chairman of the Young Conservatives so we can hardly expect a balanced view!

  • Comment number 62.

    #31 MaverickMcP

    Hello, NuLab newbie.

    Didn't you read yesterday's rants about NR's NuLab bias or were you just too busy creating IDs, Mr Draper?

  • Comment number 63.

    A big welcome to the new people posting from Derek Drapers New Labour 'blog rebuttal unit'.

    There only used to be 5 Labour bloggers on here until a couple of days ago- where has the budget come for the new ones?

    Anyhow Mr Draper - where is old 'bunker boy'? Does he not feel the need to speak to the public and lead from the front during this economic crisis?

    Is Brown busy being 'decisive' about which finger to chew and still practising the smiley persona so that we forget the image of him eating bogeys behind Blair at PM questions?

  • Comment number 64.

    If blaming Margaret Thatcher for all our economic woes is now your only defence of a beleaguered Gordon Brown then you must be getting really desperate. How's about addressing the real import of this thread? I assume you thought DC was lying through his back teeth and delivered a poor speech. I prefer to follow Nick Robinson's take on it!

  • Comment number 65.

    #39 brownforever
    "Cameron is a Scottish name so how come the party of England likes him so much?"

    Yes, and "Duff" Gordon is a Scot, but how come the people of Scotland dislike him so much?

  • Comment number 66.


    You are right, as I have said. A referendum on PR was promised, and we have not had it.

    Doesn't change the fact (and PR wouldn't change the fact) that like-it-or-not Gordon Brown is our democratically elected Prime Minister, until the point he chooses to call an election (before May 2010), the Labour party chooses to oust him or Parliament passes a vote of no confidence.

    Or until Mr U sorts himself out and gets his tanks rolling through the gates of No 10 Downing Street.

  • Comment number 67.


    Every Brown supporter in the country must be on here today. Plus a few newly created names.

    I smell the whiff of desperation.

  • Comment number 68.

    #44 brownforever
    "just watching the Tory stuff makes me sing "Are you CBeebies in Disguise""

    Probably best to ask a grown-up to change the channel for you, then.

  • Comment number 69.

    What a waste of effort from the Tories, the Government do not need their help to deal with this they are doing it. As for the tone of the speech just sheer posture as the Tories and their Hedge Fund Banker pals were up to their necks in creating this mess, there is not a shred of responsibility or accountability.
    This speech was just more spin. Cameron has little or no substance. How can the Joker of the House of Commons suddenly change himself into someone who has gravitas and can rise above the hubris of petty party politics.
    The apparent change has more to do with the recent polls showing people have more faith in the economic competence of Brown and Darling.

  • Comment number 70.

    pete hollywrote:
    "I'm feeling mischievous. Is it time for GB to "open the the tent" and ask Cable and Clegg to join the Cabinet?
    Government of National Unity and all that?
    Cable for Chancellor and Clegg for the Home Office. Darling for Foreign Secretary and Milliband for the sack!
    Just trying to lighten the mood a bit. These are worrying times".

    Funny you should say that. I was just thinking the other day that it could be a very wise move indeed for David Cameron to give Vince Cable a seat in his Cabinet. Whenever I have heard him on Question Time or elsewhere he has in my opinion given a very logical, well reasoned observation or response in his approach to serious issues. He would make a formidable member of his team.

  • Comment number 71.

    Anyhow Mr Draper - where is old 'bunker boy'? Does he not feel the need to speak to the public and lead from the front during this economic crisis?

    Gordon Brown has taken my advice. Given that Gordon's actions have left the UK uniquely naked in the path of the approaching financial ice-storm it's probably, on balance, better if Gordon Brown doesn't do anything.

    He'll only make it worse.

    Gordon. Don't just do something. Stand there.

    Like I said, he looks to have taken my advice on board. Probably better if Osbourne and Vince Cable have a chat and then 'feed' Darling the right thing to do. Because for sure Brown and Darling and the rest of the crazy gang at Labour HQ haven't a clue.

    They're still blaming the yanks for all. This. If it wasn't for the yanks we'd all still be happily borrowing more and more and driving up the price of houses to even more stratospheric levels. Damned yanks eh?

  • Comment number 72.


    I used to lurk here rather than post. I suspect the same is true of others. Just because people do not share your view, does not make them a party stooge.

