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To stimulate or not to stimulate?

Nick Robinson | 17:29 UK time, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

STRASBOURG: Here in Strasbourg today - as in New York, Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Santiago in the days to come - Gordon Brown's message has been that the world should act together to stimulate the economy.

Gordon BrownThe message from here to the world, though, has been this: if stimulating the economy means more spending and more borrowing, it will be without the support of the Bank of England.

To stimulate or not to stimulate is a question with an impact not just on economics, not just on international relations, but also on domestic politics.

The argument about whether to burden the country with debt (as the Tories claim that Gordon Brown is doing) or to do nothing (as he insists their stance implies) is central to the argument which will run all the way to the next election.

It is an argument which will be given new force by the decisions the chancellor announces in his budget in a few weeks' time and it is one that the governor of the Bank of England just brought alive.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Crises such as this do not come along very often but do present opportunities to recast the entire system.

    Is it sensible to 'stimulate' a planet which is now apparently struggling to cope with the adverse impact of humankinds economic activities.

    Or do we still follow the dogma of some defunct economist until the bitter end.

  • Comment number 2.

    You can always stimulate the economy by spending (or encouraging others to spend) more money - like you can always cure a hangover by drinking more alcohol or by taking another fix when you come off a drug high.

    Eventually, however, you have to sober up or detox - and the longer the binge the worse it will be.

    Stimulating by borrowing just puts off the evil day and makes that day of reckoning worse - the bill is larger.

    IF we survive the next 10 years we should appreciate how close we came to total disaster and how we avoided : depression, hyperinflation, high unemployment, nationalism - oh and ownership of most of the assets of the country being in foreign hands and the citizens forced to work for the benefit of other countries, living on the scraps that they condescend to leave us.

  • Comment number 3.

    If he really is interested in the long term future of the economy he would put himself and his plans in front of the voters for there decision. Why doesn't he resign, call an election and then let whoever wins have a 5 year run at sorting out the economy.

    This delusional fixation with getting re-elected is doing immense harm to the UK economy.

  • Comment number 4.

    "But, just as after the Second World War visionary leaders laid the groundwork for 30 years of prosperity and growth."

    This comment appears on the PM's G20 website. I can't beleive he puts himself in this category.

  • Comment number 5.

    "To stimulate or not to stimulate"?

    Call me even more cynical than usual, but Mr Robinson, were you having a little underhand laugh at Gordo's expense with that particular headline!?

    In so many ways 'to stimulate' and 'PM Gordon Brown' are not 2 expressions you expect to find in any sensible sentence in the English language.

    The possibility of Gordo and the UK Economy experiencing anabiosis at this late stage in the former's tragi-comic career is much less likely than Scotland winning any World Cup of any description?

    So far as I can tell the PM's new policy is not to amortize, but, to speculatively flood a collapsing economy with financial inducements as if his last decade of non-prudent fiscal activity had not already done enough damage.

    Surely, someone, somewhere in the NuLab Government has the courage to find his passport and point Gordo north to the border asap?

  • Comment number 6.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is the part I have an issue with

    The argument about whether to burden the country with debt (as the Tories claim that Gordon Brown is doing) or to do nothing (as he insists their stance implies) is central to the argument which will run all the way to the next election.

    Surely it is better for you, as a political commentator, to actually pull out these soundbites and actually give credence to them? Without you simply fall into the position of saying "a plague on both your houses"?

  • Comment number 8.

    Funny how the sensible option 3 never seems to get a mention - to cut spending through cutting back on massive waste in the public sector.

    Seems much more reasonable that Gordon's mantra of everlasting debt to me.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'll tell you how to stimulate the economy......cut Gov't spending by 5% in EVERY department and pass on the savings in tax cuts to the working poor! Simple!

    The Private sector can easliy find 5% cost reductions in this recession so why can't the public sector? What makes them any different in terms of the burden then should share and the efficiences they should deliver?

    Brown is just for big spending, big taxation and big debts all on an enormous and inefficient scale! The nanny big brother state gone mad!

    Good for Mervyn King, the CBI and the Conservative Party now all singing from the same hymm sheet with some of our beloved European Partners.

    Profligacy (aka fiscal stimulas on a credit card) is dead!

  • Comment number 10.

    If I had huge debt (which I don't), Gordy Brown's grand plan to get me out of debt would be for me to borrow more ... is that how it goes? And we wonder why the economy is in such a mess. I go by the old expression, "When you are in a hole - stop digging."

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course we need intervention! The idea that we can just sit back and it will blow over all on its own is bordering on the insane. What crosses into insanity in fact is the Tories strategy which moans about government debt and then proposes taking inheritance tax up to 1 million. This not only makes worse the very thing they criticise but it also only helps those who have a lot of money to give away when they die.

    Now, that doesn't mean Brown's form of stimulus is the best way but he is right to be arguing for stimulation. Personally I think we should be building sectors that actually produce something tangible rather than leaving our economy reliant on speculation. Why not invest in the manufacturing of green technology? Government has already got a commitment to reducing carbon so the demand is guaranteed and otherwise they would only have to import these products. Why not use this to get the economy going by creating jobs?

  • Comment number 12.

    Is anyone out there taking Gordon Brown seriously. The Europeans are categorically stating their opposition to his proposals. The Americans are providing fiscal stimulus but in combination with massive cuts in other budgets to fund it and a plan to reduce their budget defecit (hardly copying Gordon Browns proposals when they are doing neither of these things) and even the Bank of England and the CBI are at odds with further borrow and spend despite the spin Yvette Cooper put on this. So when will Gordon Brown stop pretending that we can borrow our way out of debt and have the courage to start taking the essential but maybe not headline grabbing or popular decisions to sort out our public finances and rebalance our economy between the wealth creating and non wealth creating sectors.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Nick,

    Makes a complete dog's breakfast of the G20. I trust you will disseminate the spin from substance when the time comes.

