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Credit-crunched Gordon Brown

Robert Peston | 07:52 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008

As a biographer of Gordon Brown and a former FT political editor, I have kept a fairly close eye on our prime minister and on HM Treasury for many years. So, for me, there were a number of jaw dropping moments in his BBC interview yesterday with Andrew Marr.

Gordon BrownThese are they, in no particular order.

1) He said this was a moment in which it was "right" for the government to borrow a good deal more. Well, needs must. The credit crunch and the associated economic slowdown are hammering tax revenues.

In the absence of cuts in public spending, public borrowing next year could be well over 6% of GDP, way above anything we've seen since the early 1990s. The Treasury itself is in something of a funk about the outlook for the public finances.

But the prime minister is positioning his party as the defender of expenditure on public services in these straitened credit-crunched times. He's preparing for a punch-up with the Tories, whom he'll doubtless attack as ruthless plunderers of schools and hospitals. This is where he wants to draw the battle line for the next general election.

But there will be a cost to him. If Brown stood for anything as chancellor it was for prudence and fiscal rectitude. It's goodbye to all that.

2) In the Marr interview, Brown took personal credit for the initiative to clamp down on short-selling, even though the decision to impose restrictions on speculators who profit from falls in share prices was actually taken by the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority.

It's slightly dangerous for him to undermine the perceived independence of a watchdog he created. Why? Well the FSA didn't cover itself in glory in its regulation of Northern Rock. Is the prime minister now taking responsibility for the FSA's failure to properly assess the risks being run by the Rock? Is he saying that calamity was his fault?

3) Brown said that the current financial crisis was in large part due to the absence of a global regulatory system - and that he had been rebuffed for years by foreign governments in his attempt to construct such a system.

I can only assume that here he's referring to his longstanding attempts to reform the International Monetary Fund so that it could give a louder "early warning" when imbalances are building up in the financial system.

Now there are two things to say about this. First, there were very loud warnings being made about the credit bubble that was being created - by the central bank's bank, the Bank for International Settlements, for example. These were largely ignored in finance ministries, including the Treasury.

Second, there will be wry amusement in Brussels and throughout the eurozone about Brown's claims that he was the champion of more integrated regulation across borders - because for years he and the Treasury battled successfully to prevent tighter Europe-wide regulation of financial services.

Brown was defending the interests of the City. It may well have been the right thing to do. But given the current crisis, the eurozone's less laisser-faire governments will insist that they were right and he was wrong.

4) While we're on about the interests of the City, another part of the Brown brand has been that he would defend our financial services industry more-or-less to the death. Yesterday, with the reputation of big-bonus bankers now on a par with Attila, he put the boot in (although he claimed still to be "pro business" and "pro markets").

That may be good short term politics. But another little bit of what defined him has died.

Also there are still some countries where investment banks, hedge funds and private equity firms aren't perceived as leprosy carriers. If they're on the receiving end of much more opprobrium from the British authorities, there'll be a substantial exodus of them.

Many may say good riddance - unless and until they notice that a big chunk of what has been generating our economic growth has relocated to Switzerland.

5) Brown said that the £100bn of hard-to-refinance mortgage assets that our banks have swapped for Treasury bills, via the Bank of England's Special Liquidity Scheme, is an attempt to "reignite the mortgage market" so that there's both "competition" and "fair prices" for borrowers.

This was a particularly odd claim. If he really believes that's what the scheme was about, then he would have to acknowledge it's been a total flop, since the mortgage market is flatter than a pancake.

But actually, as the Bank of England has made crystal clear, the point of the Special Liquidity Scheme was not to revive the mortgage market. It was to provide liquidity to cash-strapped banks, to prevent any more of them falling over.

If anything, what strikes me most about these remarks is what it may show about his loss of a sure touch when discussing complex but important financial issues.

Anyway, there's more that could be said about the prime minister's re-making of himself (which by the way he and his advisers perceive as a great success). But I'm exhausted trying to fathom the new Brown, so that'll do for now.


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  • Comment number 1.

    At least we all now know, if we didnt before, that Brown will never change. Tax, spend, tax, spend are the only words he knows and he and his shabby Government have bankrupted Britain and will simply dig the hole deeper and wider.
    The very reason for the present situation is the uncontrolled borrowing and spending of Government, business and consumers all fed by irresponsible practice in the financial sector.
    The impact on business is such that many companies will never recover and unemployment, other than in Government funded non-jobs will be catastrophic.
    Brown has to go and go immediatley, even then, this once great country will take years to recover from the sham of the Brown "Prudence"

    Had Enough. Bolton Lancs

  • Comment number 2.


    I'm usually a fan of your posts Robert, but this one smacks more of politics than business.

    The bottom line is this: Gordon Brown is merely wriggling around trying to make the best of the u-turns he's been forced to make. the government consistently ignored the warnings of Mervyn King et al for political reasons - chancellors have the image of being "Mr Killjoy" at the best of times, so none of them will ever add to this by curbing apparent "growth" caused by the easy lending. The lack of regulation of our financial institutions has certainly contributed to our present predicament, but the problems are global in nature.

    it doesn't really matter whetehr Brown and Darling stay or go now - the damage is done and all of us who pay taxes are going to feel a lot poorer for quite some time.

    And this is assuming that things won't get any worse.....

  • Comment number 3.

    Gordon is really flapping around, isn't he?

    Labour have just the one (very slim) chance of turning the economic turmoil to their advantage. That is to convince the public that only a party of the left can push through the regulatory, interventionist reforms which are now perceived to be needed. So expect a far less pro business and pro markets stance from now on.

    I think this is smart politics and it might work. Unfortunately for GB, however, it requires a new Labour leader (new PM, therefore) because he can't escape his embarassing and hubristic "end of boom and bust" boast. He's nailed by that, unfortunately.

  • Comment number 4.

    Robert i'm a big fan of yours mostly, and i know you've been working real hard for a while now,but you must know that nobody in this country (who has a valid opinion) needs any more info on how useless mr b and his crowd are. Fiscally they have and always will be the same, its someone elses money we can spend that with no trouble at all! infact we'll spend it twice!
    Its time he and they went!! what we need is someone who is tough enough to tell the people of the uk just exactly how screwed they are and how they are going to lead us out of this nightmare. Wishy washy is certainly not going to work this time. People prepare yourselves!

  • Comment number 5.

    ON BBC this morning Alistair Darling seemingly was blaming Credit Crunch and irresponsible lending policies of the banks behind our current problems. But failed, like many others, to mention how that credit crunch - dreaded but buzzword, came about. Are we so oblivious that it is the generous lending policies of the bank that had brought about the boom world wide in the last year 10 years?

    Now the credit crunch has come about because of our and American policies in pursuing ill thought, ill conceived and illegal wars in the middle east that created a 10 Trillion $s deficit in America and billions of deficit here. People effected by this lunacy are at the lower end of scale who cannot afford to pay back they had borrowed and hence the credit crunch. This has also increased public borrowing to help those directly effected though unemployment, collapsed business and downward housing prices. Why don't we admit that GWB's America is the architect of this meltdown and we were the junior partner!

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice forensic analysis of statements that seemed assured, but slightly at odds with historical positions.

    I still have no sense that Brown accepts that he was responsible for allowing the UK's very own, home-made, credit boom. That was always likely to end in disaster.

    I guess he's happy to deflect attention from his lack of controls and regulations over a decade, so he can attack the nasty foreign bankers...

    It seems extraordinary that he takes credit for what should be independent FSA decisions, but no responsibility for their failure to tightly regulate Northern Rock.

    For a man who claims prudence and probity, he still seems to project "his truth" rather than the truth.

  • Comment number 7.

    It shows nobility to

  • Comment number 8.

