View Full Version : Gordon Brown In Sobering New Year Message

12-31-2007, 08:24 AM
Gordon Brown in sobering New Year message


By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
Last Updated: 7:43am GMT 31/12/2007

Gordon Brown has warned of a tough year ahead as he issued a bleak assessment of the effect the global financial downturn will have on the British economy.

In a sobering New Year message, the Prime Minister predicted growth would slow in 2008 as the credit crisis continued to cause "financial turbulence" around the world.

He insisted that Britain would be able to weather the storm, but vowed not to take any "risks" with the country's stability for the sake of short-term political gain.

"With unbending determination, in 2008, we will steer a course of stability through global financial turbulence," Mr Brown said.

"The global credit problem that started in America is now the most immediate challenge for every economy, and addressing it the most immediate priority.

"But just as we withstood the Asia crisis, the American recession, the end of the IT bubble and the trebling of oil prices and continued to grow, Britain will meet and master this new challenge by our determination to maintain stability and low inflation.

"We will make the right decisions, not only this year but for the years ahead, to safeguard and strengthen our economy - and, by keeping inflation low, keep interest rates for business and homeowners low."

With the Northern Rock crisis still unresolved, Mr Brown knows that Britain has a daily reminder of how hard the credit crunch is hitting.

But despite Tory accusations that he has mismanaged the economy, the Prime Minister believes that specific problems with the bank's business model and the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States, rather than structural issues in the UK economy, are the cause of the difficulties.

Mr Brown added: "I promise that we will take no risks with stability. Upon it all else depends: family prosperity and our capacity to build the good society - better educated, healthier, safer and fairer than we have known before."

The Prime Minister also appeared to herald a return to Tony Blair's agenda, when he said that Labour was "making long-term changes in energy, climate change, health, pensions, planning, housing, education and transport".

He promised 2008 would be "a year of measurable changes in public services".

This focus on public service reform is designed to prove to his party's modernisers that he remains true to the ideas of New Labour, but it will put him at odds with others in his party and with the unions.

However, in his New Year message, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, accused Mr Brown of failing on public service reform and claimed that Labour had surrendered control of the streets.

He said: "In place of Labour's hopeless mismanagement of the NHS, we will offer the hope of a health service where we get rid of the top-down centralisation and bureaucracy and make sure that taxpayers' money delivers the high quality service they've paid for and have a right to expect.

"In place of Labour's hopeless acceptance of mediocrity in education, which has seen Britain tumble down the world league tables just when we need our children to be doing better than those in other countries, we will offer the hope of a decent education for every child, with immediate action to raise standards and radical reform to end the state monopoly over new school places.

"In place of Labour's hopeless surrender to violence on our streets, with overcrowded prisons and police tied up in red tape, we will offer the hope of civilised communities which are safe for everyone, based on radical police reform and more prison places in prisons which actually reduce re-offending."