    If we are borrowing 12% of GDP, then there is simply no wriggle room for further manoeuvre. So we are between a Northern Rock and a Nut Case.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 14.

    We (the public) can only pray that Alistair Darling puts his duty to us above his own position and loyalty to the labour party leader.

    I am sure he knows what 'the right thing to do' is, but can he bring himself to do it?

  • Comment number 15.

    It has been pointed out by many commentators, but worth repeating, that the level of debt being amassed by this Labour Government is greater, in real terms, than the debt arising from the Second World War.

    Interest payments on the UK national debt is projected to be 60 billion pounds a year, or 1,000 pounds per person. If half the population are income-tax payers then this is 2,000 pounds per person per year. Of course this makes no allowance for repaying the debt itself. So let's say that capital repayments are 30 billion per year. Then on average every person is paying 1,500 towards repaying the debt, and each taxpayer 3,000 pounds per year.

    The size of the problem is simply staggering. It won't just drown the next government, but the one after that.

    Quite a tidy sum to pay for Gordon's re-election campaign.

    Sometimes I think the opposition parties should just announce that they will not repay all new Government debt incurred since, say, April 2009. This would almost certainly make it impossible for Gordon to increase the national debt.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick is just burying us in blogs now - how are we supposed to keep up?

  • Comment number 17.

    Great news, Mervyn King actually breaks rank with Brown and sides with the Tories on spending.

    It's what anyone with any common sense knows already, it's just that we have a prime minister who has not only destroyed my generations retirement prospect but he's burdoned my childrens early working life with ridiculous levels of tax due to his policies, and his attempts to rescue his capitalist funded socialist failed policies.

    Nick, I'm afraid the Budget could be the defining end moment in your man Browns political career.

  • Comment number 18.

    Funny that there has been no mention of this rebuke yet on the BBC.

    Wonder why that is...hmm.

    So that is Brown Being humiliated on the world stage in front of the entire EU parliament as well as being effectively dismissed as one teacake short of a picnic in terms of his fiscal policies by the governor of the Bank of England.

    Not been a good day has it.

    Still, there is plenty more humiliation to come in the coming days, what with the endless scope of embarrassment of the G20 in a week or so looming on the horizon.

    What fun....

    * Hat tip to Guido Fawkes

  • Comment number 19.

    I've just watched Daniel Hannan MEP on 'youtube'. What a brilliant speech.

    I bet Nick won't report on this one, Mandy would never let him. He calls Gordon "The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government" and says what most of the electorate think.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think its about time Cameron and Clegg on behalf of the people of the country called for a vote of no confidence in the measures this present government are burdening our economy with.

  • Comment number 21.



  • Comment number 22.

    Mervyn King says "No".

  • Comment number 23.

    There seems to be no depths to which this man will stoop to hang on in power. In the TB days Brown was really anti EU; but today he gave one of his most fullsome speeches of the EU. However, while the PM is out the of the country his man in charge of the BoE wasted no time in rubbishing any further attempts by the Govt to spend their way out of the recession.
    The cupboard is virtually bare. The govt upon hearing what King had to say panicked and Yvette Cooper was sent to do the rounds of the studios. Muddying the waters as to whether the govt is in its first or second tranch of fiscal stimulus.

    Brown seems to be losing the argument as more and more countries are saying enough is enough. Before throwing any more good money after bad they are wanting to see what results come from what they have done so far. Brown seems impatient and not willing to do that. I think the G20 meeting will be rather uncomfortable for him, particularly if Barak`s scheme starts to work.

    Time now to return to being prudent with a wait and see policy, rather than spend, spend and spend more now followed by paying it back for the rest of your life.

    #3 skynine has got it right in that Brown should now resign and lets have a government with a five year mandate to put things right. Brown is only doing what he is doing to survive as long as he can. His measures are for his short term existence in power, not the long term future of this country. It`s time the men in the grey suits took him to one side and told him in the interests of the country and NuLabour its time he stepped aside.

  • Comment number 24.

    oldrightie @6

    Thanks! Hannan's speech was great.

  • Comment number 25.

    Watch Mervyn King explaining that he didn't mean what he said , after a session with the Labour enforcers, maybe he mis spoke. He'll have to watch his comments, or he might join several other bankers in exile or worse. Big Brown will not be a happy bunny wth his pet financier. Does Mervyn not know that Britain is best placed of all the industrialised world to come safely through the recession ?

  • Comment number 26.

    No mention of Daniel Hannan's speech Nick? No, of course not.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]ANOTHER AWFUL DAY FOR LABOUR

  • Comment number 27.

    #6 oldrightie

    Thanks for that, nice to see someone standing up and telling it like it is for a change! That vid has just made my day :)

  • Comment number 28.

    re. post 06
    It is Daniel Hannan, not Hannah.

    I hadn't heard of him until now, but at last we find someone shooting from the hip.

    Nick, I think that is worth reporting.
    The BBC has an obligation to report both sides, you have reported on Gordo's effort, so now report on a response.

    All you have to do is take a deep breath, and dive in.........
    The effect of Hannan's speech was to provoke the first sign of Gordo squirming good and proper; Gordo knows that is the beginning of his end, don't you?