    It shows nobility to be willing to increase your debt to a man that you

  • Comment number 9.

    > the reputation of big-bonus bankers
    > (is) now on a par with Attila

    It's not fair to compare Attila to the despicable
    big-bonus bankers. Some histories portray
    Attila as a great and noble king.

  • Comment number 10.

    "needs must when the devil drives" the new Brown theme.

    I, personally, like the bit where Brown claimed credit for a lower level of national debt. The money for the sale of the radio spectrum once a "once in a lifetime" gift to the government, just luck at timing.

    A bit like North Sea oil, another "once in a lifetime" gift squandered by thirty years on tory government, starting with Thatcher and currently with Brown.

  • Comment number 11.

    It shows nobility to be willing to increase your debt to a man that you already owe so much

    Cicero 43 BC

    Nobility and NuLabour, strange bedfellows, strange days indeed.

  • Comment number 12.

    From his comments yesterday, Gordon Brown sounds as if he's going to start using diversionary tactics to battle through this one much in the same way that John McCain/Sarah Palin have done in the States.... up until last weekend at least.

    In the US, Sarah Palin had everyone distracted from the real issues which was obviously gross failure on the part of the Republican administration. Unfortunately for them, that could only get them as far as the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    If Brown now thinks he can use fear of how the Conservatives are going to ruin our schools, hospitals, etc to distract the nation at a time like this then he's not a bright as I thought he was.

    I myself, begrudgingly accept these tax-payer-sponsered bank bailouts, however, I have a deep seated need to see those responsible held responsible and that includes Gordon Brown.

    I know he was simply following the US and listening to big business/the banks, however, there were numerous warnings - some of which are mentioned by Robert.

    Consequently, one of those shouting the loudest of what was to come was Vince Cable - my vote's with him.

  • Comment number 13.

    The big danger for Brown is that he has always believed the good things that people said about him. This just goes to show he has no self-critical capability which is dangerous in a leading politician.

    I must confess that I switched off Andrew Marr's interview for fear I would wreck my TV set as Brown was boiling my blood.

    He did nothing whilst in the Treasury except raise taxes on the productive value-adding economy in an under-hand way. What positive policy interventions he made contributed to a bubble in the financial markets plus a further bubble in the public sector. One bubble has burst. I am now waiting for the other one to go knowing it will go soon.

    This country has been placed in a very dangerous social, economic and political situation by New Labour. They have ruined just about every institution in the country and they still expect us all to vote for them.

    The next election will be about their competence. If they try to use the threat of Tory spending cuts to whip out their public sector support they will be guilty of an even greater dissimulation than ever before. Public sector cuts are coming whoever wins power because the economy is just not there to sustain the level of government spending.

    To say otherwise to their core vote will be the final doom for Labour.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Peston when in politics and morals bedfellows? I'd very much doubt if the Brown of the 1980's would have backed monetarist laissez-faire business. Maybe I'm wrong there as I'm no Brown historian. Could this be a politician who is pragmatic with the flow of zeitgeist?

    What no one ever seems to mention is that Brown as chancellor was succesful due to the economic boom in the US which we aped. Brown often overstated economic growth which would not have worked without Bush's Thatcherite economics. Trickle down trickled over here. Whatever economic policy he had would not have worked without the US booming. Now it's not and Bush or whoever takes over can not possibly reduce taxes for the bankers and super-rich, Brown will struggle. It matters not what policy he creates or hijacks, only the health of the economy is a factor. Rightly or wrongly the masses will vote him out as the stresses and collapses in the world economy will last for at least two more years.

    Whether Brown hijacks policy or not the public and you will only applaud him if they feel protected from economic forces over the next six months; then all policy will be forgetten. As Brown lent on the independent Competition Commission it's hardly hard to believe that the FSA wasn't. It's a very journalistic ploy to invent an independence issue, no one cares it's the economy stupid. Now we're in a single issue debate the only factor that matters is the succes of the economy. Possibly if Brown chose the correct time to go to the polls he could win. But considering money is in chronic short supply an economic downturn will lead to a Cameron government.

  • Comment number 15.


    Are you still listening to what this idiot has to say? Most of us have stopped listening to this shyster posturing as an intellectual giant and are just clinging on to hope that he and his government will be ousted soon.

    You make some good points but as far as I'm concerned there is more interest in the outbursts of a drunk rolling home from the pub than from this man. He is totally out of his depth. It's actually quite pitiable.

    PS It's spelt 'laissez-faire' I believe, although my French is a little shaky.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's estimated that government borrowing will reach £90bn a YEAR, £50bn more than previously forecast. This will give GB the highest budget deficit of all Western countries.

    How can this be true of the country "best placed to weather the economic storm"?

    What I don't understand from all the recent events is, why should a government already in such dire financial constraints agree to buy "junk bonds" in the guise of mortgage securities. If these are commonly acknowled to be BAD DEBT, why do we, the taxpayer, want them? If the banks sold them in the first place, surely it's their problem?

    It's simplistic, I know, but realistically, a few more lessons need to be learned by the fianncial sector before we agree to ride to the rescue.

    If I owned a shop and sold faulty goods, I wouldn't expect the government to bail me out when I went bankrupt. How is this different?

  • Comment number 17.

    The sub-prime minister doesn't care what damage is done to the UK in the long term. As long as he stays in power he has no concern for the enormous debts piling up for taxpayers in the future. It's time the Queen stepped in and put an end to this farce.

  • Comment number 18.

    The irony here is that, although Labour's policies have contributed to the current economic problems, the general political drift over this issue will be leftwards. In the very short term, this gives Mr Brown some slight respite, but in the medium and longer term he will be under attack from both left and right. It is not surprising that he is foundering somewhat......

  • Comment number 19.

    The elephant in the room hasn't gone away, it's wearing eyeliner and a pretty hat and hoping everyone will comment on it's shoes rather than the fact it's there at all.

    The debts that HBOS and all the other banks are exposed to are still there; the underlying problems with the economy are still there; and it's only a matter of time before all the banks realise that they still haven't got as much money as they thought and are going to have to make even bigger writedowns.

  • Comment number 20.

    Can we all ensure that when reference is made to the sham that Brown continually peddles about the percentage of debt. I think he claims it is now 43.3%,well above his magical 40% "prudent" figure. We also add the PFI debt that the EU has repeatedly said, along with anyone else but Labour, that the real debt figure is now well over 50% and rising. This must be corrected every time Brown and Darling make misleading statements.

  • Comment number 21.

    As for his truth and not the truth..... Please people and journalists force politicians to speak in euphoric nothings. Brown doesn't and only sees the world in acheivements and seems quite unsure of himself without tangible acheivements. Hence with the ceonomy issues he will do better. Unfortunately pinning himself to policy, especially during recession, means he's at the front for when many of them are perceieved to go wrong. Where was Blair when things went wrong? To have a single personality as the focus of cabinet means Brown takes all the hits.

    As for truth as a politician you only accept it when policy has been a success. Or you blindly ignore all factors and don't become as a person intrinsically linked to policy. Who identifies any policy with Blair? Iraq but Blair was mainly a focus group politician as is Cameron. Ever read a politicians biography? Strange how they can't recall the details of their possible war crimes and failures but remember all the minuatae of their successes. Truth give me a break.

  • Comment number 22.

    "He said this was a moment in which it was "right" for the government to borrow a good deal more. Well, needs must. The credit crunch and the associated economic slowdown are hammering tax revenues."

    Well surprise surprise, when Alasdair Darling was asked this morning if he was going to raise taxes, he wouldn't answer the question.

    With Brown's government borrowing more and more, he conveniently forgets to mention that increased borrowing means increased interest payments. And the only way to sustain them is increased taxation.

