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Hostile environment

Nick Robinson | 09:19 UK time, Monday, 19 January 2009

The price that needs to be paid to get the economy moving again or the bill for the age of irresponsibility? You pays your money - and, boy, do you pay your money - and you makes your choice.

Those are the competing soundbites to describe the latest government bank rescue plan. In truth, the choice available is rather less stark since the Tories broadly back this plan. Their row with the government focuses on the need for and affordability of the fiscal stimulus - taxes and spending in other words - and how on earth we got in this mess in the first place.

What is clear, though, is that the prize in politics will go to those who can describe a future for the British economy which does not depend on ever-expanding banks lending ever larger sums to Russian oligarchs. Peter Mandelson made that point in rather more diplomatic language in a speech at the weekend.

clarke_mandelson203.jpgThat makes Ken Clarke's appointment so fascinating. He's by instinct hostile to London, keener on manufacturing than banking and loves a scrap. Labour will hope to present a 68-year-old who doesn't own a mobile and wears Hush Puppies as more in touch with the past than the future.

Then there is the small matter of Europe. Is greater integration a vital part of its future or irrelevant to it?

Politics will soon focus on who can get us through this hostile environment. Talking of which, I am rather inconveniently spending the week away training to deal with just that in war zones around the world - so normal service may be interrupted a little.


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  • Comment number 1.


    I am fascinated by your last comment, what training exactly is it that what my taxes are paying for!

    As for the actual thread of your blog I seriously cannot believe that people still refer to the banks as being nationalised, which part of the bank do you actually nationalise, the UK bit or the Global bit.

    There is trouble brewing, we are being bankrupted by our foreign occupations and wars. The world will actually move to the right, I have said it before Nick, we have to just let go, let asset values find a new level, if you fail so be it because if you don't the money will just disappear, just as it did in 1928/29. I have said before as well that there are now two days which have changed the world, 9/11 Twin Towers, 9/15 Lehman Brothers.TAG.

  • Comment number 2.

    Will you be wearing a flak jacket when reporting from Downing St in future?

  • Comment number 3.

    The very real problem as opposed to glib slogans like real jobs, is that the fundamental financial situation of the banks is terrible. The Gov is latched onto old ideology where big is better eg Lloyds Group. But the size of these institutions makes them very difficult to manage.

    How can a board of directors keep tabs on loans to businesses around the world. Investment banking at the "coal face" is completely different from 30 years ago when the current directors worked in that environment. Some of the deals are derived from complex mathematical algorithms that only someone with a PhD could understand.

    The economy will get going eventually given time. Unfortunately for Gordy it will be a lot of time. Of course if we stopped throwing hundreds of billions of pounds at Afghanistan and Iraq diverting it to the economy it might be less time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Of course it is the first tentative step towards nationalising all the banks and then consolodating them into all the big world banks. Not in my lifetime? I really don't know but this government will deny it of course. Heard Alastair Darling on Radio 4 playing it down.

    They've started so they want to finish - but not if they get kicked out of government. Woops.

    Unfortunately, in my view, Ken Clarke is too pro Europen an but he feels there is so much dissent towards it from the public we will probably be pulled completely into it after a generation of us has died and moved on.

    Oh dear!

    One positive is, he still is a Big Beast, and Brown and Mandy will be very afraid right now.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Nick,

    If this is Plan B and it fails, what is left?

    Plans I, M and F!

    What happened to the admendment to the FOI that exempts MP's from disclosing their expenses? Is it news or just 'froth'?

  • Comment number 6.


    So are you being re-shuffled yourself?

    If you are doing war zones, who is going to be the new UK political editor?

    Clearly we are now paying the bills for the 'age of irresponsibility'. Labour are on the wrong side of the argument and they know it - thus rather than debate- Labour will try and draw the Conservatives into internal open war on the topic of Europe.

    The Conservatives must rise above the spin and back stabbing that typifies Gordon Brown, Mandelson and the Labour party and define a coherent vision for rescuing the country.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well, good luck in war zones !

    As for the poor old UK - not yet a war zone - we are ill-served by a government that is so far behind the curve, and seems only able to be playing catch-up all the time.

    So much of waht is happening was forseeable - and forseen - a year ago.

  • Comment number 8.

    Shame on you forgoing the real story in favour of an old split on Europe - something that hasn't been a story since Tony Blair was PM. Gordon's euroscepticism stopped that being important years ago.

    The real story - the man who created the boom, with the legacy he gave Brown in 1997 - against the team who turned it into the worst bust in half a century. Maybe it is government by mobile phone and text soundbite which is key to the problem.

    For example, the awful, stuttering performance by Mr Darling this morning - obviously unhappy at defending something which wasn't even his policy.

  • Comment number 9.

    Some time last year NS and I wrote to me with a questionnaire on my personal finances. (I have an ISA and Guaranteed Equity Bonds with them!).

    There was the carrot of a cash prize draw and my name was not on the form, so I elected to complete and return it.

    Now I am wondering if this was general research to help them decide on the forthcoming "economic downturn" and all its other names. Probably was. I think they planned this as a sort of purging of this country (then the world) economcally and socially.

  • Comment number 10.

    So Nick, who have you upset (as if we didn't know) that you're being taken from the warmth and security of the Westminster Bubble and cast upon the war-zones of the world?

    (Or does that mean anywhere outside the SW1 postcode?)

    Stick to your current modus operandi and you won't go far wrong: wrap up warm and keep your head below the parapet.

  • Comment number 11.

    At least in a war zone you'll quickly realise the ordnance coming towards you is going to kill you. If only you could believe the rubbish thrown in your direction by the government was as honest.It may not kill you, but if you give it any credence, you'll spend the rest of your life paying for it. Any statement Mandelson makes, has to be viewed with just as much suspicion as the statements emanating from Brown and Darling. I'm surprised that you haven't commented on Brown shooting off to Egypt for the photo shoot with the other numpties from the EU pretending they had something to do with the ceasefire. Typical of the EU, watching the fighting from afar then trying to take credit for the peace, where no doubt the French will be hoping to replenish Hammas' arsenal , paid for by the largesse Brown is so generously handing out to a terrorist organisation in the guise of humanitarian aid

  • Comment number 12.