    (I've cheered up a bit now)

  • Comment number 29.

    Comrade Robinson says:

    The argument about whether to burden the country with debt (as the Tories claim that Gordon Brown is doing).

    ----- ----- ----- -----

    What do you mean the Tories claim? Did young Robinson miss the PBR? Or was his attention diverted when the street-walking Darling gave his predictions for government borrowing? The only thing that is a claim (and it's unlikely to be a claim for much longer) is that the borrowing and debt will be higher than stated in the PBR.
    It's no claim, young Robinson. It's a stone-cold-sober fact. Golem Brown is burdening the country with a crippling debt.
    He's also printing money in that face of rising inflation. I wonder how long CPI will last as the Golem's favoured measure of inflation now that it isn't saying what he wants it to say.
    They tell me Golem Brown is recovering in the polls a little. I suspect that won't survive April 22, when Darling has to be a bit more realistic with the figures.

  • Comment number 30.

    mervyn king has had the courage to object to the maniacs policies. he should congratulated.

    alastair darling must now do likewise.

    afterall - how much is one maniacs ego worth?

  • Comment number 31.

    Daniel Hannan spoke for the British people today - look forward to the BBC giving his speech wider coverage.

    Nick - do you really believe the emperor has clothes, or is all this just to keep him sweet?

  • Comment number 32.

    whatever Mervyn King says, I'd be inclined to do the opposite - he's one of these "I look the part but I'm an Airhead" City types who are best ignored

  • Comment number 33.

    Gordon Brown's problem is that he is increasing public spending on the back of borrowing without managing the nationalised banks through government interference to kick start lending to the wealth creating sector, without taking out unpopular and unsustainable public expenditure on things like ID cards and Trident, without having 'New Deal' style policies to tackle unemployment while investing in this country's future, without taxing the rich sufficiently, without dealing without realising the fundemental flaws in the market economy system, without having a 'Buy British' campaign, without getting British jobs back to Britain: without a prayer of being re-elected condemning us all to an ideology that will pay back through making the most vulnerable suffer.

  • Comment number 34.

    Gordon Brown should be congratulated for one of his policies that has actually worked. He has managed to kill off the British motor industry through raising car tax, fuel duty, parking charges etc. Now he is seeing the success of this policy and no one is buying cars, we see panic and that he is considering loans to car manufacturers and paying us to change our cars. I am confused.

  • Comment number 35.

    I thought you were going to have a boring trip but it looks like it could be quite the reverse.

    Can 't wait for the answer when you ask spendaholic Brown how he can continue to sell his financial stimulus plans to other countries when the governor of the Bank of England states publicly we can't afford it here.

    Stirring stuff. Ignore his tantrums for his days are certainly numbered.

  • Comment number 36.

    I watched Daniel Hannan MEP on 'youtube'. Totally brilliant, hope the BBC don't ignore it.

  • Comment number 37.

    So nothing to say on the greatest speech the country has never heard ?
    I have a new hero,step forward Dan Hannan.

    Robinson you are a labour stooge,no more,no less and you should hang your head in shame.

    BBC impartiality,your havin a larf !

  • Comment number 38.

    NR writes:
    'The argument about whether to burden the country with debt (as the Tories claim that Gordon Brown is doing) or to do nothing (as he insists their stance implies) is central to the argument which will run all the way to the next election.

    I wouldn't have thought that there was any doubt now doubt that we are already burdened with debt for years to come. As for the 'do nothing' thing not even The labour Front Bench are using that jibe any more because it's a fallacy!
    Mervyn King The President of The B Of E says that there is no more scope for fiscal stimulus as the coffers are empty and beyond. His word is good enough for me.

  • Comment number 39.

    18 Guv'nor

    Thanks for the link

    Unbelievably brilliant speech by Hannan

    Brown was visibly cringing. Someone at last had actually got through that thick skin.

    Certainly not Brown's best day today one way and another.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hannan's notch!

    Who is this man?

    Get him to the despatch box tommorrow in Parliament at noon please someone!

  • Comment number 41.

    Here's another one today telling old Jimmy Brown how it is in front of the entire EU parliament as well as Mr Hannan.

    Add them two to Merv giving a good hard slap in the face as well today.

    Hardly a warm welcoming trip across the seas was it.

    Yet has any of this been broadcast or even mentioned by either you or any of your other fully paid up luvvies over there at the BBC.

    Not a bit of it.

    It is portrayed by your headlines that the EU parliament where in awe of his sage advise etc ...yada yada spin spin waffle waffle...saviour of the nauseum.

    Yeh right.

  • Comment number 42.

    "It is an argument which will be given new force by the decisions the chancellor announces in his budget in a few weeks' time and it is one that the governor of the Bank of England just brought alive".


    A pity you didn't Nick.

  • Comment number 43.

    It's not an argument Nick, it's fact, there was too much money and you can't solve that problem by creating even more. There was too much debt and you can't solve that problem by creating more. Gordon Brown has us in a very deep hole and he's intent on making it even deeper. See Daniel Hannan's excellent response to Brown's speech to the EU parliament on the youTube.

  • Comment number 44.

    8 djlazarus

    Funny how the sensible option 3 never seems to get a mention - to cut spending through cutting back on massive waste in the public sector.

    Seems much more reasonable that Gordon's mantra of everlasting debt to me.