  • Comment number 23.

    'Reignite the mortgage market' - G Brown,


    GB has not yet to have come to terms with the source of the problem.

    The problem is that UK House Prices are far too high to be affordable by the people who buy them. House prices must drop by up to 50 per cent. (Or wages double or triple.)

    Here are my '9 steps' to recovery:

    1. A National Government

    and some of:

    2. Capital Gains Tax on house sales.
    3. Wealth Tax
    4. Limit a lenders security on borrowings to 3.5 times a borrowers income.
    5. Capital Gains Tax at 80 percent on stock speculation profits where the purchase and sale are within 3 years.
    6. Top rate of Income Tax (inc. National Insurance) of 100per cent above 200,0000 pounds per year.
    7. Land ownership tax on developable land left undeveloped.

    if all else fails

    8. Introduce Exchange Controls

    Basically clamp down on speculation and absurd lending.

    9. Rescue the banks

    You will also need to fund banks as an when they fail in a manner similar to the proposed Poulson/USA system to avoid the whole economy shutting down and everyone reverting to barter.

  • Comment number 24.

    More and more talk from Brown but were is the action.

    I don't understand what is stopping him from action.

    Inflation can be reduced by reducing tax especially on petrol. When other growing countries subside petrol our tax is much more than the cost of petrol. We are in a mess so I agree with borrowing more to stabiles the economy, but we should use it properly.

  • Comment number 25.

    Brown has got us into this from the days of being the Chancellor. That famous action to give Bank of England independence, but not enough power; or the FSA to regulate, but not too much on the banks; have got us into this deep hole.

    Why does anyone think that he (and his Darling) can get us out, just by staying in Gov?

    He allegedly only borrowed for investments...well, I am not seeing very many fruitful results from his investments. And let's not even start the subject on the sale of the gold reserve.

    Unfortunately, I doubt George O is going to do any better with the state we are in.

    US has led the rest of the world into this, and they are trying to spend their way out of it.

    I just wonder where did they get yet another $100bn from? I hope they are not just printing money as they go...or have they decided to follow Mugabe's financial strategy?

  • Comment number 26.

    This is where journalists like Mr Peston earn their money - miserable work for a sunny Sunday.

    The Brown interview was depressing and embarrassing - like previous commentators, I could not see it through.

    Brown's inventions and evasions have been essential to his record as Chancellor. He has been rumbled, Mr Peston and others stack up the evidence against him. yet we all know he cannot be dislodged for another couple of years.

    Can we have less government next time ?

  • Comment number 27.

    The global problem will be used as an excuse by Brown and Darling to explain away the bankrupcy of Britain. Their policies were heading that way anyway and they will now put blame on this current crisis to explain away the approaching disaster. Apologists will jump at the excuse rather than face up to the fact that this set of Communists (with previously links to marxist philosophy) are just as bad as Denis Healey (another communist) was where we ended up begging to the IMF to get us out of financial chaos. Deja vu!

  • Comment number 28.

    Good analysis, Robert. Your blog over the last few days has been excellent. Mr Brown has for years claimed credit for economic growth and stability, which was always hubris. Politicians could spend their time underemphasising what their actions actually achieve, which would be truthful, but that's not what people want to hear: and we elect those who tell us what we want to hear

  • Comment number 29.

    Politics is reknowned for being a dirty business but the lies emanating from the Labour party are outrageous.
    Darling says he has brought down debt ove the last 10 years! From where.
    Such comments are symtomatic of a spin machine out of control.
    I Robert you will be asking him what value teh bail out of toxic debt will be taken at. i.e 100% or a the prevailing mark to market level of no omore than 1p in the £1.
    Will builders, car manufacturers, retailers, and uk industry plc be able to go to the government next pleasding for a bail out of non payers!
    If the banks are not seen to be taking the lions share of the pain teh electorate will skin labour alive at the next election however late they choose to call it.
    The leader is bad enough and needs no more credit of time to get things sorted, lets face it after 11 years if you still are barking up the wrong tree its not the tree that is wrong.
    The problem with this cabal of morons is that the underlying policy is wrong. If Darling was serious why did he not say this morning that tax will not go up.
    The interview on BBC was not Paxmanesque but the question was simple and direct and absolutely integral to every viewer. Teh bottom line is that he blew it and no omatter what they say now they are dead in the water for 25 years.
    They talk of doing what is best for the country then please go now and let us do what is right not what is needed to save an economically corrupt party.

  • Comment number 30.

    Welcome to the world of "Harry Pooter". Every time he waves his magic wand another disaster appears.

    For "Harry Pooter" to fix the problem he first has to know what it is.

    Robert's blog is clear that he is in denial as to the cause; 10 years of tax, borrow, PFI and spend by the government without any attempt to get value for money or a clear idea of the consequences of where the money is spent. And 10 years of borrow and spend by Jo Public.
    The party's over, who will clear it up? No doubt the Scots will vote for independence and leave the English with the problem caused by the MP from Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    This is an absolutely excellent post and helps us to see the 'wood for the trees' in a way which the Labour party in conference week would surely rather we did not...

    In America this would have the spin-machine out gunning for you, because you have dared to accuse someone of that 'cardinal sin' on that side of the pond of 'flip-flopping'...

    And flip-flops might be okay at the sea-side, not such a good look in Manchester...

  • Comment number 33.

    What both Blair and Brown have taken advantage of is the very low interest in politics by voters. Voters have let things slip them by.

    Blair has disappeared off with millions of pounds as a Prime Ministers supplementary pension and Brown awaits his. When Brown demonises those who receive large bonuses for what he calls failure he should consider his own office of Prime Minister.

    Short selling is one of the actions that establish the survival of the fittest essential to a healthy market. Don't mess with it!

    What is clear to me is that Dr Gordon Brown PhD History was never vocationally qualified to be a Lord of the Treasury. He has relied entirely on advise from the Treasury and they have rid themselves with his blessing of long held frustrations to our cost. Has the tail been wagging the dog?

    Brown in this respect is the hollow man he always was because his mentor is now as bankrupt as some of the banks being fed upon. The markets are on life support and the plug is in the hands of governments. Not good!

  • Comment number 34.

    i am genuinely scared when i here GB talk about the economy - so more as time passes. The lies are blatant - at what point does someone step in and prevent him from destroying the economy/currency?

  • Comment number 35.

    The problem with this cabal of morons is that the underlying policy is wrong. If Darling was serious why did he not say this morning that tax will not go up.
    The interview on BBC was not Paxmanesque but the question was simple and direct and absolutely integral to every viewer. Teh bottom line is that he blew it and no omatter what they say now they are dead in the water for 25 years.

    Gordon Brown used the same tactic in the 2001 election. The Tories had got wind he was going to increase NI. But no amount of direct questioning could get a straight yes/no answer out of him. Paxman couldn't do it. Nope. Gordon Brown just decided not to answer the question and that was it.

    Thirty million voters treated with contempt.

    The disingenuous reason he gave? It's seared on my soul... 'I won't answer that question because otherwise we'll be here all night answering questions about any of the other 200 or so taxes that are always under review.'

    And what did he do the second they got re-elected? Increased NI.

    Every waking moment of this government is an ongoing battle with the truth. They aren't merely strangers to the truth. It isn't a question of 'Labours truth' and the 'real truth'. They are active opponents of the facts, their relentless campaign against the truth defines this government.

    Their defence seems to be that as long as you don't admit you're not telling the truth then you're not actually lying.

    I hope I live to see the day when this government is annihilated at the polls. I was very happy when Major got annihilated in 1997 but (rather like in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta says it would have been worth seeing his car get scratched just so he could catch the punk who did it) the last eight years of governmental abuse and disingenuity will have been worth it to see them utterly annihilated for their crimes.