    That's it, get some slurs hurled at Clarke while praising Mandelson. Typical Nu-Labour bias as we have come to expect from Robinson.

  • Comment number 13.


    I listened to part of the Gordon Brown Alistair Darling speaches this morning. If GB goes on more about the 'scourge of unemployment' then he has being in cloud cuckoo land for years.

    The levels of unemployment in this country are massive, the so called disabled, the uneducated masses who could never do a job, the early retirees who don't sign on because there is nothing in it for them, the pensioners who get by on a pittance...

    In the meantime we must not forget that the banks who have got us into this trouble used to be building societies, also the main banks in touble have Scottish links, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotlan, I mean talk about pork barrel politics.

    It is the former building societies which thought they could be banks that have got us into this trouble. Why should we bail out the greedy who have buy-to-let mortgages, and people who would not moan if they profit out of their property investments.

    There must be a general election, confidence in this country will plummet further as it is realised that we are so heading for the knackers yard This is a Titanic economy, they said it would never sink, well we have hit the berg again, and it is about time to take to the lifeboats, only it is not women and children first it is politicians and bankers who are the rats leaving a sinking ship.

    What I thought interesting was the John Humphries interview this morning with an executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, who used the words 'fess up' which I thought was some sort of low life term to admit to some crime or misdemanour. When will the government order an inquiry into the banking crisis, and the war in Iraq.

    Finally, Brown refers to the credit crunch because the banks won't lend. May I suggest that he also looks at it the other way around, this is a debit crunch because why should I borrow, that is get into debt, neither a lender nor a borrower be, never has this been more true. I'm not lending my money to anybody so that they can make money on my money and not give me a fair return.TAG.

  • Comment number 14.

    If the Royal Bank of Scotland has just announced more huge losses, surely this bail out money will go towards re-financing their coffers before they start to lend. I'm assuming they're not on their own and other banks are in the same position.

    If the money we give them has to re-balance their books, they won't be lending any time soon. They can't lend us money they don't have, can they!

  • Comment number 15.

    For the first time in my life I may vote conservative at the next Election!

    I've been an dedicated liberal for the last decade or so, but increasingly i've been put off by there loony green policies.

    Don't get me wrong the Conservatives have a few scorches in their closet also, but I'm hoping once elected the cold light of reality will mean that the majority of this clap trap will go out through the window.

  • Comment number 16.


    A talented guy who tells the truth

    when making applications for credit.


  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Nick,

    Your comment about Peter Mandelson and Russian oligarchs is very intesting.

    Particularly since Derpiaska is knocking on Mandy's door to bail out the LDV van-makers he bought from Rover.

    I think it really is time to start asking questions about what REALLY happened on Derpiaska's yacht, the Queen K, and exactly why Nathaniel Rothschild got so hot under the collar when news of the meeting was leaked.

    See you in the casbah.

  • Comment number 18.


    people, sorry Gordon Brown, keep talking about mortgages, and that help will be given to people if they get into trouble. Well what about those people who could never get a mortgage, those people who have to rent.

    When will it be pointed out that if people make money at their business then it is profit, if you make a profit then you pay taxes on that profit. If you employ people then taxes are deducted from those people which are then paid to the Inland Revenue.

    It is not my problem if people who have made profits have not kept enough back to meet their liabilities, if they have not paid over taxes deducted from employees then that is fraud. The banks must not be part of a fraud, however, the government knows that the money has gone, squandered if you like.

    It is not the bankers who are at fault, it is the people, us who are to blame, when will people take responsibilty for their actions, they have choices, they have free will, if you can't stand the heat in the kitchen then get out.TAG.

  • Comment number 19.

    Ken is a good example of someone who can use hush puppies on ice. Cameron has now shown he is confident enough to employ a Big Beast with some views that are different from his own on Europe. The Tories are finally showing that they are preparing themselves for government in 2010. Labour smear tactics will not work so well and Osborne will have someone to protect his weak flanks.

  • Comment number 20.

    It is good to see Ken Clarke back. He is the sort of Tory I like: cheerful, bluff, straight to the point and courteous all at the same time. There never have been many of that sort in that party.

    I am delighted to learn Nick, that you see him as a manufacturing man, hostile to the City and reluctant to use a mobile. Just like me!

    Deep joy: we are starting to get somewhere at last.

    I will repeat that I will vote for any party, excluding the BNP and Hamas, that will get rid of this incompetent government.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ken Clarke may be an older gentleman but I think that he's a fair idea of how to run an economy; the same cannot be said of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling

    I like Ken Clarke and I think he will have a lot of good initiatives. He does have a lot of experience and is quite honest, I think he will bring a lot of clout to the tory front bench. I do think he should take the post of Shadow Chancellor though - he is after all very well proven on that front! Who knows - maybe he was asked to do that but preferred not to ruffle Osbournes feathers?

    Anyway - I think he is a good addition and the tories do need his outspoken views. Each party needs to have their opposites, in all instances of viewpoint

  • Comment number 22.

    Nick -- you say:

    "What is clear, though, is that the prize in politics will go to those who can describe a future for the British economy which does not depend on ever-expanding banks lending ever larger sums to Russian oligarchs. Peter Mandelson made that point in rather more diplomatic language in a speech at the weekend."

    Have to say you have a bit of a nerve to cutely make this comment. Guess you conveniently missed this statement in this mornings Daily Telegraph:

    "Senior Government figures are said to have been infuriated to learn that RBS [via ABN Amro] was part of a group of banks that offered a £2.8billion loan to a firm owned by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who last year hosted Peter Mandelson on holiday in Corfu.

    The apparent loan to Mr Blavatnik has now brought the 51-year-old, who divides his time between America, Russia and Britain – where he resides in a £41million home in Kensington Palace Gardens –into the spotlight."