    That is what the tories are getting at, and it seems pretty obvious to many I think - but when they say it, Gordon and Labour start spouting 'do nothing tories' and 'you'll close schools and hospitals'

    and so the tories are scared of their own shadow and labour are using nonsense arguments...politics is great isn't it

    personally I think people are fed up of labour's reckless spending and quite happy to take spending cuts on what they perceive as a bloated public sector, cameron just has to avoid being seen as thatcher mark 2

  • Comment number 45.

    This is not a question for the next election Merv has just told you we cannot afford to stimulate.
    Brown cannot even carry the treasury with him.
    There is no more money Darling won't do it. So your Great Leader is in the isolated position were his policies are not supported by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Governor of the Bank of England.
    The man’s finished all this on a day when he set off to save the world for a second time.
    Beware the ides of March.

  • Comment number 46.

    Has Gordon Brown's upbringing and his education somehow made him completely immune to common sense? Surely, what he is doing now with his obsession in getting re-elected with complete disregard for the state he is leaving the country in, will one day rank alongside the Madness of King George.

    Nick, there comes a time when a good friend has to take his friend to one side and say, 'look mate, you're not going to like what I'm going to say, but it's in your best interests....'

    We elected him (oh, but of coure, we didn't did we). His job is to govern in the best interests of the country. He needs to take a long hard look at what he is doing and ask himself how he wants to be remembered; as the man who drove this country into long term financial ruin, or the man who stood up apologised and let the country decide. His current course is only resulting in his and his party's and our country's humiliation and ruin and it needs somebody to tell him.

    Over to you Nick.... (sorry to land this one on you)

  • Comment number 47.

    Posted before, but this needs repeating

    Not Flash, just Mental

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi Nick,

    Why would anyone want to listen to a man who was incompetent as Chancellor and does not have the 'cahounas' to put his hand up and appologise for any of the many mistakes he made while at no 11.
    The arrogance and sheer ignorance of the man continues to astound and annoy me intensely. Fortunately not many people believe him anymore anyway.
    What he clearly has not taken on board yet is that we are in the mess we are in right now precisely because there has been too much economic stimulus over the past 25 years - since Greenspan arrived at the Fed. The last thing the world wants or needs right now is yet more stimulus. (Sorry Obama, much as I respect you, you have got it so wrong on this occasion.) Giving more stimulus is the equivalent of giving a cocaine junkie more coke to get over his/her addiction, or giving the recovering alcoholic more vodka to kick the addiction.
    Inflation rising is not a surpise either. Mervyn King and the other embiciles at the BofE have turned GBP into a fiat currency. Because GBP is not a reserve currency, which protects the USD for now, the value of GBP depends on the good will of people trading with the UK. Now that Gordon Brown has shown his true colours and the BofE has opened up the printing presses (without anything like gold to back the new currency up) the value of GBP is on a one way ride down. This is going to cause CPI to continue to rise and the BofE is going to be powerless to stop it, without raising rates substantially which is only going to cause even more pain.
    Unfortunately I earn in GBP otherwise I would be following the wise words of Jim Rogers and "dumping my GBP."

  • Comment number 50.

    Nick Robinson:

    To stimulate or not to stimulate?
    I think it is a mixed idea...I think it is very important to stimulate the economy and, I think it's problematic about the side affects when the after stimulate ends; And, the results are not the best of predictions...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 51.

    "To stimulate or not to stimulate is a question with an impact not just on economics, not just on international relations, but also on domestic politics"

    Yeah right, Nick. Well, here's how to skewer our Supreme Leader.

  • Comment number 52.


    Were you there when Hannan gave his speech?

    What did you think of it?

  • Comment number 53.

    32 sagamix

    Yes, I think we all know that Labour spin tonight is to treat King as a bad comedian and ignore him. But it isn't going to wash. As head of the BoE, his opinion carries weight. As a long term BoE man who worked his way into the top job, rather than being an appointee, that weight is justified. King has the further advantage of being entirely correct.

    Brown either has to change his story or sack King, both of which, in their separate ways, are very dificult things to do. Going into the G20 with proposals that his central banker won't support is unthinkable. In truth, everyone knows that King is simply saying in public what he has said previously, directly to Brown, in private. Frankly, in more respectable times, Brown would have resigned in time for the 9 o'clock news.

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    This is the meeting point of economics and people of politicians and community of society it is Socio-economics and in the main it has been forgotten since the roaring sixty’s that is the 1960 s

    Just as well for much of what existed then but now essential if you are to find an economic life balance that will suit everybody or at least a substantial majority through a recovery because if you don’t get it right under theses circumstances you are heading for anarchy

    The reason is once you have growth and are feeding one faction very well the rest are reconciled by the crumbs being passed in their direction or will sacrifice for the greater good.

    When there is a situation from which no one who can gain there is no role model to aspire to and no money or compassion filtering down but worse with everyone disenchanted the intelligent classes inspire the active classes to action with the inevitable turmoil that such an alliance creates.

    We all need cause purpose and direction we can cling to as a one for all and all for one cause and policy that we can get behind even if it does not of itself make a vast difference it will sort out the socio economic mess this government is taking us to and more essentially avoid the calamity of their continuing towards chaos.

    We have an ideal social economic clause in Global warming and it could rescu much if some can make the sacrifice but then today we have no community No dig fo victory no common purpose no one for al – we are subscribers to collective isolationism empowered by computers the internet and the electronic gate and the blacked out windows of urban tractors now where is a winning or uniting cry in that.collection

  • Comment number 56.

    It seems to me that the only thing that the government should be trying to stimulate is consumer confidence. This involves an understanding of microeconomics and, of course, human psychology. Macroeconomic fiscal stimulation will not necessarily improve confidence, and, in fact, it could have the reverse effect.

