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

A Chile reception

Nick Robinson | 19:00 UK time, Friday, 27 March 2009

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has told Gordon Brown that her country put aside money in the good times in order to spend in the bad.

It is a boast with uncanny echoes of exactly what David Cameron says Britain should have done but did not.

The President's words came at a joint news conference in Santiago after Gordon Brown became the first British prime minister ever to visit Chile.

I've no doubt she was unaware how unwelcome her words would be to her visitor. I've also no doubt that they will be seized on by the Tories to say "I told you so".

This is ironic since President Bachelet is a socialist and an admirer of Gordon Brown. Today she warmly welcomed his leadership of the G20 and his efforts to seek a global solution to global economic problems.

He is also an admirer of hers. She has spent much of this country's copper wealth on relieving poverty, investing in public services and improving education. .

At their news conference President Bachelet called on the G20 to agree to a co-ordinated fiscal stimulus next week.

I asked her whether, in fact, Chile could afford to spend more whereas Britain could not. In reply she said that that because of decisions her country had made in the good times the country was able to spend in the bad.

Ever since the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990 Chile has grown by an average of 5% a year (until the last few months, that is).

The country set up two sovereign wealth funds to save and later invest the proceeeds of that growth. The country has run a series of budget surpluses and wiped out its national debt. Fiscal responsibility is also enshrined in law.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think we could learn a lot from the so called emerging economies

  • Comment number 2.

    "This is ironic since President Bachelet is a socialist and an admirer of Gordon Brown. Today she warmly his leadership of the G20 and his efforts to seek a global solution to global economic problems."

    It's not irony to be a socialist and a supporter of Gordon Brown, it's hypocrisy.

    Although, it's often spelled "politics".

  • Comment number 3.

    Whoops again then for old Jimmy Brown on is worldwide tour...

    Hasn't exactly had a great trip so far has he Nick.

    The guv'nor of the BoE on his first day, first day of wasting my tax money flying via a private jet around the world that is, saying there wasn't a proverbial pot to relieve oneself in left for his grand and ever more delusional ideas of fiscal policies was hilarious.

    Well, that as well as being the first guv'nor of the BoE in history to be granted an audiance with the monarch. I bet a few mobile phones where getting thrown around that night.

    Then being thoroughly embarrassed and indeed shown up for the unremittant inane grinning idiot he is in front of the EU parliament by sensation Dan Hannan ( still not mentioned the speech that has become a worldwide sensation with over a million views in less than two days then hey Nick).

    Then a trip to America where so little happened one could have blinked and missed it.

    Crash then goes to Brazil where they have a £200,000,000,000 surplus because they didn't choose the sage advise of old prudance previously and blamed the whole crisis effectively on Europe and America, and rightly so.

    Then today, whereby it must have hurt the 'Dear Leader' to hear somebody on the opposite side of the world he is supposed to be courting for support of splashing the cash like it is going out of fashion, effectively mirror what he has been ridiculing and rubbishing from the conservatives every waking hour of every living day, in order to cover up for his own mistakes and inadequacies.

    I can't wait for tomorrow...

  • Comment number 4.

    some dodgy spelling/grammar there nick:

    "she warmly his leadership"

    "Chile has grown by an averge of 5% a year"

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it possible for the Chilean government to run things over here? Gordon has sold our economy down the river and I'm sure I could master Spanish if I had to.


  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant! Our wonder-man PM has to learn lessons in basic economic management from small countries halfway across the globe.

    Bang goes another Nokia bashed against the wall.....

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh dear oh dear, thats one in the eye for Gordon.

    Does the tour perhaps include zimbabwe, whos economy we seem to be emulating.

  • Comment number 8.

    Chile's post war history is very interesting and surprisingly relevant to all this. President Allende (who was ousted by Pinochet) asked Stafford Beer to set up a system to manage the economy in real time (in 1973/4) and it looked like he was going to be successful. This was too close to a successful planned / socialist economy for Henry Kissinger who engineering the Pinochet coup.

    The point is that Beer's viable systems model VSM which was the theoretical basis for the project is worth a second (third and fourth!) look in the light of the current mess that unregulated free market capitalism has created. BBC rules mean I can't ram the point home but Google/Amazon "Viable Systems Model" to find out more.

    The main beauty of it is that the science is unarguable and if you apply it to modern society it is not only still relevant it accurately explains why things went wrong. (For those in the know my assessment is a failure in Systems 2 (FSA/Treasury/BoE) and System 4 (no proper scenario analysis)

    Any politicos out there; I urge you read (and take the time to understand) the books!

  • Comment number 9.

    So all the time that Gordon was hurrumphing on about "prudence" and "an end to boom and bust", but squandering during the good times, raising stealth taxes and over-complicating the tax system, Chile was quietly getting on with managing her own economy responsibly.

    Is our ex Chancellor there to take lessons on how to run an economy or to give further lectures on saving the world?