    Can fully understand why they would be infuriated -- their unelected Business Minister Lord Madelson is closely connected to the Russian gentleman. Perhaps it is time to start asking new questions about how Lord Mandelson manages his property in London and his often flamboyant lifestyle.

  • Comment number 23.


    I thought that when the banks were audited the auditors had to sign off the accounts as being true and fair

    Now when are the acountants, audotors and consultants going to be brought into the frame, they must also share their responsibilty for their contribution to this sorry state of affairs.TAG

  • Comment number 24.

    Is your training going to involve dodging mobile phones thrown by Heir Brown?

    Seriously though, ad hoc plans by an ad hoc government, call an election.

  • Comment number 25.

    I assume you are off to report on the Israel-Hamas problem with your usual balance and fairness...

    As for SuperGord - wasn't saving the banks once enough? I mean, he's so good he wouldn't need to do it twice now, would he?

    The Emperor's clothes seem to have been missing all this time, shouldn't we be calling them Nude Labour now?

  • Comment number 26.

    Glad to see him back, can't say I agree with everything he says but at least I know he means it. I recall him say once "I was wrong...".

    Emphasis on manufacturing too, gosh! Are we ready for this?

  • Comment number 27.

    I am pleased that Ken Clarke is going to be "on the pitch fighting" (presumably in a Chelsea shirt).

    Seriously; is it not time to create a cross-party team to tackle the economic problems? Doing the right thing is more important than party politics.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ken Clarke may wear Hush Puppies and not own a mobile (what a sensible man!), but he also left Labour with a sound economy which they have squandered; and it's hard to believe that he would have been taken in by the City as Brown so clearly was. Only three years ago - after Warren Buffett had warned that derivatives were 'weapons of financial mass destruction' - Brown was at the Guild Hall praising a new 'golden age' of endless growth created by those clever whizz-kids in the City.

    And of course all of it was permitted by the tripartite regulatory system which Brown himself put into place - a system that proved as dysfunctional as the man himself.

    What a muppet!

  • Comment number 29.

    At some point the Labour government will come to its senses and realise their obssession with the private sector will disable their understanding of the depth and extent of the crisis.

    Radical methods are necessary to manage the economy including direct control of the financial sector.

  • Comment number 30.

    'Ever-expanding banks' came about primarily because the Government via the FSA, allowed these banks to lend out twenty-seven pounds for every pound deposited.

    It is known as a fractional reserve banking system.

    I can understand and accept that a partial fractional reserve system may be necessary in a modern economy.

    But frankly, being 'geared up' twenty-seven time sounds excessive and is presumably the reason why RBS ended up with two trillion pounds on its balance sheet.

    Like Humpty Dumpty, those banks that operated this excessive fractional reserve system are broken and really cannot be properly put back together again, but for the good of us all, we must pretend that they can.

  • Comment number 31.

    In the meantime:

    There wasn't supposed to be a cut in Eurozone interest rates this January.
    Jean Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank (ECB) had said there was "a limit" to how low rates could go after three successive cuts saw the main lending facility at 2.5%.
    But that was all the way back in December.
    It is a sign of just how bad the economic situation is that the rate has now fallen to just 2%.
    Out of work
    Going through the figures, one has the sense of finally being hit by a tidal wave that had seemed to linger off shore for months.
    The recession is upon us, not just in terms of gross domestic product, but in much more tangible and depressing facts.
    Eurozone industrial production is down 7.7% year on year - a record drop. Why make things when no one is buying?
    The picture for unemployment is equally depressing. More than 12 million people in the Euro area are unemployed and the figure is rising dramatically.
    The situation in Spain is truly horrendous; an unemployment rate of 13.4%, or three million people.
    One of the few bodies doing well out of the financial crisis is the Spanish army, which has seen a huge increase in recruitment from people looking for something, anything, offering a steady income.

    The eurozone is in deep trouble, and it seems to be getting worse
    Inflation has come down to 1.6%. That is the lowest figure for more than two years.
    In itself the number does not seem too bad, as the main objective of the ECB is to keep inflation at "below but close to" 2%.
    But the direction of travel is alarming; the figure was at 4% in July.
    Carsten Brezski, a senior economist at ING bank, insists the real fear now is deflation, the phenomenon where money becomes more valuable as prices drop.
    That would be bad news for people with loans because they would, in effect, increase in value.
    Little lending
    The question now is whether today's cut will have any impact at all on the worsening economy, or more particularly whether it will persuade banks to lend more money. Almost everyone agrees that tightening credit conditions are a major factor in the downturn.
    The answer is; yes, up to a point.
    In October and November, the ECB's main interest rate came down by 1%, and it seems that banks in the eurozone passed on roughly half of that cut to their customers.
    But just looking at rates will tell the whole story.
    The question in Europe is what volumes of money are being lent, not simply the cost of borrowing.
    On that score the figures reveal a grim picture.
    The volume of new loans made available for house purchases were down about 40% for short-term flexible loans and by some 25% for longer term fixed-rate deals.
    But interestingly, the amount of money being lent to businesses, one of the things European governments are most worried about, has dropped by about 10%, excluding bank over drafts.

    Have a nice day Nick.

  • Comment number 32.


    I think you comment since the Tories broadly back this plan is rather disingenuous.

    If a burning plane is hurtling towards the ground, then everyone will support grabbing a parachute and bailing out.

    This is no good reflection on the pilot!

    Brown is managing the situation (for which he has no qualifications) virtually single handed with no reference to parliament - the taxpayers representatives - and making a massive hash of it.

    It has been reported that a private school had a £500,000 loan called in by HSBC - the parents have got together and has so far loaned the school around £380,000 (at 5%) directly - banks are not so essential to business as the city may like to think.

    Supporting the existing failing institutions and so preventing capitalisms 'survival of the fittest' operating properly, is a monsterous mistake - if they failed, the market would have created a solution AT NO COST TO THE TAXPAYER.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Labour will hope to present a 68-year-old who doesn't own a mobile and wears Hush Puppies as more in touch with the past than the future."