    Consumer confidence is fundamentally based on the way individual consumers view their future, in the short-, medium- and long-term. If I sense that my job is insecure I will save my money as much as humanly possible rather than spend it. Therefore, if unemployment rises, my confidence as a consumer is bound to fall. If the government is plunging the nation into debt, and I have the intelligence to see that taxes will have to rise in the future to pay off these debts, or public spending will have to fall, then again I will try to save rather than spend money to mitigate any future problems I may suffer. Isn't this simple common sense?

    So, therefore, the government, by increasing the public debt, is inevitably harming consumer confidence, quite irrespective of how much money is being pumped into the system. And in fact, the more money that is pumped in, the greater will be the fall in consumer confidence, because we know that that money is toxic debt.

    Furthermore, it is no good the government or supporters of the government criticising the opposition or the media for undermining confidence by painting a bleak picture of the economy. People are not fools. We can see that increasing the public debt is inevitably storing up problems for the future, and therefore we will try to save our money rather than spend it. Anyone with any intelligence can see the storm brewing on the horizon.

    Some might say that my argument is very simplistic. But elaborate economic theories are not going to convince me to spend my money, when I would prefer to save it. So really the issues are very simple.

    What I would like to see is the media getting its act together and seriously hounding the government on this very issue. If you keep asking the same question again and again and again and again, eventually something may possibly get through and influence government policy (although I accept that some people may think I am being rather optimistic on that point!).

    But of course, a better solution would be a general election (but I can't honestly see that happening until the law demands it in 13 months).

  • Comment number 57.

    Stimulating the economy is neccessary, the question is- can the UK afford to follow this path after 10 years of Brown driving up Government borrowing?

    The reasons we'll be unable to offer the fiscal stimulus the UK economy, with its overreliance on the financial sector, requires is because New Labour threw money away to prop up their spell in power.

    We need a government that can be economically trusted, the question that Nick rightly hints at is that the public are not convinced the Tories can be trusted. I know we can, but Osborne must do more to clarify the direction we'd take the economy, not advocating policy details this far from the general election- just statements of intent, priority and expiediency towards our goals (of cutting tax or reducing debt, even I don't know and I'm CF future VP for Stirling!)

  • Comment number 58.

    For someone like Mervyn King, who owes his position to the government, to speak out like this is a real watershed. He spoke in the measured tones of a Bank of England governor, and quite right too. But I think we need to be a little clearer.

    "Stimulus" by borrowing doesn't work anyway. That old Keynesian nonsense was utterly discredited in the 1970s. That sort of stimulus just increases the money supply and therefore causes inflation. As we saw today, to the "surprise" of commentators on the BBC and elsewhere. There is much more to come. Expect 10% RPI inflation by this time next year.

    We desperately need HIGHER INTEREST RATES and LOWER GOVERNMENT SPENDING. That will be painful. But Gordon has had his boom. It was the boom to end all booms, and it lasted a whole decade. Now we pay for his profligacy.

    The Tories sorted this nonsense out once before, in the 1980s. Many people had to pay for that with broken lives and families, despair and misery. And now we are going to have to go through it all again, thanks to Mr Brown's incompetence and lack of foresight. Please, please, Gordon, FOR GOD'S SAKE GO AND GO NOW. You are part of the problem, and the sooner you go, the sooner we can start the painful process of sorting it out.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hats off to Mervyn King for having the guts to tell the truth.

    This was predicted by Peter Oborne and he also says that Darling is starting to get unhappy with Brown's demand to reflate the economy so he can call an election.

    What are the odds on a double resignation?

  • Comment number 60.

    portcullis @ 45

    Merv has just told you we cannot afford to stimulate

    Mervyn King is no more than a glorified bean counter - we shouldn't get too exercised about his views on fiscal policy

  • Comment number 61.

    Guvnor, great link. Superb speech.

    THATS what Cameron needs to be nailing this fool with in the house EVERY week until Brown realises he isnt cut out for the job he coveted for so long.

  • Comment number 62.

    Has anyone noticed how Golem Brown always manages to get out of PMQs when disasters are announced?
    Inflation rising and Mervyn King being difficult, better slip off somewhere and avoid PMQs.

  • Comment number 63.

    silver lady @ 39

    Unbelievably brilliant speech by Hannan

    that's funny - I followed the link and came across a geezer, looking and sounding like a mid market estate agent after a couple of stiff gee and tees, bandying around yet more laboured cliches about captains and boats

    or was that the wrong link?

  • Comment number 64.

    I can guarantee that if Mervyn King had stated today that he fully supported more fiscal stimuli that Nick Robinson would have provided an extensive analysis on the huge problem this posed for the Conservatives. Instead of which all we have is a few paragraphs which doesn't give an opinion on the political consequences either way.

    The fact is that we have a Prime Minister prancing around the world lecturing other governments on economic policy claiming that all of the world agrees with him when plainly not only do other European governments have reservations but the governor of the BoE, the CBI and other independent commentators disagree with him. It makes a complete mockery not only of Brown's policy but his attempts to coerce all of Europe's governemnts to do the same.

  • Comment number 65.

    Who's in the lineup for PMQs tomorrow? Should be an interesting one given all that's happened in the last few days!

  • Comment number 66.

    No 41 said:

    Here's another one today telling old Jimmy Brown how it is in front of the entire EU parliament as well as Mr Hannan.

    Add them two to Merv giving a good hard slap in the face as well today.

