Beware the economy bullies

THERE’S almost a bullying tone to some of the voices raised in criticism of the government’s economic policies. Anyone who dares to suggest that the current crisis is not of our making gets the proverbial Chinese burn behind the bike shed and has his dinner money stolen.

So Sir Alan Budd, former adviser to Tory chancellors Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke, might want to get his mum to pick him up from school for the next couple of days. According to Paul Waugh of The Evening Standard, Sir Alan told Radio 4:

On the issue of whether the nation is on the edge of “bankruptcy”, he said:

“Expressions like the country going bankrupt aren’t really suitable to be used in these circumstances. There are problems out there but they’re not to do with bankruptcy.”

This contrasts slightly with D Cameron (who worked alongside Sir Alan when he was with Lamont) just a week ago, declaring “We’ve got to stop this Government before they bankrupt our economy and bankrupt our children’s future”.

Here’s Sir Alan on the fall in sterling:

“I don’t think a fall in the currency in itself is a serious matter, this is a price that is determined in free markets. Let people take their views of the future value of Sterling, some will get it right and some will get it wrong. This doesn’t prevent the Government from being able to finance its deficit and it is able to do that at the moment at very low interest rates”

And on the public finances in general:

“I don’t think public finances are a problem at the moment. They are not nearly as healthy as one would wish but I don’t think we need worry about the public finances, what we do need to worry about are the commercial finances and the operation of the banking system.”

I don’t deny that recent polls suggest Labour is losing the economic argument. That doesn’t mean the critics are right or that the public won’t give us the benefit of the doubt when polling day comes around.

I remain firmly of the view that, had we been inflicted with a Conservative government in the last decade, not only would we be facing exactly the same economic difficulties as today, but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.



Filed under Blogging, David Cameron, Economy

35 responses to “Beware the economy bullies

  1. zebrambizi

    I heard him on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning and I was literally spellbound, I could not believe my ears. At least there is still one sensible tory still breathing!

  2. Rory

    Still persisting with the ‘do-nothing’ tag I see. Clearly you can’t wait for opposition.

  3. Sean Morris

    As I pointed out last night, watch the bond market, it will decide if we live or die, if it goes large parts if not all of the government will be shut.

    As for the Hypothetical, the Tories have not been in power so we do not know, we do know that they would have not set up the Crash Gordon regulatory system, so maybe the BoE would have paid more attention to credit flows…we do know they got the Property market wrong in the late 80s, and probably would have learned their lesson.

    You see Tom, planes fly becasue we have failsafe systems to keep them in the air when things go wrong. You are your internationalist mentality have forgotten that when you surrender powers to international bodies, such as Lisbon treaty ect and in this case EU financial regulation you put the national interest to one side, you think as you are operating internationally you can forget about the domestic and set up failsafes.

    One thing that would work a little is shafting Crash Gordon to the scrap heap, the city think he is a lunatic, confidence and trust are everything in finance. You can help a litter here and put your country first.

  4. richard

    “but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.”

    You’ve answered your own argument here. It’s a matter of contention whether we needed to fritter away nearly £500Bn on infrastructure projects but I don’t think anyone would dispute that in hindsight we’d like to have that money now that the economy’s gone down the toilet.

  5. John

    Sir Alan Budd’s comments were among the stupidest i’ve ever read about the current state of the economy.

    Here’s where he had me pissing myself laughing:

    “I don’t think public finances are a problem at the moment. They are not nearly as healthy as one would wish but I don’t think we need worry about the public finances.”

    Is he on the wind up? Have his readers been the victims of an elaborate troll? I seriously challenge ANYONE to, with a straight face, look another person in the eye and say that the level of government debt is not a problem, and not something to worry about. Even the Government doesn’t have the balls to do it, they just dodge the question entirelly.

    It’s why Gordon get’s so concerned when people talk about how much Sterling has crashed by, or when the likes of ITN’s Tom Bradby the other day use the word “Bankruptcy” in a question about the economy. It’s because confidence is the only think propping us up. Should that take a knock, there would be a run on the pound and Labour would have their own “Black Wednesday”. If we were on sound economic footing it would need more than a confidence knock to knock us off our perch.