    Doing Labour's job for them again Nick?
    Seeing as you are so determined to compare he two, I'd rather him to a 55 year-old who doesn't tell the truth.

    "I am rather inconveniently spending the week away training to deal with [hostile environments] in war zones around the world."

    Is the beeb predicting a 4th Labour term?

  • Comment number 34.

    Sian Phillips asked Alastair what would happen if this bailout didn't work and Alastair replied that he would do whatever it took.

    I don't think this government will be happy until they have bankrupt us all.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Politics will soon focus on who can get us through this hostile environment. Talking of which, I am rather inconveniently spending the week away training to deal with just that in war zones around the world - so normal service may be interrupted a little."


    Nick, will you be given training in how to avoid flying Nokias?!

    By the way, nothing on the fact that the bank bailout MkI left the banks with preference shares that had a 12% dividend to pay to the government. almost everybody at the time said this was madness, now we have bank bailout Mk II that converts those preference shares to ordinary shares.

    So why has it taken this bunch of incompetents, led by Brown and Darling, 2 months to work this out?

    2 months of further failure and wasted opportunity.

    I see we now own 70% of RBS, at what stage does it become publicly owned if not now?

  • Comment number 36.

    I've read most of your blogs Nick and obviously you believe that Nu labour are the men for the job.

    Middle England will pay - not politicians and not fat cats. No one will lose their knighthoods and no civil servants will lose their pensions.

    Keep to the party line and all will be well.

  • Comment number 37.

    At least Ken Clark is an MP and not entering Government through the unelected back door of the House of Lords.

  • Comment number 38.

    If anyone is still in doubt about the fact that the Tripartite strucutre set up by Gordon Brown in 1997 was one of the biggest disasters of the modern world please let me know.

    Unheard of leveels of leverage were taken out by these banks on the nod of the treasury, the governmenta nd against all sensible advice.

    Gordon Brown's credit boom is well and truly bust and he should resign immediately.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 39.

    TV licence fee cash guarantees house prices of relocated BBC staff

    "The prices of hundreds of homes owned by BBC employees in London will be guaranteed by licence-fee payers under a relocation package aimed at enticing staff to Salford.

    Employees will also receive £5,000 in relocation expenses, up to £3,000 to pay for new carpets and curtains and will keep thousands of pounds in London weighting allowances, it emerged yesterday. The decision to use the licence fee to underwrite property values in a falling housing market has been condemned as unacceptable.

    Under the “guaranteed house purchase scheme”, employees on permanent contracts will receive up to 95 per cent of the market price for a property. The BBC will incur any loss on the price when the property is sold and will pay for solicitors' fees, surveys and stamp duty, home information packs and building society charges."


    Funny, this isn't on the BBC news website?!

    And, shouldn't the last sentencce start "We the mugs that pay the TV Licence will incur any loss on the price......"

    Green shoots indeed, but only if you work at the Beeb.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good luck in the warzones Nick, I hope you have a moment of realising what is truly important to you out there. Then come back safely to report facts and real news of import, rather than nuliebour spin.

  • Comment number 41.




    5,800,000 on out of work benefits

    435.000 16 to 25 year olds not

    registered presumed DRUG DEALING?

    1,200,000 on early retirement income

    support payments

    ALL THIS BETWEEN 2001 to 2007

    FOR 2008/9/10??

    ESTIMATE ANOTHER 2,000,000 plus

    to join the PARTY!


  • Comment number 42.

    This should prove a nice opportunity for Labour to take advantage of the massive inconsistencies between Clarke's and Cameron's views on some key issues.

  • Comment number 43.

    Re: nickgroupie @ 19

    Osborne will have someone to protect his 'weak flanks'?! Hell knows he needs it!

    More like someone continuously undermining his position.

  • Comment number 44.


    I think that people should consider the effect of all this on retired former bankers who rely on their income from their shareholdings in the bank they used to work for. Also the capital value of their shareholdings has been destroyed. Why should they suffer because the current lot have messed up, big time. TAG.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Then there is the small matter of Europe. Is greater integration a vital part of its future or irrelevant to it?"

    Spain's sovereign debt rating has been lowered today. It now pays 2.6% more than Germany to borrow over 10 years. Other spreads over German yields are opening up across the Eurozone. What this suggests is that investors are placing bets on a break up of the Euro, in which case I think that answers Nick's question pretty clearly.

  • Comment number 46.

    I don't know anything about economics but Gordon Brown is obviously the problem - not the solution

    I guess they are interlinked but can somebody explain what are the problems caused by international factors - the so called 'global problem' - and what are the problems which he has created in the national economy - those which cannot be blamed on the 'global problem'

  • Comment number 47.

    Nick says - Politics will soon focus on who can get us through this hostile environment.

    Dubtless it suits Gordon Brown, and apparently you, to focus solely on who can get us through this mess. But what about the part he played in getting us in to it and the extent to which that should influence our faith in his ability to get it right going forward ?

    I notice also that you allude to the government spin/use of the £2.2 billion loan to Leonid Blavatnik. Held up as an example of irresponsible lending by British banks - in this case RBS - to foreigners. Never mind the inconvenient fact that the loan in question was made by the Dutch bank ABN Amro which was only later acquired by RBS.

    Brown's anger at the irresponsible behaviour of the City and the banks sits very oddly alongside the praise he lavished on them at the time - including his lauding of London's big share of cross border lending, their use of innovative products etc. And he was pleased to claim Government credit for faciltiating their achievements, inter alia by creating a light touch regulatory environment and resisiting a move towards a single EU wide regulatory regime.

    Read his Mansion House speeches of 2006 and 2007 and contrast what he said then to what he says now and, indeed, what he implies he was saying then.

  • Comment number 48.

    Why is my TV tax going to pay for your survival course??

    Are you actually being sent off somewhere dangerous, or is it just a fun week out of the office? How much more of our money is wasted in this way??

  • Comment number 49.

