Fraser Nelson

Ten questions for Gordon Brown tonight

Ten questions for Gordon Brown tonight
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By rights, Gordon Brown should fear this debate on the economy more than any other. Here are ten questions I would like to hear him answer:

 

1. You told Gillian Duffy yesterday that you have a "deficit plan to cut the debt in half over four years." This was a lie, wasn't it?

Our debt is £771bn now. Your deficit plan ­- ie, to run huge deficits for years - will actually double it to £1,406 billion within four years according to the Treasury. The debt for which Mrs Duffy and other taxpayers are liable would double under your plans ­- yet you told her it would halve. How can you tell a lie of that magnitude, to the very sort of women whose taxes you intend to use to service this extra debt?

2. If someone in the pensions industry had mis-sold a pension, in the way that you mis-sold your deficit programme to Mrs Duffy, would they not go to jail? And rightly so?

3. You said in the first leaders debate that there are 2.5 million more jobs in this country". Strip away pension-age people returning to work - perhaps because their pension is not enough to retire on - and the public sector. And how many of these new jobs are accounted for by immigration? Might it be 99 per cent as The Spectator revealed?

4. If the crisis was "global" as you keep saying, why do Canada and Australia have no collapsed banks on their hands? Might it be because they did not have inept regulation?

5. Your government took a 40 percent cut in every bonus paid in the City. Might your own greed for tax revenue have blinded you to the risks they were taking? If you had applied basic debt-to-capital ratios like Canada, then is it not the case that British banks would still be lending money to people and not the other way around?

6. Your economic policy was based on the idea that, if consumer price inflation was under control, everything would be OK. Did this not render you blind to debt bubble, whose calling card was the soaring asset prices?

7. You are very proud of your International Finance Facility, which you were advocating for world aid but managed to do, in miniature, for vaccinations.

It uses a pool of debt, shared with other countries. Under a loophole in Eurostat rules, if no one country owns a majority of the debt then the debt does not turn up on anyone's balance sheets. This is pure concealment, isn't it? Might your "facility" be better described as an Enron for Africa?

8. State spending was 37 percent of GDP in 2000 and is 53 percent now, according to the OECD. Apart from Germany in the 1930s, can you name a developed country where the state expanded so quickly over such a pace of time?

9. You are proud of "intervening", as you put it, over the banks in 2007. Can you be clear about the cost of that? Broadly when will the British public debt be back to where it was? The IFS say it will take 25 years: have you really condemned a generation to higher debt to dig yourself out of a pre-election hole?

10. You know a little British history. In our peacetime history, has ever a Chancellor left the public finances in so much worse a state than he found them?