  • Comment number 10.

    I didnt see your same gusto mr robinson whe thatcher and pinochet were having toasted teacakes together..........Why the apparent continous negative mode towards a good man doing a difficult job in difficult times?

  • Comment number 11.

    It is difficult to believe that President Bachelet is an admirer of Gordon Brown when his reckless profligacy has landed us with colossal debts which are becoming difficult to finance and her country has apparently behaved in a far more sensible and prudent manner resulting in a budget surplus. We know therefore that Chile can afford a fiscal stimulus if they deem one is necessary but we can't as the Governor of the BoE has told us. No doubt President Bachelet would concur with that but Nick didn't find out her view about the UK.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Chilean PM will probably be mortified when she hears of her gaffe. Doesn't make it any the less true however. Slowly but surely it seems that most of David Cameron's thoughts about Gordon Brown's policies are being ratifed around the World.

  • Comment number 13.

    Crash goes all the way to Chile to hear the same line he would have if he had been at PMQ's. I just wish he would get the message, we are broke and can’t afford any more! The rest of the world can see it why can't he.

    Let’s have that election before the UK is - Brown and out!


  • Comment number 14.

    Ah yes, our old mate Pinochet. Hammer of the Chilean working classes.
    And who did he turn to when he was in danger of being extradited to Spain to face at least part of his comeuppance??

    Ah yes, our old mate Maggie - hammer of the British working classes, whose slightly sanitized mantle now passes to the slightly saintly Dave.

    Dave is quite right - more should have been put away for rainy days. Many of us raised in far less favourable circumstances than Dave realised it, as indeed did Sra Bachalet.

    Here the similarity ends. Dave's party has, historically, given away any rainy day savings to the rich and well connected. We live in rum times but surely not so rum that a hypothetical Conservative government of 1997-2009 would now be dusting off the bank book to invest in publicly held assets or to improve public services.

  • Comment number 15.

    President Bachelet is certainly a wise woman to have saved money in the good times to provide for her people in the bad times, which is totally opposite to what Brown has done in Britain. So how Nick could make a good comparison between the two totally eludes me.

    Today we learn the real cost of Obama’s support for Browns Global solution to the banking crisis and it is called “more troops for Afghanistan”. This is what I believe Obama wants in return for his support of Brown. I say not one more troop; let the EU provide more troops not us. Not only would it be wrong, but also Britain cannot afford this war any longer. If we do not put a stop to this now, we will be entrenched in the Afghanistan conflict for years.

    As for the Royal Succession Reform; what other new ways will the Labour Government think of to cover the fact that Browns world tour was a complete failure than to pretend they are on the ball with reform for Britain. I only hope the public ask themselves, what is Brown doing concerning himself with Globe trotting, when he should be here sorting out this crisis which was of his making. What is so pressing about reforming our Royalty at this time when there are far more pressing problems.

  • Comment number 16.

    They do a pretty decent drop of wine in Chile as well; so are they Pinot Noir Socialists?

    Poor old Gordon: he goes off on a jaunt to patronise the poor and finds not only do they have more than he, they also deplore debt financing. Who says the Latin American Left learned nothing from the wilderness years?

    The evidence is stacking up that there is no future for this government. Either it goes of its own accord or it is dragged down by events. The Labour Party now has but one shot at surviving: dump Brown and form a coalition with the Tories and the Liberals. If they don't then they will disappear into the wheely-bin of history without being fined for excess waste.

  • Comment number 17.

    So Brown's world tour is to enable him to be embarrassed in all these countries, and then when they get here they'll be all nice and polite?

    Got to say he seems to be a glutton for punishment, but will we see a change in his "global vision"?

    Any signs of an apology yet?

    Did Lord Rio come to Chile too? Or is he still fighting them on the beaches?

  • Comment number 18.

    'I've no doubt she was unaware how unwelcome her words would be to her visitor.'

    You reckon?

  • Comment number 19.

    Makes you sick, doesn't it?

    The PM of the UK, which was once a position of significance, being told that he'd failed to preserve wealth, being told that a little bit of saving - and commercial nouse - could do you good!

    Just sharing stuff that everyone should know...

    "Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!! Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.


    Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

    Rule 2 : The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

    Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

    Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

    Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

    Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

    Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

    Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

    Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

    Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

    Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

    Just a pity that so few of those thoughts were taken on board by ministers - and have steered the UK into the mess we currently occupy... Just Brown stuff.

    Tell the children that nobody owes them anything. Teachers should teach real things. Children who want to aspire to be pop stars or footballers should be free to do that - but accept the consequences when it doesn't work out.

    Children who want to compete with Asian kids, who actually learn stuff, should be forced to face the realities of life.

    NOBODY owes you.

    Caring parents will nurture you. Others will ignore you. You want to make something of your life?

    Go do it.