    Yet more of our money being thrown at the banks by the "do anything at any cost" party, and still no astute journalism from the BBC.

    It makes you despair.

  • Comment number 50.

    Today we have more economic disiaters from Europe. Ah, but it's all Brown's fault, you see!

    The European Commission said in a statement that the whole European Union was facing a "deep and protracted recession".

    Unemployment in the the 16 countries using the euro is expected to exceed 10% in 2010, up from 7.5% in 2008.

    The commission hopes it will be possible "to create the conditions for a gradual recovery in the second part of 2009" in the eurozone economy.

    Economy Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement it would be achieved through "measures to stabilise the financial markets, the easing of monetary policy and the economic recovery plans".

    The commission said annual inflation in the 16 countries using the euro would be 1% in 2009 and 1.8% a year later.

    'Continued fall'

    As events unfolded late last autumn, it became increasingly clear that the EU would not be spared a deep and protracted recession

    European Commission statement

    According to official figures, the eurozone has been in recession since September of last year.

    "As events unfolded late last autumn, it became increasingly clear that the EU would not be spared a deep and protracted recession," the commission said.

    It added that "the outlook is for a continued fall in GDP throughout the first half of this year".

    Different vews

    Analysts gave different opinions on the commission's latest forecast.

    Sunil Kapadia at UBS Bank said: "On the growth figures for 2009, it's a pretty fair assessment".

    However, Gilles Moec at Bank of America said it was more pessimistic than the Commission, forecasting a contraction of 2.6% in 2009.

    Last week, Germany became the latest country to unveil an economic stimulus package worth about 50bn euros ($67bn; £45bn) to kick-start Europe's largest economy.

    Good day Nick.

  • Comment number 51.

    Curious isn't it. Gordon saved the global economy from a "global problem" yet Ed Miliband was suggesting we needed to improve regulation - that kind of suggests they know deep down it was more than a global problem.

    There was the "nano green shoots" debacle and now Becket can see an upturn in the housing market.

    German (and French?) finance ministers are unlikely to endorse the super-hero Gordon.

    The Tories also are not "clean" as they haven't really said why they would not have been caught out by this predictable but unpredicted economic catastrophe.

    Maybe nobody can ".. get us through this hostile environment.." Nick because some are in denial and some don't need to acknowledge their own failings.

    There is no sign whatever that genuine actions will be taken to prevent this happening in the future unless Obama pushes through RADICAL change and Labour are shamed into action before defeat in the polls and the Tories realise their own "toxic debt" from their last administration could be surpassed if they make similar disastrous economic policies.

    As you say the public get a large bill whatever.

  • Comment number 52.


    I'm confused. I thought GB had already saved the world, sorry, banks. So why does he have to do it again?

    Don't tell me they've been so foolish as to follow Government directives and having been bailed out in October last year, managed to get themselves bust all over again and in only three months. Now that's a talent.

    What? You mean GB didn't save the world, sorry, banks? So what was all that money for? Oh, the polls. Right, now I understand. All that cash was to pave the way for an early election, which now of course will have to be shelved and we'll be stuck with this shower until May 2010.

    God help us.

  • Comment number 53.

    Seeing all of our money going to write off other peoples mortgages and debts in other countries I can't help wondering why we don't get our mortgages written off too. After all it is our money thats being used isn't it?

  • Comment number 54.

    You say that the Tories broadly back the latest Government action to bankrupt us. Can you tell me where I can read this, or will you be too busy training for World War lll? What is that all about please, forgive me if I suggest that you are a little advanced in years for Army training?

    I have been on line and yet to find Tory support as you suggest. Nothing from Camerson, Osborne or even Ken Clarke, or have I missed the point, please elucidate?

    Perhaps this is journalistic spin for another holiday, after all, you have been in harness since beginning of 2nd week in Jan,2009, and only had 3 weeks+ off over the festive period?

  • Comment number 55.

    About Ken Clarke:
    While Keith Joseph is credited as being the big thinker behind Margaret Thatcher, and while she frightened the horses with the spectre of Norman Tebbitt, the smiling demolition of the state infrastructure of the UK was the responsibility of ‘Mr Blobby’ aka Ken Clarke. who was moved around government by Thatcher to ‘sort out’ the various big spending departments.

    The rise and rise of Kenneth (Harry) Clarke MP

    1985 Paymaster General
    (the 'paying agent' for all departments)

    1987 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
    (non-departmental post, but in his case with special responsibility for employment. ONS unemployment rates show 1983 - 12%, 1987 11%, 1993 10.8%)

    1988 Secretary of State for Health & Social Services
    (Start of the decline in public estimation of the health and social services, only partly retrieved by Labour spending in 1997+)

    1990 Secretary of State for Education
    (Massive rise in HE students with no increase in resources, Quality assurance debacle all started here)

    1992/3 Home Secretary
    (Big problems with the scuffers, prison officers, prison overcrowding (aided by 'something of the night' Michael Howard) etc.)

    1993-7 Chancellor of the Exchequer
    (Regulatory failures all began or were advanced under his painful watch)

    2009 Welcome back Ken, says David Cameron - ‘He is a big player!’)

    Not to mention his front-handers from BAT!
    Don’tcha just love him?

  • Comment number 56.

    Anyone heard from Derek?

    I'm missing his comments!

    Oh well, never mind - now where did I put that book on Zen............

  • Comment number 57.

    Nick surely because someone wants to wear hush puppies doesn't make them past it. You may have a scrap with the manufacturers of hush puppies if you continue in that vein.

    What we will have now is an element of gravitas by someone who has been there before and got problems sorted as distinct from a government run on spin who by their previous leadres admission survived by luck and clearly not judgement.

    It will be good to seen Mandy at last devoured and decimated by a real man of merit and credibility.

  • Comment number 58.

    Euphemisms of our time

    #243 Fractional Reserve Banking

    Translation: Pyramid Sceme !

  • Comment number 59.

    Yet another ruddy barrister in Parliament.


  • Comment number 60.