    When the Government is dodging the question, it says something. So when clowns like Sir Alan Budd rush in downplaying the whole thing, he does nothing but give us all a reason to ROFL.

    I know you’re looking for support for the government Tom, but someone who chooses to downplay the troubles of the public finances is the WEAKEST argument of the lot. Sorry.

  6. wrinkled weasel

    Labour is on a lee shore.

    The reality is, ordinary people are being stuffed. It is only when the hoi-polloi get their pocket money cut off will anything change.

    Since the necessities of life – flat screen tellies, fags, booze and the cost of the holiday in Florida are now an issue, since Jason’s job at DFS is a fond memory, since their minds will be focused, as a man with his cojones in the lion’s mouth are focused, on the issue in hand, I am afraid this filibuster ain’t worth an ever valueless pound note.

    Brown is going down. Whether he deserves it or not, he is in charge and he is the visible face of the worst economic melt-down in since the 1930’s.

    People don’t understand the hundreds of billions spent on bailing out fat capitalists – it is meaningless. What they understand is unemployment and loss of liberty and the spiral of personal debt which, bugger me, has to be paid back.

    I will take just one example of how Brown is wrong. He wants to make it easier for people to buy new cars, by making it easier to borrow money. That is evil. All it does is increase personal debt and fuel materialism and increase the sense of helplessness of those who cannot aspire to such things. He wants people to be in even more debt. I cannot believe you can justify that, not only as a Socialist, but as a Christian.

  7. John

    “I would urge you to sell any sterling you might have. It’s finished. I hate to say it, but I would not put any money in the UK.”

  8. Steve

    “I will not let house prices get out of control” G Brown, 1997

    Not spotting the core problem is one thing, spotting it then sitting back and doing nothing about it is another.

    You will never get that red box back if you keep insulting your “Do-Nothing” leader in your blog 😉

  9. Colin

    I think you need to extract your head from your backside. You clearly have no concept of the real difficulties taxpayers are facing.

    “I remain firmly of the view that, had we been inflicted with a Conservative government in the last decade, not only would we be facing exactly the same economic difficulties as today, but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.”

    You’re having a giraffe – right?

    There is very little the government can do to at this stage. The time for action was in 1997 when you came to power – three years into an unprecedented period of growth, engineered by Ken Clarke. You should have taken steps to protect and sustain. Instead, you sprayed our money around, like there was no tomorrow, building a payroll vote and undertaking a series of social engineering projects that have done nothing to advance this nation.

    You and your comrades should try going to a large, urban hospital – unannounced. If state schools are soooooo good, how come so many on your front bench refuse to send their kids to the local bog standard comprehensive? The transport infrastructure is an international joke. You can’t even fund the forces properly, despite the fact they’re engaged on two fronts, in the fiercest fighting since Korea – that really sticks in the craw. I can’t decide if it’s incompetence or outright contempt for an institution that you’ve so far failed, despite your best efforts, to corrupt.

    Into the bargain, you created what looks like a deliberate policy to pay millions of people to sit at home whilst importing millions more from abroad to take their place in the jobs market. I wonder how that’s going to work out?

    We’re (the taxpayers) a bit pissed off. You haven’t even bothered to ask us if you could use our money on a succession of clearly flawed and ill thought out schemes to save the country/brown’s credibility.

    Also, the obvious, pathetic attempts by brown to dodge any semblance of responsibility is vomit inducing. His place in history is secure – he’s as bad as it comes. (you should talk to him about that, next time you see him).

    Thank god that’s over. I feel better. That said, if things don’t start looking up I MIGHT CONSIDER VOTING TORY!

  10. Thanks for that, Colin. But it would save you having to type out the latest Conservative Central Office briefings if you just posted the link instead.

  11. Johnny Norfolk


    The Consevatives would not have.

    Changed the banking rules.
    Sold our gold
    Spent so much
    Taxed so much

    Spent so much time passing laws on silly interfearing things.
    Employed as many civil servants and advisors.
    Signed the Lisbon Treaty with out a referendum.

    The list is endless so for you to say it would be just as bad under the Conservatives is ridiculous.