    Don't believe you are clever when "Government" says you've passed some dumbed-down exams. Don't believe it when people say you can't do things. But be aware that if you can't spell, do basic arithmetic or articulate ideas - nobody will want to hire you into a private sector job.

  • Comment number 20.

    Seems the "Rockin all over the World with Guru Gordon" ( for it is he ) has been a bit of a disaster so far. Everyone he has visited seems to have responded " Actually Gordon, we're fine, erm..... nope, don't really need a ride on your debt fest bandwaggon. Naw Gordy, we put a lot away when the going was good, so we're pretty calm about it all, Good luck in the next country mate". "By the way, but keep it to yourself, we're alright for a bob or two, so don't go needy, you know where we are."

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr Brown seeking approbation here there and everywhere has got the message yet again that his policies as Chancellor and as Prime Minister have completely failed! But he must know this by now, surely he must?

    Mr Brown has lost all credibility on the world stage which he so craves. The "save the world tour" has seen him rounded on in Europe, ignored in the USA, embarrassed in Brazil and Chile.

    One more year and counting....

  • Comment number 22.

    It appears there is a growing number of world leaders that disagree with Gordon Brown.

    Surely it can't be true that people disagree with our beloved leader?

  • Comment number 23.

    An ideal time to report on the speech by Daniel Hannan, wouldn't you say Nick?

  • Comment number 24.

    A BIT OF ADVICE FOR THE DEVALUED PRIME MINISTER OF A DEVALUED GOVERNMENT

    WHO HAS BUST OUR COUNTRY!

    GO BROWN GO NOW!

  • Comment number 25.

    #19

    Rules by Charles J Sykes, not Bill Gates. Good post though.

  • Comment number 26.

    As Chilean living in Chile but having done my PhD in the UK, I am very happy of having PM Brown in our country. I am sure that our President was not intending to be rude or anything like that. We are very proud of what we are achieving in the economy and the improved quality of life for all our people after the years of horror with Pinochet. Also, fiscal responsibility is our maximum target in the economy but we are nobody to give recipes to other countries.

    Therefore, PM Brown and the British people should not take these remarks of our leader as a direct criticism to your nation or New Labour. It is up to you to decide in a new general election. I have to admit that though disappointing was the support for the war and many economic decisions taken by New Labour, our memory of the Tories embracing Pinochet is far from pleasant. Hopefully, if the Conservatives are the new majority in Parliament should they not support dictatorships around the world.

    In Chile we really like Britain, and especially those of us who had lived in your wonderful country. God bless your people and good luck with the economy. The British nation deserves the best.

  • Comment number 27.

    'I've also no doubt that they will be seized on by the Tories to say "I told you so".'

    And what, may I ask, is wrong with that?

    I thought that was the job of the opposition - to challenge the government of the day. Or am I missing something here??

    If Mr Brown wants to go to South America to show the world how to score own goals, you can hardly blame his opponents for feeling rather pleased about it!

  • Comment number 28.

    The only country where Mr Brown has had any support - in emulating his plans that is - is America - which happens to be the most indebted Country in the world and has a president committed to spending money he hasn't got to solve the problem.

    We have already seen that long-term Gilts issued by this Government are not flavour of the month and that index linked Gilts i.e. those protected against inflation are the ones preferred. The corollory of this is that the market expects inflation in the UK to take off. We have already had messages from the BoE that interest rates are going to have to rise to keep inflation (goods inflation - not the phoney CPI) in check.

  • Comment number 29.

    #19 fairlyopenmind

    I thought your post was a bit extreme on first reading.

    ...on second reading I agreed with every word.

    Reality for kids today is being praised for under achieving - not their fault if that is the system works that way - but I wish they would not be so full of themselves. In the "good old days" [I am joking] when I was lucky enough to be in the 5% that went to university from an ordinary background, we had more humility and went into the workplace prepared to do anything.

    At this rate we will be the third world economy the South Americans and Asians send their work to.


    We should not lecture them.

  • Comment number 30.

    #26 - jhbfChile - "Therefore, PM Brown and the British people should not take these remarks of our leader as a direct criticism to your nation or New Labour."

    Please, please, please understand that I (and I am sure I speak for many of my compatriots) am positively DELIGHTED that your leader has said something critical of our Prime Minister.

    Are we insulted? No way!! We are grateful to you!

    Thank you, Chile, for showing our wayward leader the meaning of the words "common sense" and "fiscal responsibility".

    Never apologise for telling the truth!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick,
    How about a comment on Daniel Hannan

  • Comment number 32.

    Fiscal responsibility is also enshrined in law

    Whereas we had Prudence until she was ditched because it was "all America's fault"

    I wonder if we can get some and apply those laws retrospectively?

  • Comment number 33.

    No 26 jhbfChile

    "Britain deserves the best"

    Exactly - call an election quick!

  • Comment number 34.

    HE is on Newsnight !!!

  • Comment number 35.

