Brown deserves better

IN this column I try very hard to be apolitical - I'll criticise anyone who deserves to be criticised.But the time comes when people get unfairly criticised - and frankly it's about time someone from outside his own cabinet stood up for Gordon Brown.

IN this column I try very hard to be apolitical - I'll criticise anyone who deserves to be criticised.

But the time comes when people get unfairly criticised - and frankly it's about time someone from outside his own cabinet stood up for Gordon Brown.

I'm not saying he's the best prime minister since the war - Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher are the two who can truly be said to have changed British society over the last 60 years.

But for the life of me I cannot work out why so many people are lining up to criticise Mr Brown. Given the difficult circumstances he's faced over the last year I can't see that he's done too much wrong!

He's hardly to blame for the credit crunch or the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The Northern Rock disaster was hardly of the government's making, and I suspect if the chancellor had moved even faster to take it over then he would have been criticised for making a knee-jerk reaction.

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And the fact is that investors and homeowners did not lose out when the business collapsed.

Then this week Mr Brown averted a potentially much more serious crisis by helping to broker the Lloyds/HBOS deal.

Had the deal not been struck, the government would have been forced to bail out the company . . . and that would have been very expensive.

Those within his own party who have criticised the party so far are political pygmies.

Mr Brown must have been especially terrified after the BBC's mystery “senior minister” ready to attack him turned out to be David Cairns (who can hardly be a household name in his own household).

But I can't work out why anyone in his own party are criticising him. Labour is doing badly in the polls because Britain is in the grip of a world-wide recession prompted by irresponsible lending by banks, mainly in America.

There is also the issue that increased world demand for oil has pushed up the cost of energy - coming together those issues have hit economies in every continent.

No one can isolate this country from the recession. And his management of the country during the recession doesn't seem too bad - Britain is not the basket case it was in the 1970s when Labour incompetence meant we suffered much more than other countries following the 1973 oil crisis.

One person said to me the other day: “There are too many people coming to Britain. If Gordon Brown was a good prime minister he would stop them.”

Ask yourself why so many people still want to come to Britain? Could it be that it is still a better country than most others. Could it be that it's still got an economy that is more stable than many of our competitors.

And if that is the fact, doesn't Gordon Brown deserve some of the credit instead of being an Aunt Sally for all his detractors!

DAVID Cameron must be killing himself with laughter over the antics of the other two major parties in Britain over the last few weeks.

As well as all the shenanigans in the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats have revealed the true meaning of political cynicism at their conference in Bournemouth.

Having spent most of the last ten years trying to attract votes by moving to the left of the Labour Party, they've now decided it would be a better idea to try to harvest them from the right of the Tories!

Charles Kennedy was forever telling us that we had to invest in public services like hospitals and schools (remember 1p on income tax for education) and had some success in attracting people concerned about such issues.

Now new leader Nick Clegg is telling us that the LibDems must become a tax-cutting party - cut government spending is their new message.

Presumably they're worried that they have more seats in traditional Tory areas to lose at the next general election than they have potential targets in Labour areas - and if that isn't a cynical attempt at buying votes, I don't know what is.

Now I know this will probably provoke a flurry of letters from dedicated LibDems to claim that their party is not left or right, but just correct.

I'm sorry, but in democratic politics, what you stand for is defined on a spectrum between the right and left - and if you try to have it all ways you just look as if you'll chase after votes wherever you can find them.

By the end of the LibDems' conference, I was convinced that they don't have any real political philosophy behind them - they are merely trying to attract disaffected voters who may be temporarily fed up with their own party.

I know Mr Clegg is trying to tell us that the tax cuts will benefit those on low and middle incomes, but the fact is that when you start looking for cuts in public expenditure it is always those on the lowest incomes who are hit hardest.

It's all very well for politicians to say: “We won't cut services, just government waste.”

They then get nobbled by Sir Humphrey when they get into power, discover that there aren't the “efficiency savings” they thought there were while in opposition - and find it necessary to justify the promise of tax cuts by cutting services.

But of course the Liberal Democrats need not really worry about all that - they have as much chance of winning power in the next election as Ipswich Town have of winning the European Champions League in 2011.

I WAS going to lead my column this week with a comment about all the yahboo-sucks behaviour we have seen across Russell Road this week, but frankly there are more important things than that going on in the world.

The bickering between the borough and the county may be entertaining in a sense, but how many ordinary council taxpayers care where their services are based so long as their bins are emptied and their kids are well-educated?

The great Suffolk public have no real say in what happens to local government in this county - that is up to the government's boundary committee - and they might appreciate a bit more effort in trying to provide decent services and a bit less in trying to slag off the authority on the other side of the road!