Wednesday, 10 March 2010

WYSIWYG PM draws economic battle lines

Bit of a pitstop political morning. First down to Canary Wharf for a speech by Gordon Brown on the economy, then river boat back to Westminster just in time for Alex Salmond's press conference bashing the BBC.

A sprint from there (sorry to leave early First Minister) to the Commons for Prime Minister's Questions which proved to be a nuclear confrontation between Cameron and Brown.

People are reading PMQs differently - I think Cameron blew himself up with his synthetic anger but others in the room think that he won or at least drew in a high scoring clash for both sides.

Cameron had to come out fighting but Brown had prepared himself with a robust performance at his early morning business speech which laid the economic ground for the budget and the election campaign.

The business audience seemed more impressed with Brown than they did with Clegg or Cameron on previous occasions at Canary Wharf. I've got to say he delivers his speeches with the cadences of a pulpit sermon. Believe me, I've sat through enough pulpit sermons to know.

However, he had some good lines and what he has (and knows he has over the Conservatives) is a pretty clear economic narrative of where we've come from, what we've been through and where we're headed.

He can tell that story with some authority.He confirmed that the budget will be in a fortnight's time on March 24th and warned that the economic storm was not over.

He warned that "ideologically-driven" Tory plans for cuts risked tipping the country back into recession.

He announced an eye-catching pay freeze for senior public sector employees - doctors, judges and the like - that will save £3bn by 2014. And he turned the attacks on his character in recent weeks, insisting that he was the one with the character to see us through.

Key quote: "With me what see is what you get - for better or for worse. And the stakes are high, we dare not risk the recovery for our task above all else is to preserve and expand the jobs and lift the standards of life of the British people.

"We are weathering the storm. Now is no time to turn back. We will hold to our course and we will complete this mission."

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