    ----- ----- ----- -----

    I'm pleased to see that the devastation he has brought to the United Kingdom keeps Golem Brown amused.
    If the Tories had any sense they'd take a screen capture of that laughing face with the words: "He wrecked your pension...and he finds it hailarious".

  • Comment number 67.

    To be fair I suspect The Governor of The Bank Of England is probably somewhere midway between the stance of Gordon Brown and that of the main Opposition. He went along with the initial stimulus package but is now saying that our current financial state is so parlous that further stimulus would be unwise. He would appear to be more in line with Alistair Darling who apparently is holding out against Gordon Brown's attempt to use The Budget to pour more taxpayer's money into the equation. By the way I thought Angela Eagle who you often see sitting behind Gordon Brown in PMQs was hopeless on BBC Newsnight tonight. As Jeremy Paxman said we've all heard the script. Could you please answer the question?

  • Comment number 68.


    I thank you for this blog without which I would not have been directed to one of the best speeches in a long while by Daniel Hannan which perfectly illustrates the current predicament in the UK.

    It also illustrates why GB doesn't do the Commons unless he has to.

    I find it extraordinary that if you are a groupie on this world tour that you and the BBC in general still haven't found time to cover this speech; I'm circulating it to everyone.

    We are all waiting. Actually we're not. We're discussing it freely while you're out of the country.

    PS I saw Mz Eagle on Newsnight tonight. Tell Gord he needs reinforcements and quickly!

  • Comment number 69.

    Guvnor, thanks for the Farage link as well. I dont normally have any time for UKIP, but, heck, it needed to be said.

    Shame it only seems to have been in the European Parliament that our Dear Leader gets to hear some home truths.

    DC take note!!!

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

    It was Cecil Rhodes who said, "To be born British is to win first prize in the lottery of life". That was when the British did what was right, not what was in their own best interests i.e. pre-sixties and pre-Thatcher. When winning was less important than self-respect. That was when the world respected the British, pretty much. All a bit romantic I know, but to listen to you bunch of whingers, running down your country, would have made old Cecil eat his words.

  • Comment number 72.

    #63 Sagamix.

    That's more than a little jaundiced.

    I respect your right to disagree with what Hannan said but you really need to address his points rather than making cheap cracks about his appearance and background. These are not relevant to whether what he said was true and fair, and demean you not him.

    Actually, he's not quite yer typical Tory. Born in Lima, multilingual, a reasonably thoughtful journalist albeit I disagree with almost all his least he had the courage to pursue his opposition to the Lisbon Treaty to the point where it made him very unpopular in Brussels.

    No, this has weight and will come back to haunt GB (if the mainstream media don't tipp-ex him out of the picture).

  • Comment number 73.

    71. laugh

    don't be silly, the British did exactly what was in their best interests, always have - in fact there's no better examples than Palmerston and Disraeli who Nick just covered in his new series

  • Comment number 74.

    No 61, do you seriously think "Gorbals Mick" would allow that in the Commons?

  • Comment number 75.

    No 71, Cecil Rhodes is hardly the best of examples of abnegation. With the possible exception of his scholarships, virtually everything Rhodes did was out of self-interest, to the extent of naming a country after himself.

  • Comment number 76.

    Labour have led our country into the teeth of a recession worse than 1992.

    Damn Brown, and damn the lot of them for the New Labour debt.

  • Comment number 77.

    #71 Laughatthetories

    That has to be one of the worst posts you have ever made.

    You are glorifying the worst bit of British Nationalism - Imperialism at its height, the subjugation of peoples in Africa and Asia. If that's your vision, then you can only be laughing at the Tories from the position of a member of the League of Empire Loyalists.

    Unless it was some form of subtle post-modernist humour, that I simply didn't understand.

  • Comment number 78.

    From The BBC News web site this morning:

    "Bank of England head Mervyn King warned against more UK spending.
    The BBC's Nick Robinson said the PM will try to put the warning behind him."

    I think it's high time we took this serial spender of monopoly money away from the top job before it's too late for the next generation if it isn't already. He just hasn't got a clue! He's now at odds with both his own Chancellor as well as The Governor of The Bank of England. I don't suppose he much cares either. The more he can leave a huge debt for the next administration the more likely he thinks he and his cronies will have the chance to return to power.

  • Comment number 79.

    Laugh. The more people that tell it as it is the more likelihoood that Gordon Brown may, I say may come to his senses. People aren't running down the country by the way, they're heavily criticising The Prime Minister and his disastrous policies. That's an altogether different thing. The 'running down the country' jibe is one of Gordon Brown's inventions as part of an attempt to discredit the opposition and it has for the most part fallen on deaf ears. Not yours it seems.

  • Comment number 80.


    Because thats all he's got. He cant defend Golum without being ripped to shreds, therefore the only other way to create a firebreak, to stop the onslaught, is to personally attack the opponent rather than putting across a more forceful, accurate and winning argument. Typical NL tactic. The politics of the playground bully.

    Golem is doomed and Saga, deep down knows it and it is likely, whether they are ready or not that DC and the conservatives will form the next administration. This is completely at odds with what Saga knows and wants.

    He just cant bring himself to say it publicly, thats all.

  • Comment number 81.

    71 Laugh:

    Heh, yeah OK. Like what we did to the Czechs, like Aden, like Suez, like the Amritsar massacre... yes, British history pre-Thatch is covered in glory, innit?

    Funny how it takes a Grantham shopkeeper's daughter to turn the whole world upside down isnt it? Its always her......

  • Comment number 82.


    I agree. Gordon Brown's false cheshire cat smile as he was being criticised says it all really. He doesn't give a damn!

