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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 11:45 GMT
Difficult times ahead
On Sunday 06 January Andrew Marr interviewed Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP

The Prime minister said inflation must be kept down - and called for wage restraint among public sector workers, including MPs. "We must show the same discipline that we ask of others," he warned.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP ...Jeff Overs/BBC
Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP

ANDREW MARR: ... but now I'm joined by the Prime Minister.

GORDON BROWN: Good morning. Happy New Year.

ANDREW MARR: Good morning and welcome.

In your new year message Prime Minister you said two things which stood out.

First that it was going to be a difficult year ahead economically, quite a rough year.

And secondly that we were well placed to withstand that. And I'd like to start by asking you about that.

Because if you look at public borrowing which is one of the crucial things, as I understand it, thirty eight billion is what was going to be borrowed.

Forty billion is what the limit is under the golden rule.

And in the first eight months of the year we were over thirty six billion which sounds like we're going to beat, you're going to break both the promise in the pre Budget report and also the golden rule.

GORDON BROWN: Well the stability of our economy, its strength, that's been the underpinning of the success of the country over the last ten years. And everything that we do is determined on ensuring the stability of the economy in future years.

And I believe that we are well placed as a country, and that's why I'm cautious but I'm positive about the economy because of the difficult decisions we've made. I'll come to the fiscal arithmetic in a second. But the big decision we made was to get inflation down. So at the beginning of this year inflation is four per cent in America, three per cent in Europe, two per cent in Britain.

And that's why the flexibility is available to the Bank of England as it was proven to cut interest rates in a difficult situation. So you've got global financial turbulence. It's affecting every major industrial country. America has seen the possibility of nearly two million repossessions as a result of what's done. And of course the cost of mortgages in America is going up fairly dramatically.

The question for Britain is have we got in place the right framework to enable us, making all the difficult choices we have, to withstand the economic turbulence. I believe the fiscal arithmetic will prove over the cycle to be fine.

ANDREW MARR: Will ...

GORDON BROWN: I believe, I believe also that the key to it is actually not the fiscal arithmetic at the moment but that inflation is sufficiently low so that we have the flexibility to make the right decisions to keep the economy moving forward.

ANDREW MARR: Well let's just stay on the sums if we may for a little bit longer.

Because given that latest figure, the first eight months of the year of thirty six billion pounds borrowing, it seems to almost everybody watching that we are going to as a country break your golden rule in two thousand and seven.

GORDON BROWN: No you're not going to break - I'm sorry Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: You're not going to break forty billion?

GORDON BROWN: No. There is no forty billion requirement. The golden rule is something that is over the economic cycle.

ANDREW MARR: Is that not just changing the goalposts?

GORDON BROWN: No, it's not at all. We've just finished one economic cycle where we've met the golden rule. Well that will be assessed in the Budget of course. We're starting a new economic cycle.

And the question is over the whole years of the economic cycle do you have what's called a current balance. What you're talking about is the total borrowing requirement of the economy. Now year to year that will move. The question is over the whole economic cycle will your golden rule ..

ANDREW MARR: So the forty billion ..

GORDON BROWN: .. enable the borrowing of course to be equal ..

ANDREW MARR: So the forty ..

GORDON BROWN: .. to expenditure and to taxation. So forty billion is not an absolute ..

ANDREW MARR: Doesn't matter to you?

GORDON BROWN: No, it's not an absolute figure at all.

ANDREW MARR: Ah.

GORDON BROWN: If you look at what Alan Greenspan's saying in America ..

ANDREW MARR: So it could be more than that this year?

GORDON BROWN: If you look at what Alan Greenspan's saying in America he says the first thing to do is to make sure your economy is moving forward.

And that's what of course they want to do in America. That's what we want to do in Britain. The question is what do we have in Britain that enables us to be more confident about what is a difficult economic time.

There's been some very bad decisions made by financial institutions. There's a lot of money that is having to be written off as a result of debts or write offs that they've had to incur. The question is when there is less money around for people to borrow and at higher rates as is happening because people are more risk averse, what is it that Britain's got? We've got a history of stability. We've got low inflation.

Now the big decision that we made, if I may say so in the last few months was on public sector pay. Because it kept inflation down. So as I said inflation is four per cent in America, two per cent in Britain. And the reason we took these difficult decisions was I want to pay the police more. I would like to pay the nurses more. I would like to pay all these ..

ANDREW MARR: So what ...

GORDON BROWN: .. major public sector groups more. But to get inflation down we had to stage the public sector pay awards. And that is the reason why the Bank of England, one of the reasons why the Bank of England was able to reduce interest rates only a few days ago.

ANDREW MARR: So what do you say to them? They say well it's very nice you say you'd like to pay us more. But at the same time politicians, ministers, MPs are going to be taking more in percentage pay rises than we're going to get. Goodwill is not enough.

