Peter Hoskin

Charm offensive

Charm offensive
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Gordon Brown's got an article in today's Sun.  Its message?  That we shouldn't worry about the economy, because he's got his hand on the fiscal tiller. 

Again, then, our Prime Minister is peddling the untruth that his Government – and, prior to that, his Chancellorship – have done nothing to expose us to the credit crunch.  That's the big porkie, but the whole piece is dotted with little Brownies: boasts of unique growth, low inflation etc. etc.  There's even the new one that “we can now allow the Government's borrowing to rise at exactly the time when the economy needs support”, as though that's a good thing.  Here's how Brown puts it:

“MY pledge to the British people — to homeowners, to businesses, to households everywhere — is that I will do nothing that puts the stability of the economy at risk.

That was my guiding principle as Chancellor. And it will be my guiding principle as Prime Minister...

...People in their 30s and above can remember the early 90s, when the problems around the world hit Britain hardest and plunged us into a recession.

Interest rates hit 15 per cent. Inflation was at ten per cent. Millions of homeowners faced negative equity or repossession. Three million were out of work.

Anyone who lived through that period never wants themselves or their children to experience it again.

There have been other tough times for the world economy since then.

In the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the dot.com crash in 2000, every other major country in the world saw their economies shrink.

But Britain alone continued to grow.

In fact, over the last decade, we have grown every quarter of every year.

More people are in work than ever before and unemployment is the lowest for 30 years.

In 1997, we were the poorest of the major countries per head. Now we’re the second wealthiest behind America.

Over 1.5 million more people own their own homes. We’ve worked hard to build that record of stability over the last ten years.

And my guarantee to the British people is that we will hold on to that stability in these latest tough times...

...even at a time when food and energy prices are so high, overall inflation has been kept low — lower than in America or elsewhere in Europe.

And because we took tough action in the early years to pay off the national debt — when many argued we should spend the money elsewhere — we can now allow the Government’s borrowing to rise at exactly the time when the economy needs the support.

These decisions mean that we face this period of global uncertainty much better placed than other major economies.”

As I said yesterday, much will come down to whether voters swallow this message.  It's little wonder, then, why Brown's chosen one of the papers which has been most virulently against his premiership in which to deliver it.