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Monday, 10 November 2008

Brown drowns but Tories are all at sea

From The Sun..


THE Tories are leading in the latest poll by 13 per cent. Can you believe that?

If so, with the Conservatives virtually mute on the world’s worst economic crisis, Labour really is finished.

The International Monetary Fund says Britain is rudderless, with few lifeboats and no rescue in sight.

Last week interest rates were slammed into reverse — but too late to save this sucker going down.

Skipper ... Gordon Brown

Yet as jobs and homes start sinking, it is Gordon Brown who looks like a real skipper, with David Cameron and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne just bit players in Titanic.

We can see their faces on TV, but the words are muffled.

It was left to the Queen to ask the question on everyone’s lips: “Why didn’t anyone see this coming?”

The economy should be home turf for a party of commerce and high finance.

Yet it is Lib Dem Vince Cable who makes us sit up and listen, not Mr Osborne.

It’s not as if the Tories are short of ammunition — or targets.

Last week’s emergency 1.5 per cent rate cut was an admission of failure.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has bungled his job — controlling inflation — and condemned us to a deeper slump than need be.

But he was acting on the orders of Gordon Brown, who set the Bank’s terms in 1997 and has been basking in approval ever since.

It was also Mr Brown who abolished its watchdog role over High Street banks, leaving them free to lend recklessly then expect taxpayers to bail them out.

If the SS Great Britain is holed below the waterline, these were the two torpedoes that caused the damage — not a “Made in America” iceberg.

It was also Gordon Brown who loaded the ship with debt, tax and high spending, leaving us to wallow in treacherous waters.


The Opposition has made these points — but with nothing like the effect Labour mustered in the 1990s recession.

Back then, Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown was a roaring lion, ripping shreds off hapless Prime Minister John Major.

It was this forensic triumph that paved the way to Labour’s long run in power.

David Cameron cannot do the same because he has spiked his own guns.

He could have trumpeted Labour extravagance, promised to cut spending and taxes and establish the Tories as the party of economic competence.

Instead, he not only ruled out tax cuts but promised to match the Government’s spending spree.

Sinking ... David Cameron

Cuts of any sort, he feared, would revive the image of the Tories as the Nasty Party.

Now, as voters face meltdown over jobs, pensions and homes, they have little to say that really hits a nerve.

That is why, even after giving Britain’s recession an extra kick, Gordon Brown remains ahead as an economic manager.

Belatedly, Mr Cameron is now talking about cutting tax and putting money back into hard-pressed family budgets.

But this is not cutting-edge thinking. The whole world is doing the same to stop the economy seizing up.

Even Gordon Brown, who at any other time would rather swallow poison, is ready to use this month’s Pre-Budget Report to cut tax.

The speed of this downturn has exposed lots of sloppy assumptions.

One was the belief that, with Tony Blair gone, the Tories could sit back and wait for Gordon to hand them the keys to Downing Street.

And it almost worked. Six weeks ago Gordon looked doomed.

Today, he has turned a pig’s ear into a silk purse, winning accolades for saving Europe’s banks.

He is President Obama’s new best friend and competing ferociously with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as the main man in the EU.

And to cap a good run, he shocked everyone by winning last week’s Glenrothes by-election.

In the end Labour will probably lose next time simply because they have been around too long.

By next spring — the earliest time Mr Brown can call a General Election — unemployment will be starting to soar as firms go bust.

He should carry the can for turning a safe ship into a potential wreck.

But right now, neither Mr Cameron nor Mr Osborne have captured our imagination with a reassuring alternative.

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