  • Comment number 36.

    Slowly, inexorably, the re-alignment of the market model that I warned of last week is beginning. Anyone else note this news item from the BBC site:

    "Business leaders have criticised the government over the economic crisis, saying Britain needs a "new direction".

    The 11 heads say less regulation and more tightly controlled public spending would have left the UK better prepared.

    The figures, most of whom have links to the Tories, were said to be expressing their personal views in the letter to the Financial Times."

    Yep, it's the free market bucaneers waiting for the chance to go even further down that road. More deregulation??!! It beggars belief.

    Trouble is that after a winter of hardship, they know that people are going to be concerned about their jobs, homes and pensions...and will probably nod through anything that looks like bringing short term relief.

    I think it's time that the Tories tols us all exactly what they intend to do.

  • Comment number 37.

    They are just now carping on about regulating the financial industry. Are these reprobates serious.

    Downing St. has just admitted that they knew about the Housing Bubble but they decided to run with it!

    I feel sure I don’t need to advocate why. That has been done on many blogs by various people on many occasions.

    Ministers knew of housing bubble

  • Comment number 38.

    Brown is essentially a politician, not an economics guru, and these politicians are usually anything but consistent.

    For example, John McCain said on Tuesday last week that he opposed a bailout of AIG but two days later he supported it.

    Presumably after being briefed by people who actually understood the severity of the situation.

    In my opinion, Browns credibility in this area is completely shredded, especially after his creation, the tri-partitite regime of BofE, Treasury and FSA has been ultimately shown to be so dangerously disconnected.

    I am a systems engineer and I can tell you that if I'd designed a system such a that, which completely failed at its firest real test i.e. Northern Rock, then I would probably never work again.

    Brown, with the breathtaking audacity that is second nature to these politicians, merely said, with respect to the tri-partite system, that 'all systems need minor adjustment from time-to-time'.

    Ex-BofE Governor, Eddie George knew better and almost resigned over the imposition of that system, which took a crucial oversight role away from the BofE.

    I think it is a given that to the rest of us, politicians are very weird people indeed.

    They often have personal characteristics that are unusual, that compel them to seek out jobs that most 'normal' folk would run a mile from.

    Maybe the political job is next to impossible and always pre-destined for eventual failure, so if these people fall short then we should not be too surprised and will just have to live with the consequences.

    After all, the {political} job needs doing and we're not volunteering are we?

  • Comment number 39.

    As Robert says in point (3) it is a sorry joke for Brown to be pointing the finger at banking regulation in other countries when he spent the past decade successfully undercutting them via the less rigorous City regime.

    He may feel he's on to a populist winner by attempting to deflect attention, but does anyone - anyone - find this line credible ? Not even the Guardian leader-writer this morning ("the truth is that Labour indulged the City of London") fails to see through this.

    It's all going to go even more badly wrong, so quickly, that he'll still be swept away.

    At the same time, #36 is right - we [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] still haven't heard from the Tories.

  • Comment number 40.

    Apologists will jump at the excuse rather than face up to the fact that this set of Communists (with previously links to marxist philosophy) are just as bad as Denis Healey (another communist) was where we ended up begging to the IMF to get us out of financial chaos. Deja vu!

    Oh yes, they're adopting the usual chaff approach to try and hide the truth. Another chaff approach is to blame the dire economic conditions on..... Margaret Thatcher. Or to claim that some cherry-picked and serially rigged number is better now than it was 25 years ago. So 'unemployment is down'. Which is 'achieved' by hiding millions in university spending three or four years borrowing money for a worthless piece of paper, a million plucked from dole obscurity in 2001/2002, issued with clip-boards and 'employed' at vast cost by the government, another half million hidden in long-term sick etc etc.

    Then there's the chaff of acknowledging that 'yes, it's bad' but it's not Labour's fault. Labour have become too 'right wing'. It's the Labour government's fault but it's because Nu-Labour are trying to be too much like the Tories. The government is in debt to its eyeballs - but that's because they're not left-wing enough.

    And so on.

    Chaff, bogus statistics, false comparisons with the 1980's (never the 1970's too close to the IMF thing). But first, attack the messenger. That's always the first tactic.

  • Comment number 41.


    Re your final comment I don't see how the Tories can. The situation seems to deteriorate by the day and so I can't understand how they can comment on what they will do when they inherit this mess.

    For instance, the level of public debt could be around 40% of GDP or it could be as high as 50-55%. This will impact heavily on the amount of tax revenues that are required and so saying now whether they will raise or reduce taxes could only be a guess which is not helpful.

    If I were George Osbourne I would just continue hammering all government mistakes and bring out any detailed tax policies not more than 3 months before the next general election.

  • Comment number 42.

    Robert you say:
    In the absence of cuts in public spending, public borrowing next year could be well over 6% of GDP, way above anything we've seen since the early 1990s. The Treasury itself is in something of a funk about the outlook for the public finances.

    That would be the record held by John Major in 1993 the highest since WWII. So Crash Gordon is going to go down in history as the largest post-war debt and the numpty is talking about borrowing more.

    You could not make this up even if you tried.
  • Comment number 43.

    41 Jonno_79

    The Tories are the opposition party, they can certainly set the agenda for debate around this issue and challenge the government. They won't, of course, because
    a) the middle class, right wing tabloids are having too much fun making GB a hate figure
    b) they would have to take a position. Iraq taught them not to do that.

    So they'll just say nothing and push us further to the free markets if and when they get in.

    The agenda here is the model, and the announcement by business leaders close to the Tories that they want LESS deregulation of the markets.

  • Comment number 44.

    Its ridiculous. Brown still thinks hes right on everything and that hes ahead of the game.

    Two suggestions. (a)Roberts comments are sent to Andrew Marr - for background purposes and (b)somebody in the Tory party must pick up on these Brownies and put the record straight at their forthcoming conference

  • Comment number 45.

    If I were George Osbourne I would just continue hammering all government mistakes and bring out any detailed tax policies not more than 3 months before the next general election.

    The only tax policy George Osborne needs is that on election the treasury will be audited by an independent auditor to determine the true extent of the national debt. This achieves many aims.

    1) It highlights to the voters that the economy is shot and that there is a suspicion of serious maladministration and/or book-rigging.

    2) And because 1) is true, it enables you to see just how bad things are before you commit to a recovery plan.

    3) and because 1) is true it prepares people for the worst without you actually having to spell it out. Ie, the books are rigged, the economy is shot so.... we're going to have to cut spending and/or raise taxes. Because that's the truth. We cannot pay back this debt through 'growth'. There ain't no 'growth'. There hasn't been any growth for a decade. The 'growth' we had was just increased borrowing and squandering.

    We are so stuffed.

  • Comment number 46.

    I cannot see how any Tory spokesman can have any tax policies until he has examined the books.
    It's about time the Treasury started looking after the interests of the United Kingdom rather than "Harry Pooter" and his friend "Mumblemore".

  • Comment number 47.

    Economic competence ?

    Brown stood at the despatch box on three seaparate occasions in five years arrogantly stating 'there will be no more boom and bust on my watch' and two other similar promugations. He was in front of a packed Commons and live on the BBC TV Politics Channel.

    The very fact that a Finance Minister of a G7 economy could even think of saying what he said is bizarre, but to actually say it at the Despatch Box gives undeniable evidence of his ego-driven incompetence and that he is thicker than ten short planks.

    An excellent article Robert, I wish that someone of your financial experience had been in Mr Marr's place. In my opinion it is very poor journalism to accept a 'conditional' interview with the 'agenda' set by Brown which I believe to be the case.