    14 Fingertapper

    You said "Dave's party has, historically, given away any rainy day savings to the rich and well connected."

    That is absolute rubbish. It is straight out of the Labour song book, fantasy drivel for motivating the party faithful. You should justify what you wrote or withdraw.

    Here's some context. Explain why the whole disgusting PFI spiv-industry (copyright G Brown) is not giving away tax-payers' hard-earned to the rich and well-connected.

  • Comment number 36.

    The president of Chile did not admire Browns spending spree.
    Sounds like she had some home truths she was trying to impart.
    Is Brown listening?
    No didn't think so.
    Hannon has it nailed, some comments from you about his very popular views would be good.

  • Comment number 37.

    "The country set up two sovereign wealth funds to save and later invest the proceeds of that growth."

    Now why did nobody in the UK think of that, when oil came along as a once in a lifetime bonus?

    Well, actually we did. Not only did the SNP make that proposal (and you could have adopted the idea for the UK), but Professor Gavin McCrone (then a civil servant) argued for exactly that policy. Norway has done pretty well by it.

    Successive Labour and Tory Governments, however, decided that it was far better to use it as current revenue.

    Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown - none of them had the wit to have slower depletion rates, and invest the revenues, but wasted it on failed social and economic experiments, and posturing on the world stage.

    Thanks Britain. If you had used the oil to properly secure the UK economy, there might have been some justification for your existence.

  • Comment number 38.

    A third world Britian created by a third rate PM, so much for the third way....

  • Comment number 39.

    So this vain deluded man and his cronies have to travel half way round the world to be confronted by their own incompetence.

    Reviled and criticised at home he fails once again to get other world leaders to proclaim his grandiose global status.

    Discovering that his Chile meeting was "ironic" could have been achieved with a phone call. The low-level socialist conference did not justify further waste of taxpayers money.

    His motives are embarrassing,fruitless and so costly to the UK.

  • Comment number 40.

    # 29 ... Oh, c'mon .. you didn't go from university into the workplace prepared to do anything ... the levels of entry were such that you went in on a salary commensurate with a certain type of work ... if your first employers expected university graduates to clean the lavatories and run errands etc then they wasted an awful lot of money paying graduate rates ... today's kids are savvy enough to have worked all that out ... and before you throw up your hands in horror and despair of the modern generation, just give a thought to who will be working to pay your pension in a few years time. Best encourage the youngsters all you can.

  • Comment number 41.

    Every direction Brown turns, opposition and worldwide politicians are telling him the opposite to what he's doing and planning on doing.

    The sooner New Labour are wiped out at the next election the better.



  • Comment number 42.

    "He is also an admirer of hers. She has spent much of this country's copper wealth on relieving poverty, investing in public services and improving education"

    I wish he had been enough of an admirer to follow her policies......

  • Comment number 43.

    "This is ironic since President Bachelet is a socialist and an admirer of Gordon Brown. Today she warmly welcomed his leadership of the G20 and his efforts to seek a global solution to global economic problems."
    Ironic it is not. Tragic perhaps. President Bachelet has clearly done the sensible thing by her country while Gordon Brown has talked a lot of sense but not been good to his word. The most immediate example that springs to mind is his predictions for Public Sector Borrowing Requirement. Year after year he would rattle off detailed figures for how the PSBR would be rapidly reduced to reasonable levels only to be miles adrift a mere 12 months later.
    Brown is a man of words not deeds. By his inaction he will be judged.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick:
    Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has told Gordon Brown that her country put aside money in the good times in order to spend in the bad. I think it was a lesson that the rest of the industrial world, needs to learned from the Third World....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 45.

    President Bachelet's words will be ringing in Brown's ears for a long time to come. It is embarrassing for the UK to witness his globetrotting ego trip turn into a flop. He only has himself to blame for his brazen audacity posing as the saviour of the world. Nobody has really 'listened' to him. They heard him, but didn't 'listen'.
    It will be a hard lesson to swallow and to realise the Chilean economy is doing better than ours.They have an astute Government that saved in the good times, didn't recklessly borrow and habitually spend. They now have funds to master their economy.
    Brown would do well to understand "there is no more money". He has saddled our children and grand children with debts that will take 40 years to repay. This is crass and absolutely insane.
    He would do well to listen and learn from Dan Hannan MEP and the Governor of the Bank of England Mr. King: 'You have run out of other people's money and there is no more money'.
    Also, how much has this globetrotting publicity ego trip cost the British tax payer? He should have stayed at home.

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    Hey Nick, what have you and the BBC got planned for the next General Election, you know the one where many people expect a complete Labour wipe out at the polls ?
    Are you intending to give an up to the minute coverage of this much anticipated event with in depth analysis of what is actually happening outside the westminster village or are you planning to take part in a hilarious edition of Election night strictly come dancing with Andrew Marr and Alistair Campbell ?
    Just wondering!

  • Comment number 48.