    If the Conservative party brought in Ken Dodd it would be better than the Brown/Mandelson/Darling alliance.

    Just what have our MP's got to hide that they dont want the public to see their expenses....

  • Comment number 61.

    Well, "around the world" is the same as "right here"...someone on high in the Beeb's either got a warped sense of humour, loves the Brecon Beacons in January, or doesn't believe HMG can pull this one off. A week of ambush and hostage-training, just when Obama's pulling out of Iraq and stopping waterboarding, can only mean one thing.

  • Comment number 62.


    Which let's face it, is crucial to resolving the disaster that Nulabour has wrought on our economy.

  • Comment number 63.

    Perhaps you could give your view on why this Government is so institution-centric instead of taxpayer-centric. After all, wouldn't writing-off toxic debts with taxpayers' money be just the same as giving it to the banks, but more efficient, longer-lasting and actually might fix the problem quickly?

    What's the problem with cutting out the middle man, Nick?

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't suppose they are moving you out so they can give the job to Ed Stourton, so that his "departure" from the Today programme doesn't look so embarrassing?

    Anyway, at least you will be "battle hardened" when (and if) you come back again!

    It's tough out here, beyond the "Westminster bubble".

  • Comment number 65.

    42. At 11:41am on 19 Jan 2009, chrisleopard wrote:
    This should prove a nice opportunity for Labour to take advantage of the massive inconsistencies between Clarke's and Cameron's views on some key issues.


    Shouldn't they be concentrating on getting us out of this mess that they got us in to?

    GBP800 billion of our money commited to sorting out this mess, on top of GBP800 billion off-balace sheet on public sector pensions, plus GBP170 billion on PFI costs, plus GBP534 billion PSBR.

    That's a total of 2.3TRILLION POUNDS. I think you have your priorities wrong, there.

  • Comment number 66.

    Before you go Nick, could you find out what happened to the first £37 billion? If I remember correctly it was even suggested that we the taxpayer may even earn a profit on our 'investment'.

    Word of caution on you travels - Hamas are not as peace loving as BBC balance would have you believe!

  • Comment number 67.

    55. At 12:38pm on 19 Jan 2009, jthredland

    He's obviously got you rattled!

    I wouldn't even go there with quotes and statistics with the incompetent, duplicitous self-serving bunch we are lumbered with at the moment. yo would be on a hiding to nothing.

  • Comment number 68.

    We met over breakfast to watch the Downing Streeet press conference. Still no admission of failure or setback in the October package or in the action and events since!

    We noted that you weren't there today but the failure of the 4th Estate to ask the right questions and put Messrs Brown and Darling on the spot was again so disappointing. Taxpayers deserve better of you all!
    We would have asked...







    Readers of the political blogs may well be far better equiped to ask the questions than most of our supine and poorly-briefed journalists. Frustratingly we see this at every press conference. Having said that both GB - who passed the buck on every quantitative question - and AD were their usual evasive, unimpressive selves!

    We blogged several sites before Xmas that if the banks would not or could not re-loan the taxpayers funds - even to each other - why not form a sub-branch of the BoE (thus keeping it isolated from the main activities of the Bank) to do the job directly?
    Is the £50bn part of this latest package in fact that concept?

  • Comment number 69.

    Dear 39,

    Funny, this isn't on the BBC news website, part 2.

    RBS (ABN) has just written-off a 2.5 BILLION pound loan to a Russian Oligarch.

    That's the RBS that has just got a large bunch of Her Maj from us then?

    For real news DO NOT READ the BBC website.

  • Comment number 70.

    Re Ken Clarke



    At least Ken DIDNT LIE TO GET A


    His BAT Deal is out in the OPEN.

  • Comment number 71.


    Nice try but totally bogus; it was Grodon Brown who decided to deregulate the banking system with his idiotic tripartite legislation.

    No bank under the tories had leverage of 90x like Nothern Rock, or 70x like Royal Bnak of Scotland.

    But Gordon Brown stood idly by and did nothing because the credit boom was fuelling his reputation.

    Now it and he are well and truly sunk,

    A monkey would do a better job of saving bitht the world and the finamacial system.

    We are bankrupt thanks to Gordon Brown.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 72.

    RBS down on the day so far at 50 percent.

    Lloyds Bank Group down 34 percent.

    HSBC and standard Chartered both down at 11 percent.

    Second bail out, sorry not a bail out but an insurance guarantee, does not seem to have gone down well in the Stock market.

    The Gov thinks that the banks are sufficiently capitalised from bail out no. 1. True then, but Sterling value was at 2 US Dollars. Now it is 1.45, a fall n value of 25 percent so when foreign loans are written off the Sterling value written off is larger.

    Expecting banks to lend more when clearly their position is fragile is barking mad. As majority owner of some of the banks a large capital injection is on the cards. Is short selling taking place? The FSA are supposed to be monitoring this. Are they?

    It is probably too much to expect the regulators to actually do their job, and heaven forbid take the appropriate action. i think that the country should be renamed as New Zimbabwe.

  • Comment number 73.

    An absolutely terrible decision to bring back Ken Clarke. Not because of his stance on Europe, it's a complete irrelevance for the foreseeable future. But because the Tories have been making headway with the claim that the government until recently has completely misunderstood the economic crisis and has built up huge amounts of debt without acheiving anything. In a stroke David Cameron has given Gordon Brown a get-out-of-jail free card because every single time the issue is brought up all he has to do is remind everyone that Ken Clarke supported the VAT cut. Job done.

    This will be repeated over and over again at PMQ's and probably during every interview from now on.

  • Comment number 74.


    Surely 'the prize in politics' will go first and foremost to those who can lead us out of this mess. Britons are pragmatic. Give us solutions to this crisis first before telling us your visions for 2030...

  • Comment number 75.

    59. At 12:59pm on 19 Jan 2009, guycroft wrote:
    Yet another ruddy barrister in Parliament.


    He has been an MP since 1970, just woken up have we?

  • Comment number 76.

