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As Chancellor Mr Brown kept telling everyone how successful Britain’s economy was under his stewardship and as Prime Minister he tells us that because of him Britain is in a better position than other countries to weather the credit crunch.

Not only have I never believed him but now it seems that his successor as Chancellor, Alistair Darling, doesn’t either. Mr Darling got severely criticised a few months ago for daring to say that financial storms were looming but was proven right. Now Mr Darling says Britain will be the country that is hardest hit by the economic downturn.

Will Mr Brown sack his Chancellor? No. Alistair Darling has the safest job in the Labour government because no-one else in their right mind would want the job!

On Monday Mr Darling was asked by a Conservative MP to comment on the published views of the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission that the UK will be the hardest hit country in the developed world. The Chancellor admitted that he agreed and claimed that this was because of London’s status as a major financial services centre.

He said: “London is the major financial services sector of the world. Of course we are likely to be more severely affected as a result of the profitability being reduced and I’ve made that point on many occasions.”

He also admitted that government income from all forms of taxation has crashed which won’t be a surprise to many people. After all if houses are not selling then you won’t get Stamp Duty and as banks and other companies see their profits plunge and make people redundant it doesn’t take a financial genius to work out that their tax bills will plummet.

Mr Darling stated: “There’s not a country in the world now that isn’t being affected. This truly is a global problem.” Which may well be true but our Government, led by Mr Brown, doesn’t seem to have any idea how to deal with the problem. Cutting interest rates hasn’t helped. Tinkering with the VAT rate hasn’t helped. Mr Brown simply says that we can borrow and spend our way out of the problem – but the fact is that there can’t be many people willing to lend money to the UK and those who do will no doubt want to exert political influence.

When the Labour government of the 1960’s and 70’s got into financial trouble – yes we have been here before under a Labour government – the International Monetary Fund virtually took over the running of the UK. Is this going to happen again? Probably. The price then (and probably now) was a massive increase in taxation and a curb on spending.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Gordon Brown, hailed by his political allies as “prudent” and himself claiming to have ended “boom and bust” economics has now been proven to be a totally self delusional failure.

It reminds me of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy-tale about the emperor of a prosperous country who cared more about how he looked to others than actually running his country. He hired two swindlers who promised him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they told him, was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor couldn’t see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he could rather than appearing stupid; his ministers did the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they pretend to dress him so that he can march in procession through the capital showing off his new “clothes”. During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, “But he has nothing on!” The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession ignoring the child and the rest of the crowd who, according to the Emperor, are simply too stupid to appreciate him.

Does that remind you of anyone?

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8 Responses to “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Make-Believe World of Gordon Brown”

  1. Janine says:

    You only have to look at what Brown and his toadies wrote in the Queen’s Speech to see that they are not on the same planet as the rest of us. Apart from the fact that there is no way they can ever get all the laws through in the few months left until the election can anyone really believe that passing a law saying you are going to – legally – cut the national debt by 50% in the next four years means you can actually do it? Crazy. The public want to know HOW you are going to cut the deficit.

  2. Brian says:

    Will Gordon Brown cancel the next election? Everything he says about not wanting to call an election until he has sorted out the recession and his ideas on electoral reform points to a Hitler-like cancellation of the 5-year rule on calling elections.

  3. James Green says:

    Well Elisabeth,

    Whether or not Gordon Brown is good at maths is questionable. There have been quite a few occasions over the last 12 years as both Chancellor and as Prime Minister that basic arithmetic caused him problems.

    Remember that it was Mr Brown who announced the removal of the 10% starting rate of tax in his last budget. As ever the change didn’t take place immediately but a year later. At the time the Tories challenged Brown’s claim that taken together with the 2% reduction in basic rate few people would be worse off by the removal of the 10% rate. They said that some 4 to 5 million of the poorest in society would be worse off

    Brown and his cronies decried the Tories and voted down an amendment to the 2007 Finance Act, which would have addressed this problem. Oddly enough many of those most vociferous in their condemnation of the Tories claim suddenly woke up 12 months later and rebelled, forcing Brown and his puppet Darling (though he is slipping off the strings from time to time) to make a U-turn and introduce a complicated adjustment to the tax-free allowances to try and rectify the problem – of Mr Brown’s making. And Brown couldn’t even get the maths right on that either!

    The Treasury and the PMs website gave examples of what effect the changes would have. Unfortunately they got the sums wrong at it was left to the HMRC website to publish the correct figures.

    You have to ask the following questions:

    Why didn’t Gordon Brown manage to work out the fairly simple maths that the Tories pointed out would mean problems for the lowest paid?

    Why did the Labour party attack the Tories claim that between 4 and 5 million would be affected (the Institute for Fiscal Studies later confirmed the figure as 5.4 million) without even checking the sums?

    Why was it that Gordon Brown’s MPs and ministers took 12 months to waken up to the problem? Can’t they count either?

    Why replace a perfectly sensible and simple 10% rate of tax (which cost nothing to administer) with a complicated “correction” which actually costs the public money to administer?

    This is only one example. There are plenty of others that I could give you.

    When all is said and done Elisabeth, maths is not the most important aspect of managing an economy but you have to question someone who clearly ignores what he doesn’t like (I can’t believe that he didn’t know that the Tories were right all along) for political reasons. Call it what you will “head in the sand” or “Emperor’s new clothes” – I think it shows that he isn’t the man for the job!

    PS

    By the way, for full details of the mathematical errors have a look at the blog below:

    http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=183438&d=1025&h=1019&f=1026&dateformat=%25o%20%25B%20%25Y

  4. Owen says:

    I’m not much of a political observer, but I can’t guess it’s easy to try and control an economy the size of the UK in the current economic climate. The are 3 things a government can do to try and get out of recession: Drop taxes, reduce interest rates and increase government spending. However, each one of these is going to negatively affect some group or other, with it’s associated political repercussion.

    Thank goodness I’m not in their shoes!

  5. Elisabeth says:

    Problem is would anyone else do it any better. Gordon has little carisma, but he is good at maths. Is he applying maths as he would to his own economy or is he merely applying labour politics maths to the sort out the economy. The worms are out of the can now, you cant get themback in again anayway. So what is the problem? Well I’m not going to spell it out, but if you dont have any kids you at least dont have to worry about have that expence anyway. Use condoms.

  6. I remember the first credit crunch, and you’re right. It is happening all over again. When in doubt, stick your head in the sand and pretend it all isn’t happening. Good old Gordon, lol.

  7. James Green says:

    Unfortunately it isn’t just a few votes and it certainly isn’t cheap for the UK taxpayer.

    I note that a few people are beginning to question Mr Brown’s “strategy” and think that it will soon rebound on him. The opinion polls have shown Brown well behind before the “credit crunch” but now back where he was 12 months ago.

    Strange!

    You might find this blog on the adam smith institute worth reading:

    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/politics/15/

  8. Leo says:

    I love the allegory of the emperors clothes. I really do feel that we are totally naked from bad goverance and regulation. Indeed Mr Brown’s solution is to spend and spend so to gain a few cheap votes. While the rest of us pay the long term pain.

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