    A note of caution from Germany's Angela Merkel which amounts to yet another speculative shot across Gordon's damaged bows. The good ship Brown may not yet be trminally damaged below the water line but we're getting there.

    https://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/eda17b82-1b09-11de-8aa3-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

  • Comment number 49.

    40. At 00:05am on 28 Mar 2009, pat the cat wrote:
    # 29 ... Oh, c'mon .. you didn't go from university into the workplace prepared to do anything ... the levels of entry were such that you went in on a salary commensurate with a certain type of work ... if your first employers expected university graduates to clean the lavatories and run errands etc then they wasted an awful lot of money paying graduate rates ... today's kids are savvy enough to have worked all that out ... and before you throw up your hands in horror and despair of the modern generation, just give a thought to who will be working to pay your pension in a few years time. Best encourage the youngsters all you can.

    Speak for yourself. I worked hard for over 40 years to pay my own pension contributions by way of taxes unlike some who considered it to be something way off in the future not to be concerned with! Relying on The State for your future welfare is a dangerous course of action which in future generations wil not be tolerated for al kinds of benefits including pensions and health.

  • Comment number 50.

    #29
    Like sicilian29 I have supported myself all my working life, starting work on a graduate apprentiship where I had to learn all aspects of business no matter how menial.

    Maybe there would be less unemployed graduates if they were prepared to listen and learn.

    I continue to make my own provisions although everything seems stacked against the private sector.

    I make do now to provide for my own pension and do not rely on state handouts. It is good old fashioned responsibility.

    When the time comes I will have paid for my pension umpteen times over through the tax I have paid and furthermore the tax I will pay on my pension in my dotage will no doubt go towards educating more young people.


  • Comment number 51.

    ... it did not include typing

  • Comment number 52.

    "Ever since the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990 Chile has grown by an average of 5% a year (until the last few months, that is)."

    I'm not quite sure why this sentence is written as it is, maybe a quote from a current Chilean politico. It is however VERY misleading and I hope not a general trend to try and rewrite history: one - and not wishing to deflect the thread - it wasn't a "fall"; two, the growth started before and in fact from 1985 to 1997 was, at 7.6% over double the OECD and World averages and only lagged behind the East Asia and Pacific region.

    Message 8: roryharrison re Variable System Model: spot on, certainly a major malfunction of system 4, let's hope politicians can read!
    Message 19: fairlyopen minded: great comments!
    Message 26: jhbrchile: "our memory of the Tories embracing Pinochet is far from pleasant"...our? maybe you could confirm you don't speak for all Chileans: I happen to know certainly don't.

  • Comment number 53.

    Although I wrote in an earlier thread that the good ship Brown had not yet been terminally breached below the water line perhaps I was wrong:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-1165417/PETER-OBORNE-Disloyalty-Humiliation-The-week-Browns-grand-vision-brutally-shattered.html

  • Comment number 54.

    How can the Tories say 'I told you so' ???
    Did they say in 1998 or 2001 or anytime in the years before the recession 'You should be saving in the good times' No, i think not, its only since the economy went into recession that 'Dave' and his lot have been trying to con us into thinking that they were (all this time) urging the government to save, save, save. No doubt Dave will be playing 'Mr. Hindsight' again in the commons before long.

  • Comment number 55.

    35 - jrperry

    Sorry to keep you - went for a pint.

    You may know better than I about Labour songbooks. Not being a Labour member, or even a camp-follower, I only get what comes through the letterbox with the rest of the dross.

    Sadly for your story, my socialist leanings are based on personal experience. Having spent approximately the first third of my life in rural poverty, during the halcyon days of MacMillan, Eden and Home, I watched my Dad busting his guts working sometime twelve and fifteen hours a day for rich farmers and landowners. The latter prospered through a raft of favourable grants, lack of regulation and benevolent tax measures. Meanwhile their employees and families lived without gas, electricity or sanitation. Without employment protection and without any health and safety safeguards.

    Believe me, when you cast your mind back to defecating onto a festering heap in an outhouse in the middle of winter you don't need a middle-class Labour candidate to tell you there's something wrong with the way the nation's wealth is distributed Fortunately, thanks in part to Harold Wilson's government - I was able to kick my way out of this and make my way in the world. Meanwhile it left me never needing a labour hymnsheet to be distrustful of the Tories.

    Years later, after an extended period overseas, I returned to Maggiedom. By now, I had worked out the difference between direct taxation where the rich will broadly pay more than the poor, and indirect taxation where buyers are taxed irrespective of income and the poor man's new possession is taxed at the same rate as the squire's. However I also encountered a new tax - a tax on just being alive, the infamous Community Charge. My sixteen-yerar-old, on YTS (another fine device for redistributing the labours of the poor into the coffers of the rich) was paying the same as the millionaire up the road.