    "Why is my TV tax going to pay for your survival course??

    Are you actually being sent off somewhere dangerous, or is it just a fun week out of the office? How much more of our money is wasted in this way??"

    Lots of Tory trolls/Daily Mail BBC botherers/grass rootscampaigners/astroturfers delete where applicable. have been commenting like this! I suggest maybe that its because he often is sent to cover ministers visits to places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza etc. As a kidnapping has happened before in case you have forgotten. I know, Its health safety gone mad isn't it!

  • Comment number 77.

    27. At 10:47am on 19 Jan 2009, jonnyturk wrote:
    I am pleased that Ken Clarke is going to be "on the pitch fighting" (presumably in a Chelsea shirt).

    Seriously; is it not time to create a cross-party team to tackle the economic problems? Doing the right thing is more important than party politics.


    He is a Nottingham Forest supporter, that should please munichmadrid7980.

    I agree about a cross-party team to tackle the economic problems, as long as none of the Labour incompetents who got us in this mess are included.

    So that would be the Tories and Vince Cable then.

  • Comment number 78.

    Hi Nick,

    It's not actually going to be as swashbuckling as you suggest.

    Today Brown and Darling announce another bailout for the banks. At the time I write this, RBS stock was down 63%.

    Everything Brown says actually damages confidence, rather than builds it.

    E&Y now estimates unemployment to peak at 3.4m in 2011. And The Sun is now openly saying that these problems are home-grown.

    Under these circumstances, the incumbent will always lose power.

    But the earth will be so very scorched, the question for the Tories is how to win the election after next.

  • Comment number 79.

    chrisleopard wrote:
    This should prove a nice opportunity for Labour to take advantage of the massive inconsistencies between Clarke's and Cameron's views on some key issues.
    If you believe that all members of the cabinet will agree on all major Government policy then the likes of Alistair Campbell will consider their work to be done. Brown and Mandelson are hardly considered to have the same views over Europe.

    I want my politicians (of all parties) to have principled views whilst being able to take a collective party line in key areas.

  • Comment number 80.

    "This will be repeated over and over again at PMQ's and probably during every interview from now on."

    To be utterly nullified with Ken Clarke's own words berating and castigating the current Chancellor and his boss, for getting the bail-outs completely wrong.

  • Comment number 81.

    Tis great to see cuddly Ken back.

    Now everytime he goes against Labour he can ask them what they did with the Golden Goose he handed them

  • Comment number 82.

    "Is short selling taking place? The FSA are supposed to be monitoring this. Are they?"

    The temporary ban on short selling was lifted at the end of last week.

    Oh surprise, surprise, the banking stocks immediately took a hammering.

    Even Barclays who have made a tidy PROFIT got hammered.

    I think this has more to do with short selling than any position of the individual banks.

  • Comment number 83.

    Intruiging to see that Mr Robinson will hardly have time to blog this week but still manages to write that labour will try to paint him as more in touch with the past than the future. The art of subliminal messaging is truly mastered by Campbell and Mandy and happily passed on by the BBC, which never seems to filter these plugged messages.

    And you don't need a mobile to know that you have to pay back your loans at some stage.

    However, you do need a mobile to call Mr Robinson to spin yourself out of the fact that you ran a budget deficit in boom times.

    Hope people living outside the UK start recognising that the BBC is rather biased. The BBC is sub-prime and overvalued.

  • Comment number 84.

    More plans on top of yet more plans.

    I'm sure we can all think of a plan.

    But someone has to formulate that plan think it through and make sure it will work.

    We sure have seen lots and lots of the former but I'm still waiting for the thinkers and doers.

    Has life been so easy over the last few years these people are now extinct?

    Or will Ken Clarke breathe new life into them and bring them back to the rescue.

  • Comment number 85.

    69. At 1:50pm on 19 Jan 2009, tobytrip wrote:
    Dear 39,

    Funny, this isn't on the BBC news website, part 2.

    RBS (ABN) has just written-off a 2.5 BILLION pound loan to a Russian Oligarch.

    That's the RBS that has just got a large bunch of Her Maj from us then?


    It was actually ABN AMRO that made the loan, RBS's stupidity was buying ABN AMRO at the top of the market, paying top dollar, without any obvious due diligence.

  • Comment number 86.

    Politicians who make grandiose speeches from comfortable and safe positions need not be taken too seriously.

    Why cannot we get our loans back from Russian oligarchs ?

    Good to see Clarke back on the front bench but it won't tempt me to vote Tory who sold off UK's family silvers. Expecting Labour skillfully playing the man and not the ball, as always. Hope to see the rise and the dominance of the independents in the next election and forever. Let's fill the parliament only with people who have in their hearts the interests of the country and the people.

    When "Lend, Lend, Lend" fail to find "Borrow, Borrow, Borrow" and "Spend, Spend, Spend" I suspect hidden agent to part us from our savings and pensions by printing money, pushing up inflation and stealth taxes. Giving money to banks by borrowing is neither the real economy nor wealth generation. Yes, it pays for the next round of bonus and political self congratulations, with our sacrifices, again.

    I suspect politicians (not all) take more seriously the opinions and interests of lobbyists than ours. Nevertheless, here are some suggestions.

    - Lead by example, neither command nor coerce.
    Do as you ask others to do, but more seriously and do it for longer. Do not demand the sacrifice of essentials from those who have few comforts, so those who have many comforts can keep their luxuries.

    - Bring back off-shored jobs - manufacturing, IT, service and call centers. Real jobs keep people busy, give them self-respect, pay the bills and debts, and fills the Treasury with taxes. Part time jobs and flexible working hours jobs reach further into section of the society where extra income will be needed, and there is more taxes for the Treasury.

    - It is time to close the ex-domicile tax windfall. Profits made in the UK and incomes/interest received in the UK should be taxed at rates most of us had to pay.