    I don't know how many CCHQ posters there are, or how many there are from Millbank. I suspect more of the former - the Conservatives do appear to be far more technologically savvy than the Labour Party (and have far more money to pay people to spend their day on here posting pro-Tory anti-Brown propoganda).

  • Comment number 73.

    Nick - I feel that your biases are starting to show through more than ever. Your narrative was overtly critical and questioning throughout the Labour conference but this week it is starting to sound fawning towards Cameron, Osbourne et al.

    Whilst I have my own political position, I don't have the job of making objective and critical assessment and imparting that to the public at large. However you do.

    It is very clear that you 'like' David Cameron and George Osbourne from what you write and how you write it. This is above and beyond how you treat the government and particularly the PM and his ministers.

    Although it is true that you are entitled to be critical of the party in power and that this is your role at the BBC nevertheless I believe that your present position is partisan and needs questioning.

  • Comment number 74.

    Still waiting for Brown to make any statement which actually looks as though he has an idea how to sort out this (arguably his) mess.

    In New York he states words to the effect he supports the bailout "whatever it is" and now back home he will "do whatever it takes" to keep the economy going. What does this mean???? We need actio not useless statements which mean nothing.

    Yet it is still the Tories being blamed for 11+ years of NuLab's debt ridden bubble.

    Where is Brown's plan? With the UK just about bankrupt he simply doesn't have one.

    We need NuLab and Borwn to stay in until 2010 so that the country never forget what they have done to us.

  • Comment number 75.

    #1 'bout time you changed your mantra man, before you bore the pants off your mat.

  • Comment number 76.

    #48 Burnserelli

    Hello, newbie. Can't say I've ever heard "Duff" Gordon called chirpy before - quite the opposite in fact.

    Does the word have a special meaning in your bailliwick or are you from another planet?

  • Comment number 77.

    You are right, as I have said. A referendum on PR was promised, and we have not had it.

    Pah. Just another one for the list. We were promised prudent borrowing but we didn't get it. We were promised no more boom and bust. We were promised no housing bubble. We were promised a referendum on the Lisbon Constitution. We were promised a 10p lower tax rate. Actually we got that. For a while. I think we were promised Tony Blair would serve a full term.

    I think we were also promised a referendum on entry to the Euro. A policy Labour would campaign in favour of 'when the time was right'.

    To be honest we're long on promises and short on delivery with this government.

    We have however enjoyed the mother of all borrowing binges and now it looks like the wheels have come off. But don't worry. It's all the yanks fault.

  • Comment number 78.

    balhamu wrote:
    "to claim that the Government is irresponsible for doing what it was elected to do 1997-2008 is wrong. They never promised to reduce debt."

    This statement is probably very true as it stands but since that time The General Public have not enjoyed access to the books and they had no idea of what might be in the pipeline as far as credit problems were concerned. In hindsight they might not have been so ready to give Gordon Brown carte blanche to mortgage us all up to the hilt and beyond it. We are now reaping the reward for financial imprudence.

  • Comment number 79.

    Annoyingly, every time I try and follow a link for Conservative policy (or recommendations of their policy groups) they are dead. I was trying to find out what the Conservatives think about PR/constitutional change (i.e. Ken Clarke's Policy Group "Trust in Politics") published in January 2008.

    Is this indicative of flip-flopping (and deleting of documents that might show how they have changed their mind) or has there just been a radical restructure of their web-pages and the document still exists.

    Maybe its similar to their 1984-style deleting of Boris's appearance at the 1st day of the Conference on their official summary e-mail?

  • Comment number 80.

    #52 mediamute

    Hello, newbie.

    Not sure I follow the batting metaphor but at least you don't seem to be a NuLab robot.

    Are you part 1 of the BluLab response to Draper?

  • Comment number 81.

    "After a few days failing to grasp the mood"?

    Evidence for this bizarre claim???

    "The Conservatives have looked wrong-footed by this crisis"

    Really?? What a strange thing to say, again - evidence??

    This speech is clearly softening us up for some really major announcement. Kudos to Cameron for co-operating with this fag-end government whose fault it is that we are in this mess. He could easily have spent half an hour pointing out exactly where Brown has gone wrong.

    Yet again Cameron looking far more effective than Brown, who is a laughing stock now frankly. "Blah blah stability blah blah well placed" Utter tosh.

  • Comment number 82.

    Two fish in a tank,

    one turns to the other and says

    How do you drive this thing?

