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Gordon Brown's in it up to his neck

IF Gordon Brown turned up at your door doing a whip- round for the banking system, what would you say?

Yes, I thought so. That’s why he didn’t ask — and used the tax system to put us in for an average £18,800 per household.

This sickening sum would be forgivable if an economic disaster had been averted. Yet NOTHING at all has changed.

Watching our Prime Minister all but doing cartwheels around No10 after the bailout, you’d think he’d saved the world. He’s saddled us with more debt than any peacetime PM. Yet he’s popping up in schools and festivals, grinning his hardest.

I think I know why. In the House of Commons last week, I heard him refer to the "spanking system". A Freudian slip. To him, the bank bailout is just that — a system to spank the Tories. To save his skin. To restore his reputation.

It’s allowed him to look decisive and in control. Like the kind of PM we originally thought we were getting.

Sure, David Cameron is dumbfounded. Labour’s timid rebels are cowed. Gordo’s delighted. But what about the rest of us?

In the real world, it’s grim — and getting worse. Every day 1,500 are made redundant and 120 homes repossessed. House prices are in freefall, yet not half way through their crash. Violent crime is expected to rise with unemployment.

None of this has been helped by Gordon Brown’s £500 billion Spanking System. And don’t just take my word for it.

One economist who has been bang on about the (disappearing) money all the way is Michael Saunders from CitiGroup. In a note to his clients on Friday, he gave an analysis which shocked me more than anything else I read this week.

"Right now, a year or two of recession — and not more — would qualify as a good outcome," he wrote. "Downside scenarios are bleaker." It’s not just Broken Britain but Broke Britain — a dismal state of affairs that will last until at least the middle of 2010. One Treasury document I’ve seen talks about unemployment rising to 6.3 million next year.

I’m sick of hearing Brown describe the downturn like some kind of economic H5N1 bird flu, coming in from abroad.

When a house of cards falls down, you blame the construction — not the gust of wind.

As Chancellor, he pumped the British economy full of cheap debt. His legacy was the mother of all credit bubbles. This is abundantly clear to anyone without ‘MP’ after their name. Britain had become an economy on the never-never.

Brown likes to think he’s fighting an economic war. He’s already borrowed more than Churchill needed to beat the Nazis. The bankers will be fighting on the beaches — to get to the bar. For the rest of us: sweat, toil, tears, debt and tax.

Ironically, Gordo has spent months learning how to smile. Now someone needs to teach him to stop.

Because there is nothing — absolutely nothing — to smile about.

FRASER NELSON is also political editor of The Spectator.



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