    Any one of ten chaps in my local would have embarressed Brown quite easily, with or without the OH ions.

  • Comment number 48.

    After reading the transcript of the interview, I fully understand why many could not see it through. It’s embarrassing to read and made me wonder if this PM is actually still in touch with the new world, new economy – real life? Is this what it takes to become Chancellor or PM?
    I presume politicians not to be too concerned with the truth, but Brown’s version of recent history made me wonder if I’d accidentally spent the past few weeks in a different universe.

    International rules to curb bonuses? Good idea! Let’s start with the supplementary pensions of Prime Ministers – and not only Brown, but also his predecessor. The current financial mess was not created yesterday, but over the past decade.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am always entertained by politicians who believe all the good things that happen in the world are directly related to their policies and that any negative events are always someone else's fault and are somehow outside their control.

    Wouldn't a prudent Chancellor have saved a little money for a rainy day?

    I believe we should all follow Mr Brown's example and attempt to run up such massive debts that it becomes someone else's problem

  • Comment number 50.


    Yep. Downing Street knew. We knew that already though because on another forum far far away this lowering of interest rates to re-inflate the property bubble was noted at the time. It was at precisely this point that any pretence of an 'independent BoE' went out the window. The lowering of interest rates coincided with a shortfall in the number of mortgage applications. Oh, and a general election coming up. It certainly didn't coincide with runaway inflation.

    If the BoE and the government had just come out and been honest in 2003 and said' we're concerned with this nascent housing bubble so we're going to restrict lending multiples/increase interest rates people might have moaned but they couldn't quibble that Gordon Brown was doing his best for the economy.

    Instead he chose to not only keep quiet but to inflate the bubble with cheap money, top it up with 35bn a year of borrowed money of his own and then sit in front of Robert Peston and blame the yanks.

    Gordon Brown has borrowed this nations future under false pretences and squandered it. We have nothing at all to show for it except a few glass and steel monuments to PFI that will fall into disrepair ten times faster than the perfectly functional Victorian buildings they replaced.

    We have been royally stuffed and we must still wait almost two years for our revenge.

  • Comment number 51.

    Robert, thank you for highlighting some of Brown's 'misunderstandings' - it's a great pity Marr didn't tackle him on any of his claims.

    I'm not sure if Browns turned to outright lying, or is actively delusional (the belief his relaunch is a success points to the latter), but his act of attachng himself to success and distancing himself from failures just shows what a poor leader he is.

    I felt Brown would be a great statesman, but I think that views now only shared by those bereft of a grasp of reality these days. He's been an utter letdown, as slippery and snakelike as Blair and Mandelson but without the ability to get away with it.

  • Comment number 52.

    In my opinion it is very poor journalism to accept a 'conditional' interview with the 'agenda' set by Brown which I believe to be the case.

    I've been saying this for a while now but the BBC needs to seriously consider a 'no platform' policy for this government. Just like they used to have for the IRA. We are being so serially misinformed at our own expense that it's getting rude. Abusive even.

    Every time you let a government minister near Andrew Marr we get a thirty minute tirade of half-truths and disingenuous statements that go unchallenged. These then get reported in the print media and attain the status of 'facts'. Marr never bothers to intervene with any competing facts/alternate views although I believe Hilary Benn showed the futility of attempting to divert a government minister from their script so perhaps it's not entirely Marr's fault.

    Where is the 30 minute uninterrupted 'interview' by a Tory shadow minister heaping condemnation on this governments lamentable record?

  • Comment number 53.

    Robert - I feel that you have been rather restrained in your criticism of our beloved leader. So perhaps I can be a bit more forthright.

    1. GC just doesn't get it. He may be able to regulate for this crisis - but he will be unable to legislate for the next one.
    2. A crisis like this one brings as many opportunities for the UK as problems - It is vital that he focuses on the opportunities. I think that London has, so far, come out of this mess ahead of the game. In the coming years the City will still be a World financial centre and vital to the UK's well being.
    3. The city of London doesn't need a good kicking - it has been well and truly kicked. The dust needs to settle and cool consideration of the UK's national interest needs to be me made before any big decisions are taken.
    4. Trying to get international agreement on regulation is pretty futile. The agendas and national interests of the UK, USA, China, Russia and France - to name a few are too diverse. - Still if it keeps Gordon our of mischief...
    5. There is little credit to be had for the Government in this. They were central the UK specific parts of this crisis.
    6. The Banks need to (and no doubt will) focus on putting their house in order. The Government needs to focus on putting its finances straight. I hear nothing about this - just even more spending of money we don't have.
    7. The person who creates a disaster is hardly every the best person to sort it out. Credibility matters.
    8. Mixing the management of this crisis with the survival of GB and the Labour party - will almost certainly result is a profoundly sub-optimal outcome.

  • Comment number 54.

    #23...John from Hendon.

    If you believe that then you're dafter than Brown....and that takes some doing!!

  • Comment number 55.

    He said this was a moment in which it was "right" for the government to borrow a good deal more. Well, needs must.

    For Gordon Brown it seems that any time is the "right" time for the government to borrow a good deal more.

    I would be so much happier if I believed that inside he realised what a monumental screw-up he'd made and that he was actually losing sleep about the disaster he's made of the UK economy. Sadly I believe the only thing he's losing sleep over is whether or not 20% of his own party have the guts to throw him out.

    Gordon Brown's day:

    Woke up. Still PM. Faaaaantastic.

    Economy down the pan? Borrowing out of control? Reputation trashed? No problem at all.

  • Comment number 56.

    From a couple of recently 'referred to moderator' posts it appears criticism of the Andrew Marr style of 'interviewing' is off-limits. Interesting.

    In that case I'd like to clarify:

    Andrew Marr does a great job. His questioning is insightful and Jeremy Paxman could learn a lot from the revelations that Andrew Marr teases from his weekly parade of government ministers.

    I for one look forward to the critical dissection of the weekly government disinformation that Andrew Marr affords us. It please me greatly that my licence fee is well spent calling the government to account in this weekly skewering of government ministers and their disingenuous pronouncements.

    Will this do?

  • Comment number 57.

    Robert - if you continue to avoid talking about the core issue of this crisis and insist in non-arguments and platitudes then it places you in the same cess pit as all these other cretins.

    The problem is that we (and most of the rest of the world) run a Debt-based, Fiat monetary system with Fractional Reserve Banking.
    Money in circulation exists only as a result of debt. No debt - no money. Money is created out of thin air each time a loan is taken out (personal, corporate or governmental). At the instant the bank credits the loan amount to your account the money is created out of thin air. Before the manager hit the return button the money did not exist anywhere on the planet.
    When the loan is paid back it is paid back with interest (and profits, commissions, bonuses, backhanders etc etc). Therefore much more has to be paid back than is borrowed.
    When a loan is repaid the money disappears from the circulating money supply just as it appeared on planet earth when the loan was first initiated.
    Note, ,however, only the original capital is ever created. Therefore, if the money supply is not to dry up as the loan is repaid then more new loans must be taken out to keep the money pot topped up. But not just one new loan of the same value. No, new loans to the sum total of the original loan plus the interest.
    The above described process is not linear, it is exponential working on the compound interest theory.

    Lets pour some fuel on that particular fire. Fractional Reserve Banking. Most people conceive that the bank has the money which it lends to you. Wrong. FRB permits a bank to lend 10 x the value of the deposits it has from savers (at a lending ratio of 10:1). So it lends a total of almost £10,000 for every £1000 of deposits it has. When it lends the other £9000 it is 'lending' £9000 to you which it does not have. To make matters worse it charges you interest for the priveledge. If any other organisation did this it would be called fraud and the perpetrator would be in jail.

