Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Brown gives his answer

Montreal: I see from the BBC website that Gordon Brown has admitted that a mistake was made over the 10p tax rate, but feels that it was a question of the details rather than the big picture. So he admits that he got it a bit wrong which is probably the most sensible tactic in the circumstances. Whether it is so wise to claim that he is in effect learning on the job is another matter.

Asked whether he had a "presentational problem" and was less able to give a "human answer" to a question than predecessor Tony Blair, he said: "My job is to work every day on behalf of the people of this country. I think people are less interested in the theatre of it and less interested in the personalities."

This is an effective response to the likes of Blairites like Lord Levy who put presentation before substance. Unfortunately for Brown in modern politics presentation is often almost everything.

On Tuesday, Bank of England governor Mervyn King called for an end to excessive City pay packages and blamed the City and its bonus culture for the credit crunch. If some of the blame for current problems is attached to the City, this may distract some of the criticism from the government. It could resonate with some voters given the word greed that comes up again and again in political discussions. But, then, either one has a market economy or one does not.

I see that house prices have fallen over the last year. In some parts of Middle England this will be greeted as the end of civilisation as we know it. At the very least it is a long overdue correction. But it is doubtful if it will bring to an end the British obsession with bricks and mortar as an investment. But there are risks with a house of cards economy built on consumer debt.

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