    What you can say is that everyLabour government has left office with the country in a worse state than when they came in, and thats a fact.this will be the worst of all.

  12. John

    Colin: “I think you need to extract your head from your backside. You clearly have no concept of the real difficulties taxpayers are facing.”

    It seems fairly obvious that Tom is well aware of the facts in issue. You’re confusing his obvious desire to back up the government with his knowledge of the facts. Tom knows exactly what’s going on just like we all do. If he didn’t he’d be a moron, and Tom is many things, but a moron isn’t one of them.

    If you are looking for some good news Tom, then here’s a piece from from the BBC (Brown’s Broadcasting Corporation – sorry, couldn’t resist! 😛 ) outlining how job vacancies have to be advertised in the UK before offering them abroad. This was a real problem, and the government have not only taken steps to fix it, but also at a time where their actions will generate much needed jobs for the economy. Good for them! See, Labour’s not ALL bad….. 😉

  13. Colin

    You’ve got me all wrong Tom…

  14. My history research tells me the Conservatives brought the money supply under control in the 80’s and 90’s. They restructured a dead horse economy, making us a modern service state, instead of a dead manufacturing state who had no hope in hell of competing with India and China. Remember 1978, we were the sick man of Europe. When the Tories left office in 1997, we had the best pension provisions in Europe. We had inflation at 2.6%. Interest rates at 6.5%. Unemployment was falling rapidly. We had the fastest growing economy in Europe. All squandered under the supposedly Iron Chancellor. Gordo took the credit for Clarke’s superb work, and then blamed everyone when he bloated the money supply and did nothing to stop the flood of cheap credit, creating the illusion of prosperity and growth. And it is to the eternal shame of every Lib Dem, Labourite and Tory that failed to oppose it.

    Remember, 2003, the IMF warned Brown about debt levels in the economy. Brown shrugged it off. In 2005, both the Tories and the Lib Dems warned him about debt levels. He shrugged it off. And now he wants us to believe he was calling for more international regulation ten years ago! Why should we believe he’d listen to it now if he hasn’t listened to a whole score of advice from various politicians and economists.

  15. wrinkled weasel

    There comes a time in the political cycle when the weight of negative information gains critical mass and tips the balance, but the politicians are still in some kind of warm cocoon of unknowing.

    I can remember the daily diet of Tory sleaze stories before May 1997. It made it look as though they were all on the take, but that didn’t tip the balance.

    What tipped the balance was breathtaking arrogance in the face of public opinion, personified by the Howard/Paxman interview, even after the Tories were trounced at the ballot box. The public face of the Conservatives up until May 1997 can be summed up as arrogance and denial. What was so satisfying, beyond shadenfreude, beyond revenge and beyond karma, was the defeat of Michael Portillo, whose public demeanour was the apotheosis of lordliness.

    Recently, two ministers have told us that the economy is in recovery. Margaret Beckett declared,”We’re hearing indications of certainly a maintenance of customer interest, possibly even a bit of a pick-up.

    “Some people have been saying the appetite to buy has gone through the floor, but clearly we’ve had this anecdotal evidence of a bit of an upturn in interest.”

    Baroness Vader said, “I have seen a few green shoots (of recovery), but it’s a bit too early to say”.

    Ordinary people will not understand the nuances of what Beckett and Vadera were saying.

  16. Rapunzel

    Tom, many people simply want to revel in all the gloom and despond. The press particularly. I listened to ‘You and Yours’ earlier.

    Yes, I know, sad life, but I’ve not been well.

    They were talking to business folk about how things are. It seemed that they concentrated on all the bad stuff, whereas, in fact, quite a few people said they were very happy with many of the measures, such as the cut in VAT, delays in VAT and tax payments, and other things which had been helpful. It felt as though this was not what the presenters wanted to broadcast, so back we went to the gloom.

    Surely the opposition want the country to go bankrupt, so they can say: “We told you so?”
    Likewise the fall of the pound and share prices. The last thing they want is any good news. Forget the country, let’s just score a few more political points.

    They keep saying the last bank bail out failed. By my understanding, that was to save the banks. And it has. None has failed. Darling said at the time that more help might be needed. It has been.

