Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Alistair Darling Disagrees With Himself

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, is considered by Labour types to be a safe pair of hands. That reputation has been damaged a little this evening. Earlier this evening, just before 6pm, at the beginning of his speech during a debate in the House of Commons he said... said in the Chamber earlier...

"We are not yet out of recession"

George Osborne immediately challenged him and he looked a little flustered. Why? Because it contradicts what he says about coming out of recession at the end of the last year.

'As I said at the Budget, I expect growth will return at the turn of the year'
(quoted in Telegraph, 25 November).

In the PBR he said:

'But as I forecast at the Budget, I expect a return to growth in the fourth quarter.'

Well, which is it Mr Darling?


Tachybaptus said...

The left eyebrow knoweth not what the right eyebrow doeth.

Grumpy Old Man said...

All in accordance with Labour's Enronomic Policy. Why are we not surprised?

Joe Public said...

Climate Change has delayed the expected growth.

Clive said...

Where's the contradiction then Iain? His first statement "We are not yet out of recession" is true, and will remain so until we have a positive growth quarter.

But 'As I said at the Budget, I expect growth will return at the turn of the year' may also be true. Were December's figures to show growth, then even if that quarter's overall figure were negative, growth would have returned. Not necessarily sustained growth, but growth nonetheless. And 'But as I forecast at the Budget, I expect a return to growth in the fourth quarter.' is simply a restatement of his second.

Now, had he referred to the recession in his last two statements then he would have been contradicting himself. And you could quite accurately attack the statements as giving a potentially misleading impression, but they're not contradictory.

I'd suggest sticking to your strengths Iain, and leave the subtle nuances of English well alone.

Anonymous said...

To be honest it's not even that subtle. Fairly straightforward stuff.

Phuquit said...

And he didn't say at the turn of WHICH year either.

Now THAT'S a nuance.

Robert said...

Didn't Dave work for a chap who kept going on about green shhots?

Unsworth said...


Usually loses arguments with himself, too.

Unsworth said...

@ Clive

I take it that you believe Darling's statements to be models of transparency, designed specifically to ensure that everyone knows precisely where we stand as far as the nation's finances are concerned.

You see, as far as I'm concerned these smart-arse 'subtle nuances' are there for one purpose only, and that is to obfuscate, conceal and obscure the realities. Does Darling really believe that the whole population knows what he's on about? No, it's the usual accountant's, lawyer's and snake-oil salesman's ploy. Of course the difference in this case is that Darling isn't even remotely competent at his chosen vocation of lying.

Dave S said...

So Gordon Brown intends to half the deficit in four years.


Currently the deficit is heading toward 200 billion for fiscal year 2009/10, fuelled by daily borrowings of roughly 500 million.

So by 2012 we will only be borrowing 250 million a day ... sorted!

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of the current government, but I'd leave this kind of thing alone Iain. It's an example of where smart-arse criticism just shows up the critic as being more stupid than the person he's criticising.

The reason he expects a return to growth in the fourth quarter is that we have now completed the fourth quarter but haven't had the figures yet - and they got caught out in Q3 when the figures didn't quite go to plan.

To be honest, out in the real world this kind of stuff comes across as classic Westminster village introversion. It doesn't really matter whether the economy is changing by -0.1% or +0.1% unless you want to score political points. People just want to know what the politicians are doing to get the economy growing at 2% or 3%.

People may criticise Darling for ambiguity, but as Chancellor you've got to be a bit ambiguous, your words are heard by the international markets as well as the domestic constituencies. To be honest, I'm becoming quite a fan of Darling, it's just a shame that Jonah is such a control freak and won't let Darling be a proper Chancellor. Things like his major simplification of Jonah's CGT regime show that his heart is in the right place - it was more Tory than anything Osborne could conceive.

It's kinda interesting that he's not talking the economy up too much just now. Obviously there's the lesson of the Q3 numbers, and it looks better to steer expectations down a bit. But also a bit of sobriety helps prepare people for the coming austerity Budget, regardless of who gets to deliver it - 20% VAT and all.

Dimoto said...

Only the "Great Leader" is allowed to pronounce the recession "over".

Don't knock Darling, that may be just the pretext Brown needs to remove him.

Do you really want the economy in the hands of Ed 'mad eyes' Balls for a desperate 4-5 months ?
(you won't have seen nuttin yet).