    One of my favourite jokes of old and perfectly sums up the efforts of the Labour party.

    The two fish are, of course, Brown and Darling. They been driving this economy between them now for the last 11 years and are only now realising that they have no idea how to 'drive this thing'.

    For the last 11 years, the road has been smooth and simply. Life has been good and Labour have been care free.

    Suddenly we find ourselves in serious strife and, with no money in the kitty, Labour are dithering between ideas and look dazed and confused

  • Comment number 83.

    Remember 1998 and Notta-Novice-Brown - telling us this:

    "At the root of these problems was a destabilising lack of transparency in economic policy-making right across key economic and financial indicators which in turn led to confusion and undermined market confidence."

    "This was compounded by weak financial supervision, poor corporate governance, and ineffective prudential regulation, which has led some to raise questions about the speed and desirability of capital liberalisation."

    "Borrowing was in many cases used to finance investment in economically unsound projects and governance in the corporate and financial sectors was often weak.

  • Comment number 84.

    I found Nicks report quite critical. Basically saying there was little substance or relevance in Cameron's speech.
    Isn't it amazing how some folk can find bias everywhere. What sad cynical lives they must lead.

  • Comment number 85.

    I belly laughed my way through #24. Especially the part that said "Gordon Brown is our democratically elected prime minister".


    He is the leader of the democratically elected party that the majority of the country did not vote for but who still get a chance to govern.

    Do I have a problem with the British constitution?

    Everybody should have a problem with the British constitution.

  • Comment number 86.

    73 wrote:
    "It is very clear that you 'like' David Cameron and George Osbourne from what you write and how you write it. This is above and beyond how you treat the government and particularly the PM and his ministers."

    This is not rocket science. Gordon Brown and many of his team have traits which are are dislikeable to many of us not just Nick Robinson. Arrogance, bending of the truth, refusal to accept blame, condescension, blaming the tools and not the workman and passing the buck are just a few of the characteristics many people find most distasteful.

  • Comment number 87.

    Come on Nick, this piece is explicitly biased !!

    I can understand that as a citizen you have your own political beliefs and I respect that, but when you report DO make an effort to present some kind of a balanced view.

    I mean, am I the only one who sees "Dave" jumping on the 'I'm serious because there are things to be serious about' bandwagon that Brown put forward last week?? Before that it was the 'Tony the communicator' one! The man forms party policy based on what is working (or not) for Labour. Is this good enough to vote them in government? That is the central question.

  • Comment number 88.


    When's your coup happening?

  • Comment number 89.

    balhamu wrote:
    "to claim that the Government is irresponsible for doing what it was elected to do 1997-2008 is wrong. They never promised to reduce debt."


    But they did promise to:

    "We will ensure that - over the economic cycle - public debt as a proportion of national income is at a stable and prudent level."

    Not so stable and not so prudent now...

  • Comment number 90.

    First reply was to Nick's article, but cannot, having read the comments,. let hem go uinchallenged.

    To all those in the bunker still somehow, incomprehensibly, supporting Brown:

    Brown is largely to blame for the mess we are in.

    He said in his 1997 budget speech "I will not let house prices get out of control".

    0/10 Gordon. We have seen an unprecedented bubble of debt which he did nothing to stop. He has overspent year after year, he has ruined private sector pensions, shifted so much stuff off balance sheet with odgy PFI and 800bn of public sector pension liabilities (but they can still retire at 60!!!) that we have debt of 90% of GDP. He has taxed us enormously yet he has managed to come to the end of a very long period of growth with precisely nothing to show for it. We have one of the most complicated and inefficient tax systems in the world, and more credit card debt than the rest of Europe combined. On his watch banks have gone collectively mad, lending far too much money to people with little hope of paying it back, fuelling the biggest bubble since the South Sea.

    He has been an unmitigated disaster, and we are in it up to our necks thanks to him.

    I have some doubts about Cameron, but none about Brown. He is truly awful he must go - and please God let it be soon. How anyone can still think he is any use to anyone is beyond me.

  • Comment number 91.

    83. jonathan_cook


    Now thats cracking research.

    Nice work.

  • Comment number 92.

    This speech is clearly softening us up for some really major announcement. Kudos to Cameron for co-operating with this fag-end government

    Could be. Government of national unity. Or an attempt to tie in all the partys to some doomed-to-fail madcap scheme of Gordon's devising so that when it inevitably goes toes-up like his economy the Labour drones can give it 'The Tory's supported it too'.