  • Comment number 83.

    71. At 11:32pm on 24 Mar 2009, Laughatthetories wrote:

    That was when the world respected the British, pretty much. All a bit romantic I know, but to listen to you bunch of whingers, running down your country, would have made old Cecil eat his words.

    Surely a Liberal?
    We don't run down our country, just the incompetant politicans running it.

    We moan because they walk away with a big fat pension to live a life of luxury leaving the country financially damaged for a generation.

    We the voters are left to pick up the mess and heavy taxes and cuts in public spending because of their incompetance.

    Somehow you knock the tories yet was it not the tories who left the economy in a very healthy state, (even Tony Blair has admitted that).

    The moaners on here love their country, they just hate seeing what Labour, Bliar & Brown have done to it.

  • Comment number 84.

    The thing that really annoys me about all of this is that some of the people who took out extortionately high mortgages and spent beyond their means to help get us into this position in the first place are sitting back and reaping the benefits of the present low mortgage interest rates while the prudent savers are being hammered. While they say that 4m are benefiting from these low rates I wonder how many of them did so on 125% lending rates. There are 10m savers out there who will make their views known at The next General Election. I'm one of them.

  • Comment number 85.

    The idea is to stimulate the economies around the world.If nothing is done, nothing happens. If we all (countries) stimulate by the same percentage there is no change in the financial balance.
    Like credit cards, it will not only stimulate the economy but it will encourage people to work to pay off their debts (ie get up in the morning).
    We need to replace the greed principles of the last few years with something for something rather than something for nothing.

  • Comment number 86.

    fubar @ 80

    Golem is doomed and Saga, deep down knows it and it is likely, whether they are ready or not that DC and the conservatives will form the next administration. This is completely at odds with what Saga knows and wants. He just cant bring himself to say it publicly, thats all

    this reminds me of when I was 17 and my parents just didn't understand me

    I'm happy to state that Brown bears the political responsibilty for the bubble, and now the slump, and he'll be paying the price in the election - it's not certain the Clowns will win, but it's as good as - could be a Clown landslide, even

    but having said that, it's interesting to analyse things a little bit, you know, try to pick out some salient factors and, for me, Labour have rather bottled it - they had a big mandate, could have challenged the Thatcherite consensus, but chose not to ... hence the mess we're in

    why did they chicken out? ... because they knew their mandate was built on previously Clown voters, the dreaded MIDDLE ENGLAND, who'd come over with no great belief in progressive solutions - for example, they were scared to change direct tax (hence Gordon's annoying fiddling around with, and complexing up of, the system) and they were scared to offend the City and Big Business (hence the bubble) - so, you see, in a strange way it's Middle England (its people and its attitudes) that's to blame for most of our problems

    guess you can say it's democracy because if they'd try to do what was needed in 97, they'd probably have been kicked out in 01 ... but I can't help thinking it's such a shame ...

  • Comment number 87.

    I do hope that our Tory leaders are rubbing their eyes this morning.
    We have just witnessed a clear headed response to this very shaky muddy Nulab government and its leader, by an Tory MEP who has been roused to make a speech of Churchillian quality.

    The true Tories amongst us were inspired to the point of exquisite ecstasy when we listened to Daniel Hannans clear headed accusations aimed at the Prime Minister as to why this government has led us all into the mire!

    The conditions in this country are deteriorating so quickly, we are all vulnerable . Hannan gave me hope that there are only one or two high profile Tories who are up to the job. Hannan for Leader now.

  • Comment number 88.

    sicilian @ 84

    While they say that 4m are benefiting from these low rates I wonder how many of them did so on 125% lending rates

    ah, but a person who took out a 125 pc loan to buy a house at the peak now has an asset worth one half of their debt as we move into a deflationary environment, and so that person is in a financial hole from which they will probably never emerge ... so some comfort for you there, surely, albeit of the bleak kind

  • Comment number 89.

    Listening to and watching the BBC, I had no idea that Dan Hannan had made that speech. I have to go to the internet to find out.

    Just another example of why the enforced licence fee is increasingly untenable when the BBC cannot, or will not, inform me of such a withering commentary on the Prime Minister of the day in such an important arena. Was there a particular reason it was not felt to be worthy of our attention, Mr Robinson?

  • Comment number 90.

    #86 sagamix
    "guess you can say it's democracy because if they'd try to do what was needed in 97, they'd probably have been kicked out in 01 ... but I can't help thinking it's such a shame"

    Fair comment, sagamix, but you ignore the tendency of power to corrupt. Had Bliar followed through with his '97 electoral reform referendum promise, and implemented symmetric devolution with a smaller UK federal state, it is conceivable that a coalition government dominated by Labour could have done those things - it might even have included Cable as chancellor by now.

    He chose power at all costs instead, which served him well enough in '01 and '05 but his hapless successor will not be so lucky and the next Tory government may be the last UK one as a result.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 91.

    Brown is so into stimulating its becoming a fetish. Wonder what Sarah's take on all this is?

    Rhetorical question - don't even go there!

  • Comment number 92.