    - Blair once boasted "Whiter than white". So, show us. Spin and lack of transparency contributed significantly to political cyncism and the build up of financial WMD. Darkness, obscurity and complexity are friends of Swindle, Incompetence and Favouritism. Let's have genuine transparency in politics, government and finance. It will be painful for a few years but the it will be blessings for generations.

    - Give MPs free votes lest we are left in no doubt that the politicians put the interest of the party because that of the people.

    - Play the ball, not the man. Even bishops are not saints.

    - Regular readings of "The Emperor's New Clothes" and Aesop's fables (start with "The Fox and The Goat")

  • Comment number 87.

    I can't believe people are making a fuss over any divisions between Clarke and Cameron. For God's sake the Golem and Blair hated each other. Blair was pro-Europe, the Golem anti-Europe. The reason we're not in the Euro now is down to the Golem and Blair's fear of Murdoch. Blair was desperate to join the Euro, the Golem was desperate to keep us out of it.
    Any division between Clarke and Cameron is small potatoes.

  • Comment number 88.


    I discovered this morning that it is never to late to be converted.

    I went to bed a Conservative and by the time I had finished breakfast I was a staunch Communist.

    What brought about this sudden enlightenment?

    The Government (should we still be calling them that - suggestions on a postcard please) announcing that the taxpayers are to put even more money into the banks.

    What about recovering the last 3 years' bonuses from all these crooks (aka bankers) before holding a gun to the head of the taxpayers?

    PS I don't have 3 homes and a Ferrari.

  • Comment number 89.

    chrisleopard wrote:
    This should prove a nice opportunity for Labour to take advantage of the massive inconsistencies between Clarke's and Cameron's views on some key issues.


    I would draw your attention to the Heathrow 3rd runway announcement by Geoff Hoon, opposed by Hillary Benn Environment Secretary and Ed Millipede Climate Change Secretary.

    And your point is what, exactly?

  • Comment number 90.

    To paraphrase dear old Grandantidote, I smell fear from Labour....least I hope it's fear, dirty boys!

  • Comment number 91.


    We don't watch BBC News any more. We got tired of the endless non-stories and contrived news.

    In fact, we rarely watch anything on the BBC these days.

    We still have to pay for it though.

  • Comment number 92.


    "Now everytime he goes against Labour he can ask them what they did with the Golden Goose he handed them"

    A golden goose in the form of a type of capitalism that has failed spectacularly. Well done Ken! for handing labour the goose that laid the Iron Pyrite eggs.

    Cigarette and whisky manufacturing will no doubt be the answer.

  • Comment number 93.

    Don't worry everyone, your taxes will be safe with the Tories:

  • Comment number 94.

    'As I said this morning, this is not a bank rescue plan' per Robert Peston.

    'Those are the competing soundbites to describe the latest government bank rescue plan.' per yourself - Nick Robinson

    Who is correct. This looks rather blank and white.



  • Comment number 95.

    Why are we the licence fee payers having to shell out for employees of the BBCs mortgages and furnishings?
    Are you lot learning from your Lord and Masters( the Labour Party) and its policy of claiming and hiding expenses??

  • Comment number 96.

    dhwilkinson, whilst I agree that training political correspondent's in survival training for when they visit war-zones with politicians and the associated expense of that is a fully justified thing, what is your take on the following:

    "The BBC will be using license payer's money to fund Solicitors’ fees, surveys, stamp duty, Home Information Packs, mortgage fees, a “full packing and unpacking” removal service and storage costs.

    Not to mention £3,000 per person for carpets and curtains in the new pad. Oh, and another £5,000 relocation payment for, well, anything else they fancy.

    They won’t even have the hassle of selling their house.

    Auntie Beeb will do it for them — and bung them £350 a time for house-hunting excursions to Manchester. "

    Is that a good and efficient use of OUR money during a credit crunch?

  • Comment number 97.

    chrisleopard wrote:
    This should prove a nice opportunity for Labour to take advantage of the massive inconsistencies between Clarke's and Cameron's views on some key issues.


    Yes, that will be really helpful, I hope they put some real energy into that.

    What is really depressing is that I am absolutely certain they will, having nothing of any real value to offer the country.

  • Comment number 98.

    Nu Lab are in new territory. In the past we have had one or two terms of tax & spend, followed by a change of Government when the Tories have been able to swing the pendulum back. The fickle voters then change Government again and the whole cycle repeated itself.

    In its way this is quite healthy as it has stopped extremes either way. Indeed we saw the Tories self distruct when they spent too long in power.

    However, we had the 'historic third term'. For the first time we see this bunch of jokers in power looking at their own mess with nothing in reserve and no idea what to do.

    Oh! how they must now regret winning the last election.....but not as much as those of us trying to run a business do!

    Nick - do you (or anyone at the Beeb) ever read/ take any notice of these postings as the continued political bias of the BBC is truly breathtaking. I have always defended an independent media....however I am now begining to hope the next government withdraws funding!

  • Comment number 99.

    As has been pointed out already, banking shares have taken a bit of a tonking today - particularly RBS - but the pound has also shed nearly 4c against the dollar. I remember not many weeks ago after the Pre budget thingy, that Ken Clarke said that the first sign of whether the fiscal stimulus would work or not would be which way the pound went - I think it may have gone down a touch.....

    Good think that Ken is back at the coal-face. I don't agree with him over Europe or the Euro, but the guy talks the language of the common man instead of the campbellesque psychobabble that Brown and Co come out with just to try and look clever. "Look you know we are the only ones capable of managing the economy because we are the only ones who know what the hell we're talking about"

    Someone (on a recent blog) pointed out that Gordon Brown's real name is James Brown. Perhaps he should re-release his hit from many years ago to try and get some cash back in the coffers....

    'Get up, get on up...
    get on the scene...
    I'm a debt machine...'

  • Comment number 100.

    And in the middle of all this it seems that Milliband Major made a mess of his trip to India last week upsetting virtually everyone he came into contact with. There was a brief mention of this on the World Service but little on the programmes aimed at UK listeners. However, Milliband is yet another incompetent in a government of incompetents. Any comments Nick?


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