    You'd think the Iraq war briefing of IDS by Tony Blair which convinced IDS to go along with George and Tony's war would show you the thanks you can expect for co-operating with this Labour government.

    But no doubt Cameron et al will take Labour's plea at face value. No doubt too their support for whatever massive tax hikes, massive budget deficits, Martial law, devaluation, confiscation of assets, nationalising of HBoS/RBS/LLoyds/Barclays, or whatever else Gordon has got cooked up will be thrown back in their face at the appropriate time.

  • Comment number 93.

    Strangely I've been around here long enough to remember when you used to cry impartiality and Zen.

    I've been saying the same thing in almost every other post for the past year. Folks just need to understand the flow of time, illusion, and the self. Beyond that, one makes it up as one goes along.

    There's been a lot of comment in here that debases ideas and sentiments by making everything seem equivalent, and enough lies and negative nudges to float a battleship. Funny how you don't mention that.

    I'm generally not bothered by the bail-out not happening or Tory posturing. It's all a big scam to reward failure and elbow their way to the top of the pile. Folks can see corporate welfare and Thatcherism is blown. We're into "told you so" territory.

    Be still.
  • Comment number 94.

    88. balhamu.

    Excellent news

    I hope hes given the government the statutory 6 days notice under The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

  • Comment number 95.

    # 11

    If Dave has been holding 'secret' talks with the SNP, then I sincerely hope that Salmond has told him to take a running jump.

    The native Scots must know that the Tory 'elite' consider them to be 'Ghillie Jockos' and will treat them accordingly, i.e. badly.

    All Dave as PM can do is concede graciously when the Scots decide that full independence is the path forward for Scotland.

    England must get its own independence back and we English do NOT need Dave and his motley crew standing in the way.

  • Comment number 96.


    He is democratically elected in the same way ALL OTHER PMs IN OUR HISTORY were democratically elected.

    When we elect the next Government, the only people voting for David Cameron will be those who live in his Witney constituency, IN THE SAME WAY.

    Are the Conservatives proposing to change this?

    Enjoy your belly-laughing.

  • Comment number 97.


    So, what is a "stable and prudent" level of debt?

    Economists agree that the 40% GDP ceiling is artificial.

    And why has it apparently shrunk a lot since 1997?

    In theory, investment in education and health and infrastructure increases the long-term growth rate of the economy (the neo-classical endogenous growth theory beloved of GB in his CofE days, and now taken up by Gideon and his pals).

    There is a strong argument that not investing (and paying back debt) would have decreased the long-term growth rate.

    Is that what 'stable and prudent' means?

    Besides, the UK electorate voted for this approach to the public finances and the paying back of debt.

  • Comment number 98.

    #55 peteholly

    He could certainly do a lot worse and probably will, but I can't see it being "Duff" Gordon's style.

    For a start, Cable & Clegg would insist on dusting off NuLab's '97 manifesto and implementing the promises on Westmidden PDQ. As that would involve a referendum - something The Supreme Leader seems to view in the same vein that Michael Howard greet daylight - it doesn't sound likely.

  • Comment number 99.

    The Orwellian nightmare of a ministry of information (Derek Draper) posting pro-government messages in the face of imminent defeat seems to have come true.

    They seem to have started on sky the other day, and they've now moved onto the bbc following their success attacking the sky blogs and have-your-say pages.

    What's next, Derek? I'm assuming that Brown's next step will be to introduce emergency legislation in this crisis to avoid any future election.

    What used to be a relatively representative set of postings from real people has descended into a spammed forum where you need to physically try and pick out the draper clones from the real people in order to trace the true threads.

  • Comment number 100.


    Peston is a tease. He promised a major crash and yet the FTSE is UP, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is UP.

    Bush, Brown, Bernanke, Paulson, et al ALL claimed that if the bail-out bill failed, there would be an immediate crash! All the mainstream media, the Washington DC Elite, the Wall street elite all of them threatened congress and the nation with an immediate catastrophic collapse if the bail-out failed to pass.

    So..... where the hell is it?

    There was over 900 billion dollars of new liquidity injected into the banking system by the Federal Reserve last week alone (according to Reuters), so this 700 billion bail-out would never have made any difference. The 700billion figure was plucked entirely out of thin air. It was a SCAM people.

    Not fair! I was looking forward to some bankers jumping out of tall buildings today.


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