    So the system is predicated on growth. Every day there must be new loans taken out to match the capital plus interest being repaid on all the loans already in existence. An increase in the number of loans = an increase in population, an increase in industrial activity, an increase in energy consumption, an increas in raw material consumption and an increase in the production of waste and pollution - all on an exponential scale.

    To have sufficient money in circulation for the purposes of every day transactions new loans must be initiated every day to keep the money pot topped up. The system needs new debt every day. When Gordon Brown says he wants to reduce debt he is lying through his teeth. Without new debt the money supply would dry up and we'd fall into a 1930's style depression (insufficient money in circulation with which to transact)

    The monetary system we use is doomed to failure on its first day in existence. It cannot continue to grow exponentially. That is not an opinion, it is a mathematical fact. What we are witnessing today is the inevitable breakdown and demise of this fiat monetary system as has happened to every single fiat monetary system tried in history before. Failure to talk about it and address the fundamental problem of our monetary system will mean a very painful period ahead as a relatively orderly demise gives way to chaotic collapse.

    Robert - are you part of the problem or will you discuss this in public? You had every opportunity to raise this last Thursday with Evan Davies and your mates from the city. But as usual you never breathed a word. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

  • Comment number 58.

    56. U9461192


    No doubt it will be Sir Andrew Marr by the end of Jan.

  • Comment number 59.

    Gordon brown appears to have little grasp of economics and the potential resulting effects of his policies that he ends up having to U-turn.

    He does present ill-considered solutions. His knee-jerk action against tax avoidance in the film industry almost closed that industry down and then he had to U-turn and revise to a better policy.

    Short selling has some merits - what he needed to do was to make the kind of short-selling that brought HBOS t its knees so very expensive that it would not occur.

    Mr. Brown also claims that he had been rebuffed by foreign governments in his quest for regulation. Firstly, he had allowed the set up of the FSA to be unfit for purpose - probably without giving enough consideration of how it should actually be set up to be effective. Secondly, he could have given better backing to the Basl 2 Accord that was the regulation that would have overseen and controlled risk. In fact the FSA postponed the implementation of this at Northern Rock. This would have highlighted the problems of Northern Rock prior to the Credit Crunch. Finally, he demonstrates a lack of understanding that the swapping of mortgaged-backed securities for Treasury Bills would never improve the housing market. What was required is more capital. The only way this would happen iis if the industry could be made more secure in the time of crisis. As Mr. Peson reports, the BoE did say that this measure was to assist bank liquidity.

    Unfortunately, the Prime minister appears to demonstrate a school-boy grasp of economics, which is insufficent for a Prime Minister, much less a Chancellor of the Exchequer.

  • Comment number 60.

    Dear Gordon,
    My finances are not as good as they used to be. In the past few years my pay rises have been below the inflation (not to mention the true inflation rate) and with rise of food, gas/electricity and petrol prices etc it has left a big hole in my family budget. Oh, and I nearly forgot but my final salary pension has gone. (could be time to work for the government?)

    I can either try to cut down on by leaving teh car at home etc to make up the difference or should I take your own advice as noted on the Andrew Marr show, and simply put the spending on my credit card?

    Do I act cautious or keep borrowing like HM Government?

  • Comment number 61.

    I will be interested to see if Brown can do anything to stop headlines like this:

    $2.5 bn reward for running the global economy into the ground! I could have done that!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Without new debt the money supply would dry up and we'd fall into a 1930's style depression (insufficient money in circulation with which to transact)

    I don't think that follows. I would expect there to be an equilibrium point at which there was sufficient money in the system to allow us all to do achieve a sustainable level of existence but not necessarily one of continual growth.

    What's the alternative to Fiat currency? It's not a trick question. I agree that fiat currency only 'works' if enough people 'will' it to work but what's the alternative?

  • Comment number 63.


    I think it follows perfectly, and as for an alternative to fiat currency - Your about to find out in the live environment ;-)

    Fiat's goose has been cooked, just like the gold standard and the rest before them!

  • Comment number 64.

    The biggest problem with the unravelling of the current money system (Fiat), will be when your average joe on the street works out that every 3 or 4 years (when a bubble bursts) he is robbed! When he realises this, he will no longer goto a bank for a loan, where will that leave us economically as a country?

  • Comment number 65.

    Well done Robert, you finally caught up with the rest of us. Brown is a liar, a serial liar, and such a bad liar that he can contradict himself on the same day.

    Now really lay into him, and show that the BBC is NOT, as most people now believe, the propaganda arm of New Stasi.

  • Comment number 66.

    If you think Marr let Brown off the hook, why don't you just say so?

  • Comment number 67.

    "Anyway, there's more that could be said about the prime minister's re-making of himself (which by the way he and his advisers perceive as a great success). But I'm exhausted trying to fathom the new Brown, so that'll do for now."

    That is HILARIOUS. They really have no idea of how utterly useless they are seen to be? They really have no idea of how ordinary folk despise them? None so blind as them as won't see eh? There will be so many Portillo moments at the next election, as the likes of Brown, Balls, Straw and the rest of that evil clutch all lose their livelihoods.

  • Comment number 68.

    I wholeheartedly agree with extremesense -Vince Cable is the only politician who's had the courage and the nous to speak up against the increasingly irresponsible financial behaviours the government have been encouraging for the last 10 years (especially the obscenely over-inflated housing market). What a shame we can't vote him in as PM. Those few like him have been derided as Cassandras and Eeyores by the government and the public who didn't want to hear anything that might burst their imaginary little world of getting rich quick - only now are they being vindicated. You'd have my vote, Vince!

  • Comment number 69.

    Mr Brown could show us he's backing Britain by injecting some demand back into the Uk economy.

    Easily done:

    A fair pay rise for the Public sector say four amd half percent.

    A cut in Interest rates to two percent.

    Radical, but it would start the recovery.

  • Comment number 70.

    62: 'What's the alternative to Fiat currency? It's not a trick question. I agree that fiat currency only 'works' if enough people 'will' it to work but what's the alternative?'

    Full reserve banking, where banks actually become what they currently falsely advertise themselves as being which is vaults to store your cash for safe keeping.

    The argument that this non-interest paying scheme would reduce the value of your money is false, as most inflation is actually caused by the inflation of the money supply (a symptom of fractional reserve)

    Check out the Mises Institute for details.

    Under this system, bank runs are impossible, there would be no need for government controlled monetary policy, no need for a lender of last resort and the current crisis would be nigh impossible to achieve.

    The government, and elite favour fractional reserve because it is a currency that is easier for them to debase for their own gains, and easier for them to inflate, and inflation is a hidden tax.

    The last European bank to favour full reserve banking was the bank of Amsterdam two centuries ago.

    The downside would be a lot of city folk would be out of work. But some would say that isn't so bad.

  • Comment number 71.

    I like the Liberal Democrats but did not like to hear their leader speaking of Tax cuts.

    No one will believe that possible at the present time.

  • Comment number 72.

    Weimartime . . . . .

    And the livin' ain't easy . . . . .

  • Comment number 73.

    Mr Brown could show us he's backing Britain by injecting some demand back into the Uk economy.

    Easily done:

    A fair pay rise for the Public sector say four amd half percent.

    A cut in Interest rates to two percent.

    Radical, but it would start the recovery.


    That's exactly what got us into this. He borrowed 300bn. Yes, 300bn and flooded it into the economy to pay for one million extra diversity co-ordinators and their ilk. He increased doctors pay by 40% overnight. Nurses got about 30% over 2 years. He threw money at the civil service. He slashed interest rates to 2%.

    And this is where it got us. The last thing we should be doing is paying civil servants 4.5% extra. We should be firing one million of them by return of post and slashing what wages they do get. If and when any single one of them achieves an improvement in productivity that ain't purely rigged then we might consider giving 'em a pay-rise but until then I would squeeze civil servants until it hurts. Then I'd squeeze some more.