    As ani said on another post, patience. There’s a way to go before the election and in this economic downturn. Things will get better, they always do!

    I suppose this makes me sound really naive!!

  17. Auntie Flo'

    I’m on the REC’s employment survey panel. This widely respected survey, which uses a range of indices, shows the employment market dropping like a stone throughout the last 6 months, at a much steeper and more rapid rate of decline than anything that happened during the last recession.

    The turnover of every SME I know of, including my own, is 10-30% down on this period last year. The turnover of all of my clients, including blue chips, is substantially reduced. That’s unsustainable for any longer than the short term.

    Every day I pass a large high tech company which designed and produced defence systems for the MOD. It bustled with c 800 staff when your government came to power. I’m told they now have c 50 staff. I also pass a medical research company that closed down with the loss of c 600 jobs. Another local medical research company has announced national redundancies. Yesterday one of my suppliers made hundreds redundant. I could give you scores of other local examples.

    Most of these jobs, and many, many others, have gone overseas because the companies concerned can’t afford to trade here any longer.

    UK companies have been hugely damaged by the high costs of your government’s badly drafted, run away over-regulation and simulataneous open door for the products of unregulated, non-EU, cheap labour economies overseas.

    That’s another piece of gross negligence that Brown is responsible for. He should be sacked for that alone.

    Little wonder so many of us are worried about our jobs and businesses. It’s grim out here, Tom, and it’s Brown who’s made it grim.

  18. Johnny Norfolk

    Labour have conned the people since 1997. The problem you now have that it has now been realised by international investors.
    George Sorros as you know was no friend of the Conservatives has advised no more investment in Stirling as it is ‘finnished’ as a curency.
    Can you still not see what is going to happen next.
    Just read about what happened to the last labour government, only this time it is worse.
    Now you are going to print more money.
    Like households and companies your income is going to dry up, and still you have not acted over government spending.
    What you need to do is what Mrs Thatcher had to do for you last time.Painful yes but it has to be done. Can you not see it. You are making things worse not better

  19. Chris Gale

    The difference now is that unlike in the past when times were horrendous, the government, thankfully, does not leave people to sink.
    In the early 80s when I was at secondary school there was no decent level of child support or minimum wage etc.
    There are support mechanisms in place now that people could only have dreamed of in the early 80s and through the early/mid 90s.
    The Tory party did not give a **** for people and still don’t.
    The Tories on here may bleat on but their party left a whole generation damaged and that legacy goes on for many years after.
    You may try to reinvent yourselves as caring and cuddly but your spots never change

  20. Simon

    Chris, you seem to have forgotton that Thatcher inherited a country once again bankrupted by a Labour government. By the time the hard decisions had been made, the country had the strongest economy in the whole of Europe and one of the strongest in the world. 11 years of a Labour government, and we’re back where we started.

    Labour may care about the unemployed, but the Tories would much rather they were working.

  21. “Labour may care about the unemployed, but the Tories would much rather they were working.”

    Then why did the Tories initiate the IB scandal by encouraging so many unemployed people to go on to benefits for life in the 1980s?

  22. Simon

    Letter to The Indepenent (26th Jan 2006).

    “Sir: The explosion of Incapacity Benefit that John Hutton blames on “Thatcher’s legacy” (report, 25 January) actually came about by New Labour policies from the mid-Nineties onward toward those unemployed. Indeed, JobCentres actively encouraged long-term unemployed and those who stood up to their bullying tactics to seek “incapacity benefit”.

    Often, claimants, like myself, were threatened with homelessness and no income support and hence, under stress, sought out sympathetic doctors who, armed with new serotonin-enhancing drugs, brought unemployment statistics down. The Blairist party now wishes to ignore its policies that have led to an £18bn tax hole and attack, in the nicest possible way, once more, the underprivileged.”

  23. Speaking of economic bullying, it would be nice if criticism of policy were not automatically smeared as “talking down the economy”. We might not be in such a mess if some of those criticisms had been listened to.

  24. madasafish

    What might have happened with a different Government is interesting but irrelevant.

    And of course UK borrowing is bad but not as bad as it could be (see Italy).
    But as Labour ARE the Government and HAVE BEEN for 11 years, the electorate can bale: the Government or 2. The Conservatives or 3. the LibDems.

