Should the prime minister apologise? Gordon Brown is under growing pressure from his ministers to express some contrition over the state of the economy. The Tories have set up a campaign website, www.sorryfromgordon.com, which has a mocked-up picture of Gordon Brown as Sir Elton John singing Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, and claim to have been 'deluged' with signatories. But unsurprisingly, Brown doesn't see things the same way. While flying to Washington to see the American president, Barack Obama, he reportedly harangued journalists on his plane at length. "I have nothing to apologise for. It is not my fault. Get in the real world. The recession did not start in Britain. It started in America," he said, according to Simon Walters in The Mail On Sunday.
Brown "always tries to pin all the blame on global problems or subprime lending in America", says Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express. "But the fact is that he is directly responsible for the current mess." He "ruined the public finances", "promoted the credit bubble", "wrecked" the private pensions system, sold off our gold reserves and pushed for the "disastrous shotgun marriage" between Lloyds TSB and HBOS. Quite, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. That's precisely why he can't apologise. Once he started, where would he stop? Would he apologise for turning Britain into a giant welfare state, for opening the door to millions of migrants now competing for UK jobs, or for failing to educate our youngsters? "Once he put his hands up, the only honest course of action would be to call an immediate election", which would see his "tired, tatty government" being kicked out.
Brown would be "mad to apologise for events that have caused economic hardship to millions", agrees Alexander Chancellor in The Guardian. His opponents would have a field day and it would destroy any "slender chance" he still has of winning the next general election. But without an admission that certain mistakes happened on his watch as chancellor, how can he hope to gain voters' trust so that he can repair the damage, asks Matthew D'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph. Brown's "greatest political problem" has been his "conspicuous failure to bridge the gap between the grand economic argument" and the suffering of individuals "whose political vista begins and ends at the kitchen table and the bills spread across it". The apology that is required is not "penitence on bended knee, but an outstretched hand" towards these voters.
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In any case, these apology debates are "silly", says Steve Richards in The Independent. What matters is a plan to address the negligence. Next month will be a "defining one in terms of the politics of the recession". Brown is seeking an international agreement to coordinate regulation and recovery packages at the G20 summit, which will be followed by the budget, a "more limited version of the Obama-inspired, low-carbon fiscal stimulus". Will it work? Brown "will have his fingers firmly crossed".
Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career.
On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.
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