April 18, 2008

The very capable Mr Brown

Filed under: Politics/News — Tags: , — 4fooey @ 9:46 pm

The problems in the world are almost too numerous to list: financial turmoil, global terrorism, regional instability and wars, climate change, poverty/disease, scarce water supplies and other resources, uncertainty with food prices, and so on. The ‘credit crunch’ (i.e. looming recession) is the latest global disaster threatening to destabilise an already fragile world. Last year climate change was hardly out of the news, before that it was global terrorism – the point is, none of these problems have gone away and for some of them a solution still seems far off.

Meanwhile in the UK the only thing people are worried about is the withdrawel of the 10% tax rate; most pundits conveniently forget that the government also lowered the basic rate from 22% to 20%. This sounds like a good idea – a single rate, 20p in the pound, for the majority of people; easy to understand and work out. Added to this people with children will get more in tax credits. But as usual the press has decided they are going to lay into the government over the 10p tax issue, and as usual most people are going along with it. And of course most of the criticism is levelled at the British PM Gordon Brown, whose popularity ratings are in the minus. The tax change was announced last year and came into force in April this year, so why the problem with this now?

And where is Mr Brown at this time of crisis or crises. In America, setting out his ‘vision’, something that many people have been asking him to do since he took office. In his speech in America he urges greater co-operation between Europe and America, and wholesale reform of international institutions, including making the UN more effective in conflict prevention and resolution. “For the first time in human history we have the opportunity to come together around a global covenant to reframe the international architecture and build the truly global society,” – I’m rather afraid that these fine words are falling upon deaf ears. The speech is reported here: Brown urges new US-Europe links.

But it seems Mr Brown cannot do anything right, in the eyes of the media and hence most of the public, which is a great shame. I would argue that he’s just the man for the current situation, and should be allowed more time to prove how capable he is – he’s good with financial matters and big on vision, and above he believes in equity or fairness – this underpins many of his beliefs and policies. Somehow or other though, he has to become more successful at getting across his message – with the media against him, this will be difficult.



  1. Thanks for an interesting post.
    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with your assessment of Gordon Brown as “good with financial matters” and I think he has had more than enough time to prove himself. He had longer than any chancellor ever to stabilise and improve the UK economy. However, I feel its progress (if that is the correct word) has been in spite of him rather than because of him. Thatcher did the ground work to enable the ‘success’ of the UK economy by denuding the power of the pugnacious and contrapuntal unions. Their idea of success was to create a work free wage for their members. Since then we have all created the ‘wealth’ by our hard work and embracing the consumer economy. His contribution is a huge public debt, recently extended to ridiculous levels by Northern Rock and the ‘bonds for bad debt’ scheme, the highest taxation in any major European country, the destruction of the pensions system and a huge increase in the public sector burden both in terms of size and wage bill. This mess is beginning to unravel now. He and sadly we will not be able to escape it.
    I do agree with you that the press do look to find an excuse to bash him with. There are many things that they could and should use, but the 10% tax issue is trivial. Perhaps they are using this issue because they are trying every angle possible to try and help people see what a mess he has made of it. Still it comes across badly, rather desperate really and that may backfire.
    I also agree with you that the Americans don’t give a damn about his vision. They have proven many times that their own vision of their own success is the only one that counts. However, I am not about to blame them for that, nor Brown for having a go with his grand vision, but he should be suspicious that it is a waste of effort.
    I don’t care for his vision, but that is a subjective view. I think it panders to much to the feckless in society. That is why the Polish did so well here in recent years. They had their industry to offer. Long live the worker! That is the real worker not the shirker, which is in my opinion what our society seems to foster in its youth today.

    Comment by conceptualizer — April 21, 2008 @ 7:53 am

  2. Thank you for an interesting response – you have an interesting blog which needs further investigation. I still believe Brown is a capable man and the media are out to rubbish everything he does – maybe he’s not as slick as Blair in managing the media – he doesn’t have an Alatair Campbell by his side. I think a lot of the problems we have now are partly do with the banks being irresponsible and individuals – the banks lent too easily, people borrowed too much on their mortgages and credit cards etc. This activity could have been curbed via some kind of regulation (e.g. cap of 80% on mortgages, limit of 3-4 times salary, limit to the number of credit cards owned by individual) – all the ‘easy money’ has fuelled the house price rise and increasing personal debt. Now the credit crunch has hit the market the whole economy is in danger of freezing up. The problems with our economy are very deeply rooted (debt too high, over consumption, increasing price of food / resources.) Hopefully someone like Mr Brown can fix it.

    Comment by 4fooey — April 21, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  3. I am glad you found my blog interesting. I can get a little over enthusiastic with my posts sometimes, mostly I think out of exasperation. Although I have not had time to go through your blog yet I will and I will be keeping an eye on it in the future.
    I have to agree with most of your response.
    Perhaps I am too critical of Brown. I don’t rate him that much, but probably the others would be worse. I think that politics attracts the wrong type of people. They mostly seem to be the egomaniacal and self-serving with demigod aspirations. I think it is the way the political system is constructed that encourages this type of dysfunctional to get involved. Since they have annexed politics for themselves it is now self perpetuating. You can probably see from some of my blog posts I think the whole system is aberrant and needs to be changed to get some kind of sense out of it.
    I agree with you about the current problems being created by others, rather than the government directly, but they allowed it to happen. I also agree with you on preventing people from doing foolish things, although I would go further. That view resolves to the old debate about how interventional one chooses to be. My own view is that few people are wise enough to manage their own affairs and that the rest should seek their council. Unfortunately, most of us are not even savvy enough to see that need. If it is not obvious I am a strong advocate of interventional strategies.
    I have to disagree with you on one point: I doubt that Brown can fix the problems. The fact that he clearly could not see them coming does not encourage me.
    Thanks again for the interesting post.
    Keep them coming.

    Comment by conceptualizer — April 22, 2008 @ 8:05 am

  4. Thanks again for your comments -some interesting analysis. Today (24 April) this whole “10p tax” issue has taken another turn and for me is symptomatic of what is wrong with politics and the media (the worst culprits of total hypocrisy). I’m going to summarise my thoughts in a new post. Thanks again ‘conceptualizer’. You keep up the feedback as well.

    Comment by 4fooey — April 23, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

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