    We should fire the entire BBC licencing team and about 80% of the DVLC people for starters. Computers have rendered them practically obsolete plus with house moves down by 40 or 50% they don't need to re-issue our licences so regularly. Fire them. Fire them all. Relocate their jobs to India for a 10th of the price.

    Man I could save this country sooooo much money.

  • Comment number 74.

    Brown has turned out to be a bigger con than the Loch Ness monster! The man is deluded, does he seriously think that we are going to believe a word he says? Taking the credit when things go right but doing his Macavity act when things go wrong are typical of the man. He had 10 years in the treasury and it seems everything he has touched has been a disaster, Tax credits, CSA, PPP, Pensions, ID Cards, Iraq, Gold reserves, Housing Packs, I could go on and on. We are being taxed to the point where we can hardly afford to put food on our tables, heat our homes, drive our cars, council tax is out of control and has ceased to even relate to council services and on top of all that he 'missed' what was coming .ie "the credit crunch" He blames 'global' factors for all our trouble yet when everybody was riding high on the debt wave he went around bathing himself in adulation and believing his own image of himself as the "iron chancellor" "prudence" etc, all the good times were down to him and him alone. Well now it's all gone belly-up, Gordy's suddenly not to blame, it's all the fault of those greedy American bankers.
    His wriggling performance with Marr shows that he has no scrupples or honour he's just interested in staying in power and he'll do or say anything to that end. Con-man, that's what he is and we've all been done up like a kipper by this fraud of PM/Chancellor and his useless bunch shysters who pass for a government these days! Be gone ye fool!

  • Comment number 75.

    If you think Marr let Brown off the hook, why don't you just say so?

    I've been saying that for months but it's only today that it has been moderated off here twice. Either Andrew Marr is reporting comments himself or it's a 'concerned' member of the public worried that the BBC is losing its neutral image.

    That said. Andrew Marr is a brilliant interviewer. Without parallel. Jeremy Paxman wishes he was as good as Andrew Marr. Andrew Marr takes no prisoners in his relentless quest for the truth. Labour ministers are certainly not queueing up for a free ride every Sunday. No Sir.

    Will this do?

  • Comment number 76.

    Nicely observed post. Of course what you are really saying is that Gordon has created rules and then broken them, said things and done the opposite, claimed as his successes things he did not do and accused others of the things he did do that didn't work out.

    And this is the guy who claimed he was a conviction politician? I'm sure he would now call himself a pragmatic politician i for one think he's the most ridiculous character to have held that office in decades. Even John Major looked like the model of competence, a man in control compared to this lummox.

  • Comment number 77.

    62. U9461192

    I can't make up my mind whether I didn't explain myself well enough or you are deliberately not understanding how a debt-based fractional reserve system works. Even if you had your 'theoretical equilibrium' the debtors still have to pay back much more than was first borrowed and therefore by definition created. Where does the new money come from to balance that which is being repaid in monthly installments and destroyed when it returns to the bank?

    Lets say you borrow £100,000 to buy a house. Over the term of the loan you will pay back roughly £300,000. IF the original loan of £100,000 created exactly £100,000 of new money then where does the additional £200,000 come from to maintain your 'theoretical equilibrium'? New loans? So now you need two loans of £100,000 each to dump £200,000 into the money supply to make up for the original £100,000 loan being paid off. Now you've got an additional £400,000 to find to allow the two new debtors to pay of their loan.

    Where exactly is it you see this 'eqilibrium' you expect?

    An alternative to debt-based, fiat, fractional reserve banking? Yes, how about the systems we have tried before that were perfectly sustainable until the bankster-fraudsters forced them out of existence because they couldn't make any money from them? e.g The tally stick system introduced by Henry I lasted 726 years until Henry VIII, under pressure from the money changers, allowed the banks to issue the money supply. The tally stick took Britain through the largest part of the expansion of the british empire.

    All silence from the Robert front I notice. Robert, have you found your spine yet?

  • Comment number 78.

    Very good spot, Mr. Peston. He is obviously stuck in a time warp where he thinks that he can win the next election by accusing the Tories of planning tax cuts.
    Truth is, the uncritical worship of the City which has disfigured his government is coming back to haunt him.
    I don't agree about the independence of the FSA, though. They are clearly incompetent and should be scrapped. The government should take back responsibility to itself. All these Quango regulators are a negation of democratic accountability.

  • Comment number 79.

    Robert your blog link from the Business main page, AS ABOVE, does not work.. obviously!!

  • Comment number 80.

    Are all politicians born liars or do they grow into it?

    We can't trust politicians as so few actually will tell the truth.

    I can't remember when a senior government minister last admitted making a mistake.

    It would probably be disastrous for the NHS as so many people would fall off their chairs and be brought into casualty.

    If GB continues to spend (he would say invest but he really doesn't understand the word) when he (we) can't afford it he's being totally irresponsible.
    Reckless (with other peoples money) is how GB will go down in history.

    Bit like the creative Investment Bankers of this world. They managed to con everyone with new instruments which no-one really understood. The ratings agencies are culpable through providing AAA status to junk, but they were working for the seller rather than the buyer - so that's OK then.

    GB and the bankers share many traits:

    Economic incompetence
    Lavish (with others money)
    Extinct (soon to be - fingers crossed)
    Scottish (not applicable to all bankers)

    They will not have to worry about their heating bills when they've finally finished messing about with millions of peoples hard earned money.

    end of rant

  • Comment number 81.

    Agree 100% with post 73.

  • Comment number 82.

    I'd like to get Brown to undertake a psychometric test to see what's going on inside his head. He clearly can not see what the rest of us can that he's out of his depth, seriously deluded about the facts and has resorted to bumbling on about how we are victims of global events that only he can steer us through. He can not accept that it his own policies as Chancellor that would always bring us to this, taxing, borrowing and overspending in a boom gives the impression of growth but always, always, always ends in a crash. The frightening thing is when times were good he failed to address this and now when times are tough he is incapable of even acknowledging it. To me watching him on TV he resembles those portrayals of Hitler in the last days in his bunker, deluded and still ranting about final victory with those around him knowing it is over but not having the courage to say so.

  • Comment number 83.

    73. U9461192

    You have my vote.

    Supercalm down, you need to start with a GCSE in maths, they arnt hard these days, takes an average person about a week to get one.

  • Comment number 84.

    Javaman – I also agree100% with #73

    Furthermore how about sacking a few of the riders on the Local Authority gravytrain – now nobody’s building any more houses, why do we need planning departments other than to get us to pay for bat and badger surveys? I tried to getting planning permission not long back and the alledged presence of one bat (actually it’s poo), meant I had to employ an overqualified hippy to sit outside the house for three days listening to his ipod, net result a bill for four grand and they still turned down the planning permission!! No wonder houses are so expensive.

    Don’t get me started on badgers!

  • Comment number 85.


    I’ve had similar problems with bureaucratic bullies down at the local council (Hey and they are supposed to be doing out ‘tax payers’ bidding for the good of the community!!!). Oh and don’t get me started on the state of the railways, another over bloated semi nationalised industry! Let them fail I say…..

  • Comment number 86.

    Post - 75 That's the spirit ! Bravo !

  • Comment number 87.

    At 08:32am on 22 Sep 2008, sagamix wrote:

    Labour have just the one (very slim) chance of turning the economic turmoil to their advantage. That is to convince the public that only a party of the left can push through the regulatory, interventionist reforms which are now perceived to be needed

    Do you really think that that is what the ordinary person in the street is worried about? No - they are worried about how they are going to pay next month's mortgage, with so much going out on food and energy. And all they know is that this government takes with one hand and then takes with the other, so that it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

    I think you will find that that is what exercising most people at this moment in time.

