David Blackburn

Cutter Brown

Cutter Brown
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Gordon Brown’s interview with the Economist is completely brazen. With a fine disregard for facts, and subsumed amid specious waffle, Brown declares that he’s been consistent on cuts.

‘I believe if you look at my interviews there’s absolute consistency in what I’m saying. We were saying right through the early stages of the crisis that it was important for there to be fiscal stimulus. And so the clear message was about fiscal stimulus. We said that at a certain point we would have to come in and announce our public spending plans for future years, but this was not the right time to do it. And it still isn’t the right time to have a full public spending round, because of the uncertainties. Because unemployment has changed over the last year, and [so has] what people forecast it is likely to be, and therefore there are variables that you cannot deal with at the moment because of the uncertainties of the economic situation.

But I’ve been pretty clear, have I not, in the last few months [?]’

With respect Prime Minister, you have not. Courtesy of Nick Robinson, here are two statements that muddy the waters:

"The first thing we are absolutely sure of is that, regardless of economic circumstances, employment, investment and inflation, the Conservatives will cut expenditure by 10%. The right hon. gentleman said it himself last week - Tory cuts versus Labour investment."

"The issue is that the Conservatives will cut current expenditure in real and cash terms. It is exactly what I said - Tory cuts, Labour investment."

Brown may be the self-proclaimed apostle of thrift, but he cannot re-write history. The Conservatives led the cuts debate and Labour followed, reluctantly, which makes the Tories’ current timidity all the more baffling.  

As Pete noted recently, Brown has finally adopted the Mandelson line on cuts. Once again, Brown refers to Labour’s “ambitious plan to halve the deficit in four years”. Without disclosing how, Brown assures us that his plan is to retrenchment what Carlsberg is to beer. For a man who prides himself on substance, it is a thin interview.