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Gordon Brown's new-found aversion to spending commitments is as believable as the cartoon drunk vowing never to touch another drop of alcohol

Nick Wood Nick Wood gives his daily take on the campaign.

"There are no big new spending commitments," says Gordon Brown in the foreword to Labour's manifesto.

That's a relief then. After a spending spree of historic proportions, which has bankrupted the economy and left us virtually defenceless in the face of the most savage recession of the post-war era, Brown has turned the taps off.

And what a spree it has been. In cash terms total public spending has doubled from £318 billion in 1997 to £644 billion this year. In 1997 the state swiped 40 per cent of national output, today it takes over 50 per cent.

And the public sector payroll has ballooned by around a million workers in the same time, boosting Labour's client state. The annual deficit stands at an eye-watering £170 billion and total national debt is around £1 trillion.

Nonetheless, the Prime Minister seems to think we should be grateful that he has finally seen the light, wittering on about his determination that every penny spent in future will be used wisely.

Really? So why doesn't he start by taking a look at the front page of today's Daily Mail, highlighting the fact that scores of health bosses, with salaries in excess of £100,000 have enjoyed pay rises of almost 7 per cent - more than twice the increase enjoyed by nurses. Scope for some savings there?

Or he could take a look at the pay of council chief executives. The Taxpayers' Alliance has just revealed the startling fact that more than 1,250 of these human dynamos earn more than £100,000 a year - around 150 more than in the previous year.

And we all know that while jobs and pay is being cut in the private sector, they are still growing in the bloated fantasy land of the public sector.

Of course, there has been no such Damascene conversion to the path of prudent financial management inside the Labour high command.

Gordon has just run out of money. He is already borrowing one pound in every four he spends and he knows that the markets won't bail him out for much longer.

So all of a sudden, after being the roadblock to public sector reform for most of the last decade, he is a Blairite again, trying to rekindle the consumer agenda he did so much to frustrate in No 11.

You have to admire the sheer, ocean-going, armour-plated brass neck of a man who is now trying to make a virtue of the havoc he has wreaked on the nation's finances.

Of course, it is not believable. Gordon is like the cartoon drunk, who vows that he will not touch another drop again after he has committed some appalling blunder. You know it's not true.

If Britain ever recovers and if Brown is re-elected, then he would be back to his spendthrift ways all over again, building up his beloved monster state. Fortunately, he is not going to get the chance.

Nick Wood, Managing Director, Media Intelligence Partners Ltd.


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