The Sketch: Voters will never learn to love an unstable Chancellor

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown looks more cheerful these days, the fool, just because Tony Blair has announced his retirement plans. But Mr Brown will never win a general election, not in this country. His past will catch up with him just as he inherits the premiership. The deficit, the liabilities, and the 7 per cent interest rates required by his inflationary public spending will have eviscerated his reputation. He will be repudiated at the ballot box by the bourgeoisie (who will have been pretty thoroughly eviscerated as well, by that stage).

How he acquired a reputation for stability is a modern mystery. In the past seven years we've had a furious boom, house prices doubled, our international position crashed, our stock market slumped since he taxed £5bn a year (representing £100bn a year in capital, Howard Flight says) from its main investors. The savings ratio has halved. Pension funds are folding all over the country. Consumer spending is nosediving. And his much-vaunted job-cutting strategy in the public service includes hiring an extra 360,000 public servants. These outreach officers and passive smoking co-ordinators have pension rights that will be dragging this country backwards long after the Chancellor is wrapped up in his bath chair sucking at his last tooth, and enjoying a parliamentary pension that is more than your current salary, gentle reader.

On Third World debt he was more than usually nauseating. He insists that Third World countries "open their books and become more transparent, to show where the money is being spent". This from the man who obfuscated Britain's accounts so thoroughly you couldn't tell how much we were spending from one year to another. This from the man who invented statistical spin in his triple reannouncements of the same spending plans. This from the man who said: "Ninety per cent of our aid goes to the poorest countries in the world." Thanks to the journalist Rachel Sylvester we know that, on the contrary, management consultants alone soak up a fifth of the Government's aid budget (trousering £3bn in the past five years).

On science funding he was yet more exultant. Research was only possible, he said, with substantial government funding. The Tory MP Chris Grayling told him he was talking "complete rubbish". He is too enamoured of understatement, is Mr Grayling.

Mr Brown's talk of creating enterprise is certainly rubbish. If a university professor has an academic idea commercialised and receives in return a quarter share of a new million-pound company he will be hit with a tax bill for £80,000 before the company has made a penny in profit. If he thinks that encourages enterprise he's nuts. He probably does; he probably is.

But the Chancellor is devoted to state spending for one overwhelming reason: l'etat, in this case, c'est lui.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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