    It does not require any intelligence to work out the likely choice.

    As for “Do Nothing” , there is nothing wrong with it as a strategy. indeed for long periods of time, I do that and make money or avoid losing it.

    Of course if you mean the Conservatives have no policies, you and I know it’s just nonsense.. like the toffs jibes.

    that did not work as well.

    Governments have to present their own case, not criticise others. Clearly this Government cannot present its own Case as it is not working..

    I’m waiting for Damian Green to be charged with all these “serious offenses” you alleged months ago he was accused of. Nothing has happened. Are the CPS “doing nothing”?
    Nope. They are working through the case.

    It’s the argument of people who think voters are stupid.

    Surprise: voters who vote are not stupid. (those who do not are )

  25. Chris Gale

    “By the time the hard decisions had been made, the country had the strongest economy in the whole of Europe and one of the strongest in the world.”

    Built on deregulated madness and the blighting of millions of lives.. ‘a price worth paying’.
    The difference is that you lot stuffed the people down the drain and smashed our manufacturing base to bits. In the process you blighted society for years.

  26. Johnny Norfolk


    its because we have paid out for all this welfare state support that is one of the reasons we are in the state we are. A government cannot spend what it does not have. It is continuing to do so. It cannot go on, it will end in disaster.
    Why can you not see this. Money and wealth does not grow on trees, it has to be earned and you, and Tom and this labour government does not understand this. is it to simple for you. ?

    I am at a loss why you cannot see this.

  27. Sergeant Plodder

    @Tom Harris January 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

    “Labour may care about the unemployed, but the Tories would much rather they were working.”

    Then why did the Tories initiate the IB scandal by encouraging so many unemployed people to go on to benefits for life in the 1980s
    To get them off the UB roll. By the way, Tom, New Labour have known about this since Day 1, and done nothing whatsoever about it. So it is a bit late for pointing fingers.

    How do I know this? My ex worked in a job centre for both admins.

  28. Simon

    Johnny, I think you missed my earlier post @10:28, then Tom’s reply blaming Thatcher for hiding the real unemployment figures by switching them to sickness benefit.

  29. Sergeant Plodder

    Off topic, but so utterly New Labour I had to post this … did you know it is now an offence – criminal – to be caught “disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an ‘authorised officer'”.

    You have been warned.

  30. richard

    I was staggered that “causing a nuclear explosion” is now its own offence, as if the rozzers aren’t already going to be charging you for terrorism, murder and littering anyway.

    Seriously, why on Earth could this possibly require a place on the statutes?

  31. richard

    After repeatedly re-reading the relevant statutes I’m convinced that “disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to” is lawyer-speak for not throwing rotten eggs at Community Support Officers…

    In fairness I think we can all sympathise with both the eggs and those who throw them.

  32. Sergeant Plodder


    Yes. That too. One would imagine, would one not, that they have rather too much time on their hands? And you forgot the heinous crime of leaving your bin lid open.

    Interesting that all these new “crimes” are not crimes against the person, or property, but the state, or rather, some New Labour concept of “the state”.

    God help us all. Apparently, we are — sorry, Brown is, on our behalf, overspending to the tune of £14 million an hour.

    How long before the tanks run dry?

  33. Sergeant Plodder

    We rest our case, Tom…

    UK Govt accounts:

    Revenue Apr-Dec 08 £359bn Apr-Dec 07 £361bn, change £-2bn

    Expenditure Apr-Dec 08 £404bn Apr-Dec 07 £382bn, change £+22bn

    Deficit Apr-Dec 08 £45bn Apr-Dec 07 £21bn, change £24bn.

    Revenue is fairly constant; it’s expenditure that’s out of control and accelerating. Public sector pay to Dec 08 rose 4% in the year, at a time of mounting job losses and borrowing approaching 10% of GDP.

  34. Sergeant Plodder

    Oh and by the way – we lost £6 billion alone on Monday – RBS.

    Money? No object. After all, it’s all yours, so why should I care (thought Gordon, as le haly his head on the pillow, dreaming of … what?)

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