UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Boosting the economy: lower taxes, higher spending or both?


Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested he will push expansionary fiscal policies to help boost the economy. Brown’s comments were the latest in a series from him and Chancellor Alistair Darling stressing the importance of boosting the economy, which shrank in the third quarter of 2008 for the first time in 16 years and is expected to contract more sharply next year.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has also put his weight behind “some fiscal stimulus”, just as the Bank predicted in its quarterly inflation report that the economy would shrink sharply next year.

But what is the way forward – tax cuts or higher public spending?

The dividing line between Brown and Tory leader David Cameron is whether to borrow to fund tax cuts. Cameron has argued that Britain’s deficit is too high to allow further borrowing. Brown says Cameron’s claim that he can pay for his tax cut by savings on welfare benefits isn’t realistic.

Tax cutting is a populist measure and it may be tempting for Brown, who no longer appears to be married to fiscal prudence, to go down that road, not least because of the backlash he faced earlier this year over scrapping the 10 percent tax band.

Brown’s Scotland likely to be hit worst in recession


The Labour Party may have won the Glenrothes by-election this week, partly on the back of the Prime Minister’s handling of the financial crisis, but Gordon Brown’s Scotland is predicted to suffer more than the rest of Britain during the economic downturn.

Scotland was named European Region of the Future for the second time in four years by the Financial Times’ fDi (foreign direct investment) magazine this year.

Sarah Brown comes out from the shadows


They all agreed. “She was lovely.”

Sarah Brown finally stepped out from the shadow of her husband, Gordon, and appeared on the campaign trail.

While the prime minister was dashing around the world as a global economic statesman, saving the financial system, Sarah was helping save her husband’s political reputation on home soil.

Glenrothes: It was Brown wot won it?


Newspapers are crediting Gordon Brown with Labour’s surprise win in the Glenrothes by-election and says it has ended any talk of a cabinet coup.

They say his gamble to break with the convention that a prime minister does not campaign in by-election polls succeeded. Brown visited the seat twice, while his wife Sarah was on the local trail at least half a dozen times.

Brown declines to pick U.S. election winner


Prime Minister Gordon Brown was reported today as saying the U.S. presidential campaign has been “historic” because of its candidates but he declined to pick a winner.

That was in keeping with what a PM would do in such circumstances, saying simply that it’s for the American people to decide.

Should “SuperGord” hold a snap election?


gordonbrown.jpgOnly a few weeks ago the cartoons were showing Gordon Brown paddling up the proverbial creek without a paddle as his poll ratings slumped under an endless succession of bad news. The Tories were practically measuring up the curtains at No. 10.

Now — after a crisis that was surely the ultimate answer to a maiden’s prayer — it’s caped crusader “SuperGord” saving the world, lauded by grateful governments across the globe for slaying the fearsome credit crunch monster. Kapow, splat.

Don’t turn back into Stalin, Gordon


brown1.jpgThe system was bust, something had to be done and what Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling did on Monday with their bank rescue package was a bold and sound move, newspapers agreed.

But many worried about how the government will now use its huge stakes in the banks and several had words of warning.

Will the bank package work?


creditcrunch.jpgThey were widely accused of dithering earlier this week but Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling have now finally caught up with events and have tried for the first time to overtake them by unveiling a 50-billion pound rescue package for the banks.

The aim is to bolster their balance sheets, increase confidence in them and get them lending again so ordinary financial life can start anew.

How long is a Mandelson?


mandelson5.jpgPeter Mandelson has told the Observer that he and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have put their differences behind them and the pair are now “joined at the hip”.

But that didn’t stop Conservative leader David Cameron enjoying a joke at Mandelson’s expense on BBC TV’s Politics Show.

Labour in a spin – opposition bloggers


mandelson2.jpgRight-wing bloggers did not even try to disguise their glee.

The reported return of Peter Mandelson, the “Prince of Darkness”, to the Labour government smacked of a flight to spin, they said.

Gordon Brown, facing economic and financial crisis as well as poor poll ratings, has been shaken into turning to the once fear-inspiring maestro of party tactics.