    The G20 , the IMF or any other body outside the control of UK is merely a distraction, and is part of the propoganda campaign to make us believe that it is not our Governments fault that we are here. Older people may remember that Harold Wilson blamed "the gnomes of Zurich" for the need to make the huge 14.8% devaluation of the pound. It is not Gordon Browns problem , nor duty, nor right to try to govern other countries. He is the Prime Minister of Britain, and it is part of his job (and his predecessors) to insure against catastrophes in this country. The responsibility is recognised in maintaining armed forces and nuclear deterrents, and the means of delivering them, so why not in the case of economic catastrophes?
    If we split the present problems into two separate parts,and first look at avoiding a banking collapse in the future, the answer is not to look outside the country but to have our own rules irrespective of what other countries do. First, we should define investing as distinct from gambling. Then we should encourage genuine investment and discourage gambling by means of taxation. I do not propose to take up many hours of your readers time , but as a start I would definitely classify short selling, and hedging as gambling. CFDs and many other derivatives would also be classed as gambling and taxed accordingly. I would also prohibit banks (if they wish to retain a banking status) from all those activities classed as "gambling". I would also prohibit Stock Exchanges from all the activities regarded as gambling or force them to open a different subsidiary for that purpose which would be clearly identified as a gambling concern. Whether other countries do the same or not is their concern, not Mr Browns. I realise that this could almost certainly mean that the business classed as gambling would be lost to this country but I have long lived by the belief that "bad business is worse than no business" so let the bad business go elsewhere. The next time there is this sort of crisis this country will only be affected in a secondary manner which will be far better than the present situation.
    Having decided where our long term future lies it is easier to decide the short term actions required to get us there so I will leave it there for now.

  • Comment number 93.

    brownedov @ 90

    yes, that would have been a road less travelled and would have been interesting

    my problem is that what I want is not supported by most people and, therefore, has little chance of happening in normal times - these are not normal times, though, and it will be fascinating to see how things play out over the next few years - the potential is quite exciting for someone with my political views

  • Comment number 94.

    Fubar 81
    Yes I take that point about the colonial past, but I was meaning that we did what was right at an individual level, rather than as a nation. I know it's hard to distinguish between the two, but previous generations seem to have had more of a sense of right and wrong. The relevance of this is in explaining the actions of the bankers who knew what they were doing was wrong but didn't care because nowadays personal wealth is more important (and everyone goes along with this). In previous generations they would not have acted in this way. It's just not cricket.
    And this is why the culture change of the sixties and Thatcher's revolution have had a negative impact in some ways. More freedom but less responsibility.

  • Comment number 95.

    83 Silent
    Not sure where I mock the Tories in that post but anyway..
    I take your point about moaning because you love the country but is it an effective response? I notice you blame the politicians but is it they who have behaved completely dishonourably in causing the financial crisis? Some, maybe but nothing like on the scale of the bankers / capitalists. I blame them, not the Tories or Labour. I would banish the bankers to Rockall with their billions.

  • Comment number 96.

    Hey, Nick, why didn't you mention "the message from the world to gordon" ?

    That message seems to be "go away, you've bankrupted your own country with your negligence/stupidity, don't try messing with ours"

    UK voters are also not happy with an enelected man digging us into an ever deeper hole of debt where his logic/reason/economics/maths is flawed beyond belief and where no rational person agrees with his approach/policies.

    I'm dreading the G20, because that'll help explain even more to the world how mad Brown is, and that'll destroy our currency even more, because at that stage when everyone knows our debt is unsustainable and our policies are just increasing the debt with no positive aspects anywhere near, some countries might start to call in our government loans (or increase the rate due to the increased risk), and we'll be heading for hyperinflation within weeks.

    I think that's our potentially biggest problem, ie when the rest of the world finds out just how bad/mad our situation is, we'll be dropped like a stone and we'll be totally finished.

    Only an election with a change of government can save us.

  • Comment number 97.

    And not the slightest mention of the real highlight of the whole event which was, of course, Daniel Hannan's extraordinarily articulate demolition of Brown and the nonsense he spouts on his way to the political midden. Daniels 3 minute speech is all over the internet and not a mention from you. It's obvious where you and the BBC are coming from. You are developing into Brown's applalling government's propaganda organisation shame on you.

  • Comment number 98.

    There has been a few dissenting words on the inheritance tax why can you people look at it from a different angle than millionaires are getting a break.

    I know house prices have tumbled recently but as sure as rain falls they will go back up again and so will the amount of money children will inherit. To most of us a million pound is a lot of mars bars but over time the country has become more affluent. Many of these "millionaires" are only your every day people who have seen the price of their property go up. So on paper yes they are millionaires. However, this does not go to say their children are anywhere as well off as them. We must also net forget one very salient point this money will have already been taxed when it was earned why should you be taxes twice on the same money.

    Crash Gordon needs every penny he can lay his hands on to keep giving away in tax credits never mind digging the economy out of the hole he has created. Before Crash went on his stealth tax spree inheritance tax was set at a level for the wealth of the nation at the time and from time to time it was re-adjusted to keep in line with the nations wealth. Crash chucked that out with the bath water just the same as his drag on personal allowances which have hardly been raised since 1997. Inheritance tax is about tackling wealth it may well upset some people but these days a million quid is not a lot of money, if the natural rises were to have been kept up they would have certainly reached the governments 750k so the jump to 1m is not that out of tough. Let's remember the 750k was put out as a stolen tax as the government have no ideas of there own. Well, nothing that works anyway.

    What if the home you inherit is the one you have lived in alla your life you then have to sell it it pay Crash so he can give your money away in benefits.

  • Comment number 99.

    Where is the BBC coverage of Dan Hannan's speech? That's headline news - why is it being ignored?

  • Comment number 100.

    Stimulate or Not?

    Its a moot point because if he does stimulate, he does it by borrowing money which delays any recovery. No-one as far as I can see has said that.

    Its time that he just let nature take its course, rather than bankrupting the county and hav our children pay for it for years to come.


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