    Now had such a tax been necessary to forestall a national emergency or targeted on specific public works it would have been less objectionable. Instead it was became an alternative revenue stream which allowed the Tory government of the day to implement major cuts in income tax for the voters. Joe Average may have benefitted marginally but for the Men in Red Braces - the financial conjurers of the City of London, whose questionable chickens are now coming home to roost - it was a jamboree. Are you seriously suggesting that post-Callaghan Tory governments have not not followed a policy of more indirect taxation and less taxation on income and inheritance?? Did I imagine the Poll Tax?

    In the circs, no withdrawal is required or forthcoming

  • Comment number 56.

    fingertapper 55

    Good afternoon, hope you enjoyed your pint.

    Wow talk about living in the past. These are the sort of arguments I have heard for years from old Labour voters, in the area I come from. These same people are now sadly disillusioned by what they see as Labour having betrayed them over the last 12 years.

    Meanwhile coming back to the present, I have to say, that this Labour Government has imposed more indirect taxes on the people of Britain than any other Government in history. Therefore the ordinary working Labour voter you speak of is contributing far more tax than ever. Of course people who could work and choose not to, have done very nicely out of this Labour Government.

    You speak of the poll tax, well apart from the fact that this tax does not exist anymore, I think there are a lot of people who wish they were still paying the poll tax as it would be less than the exorbitant current Council Tax most of us are now paying. Why should a person living alone pay as much as a family of 6. This situation impacts the older population particularly hard especially as they are already on a low income (and in a great majority of cases living below the poverty line).

    Inheritance tax is a particularly ugly tax, and is not just affecting the very rich. It is hitting people who have worked hard and saved during their lifetime in order not to be a burden on the state in old age. In my view it is a travesty that when these responsible people die, rather than bequeathing their home and maybe some capital to their family it is taxed. As tax has already been paid on this money, why should they pay another 40%. The same unjust situation occurs if a person has to go into an old peoples home. They have to give any savings they may have and their home (up to a very low limit which they are allowed to keep). Whereas others who have not worked nor saved during their lifetime, are not required to pay anything. Do you think that is fair?

    Furthermore a good standard of living for everyone can only come from a thriving economy. If the wealthy land owner you speak of had not provided work, then your family would have been a lot worse off. Every time Labour has been in power they have frittered away the Countries wealth, crippling the economy to such an extent we had to go cap in hand in the 70s to the IMF. This does not affect the very rich as they are in the envious position that they will/can leave the country. This also applies to the man/woman with skills who will do exactly the same. Therefore the conclusion is that this leaves the ordinary worker who mainly consist of Labour core voters who will suffer the most.

    We will never have an equal society because there will always be people with more talents, more skills, and ability to make more money. These are the investors we need. Envy of the better off has not worked in the past and will not work now.


  • Comment number 57.

    40, pat the cat wrote:

    "# 29 ... Oh, c'mon .. you didn't go from university into the workplace prepared to do anything ... the levels of entry were such that you went in on a salary commensurate with a certain type of work ... if your first employers expected university graduates to clean the lavatories and run errands etc then they wasted an awful lot of money paying graduate rates ... today's kids are savvy enough to have worked all that out ... and before you throw up your hands in horror and despair of the modern generation, just give a thought to who will be working to pay your pension in a few years time. Best encourage the youngsters all you can."

    Pat... Time was that employers wre interested in bringing graduates into a workplace because they could deliver something. But, before they were unleashed into a position of responsibility, they liked them to understand a bit about the organisation they worked in. And the people they would eventually manage. And about the things that need to be done in order to support their eventual "managerial lifestyle".

    What's wrong with asking a grad to clean the loos? Somebody has to do it. What's wrong about asking somebody who will eventually do a great job in marketing to spend a little time on the shop floor, to understand the intricacy of actually MAKING things - and the boredom that many people have to endure?

    I've got children. Love 'em to bits. Like many people, I'd like them all to "succeed". But I see no reason why they should glide from school to Uni to an office job without any recognition that stuff has to be developed, manufactured, delivered... And to realise that things happen at all times of the day and night.

    I'd be happy for all MPs to be required to spend part of their summer recess working in a job chosen by their constituents, so they got an idea about real life.

    I'd prefer that to apply to Ministers. Get the buggers out to experience life amongst the people who they (in theory) manage.

    People grumble about MPs having income from "outside work". I'd like to make it mandatory.

    Let's be honest. I bet my house that NO MP has any detailed understanding about every bit of law they have nodded through in the last year. If they are serious that being an MP is a full-time job, they should be able to state with certainty that they can discuss any element of every law or regulation. If they can't, they should simply stop legislating. God knows, we have thousands of pages of legal constraints and waves of stuff cropping up every day.

    Is anyone on this blog absolutely convinced that they haven't broken some law or regulation during the last year?

    How do you know? Have you read all the garbage that pours from Brussels via Westminster, with the "local" element added in?




  • Comment number 58.

