Thursday, 19 March 2009

Do you remember saying this Gordon?

Gordon Brown made a typically supercilious speech to the Labour Party Conference in September 2002. There are two extracts that I think worthy of repetition so we do not forget the arrogance of Gordon Brown; the best is the second one (which I have emboldened)but you need to read the first to get the full sense of the overweening pride of Gordon Brown in 2002:
"Ten years ago at this conference when I spoke to you for the first time as shadow chancellor I promised that if we, the Labour party, together had the strength to adopt a new long-term policy for stability and prudence, to be a party of competition and enterprise as well as fairness, we could restore not just the Labour party's reputation for economic competence but could achieve in our country the 1945 aim - which we reaffirm for our generation - high and stable levels of growth and employment.

And it is because we - the Labour party - did reject the old Tory short-termism; it is because we did not fall for the quick fixes, easy options and irresponsible short cuts, and it is because we put our faith in Labour values of economic responsibility - building from solid foundations, looking to the long term - that with Bank of England reform, hard decisions on inflation, tough fiscal rules, rigorous public spending controls, I can report to this conference, we today have the lowest inflation in Europe - the lowest in our country for 30 years - and the lowest long-term interest rates and mortgage rates for homeowners for 40 years.

Friends, we did not arrive here by accident but because together we have also had the strength to construct a new deal of rights and responsibilities that even as unemployment is rising elsewhere, unemployment in Britain is lower than at any time for 25 years, 1.5 million more jobs have been created, long term youth unemployment once 350,000 is now just 5,000 and for the first time in 50 years, unemployment in Britain is lower than in the euro area, lower than in Japan and lower than in America. Full employment 10 years ago just a dream, then an aspiration, then a commitment, can now - in our generation and time - become our achievement.

And it is because we set a long-term course, knew that public services cannot be financed on a sustainable basis if debt gets out of control and debt interest payments consume too big a share of national income, that we have now cut debt from 44% to 30%, the lowest of all our major competitors.

And we should be proud that it is a Labour government that has cut interest payments on debt to the lowest share of national income since world war one - since 1915. £9bn a year once spent on debt is now being invested in schools and hospitals.

This has been achieved not by chance but by tough choices. It is because we the Labour party together moved Britain from a country of high debt and high unemployment to a country of low debt and low unemployment, it is because we sought value for money and put behind us the old antagonisms between public and private, it is because we made the difficult decision to raise national insurance to renew our national health service, that while other countries are increasing debt and cutting spending, we can now show our prudence was for a purpose:

· Education spending will rise from £36bn in 1997 to £69bn a year by 2006

· Health spending will rise from £41bn in 1997 to £106bn a year by 2008

The biggest ever sustained increases in public investment - honouring our promises to put schools and hospitals first.

And I can tell this conference, our spending review decisions mean we are also investing record sums: Alistair Darling in transport, John Prescott in local government, Alan Milburn in social services, Geoff Hoon in defence, David Blunkett in fighting crime, Tessa Jowell in sport and the arts, and in housing - neglected under the Tories - much needed homes left unbuilt and unmodernised - investment in housing is rising from £2bn in 1997, to £6bn a year by 2006.

And it is because we are determined, through these new investments, to advance our programme of social justice and economic prosperity for all, that we will tolerate no risks with stability, there should be no inflationary pay awards, there can be no breach of our fiscal discipline, no playing politics to bypass our fiscal rules, no return to the old days of reckless borrowing unsupported by fiscal prudence."

But if you think that was tempting fate, how about this for tempting fate:
"Let us remember that while all past Labour governments were forced to retrench, cut back, and were overwhelmed by world conditions in 1924, 1931, 1951, 1967 and 1976, it is because we painstakingly built the foundations in economic management that we are the first Labour government with the strength to be able to plan for the long term on the basis of stability not stop-go."
The dictionary definition of hubris would go something like a term used in modern English to indicate overweening pride, superciliousness, or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution. Sounds about right...

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