  • Comment number 88.

    At 09:53am on 22 Sep 2008, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    'Reignite the mortgage market' - G Brown,

    By "mortgage market", Brown means, of course, the economy.

  • Comment number 89.

    The Mperrors still refuse to believe that they are naked, they still "carry on b[l]
    anking" as if their birthday suits came from saville row ,they should change their tailerrs befor they get taken again to the cleanerrs and tumbled by the boys

    As for the crisis being a global one

    A whore could make a similar claim about her clientelles problems

    Acording to Roubini this off balance sheet nonsence originated in london and switss banks

    Im not asking Gordon to admit to causing the credit crunch ,because that was clearly my fault

    Almost 10 years ago i asked the halifax for a subprime mortgage, when they refused i pointed out that giving a mortgage to anyone would push up house prices and theirfore non payment would not create a problem for banks who could reposess without loss or reamortize after house prices inevitably increased .I told him bankmanagers were bozos if they missed the opportunity

    A month later i read in the paper that halifax had started subprime MORTGAGES

    I am still awaiting a nobel prize for my theoretic contributions to bozonomics which temporarily brought an end to the boom bust cycle ,or an OBE BOE IOU

    Iam so angry !!

  • Comment number 90.

    Post 57.
    We must`nt spook the sheeple.They believe in this parasitical degeneracy with all their little hearts.

  • Comment number 91.

    Good evening Robert Peston,

    Very interesting insights... I wish it had been you interviewing the Prime Minister on Sunday morning; if it had been, how would he have replied to your points? Would he have at all conceded (specially about the European concerns over regulation), or would he have fought his corner? And would you have pushed him further ala Paxman?


  • Comment number 92.

    Gordon Brown tries to tell us that the problems we face are global problems - 'not my fault, gov.' This is a blatant half-truth, because there is much he could have done within the UK, and didn't do. At the base of this pyramid of a problem lies the housing market. There are political issues here which remain government responsibility, even with an independent Bank of England. Mortgage finance to residential owner-occupiers is unsustainable at more than 3.5 times income. Loans above that level should have been banned by law many years ago. So should self-certification of income. Allied to that, house price inflation should have been seen as just as pernicious as general inflation. It has discouraged saving and encouraged borrowing, and has been driven by the availability of finance at silly multiples of income. That is elementary, and the 'brilliant' Chancellor Brown should have known that.

  • Comment number 93.

    Your comment about the PM losing his sure touch is a bit misleading, because you assume he ever had one in the first place. Brown as chancellor inherited an economy in good condition, set up by his predecessor with the assistance of a reasonable world economy. Since then, he's obfuscated taxes and confused everyone with multiple announcements of the same bit of funding to get headlines, and generally ridden the steady slope down to the mess in which we now find the country.

  • Comment number 94.

    Excellent article.

    Spot on.

  • Comment number 95.

    Post blocked by profanity filter. Trying to post in two parts. Part one

    OK Robert, it looks like nothing said so far on YOUR blog has elicited a response. Clearly the attempt at plucking your moral strings as a Public Service Broadcaster whose salary I pay through my licence fee has failed miserably. Not one word to defend yourself or to silence your critics.

    So.... we'll try another tack. I call it the "whats in it for me" tack. That usually works.

    The rest of the media, albeit belatedly, lauded you for 'outing' Northern Rock ( and sticking the taxpayer with a bill for £20b to boot :-( ). But your profile was generally raised in the media and you soaked up the plaudits like a sponge.

    So on the same basis, then, I have a business proposal for you. Just think of the heights your profile will reach if you become the man who starts the ball rolling on the public's full understanding of what a debt-based, fiat, fractional reserve monetary system really is. You'll be the talk of the town invited on every talk show on every channel on the TV. Once the reality of the utter fraud that is perpetrated against us is explained the public will realise that every word which comes out of Gordon Brown's or Alastair Darling's mouth is a complete lie.

  • Comment number 96.

    Take inflation for example. Every night at 6 o'clock the BBC parrots the governments inflation figures without scrutiny as the rise in prices. Imagine if the BBC news actually did its job properly and desribed inflation in its true terms i.e. "the % reduction in the spending power of the money in your pocket caused by Gordon Brown printing £10b shiny new pound notes each day". Or if you are retired or on fixed income, the reduction in spending power of your pension fund or benefits due to Gordons hand on the go-faster lever of the printing press. Particularly if the reason for printing all those new shiny notes is to bail out his partners in crime in the city. Now wouldn't that go down well on the 6 o'clock news ! I think that would wake up even the sleepiest Eastenders/Big Brother watcher.

    So when Gordon or Alastair say that the cause of the crisis is beyond their control or that inflation (debasement of the currency) is not of their doing then they can rightly be publicly flogged for their corruption and lies.

    So how about it Robert? If you start the ball rolling by actually telling the truth about where our money comes from you could go down in history as the man who initiated the collapse of the fractional reserve system to be replaced with 100% reserve banking. Your name would be remembered for the next 100 years or so at least. You might even get a statue in Trafalgar Square. It would make your children and childrens children so proud. Do you think you could find your spine long enough to do that?

  • Comment number 97.

    Lets face it, if we'd had a Tory government for the last few years and they'd made a mess of things as much as this one has could you image then owning up and saying so? Nope, neither can I. Politicians are politicans and I can well image a Tory chancellor being as loose with the figures as Gordon Brown is now.

    Also, if this government had seriously tackled the housing bubble, we'd all have voted them out cos people are greedy and too many people enjoyed seeing their house prices double in value. We'd all have complained nanny state and gone on about the government taxing us too much or limiting our freedom to make money. We'd have also disliked the government for the lower economic growth that would have resulted when compared to the US.

    Collectively as a nation we got ourselves into this mess - we all spent too much, saved too little and got ourselves into debt. People who bought houses knew the prices were too high, yet bought them anyway. We all knew what goes up, must come down and we were all forwarned about the housing bubble and record levels of public debt.

  • Comment number 98.

    Comment 91 : robzaba

    "Very interesting insights... I wish it had been you interviewing the Prime Minister on Sunday morning; if it had been, how would he have replied to your points? Would he have at all conceded (specially about the European concerns over regulation), or would he have fought his corner? And would you have pushed him further ala Paxman?"

    The regrettable truth is that Brown would never have consented to an interview with anyone other than a craven sycophant like Marr. To Brown, the political interview is just a device to be used to raise his standing at the end of the interview above that at the beginning of it. No more, no less.

    Supposedly testing questions from a supposedly authoritative figure such as Marr are in reality no more than gentle long-hops for Brown to score off, with the occasional easily-defended straight one thrown in, so as to give the impression that the whole thing hasn't been contrived.

    To Brown, the key question to be answered in advance is whether or not the interviewer will conspire with him to use the interview as a Brown-boosting exercise.

    Don't be misled into thinking anything else.

  • Comment number 99.

    There was me wanting to play GB buzzword bingo, it's not an exciting game you always win! [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] When exactly did GB have a "sure touch" with the financial firms? This is a man whose luck finally ran out. He built a Ponzi scheme economy based on household bubbles, financial firms and rampant spending on the public sector. The flattering stats are mostly smoke and mirrors - inflation too high - redefine the index, want to cut long-term unemployment? - redefine them as long-term "sick" or "students", not a chance in hell of meeting your "golden rule" - redefine the business cycle. The only miracle is that he was so critically applauded for so long.

  • Comment number 100.

    This is the PM that in a speech to the CBI in 2005 said for regulation of financial services he wanted..................."not just a light touch but a limited touch"


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