    At 10:44am on 28 Mar 2009, FuturePMmichael wrote:
    'How can the Tories say 'I told you so' ???
    Did they say in 1998 or 2001 or anytime in the years before the recession 'You should be saving in the good times' No, i think not, its only since the economy went into recession that 'Dave' and his lot have been trying to con us into thinking that they were (all this time) urging the government to save, save, save. No doubt Dave will be playing 'Mr. Hindsight' again in the commons before long.'


    I'm afraid you're quite wrong with your spurious claim that The Conservatives waited until The Recession to warn of too high Public Spending and not enough saving. Follow the links to these articles and you will be forced to retract your comments.:

    https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-113283183.html

  • Comment number 59.

    #55:

    I think you'll find that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened under Labour which rather defeats your entire argument!

  • Comment number 60.

    #56 Susan:

    As usual we seem to be singing from the same hymn book. All I can really say is 'Hear,hear!'.

  • Comment number 61.

    A concise comment on The G2 tour from Sky:

    In Figures - Brown's G20 Tour Jonathan Levy.
    March 28, 2009 1:55 PM
    Countries:4.....Cities:6.....Days:6.....Flying Hours:35.....Air Miles:18,000.....CO2 Emissions:3.15 tonnes......Leaders:5.....Press Conferences:4.....Media Interviews:4.....Embarrasments:3....Achievements:?

  • Comment number 62.

    People keep referring to what the tories did or didn't say over the last 12 years.

    But they were not the government. It was their job to debate the actions of the government, but with such a labour majority this apalling government could do what they liked, and look where it has got us.

    It is the disastrous unelected GB who is ruining the country and his team of expense fiddling half wits. The sooner they go and my dog Daisy takes over the better.

  • Comment number 63.

    susan @ 56

    We will never have an equal society

    true ... we'll never have Peace on Earth either ... like that, it's an aspiration to be worked towards ... it defines our degree of civilisation and the more progress we make, the closer we get to the goal, the better and more civilised we are ... if politics isn't mainly about that, I'm not sure what the point is

  • Comment number 64.

    #62:

    Once again I can really only say 'Hear,hear!'. This ridiculous argument propagated by desperate Brownies whereby the sins of this Labour Government are somehow blamed upon the puny minority Opposition is beginning to wear rather thin! It's a bit like the guilty miscreant pupil in the classroom saying 'I wasn't the only one!'.

  • Comment number 65.

    sicilian29 60

    Yes we do seem to agree a lot, most of all I hope you are keeping well.

  • Comment number 66.

    Susan @ 65:

    Thank you for the kind thoughts. Thankfully okay after my big scare. For a while there politics was the last thing on my mind but Gordon Brown irks me so much I just couldn't let it alone.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has told Gordon Brown that her country put aside money in the good times in order to spend in the bad.
    It is a boast ..."

    why is this "boasting"?? admonishment, perhaps, deserved too.

  • Comment number 68.

    Susan-croft and Mr Sicilian
    Thank you for your comments. So many to address.........
    Susan - you refer to my @living in the past@. Certainly so - even fifty years on it's still raw. Yet are we not taught that those who fail to heed history are condemend to repeat its mistakes - or words to that effect.
    I am not a disillusioned Labour voter because I didn't vote for them and was under no illlusions that beneath the glitz and spin, Blair and cronies were post-Thatcher conservatives. By 1997 much of the British public had convinced itself that all was well with the world and that there was now this magical way forward with little manufacturing, lots of people owning property and apparently we leave the rest to the service industries and a bunch of magicians in the City who magically ensure our investments always multiply. Labour - in my view - badly compromised its roots in order to engage these feelgood voters.

    Be this as it may, it was clear to me, coming back into the UK after time abroad, that many of the sacred cows of the Thatcher period were bogus. Certainly the expression Home Owner is one of the most abused in the English Language. Most are not - a more accurate expression is Major Debtor - but it doesn't sit well with Middle England and it certainly doesn't get you elected. Blair embraced the property-owning classes and the Thatcherite feelgood factors proliferated. Meanwhile I stood wondering how so many people whom I was fairly sure were worse off than me in terms of both income and possessions were managing to buy ever bigger houses and a new Volvo every year. They were, as we now know, being kept afloat by ever cheaper credit and borrowings against house prices which had long ago started to go way beyond their intrinsic values. It was the road to hell but it was classic King's New Clothes stuff and everybody rode it. The same smug people told me how their pension pot kept going up. Sure, their pension fund was investing heavily in industries which were abandoning Britain for low-wage, low-regulation economies, but what the heck, it wasn't their job. Only now are these people coming to realise that they have been badly conned by both New Labour and Conservatives. In reality, if all of us ionly had what we could pay cash for then many of us would self-classify ourselves as poor.
    You mention the Poll Tax or Community Charge. Would you bring it back? You do get a discount for single occupancy, by the way. Ultimately, hwever, if governments are to tax then broadly they have to tax
    (a) Income - apparently anathema to the Conservatives
    (b) Spending - indirect taxation generally supported by the Conservatives or
    (c) Possessions - Property or other, in the form of Council Tax or even Inheritance Tax (which I agree is not pleasant).
    However, the money has to come from somewhere or spending has to be cut. There seems to be little consensus among the Conservative Party or its supporters on these pages what the way forward should be. Even Dave and Ken can't agree.

