Peter Hoskin

Brown’s press conference: live blog | 22 July 2009

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Stay tuned for live coverage of Brown's monthly presser from 1200.

1157: The Downing Street website tells us to expect an update on "the progress that has been made since the launch of the Building Britain’s Future programme" (groan), but expect Afghanistan to dominate the questioning.  On that front, Brown's life may have been made slightly easier by Malloch Brown's odd "clarification" to his comments in the Telegraph this morning.

1202: And here's the Dear Leader now.  He begins by paying his condolences to the families of three servicemen killed in Afghanistan recently, adding that "we continue to make progress" in Helmand.  He also assures us the the government is "doing everything it can" to deal with swine flu.

1204: Right, here's the stuff on Building Britain's Future.  Brown says that his government will be judged "on its policies for the recession."  And he drops his new favourite Brownie: that if the government hadn't introduced "Real. Help. Now," then "at least" 500,000 more people would unemployed.  Hm.  Where's the proof to back that one up Gordon?  Some research from Oxford Economic Forecasting - commissioned by the Spectator - discovered that his measures wouild actually reduce jobs in the medium term.  I'll dig out the link later.

1207: Guess what.  Yep, he's listing all the measures he's introduced: from the scrappage scheme to the "Bill to clean up politics".

1208: Brown previews some new "investment" in transport and young people. "These are the right decisions to make us stronger..."

1209: Questions now, and Nick Robinson begins by asking Brown when he'll spell out the "tough spending cuts" that the public are expecting.  Brown responds with the usual stuff: efficiency savings, rise in upper rate etc.  Problem is, they won't quite deal with the £1 trillion+ hole in the public finances...

1211: Brown says that Labour will protect frontline services.

1212: Robinson pushes the specific question again, asking whether the public are wrong to want exapnsive spending cuts.  Brown again says that the public will want Labour to "protect frontline services."  He's straying close to an "investment vs cuts" line here.

1214: Sky's Glen Oglaza brings up helicopters in Afghanistan, and asks Brown whether he thinks General Dannatt et al are wrong in not toeing the government line.  Brown says that the current operation has everything it needs, and says - disgracefully - that the three soldiers killed recently wouldn't have been helped by helicopters, and adding that "you can't wage a war from a helicopter".  Brown finishes by saying that he's quoting what people are saying "on the ground".  Hm.

1217: More on Afghanistan.  Brown says that "of course we're putting more helicopters in," but repeats that the operation is sufficiently equipped.

1220: Brown on the summer recess: "The idea that MPs are having 82 days holiday is wrong ... they are getting on with the job ... spending time with their constituents."

1222: A journalist from an African publication rounds on Brown for not living up to his pledges on aid 'n' trade to the country.  Brown basically denies this.

1223: A bit of humour is injected into proceedings, as Brown says, "Everything I do is informed by integrity and honesty..."

1225: Incidentally, the Brown quote at 1223 was prompted by a question on Cameron's claim a few weeks back that there's a "thread of dishonesty" running through the government.  Brown turned it into one of his favourite attack, replying that he "doesn't comment on personal attacks".  It's all part of trying to make Cameron look like a bully, even though he was attacking Brown's government and not, specifically, Brown.

1228: Brown says that he hopes voters in Norwich and Glasgow by-elections will recognise which party has the best policies for the recession.

1230: Brown says he's concerned about terrorism in Somalia and Pakistan, and that action is being taken - but that terrorists still need to be tackled in Afghanistan.

1231: Brown: "It has been a difficult year, but we've made the tough decisions..."

1234: Asked about the British contribution to Afghanistan, Brown says that we're sharing the burden - with the second biggest contribution in terms of "troops and equipment".  He adds that the Afghan army and police have to "play their part" too.

1236: Brown says that the government has increased the number of British troops in Afghanistan from roughly 8,000 to roughly 9,000.  What he doesn't add is that the extra 1,000 is, at the moment, temporary - and will fall back to 8,000 after the Afghan elections in August.

1238: And there's the question on how Brown will spend his downtime this summer.  He responds that he' s looking forward to spending some time with his children, and will "watch a lot of sport".  Cue an awkward list of the "great" British sporting successes of the past few months.

1240: Brown bats away a question about Gary McKinnon, saying that the case "raises serious questions".

1241: That's a new one.  Brown says that the lack of questions on the economy reflects the success of government policy.

1243: It took him 40 minutes, but he got there in the end: Brown deploys the usual "do nothing" line about the Tories.

1245: Brown: "We've got to make it unacceptable for young people to carry knives."

1247: Now on to banking regulation, and takes a pot-shot at the Tory idea to scrap the FSA: "What you need is a tri-partite system ... it's only when you work in this system and look into it, that you realise that you can't scrap the FSA."

1249: A French journalist asks Brown whether he got the Parliamentary reform bill he wanted.  Surprise, surprise: Brown says that all the "essential elements of the legislation are intact."  By contrast, I point you to a great feature on p.8 of today's Times on how Brown's reform bill has crumbled.

1252: Brown deploys the same line on public spending that he used in PMQs three weeks back: that the Government are "bringing spending forward."  This enables him to continue a version of the "investment vs cuts" attack, and also to spin future cuts as "spending brought forward."

1255: More on how the government are providing "Real. Help. Now" for unemployed people.  Brown says that he doesn't want to "make predictions on unemployment".  But, again, we hear the made-up figure that "half a million" jobs have been saved.

1259: Ah, yet another holiday question.  The Scotsman's Gerri Peev asks why Brown isn't holidaying abroad - is he worried about what Alan Johnson might get up to?  Brown declines to answer that, and talks about swine flu and Afghanistan.

1301: Brown tries to justify Alan Sugar's embarrassing ennoblement, saying that the Apprenctice host is working to "help save businesses".

1304: Notts County fans will be relieved.  Asked about Sven Goran Eriksson's appointment as the team's director of football, Jonah Brown doesn't offer a message of good luck.  They escaped doom by inches...

1307: Brown's asked how he can call himself a "conviction politician" when he's made so many U-turns.  The response?  A list of the "Real. Help. Now" that he's instigated.

1309: And that's it.  Summer is here.