    As for the Very Rich leaving our fair shores and taking their ball home with them. A myth, I fear, trotted out since the beginning of time. If they were going to do it they'd have done it years ago. There's little to stop them and personally I'm unimpressed by this nuclear scenario of Mr Rich moving his millions to Monaco if we are not good compliant C2's and below. It certainly didn't stop the rich landowners whom you so charitably credit with giving my Dad something to do.

    Where is all this taking us> Who knows. I'm no big fan of Brown but I at least credit him with trying to do something, much as I despise him for being part of the mass self-delusion which sustained both the Tories and Nutorylabour for so long. For Labour, this recent infatuation with unbridled capitalism (and before Mr Sicilian kicks off, I don't condemn capitalism outright)can be seen as an aberration. A fling which might not have been such a good idea in the cold light of dawn. For the conservatives it hasn't been a quick legover - it's been a lifelong love affair.

    Dave seems to admit that he knew it was all going to hell in a handcart, but failed to flag it up. Even now there is lack of equivocation as to what controls, if any, a future Cameron government would impose on the City and all its works. There is a lack of clear alternatives to be implemented under a future ditto. When he comes up with a Plan B to contrast with Brown's Plan B I may have more respect for him.

    Nice talking to you but have to go plant some veg in preparation for the forthcoming storm. Mr Sicilian - sorry to hear of your troubnles whatever they were and glad to hear things are on the mend

  • Comment number 69.

    #68 Fingertapper

    You have hit the nail on the head. You are saying that nothing is perfect, no one is perfect, but some strive for betterment. It is a pity that these postings are nearly always ended by someone being reasonable or asking basic questions, it is a pity our two love-birds susan and sicilian don't come back with another clipping from the Mail on Sunday.

    It is hoped that sicilian does get the support he needs but it may be worthwhile thinking back to those people who needed it before 1997, like my Dad who, in 1988 died the week the help he needed was offered after waiting over two years. So, blame Gordon Brown all you like, if it makes you feel better, but some of this "wasted money" as sicilian and susan like to think of it, has done a lot of good.

    I would agree with you that this idea that the rich will leave if taxes are increased, is a smokescreen, devised to frighten those of us who actually create the wealth they are threatening to leave with. I say let the buggers go. The pro-anti capitalism argument is too simplistic. Capital is money, money is a record of work done or goods supplied. All business needs capitalising, the question is, where from? Should it come from outside the business, from people who use the record of other peoples work? Or should it come from those that work in the business concerned? As a co-operator, I say the latter, but it is a slower process of expansion, but what's the rush. The excepted form of capitalism, from external souces, nearly always demand returns too quickly, so they can move on to the next fast buck. Not caring about the carnage they leave in their wake, as long as they get their fast buck. It is unsustainable.

    Lat's go for the co-operative route, the sooner the better.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68 and 69:

    I take both of your implied criticisms with good grace and acknowledge that your arguments are not as one sided as some on here. I am not the raging capitalist that you present me as having for many years been an ordinary primary school teacher with a great dislike of the successive Tory administrations that frequently rubbished the public sector. I understand that you suspect a leopard will never change its spots but I am now so disillusioned with the present incumbents at Westminster that I am willing to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt on change. Though from a modest background my parents worked hard to improve their home. To see 40% of much of their efforts taken by The Exchequer and thrown down the toilet some three years ago was hard to take and has made the whole family feel bitter. As far as quoting from what are variously described as 'The Daily Moan' and 'The Torygraph' I make every attempt to use sources from The Independent, The Times, Sky News and LBC Radio to avoid this kind of charge. It goes without saying that I rarely if ever quote The Daily Mirror which is becoming increasingly isolated although even Polly Toynbee is coming round to the conclusion that Gordon Brown is a busted flush. When Keven McGuire one of their major political columnists in a slot on LBC Radio said that he would celebrate Margaret Thatcher's death it put the tin lead on my opinion of them. As to my health I have every reason in the same vein as David Cameron to laud the NHS and its fabulous staff who have helped me to recover from very serious illness. I fully appreciate well wishing thoughts on here from whichever quarter. I despise the bankers and profit leeches as much as the next man but people like this tend to flourish in spite of the guys at Westminster. Maybe now they will begin to get their comeuppance. Thousands have already lost their livelihoods and the thousands more being denigrated for taking advantage of a possible change in Inheritance Tax will not be alive to enjoy the fruits of any tax changes anyway.

 

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

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