GORDON BROWN: No we have just made a decision as a government and this will be the decision that will be communicated to Parliament very soon about the public sector pay awards as they affect government and as they affect the rest of the parliamentary sector. Now it's up to MPs in the end to vote in the House of Commons.

But my recommendation is for all the significant increases that were recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Board, government ministers must have a rate of pay increase that is below two per cent - one point nine per cent - and at the same time my recommendation ..

ANDREW MARR: Which is what the police are getting.

GORDON BROWN: Exactly.

ANDREW MARR: I see. All right.

GORDON BROWN: And my recommendation, my recommendation is at the same time that that is what goes for MPs. And we must show exactly the same discipline that we ask of other people. In fact the recommendations for significant pay rises will be rejected.

And I think it's very important that we send a message that nurses and police and all those people in the public sector, it is very important in this year that we break the back of inflation. Now in future years we can do better by police and we can do better by nurses ..

ANDREW MARR: What about the army?

GORDON BROWN: .. and we will do better by teachers. And we will do better by the army because they are in very difficult circumstances in the different theatres of activity.

ANDREW MARR: They're in a special position are they?

GORDON BROWN: And we will do what we can to help them. And I believe that the pay award last year which was not staged for the army was the right thing to do. And of course we'll have the recommendations of the Armed Services Review Board soon. The important thing this year is that we are breaking the back of inflation. You know what ..

ANDREW MARR: ...

GORDON BROWN: You know Andrew, what the historical British problem was, I mean everybody knows it, that we were an inflation prone economy. Every time inflation rose, whether it's because of oil prices or whether it's because of utilities or whatever wages then rose faster.

And so we had two bursts of inflation. We had the inflation that was caused by oil prices and then we had wage inflation. In the last ten years we've broken the back of that inflation. So we have one of the least volatile economies in the world. I'm determined it remains the same in future. This is the underpinning of the strength of both the government and our country.

And I believe Britain with its free trade history, with its openness to the world, with our global reach, with our scientific invention, if we can get the basics of our economy moving forward in the right way - and this is a decisive year for the economy - then I believe we can see ourselves more prosperous in the years to come.

ANDREW MARR: Well ..

GORDON BROWN: So we can move from the old insecurities to a new form of prosperity.

ANDREW MARR: We were talking about optimism in the paper review. But let me put the other side of the argument which is that we have a very high rate of government borrowing and have had now for some time. That's where we are in the cycle. When it comes to inflation we've got the hundred dollar oil price. We've got energy inflation.

We've government lots of stories about very, very large price hikes when it comes to people's fuel bills. And we've got f... inflation piling in as well. Actually we're not that well placed. It's going to be very difficult for the Bank of England to cut rates to try and prevent a recession, to try and prevent repossessions.

GORDON BROWN: But they just did cut rates a few weeks ago because inflation was two per cent whereas in America it was four per cent.

ANDREW MARR: But I'm looking ahead.

GORDON BROWN: If you look at the fiscal arithmetic, you know in the early nineteen nineties when we had the big recession then, inflation was at ten per cent and the government couldn't reduce interest rates. Inflation is today around two per cent. Borrowing by the government went up to eight per cent.

Inflation is, borrowing is roughly in the region of two to three per cent at the moment. Now it's significantly different conditions and of course that's why interest rates are not fifteen per cent as they were. Interest rates are just over five per cent. And I believe that Britain, because of our stability is better placed. But we take no risk ..

ANDREW MARR: But we're pretty vulnerable aren't we ..

GORDON BROWN: And we're going to ..

ANDREW MARR: .. to the world economy?

GORDON BROWN: .. we're going to be vigilant. We are part of a world economy where there is a great deal of turbulence, where if bad business decisions are made they are affecting quite a lot of the economies of the world, mainly from America. And we have got to ensure that we are both vigilant and at the same time we take all the right decisions. Look, we've got to take the right long term choices this year.

ANDREW MARR: Sure.

GORDON BROWN: And that's what politics and government's about. I will be judged, as will the Chancellor on whether we take the right long term choices about the British economy. But I'm confident that our record and our experience of doing that in the last ten years will stand us in good stead and we have the right ideas about what we do for the future.

ANDREW MARR: I saw an astonishing statistic the other day which said twenty three per cent of people thought that their personal debt was unmanageable at the moment. Given what's happening to house prices, likely to happen to house prices over the next year, is there anything you can do as a government to help that?

GORDON BROWN: Well it's hardly surprising in a situation where you've got for example in America mortgage rates effectively rising for people negotiating new mortgages by twenty to thirty per cent that people are worried about what the impact of this international turmoil in the financial markets is going to be.

ANDREW MARR: A banking crisis really.

GORDON BROWN: It's a financial sector problem that is spilling over into other aspects of the economy. But at the same time, obviously when people run into debt, personal debt, we're trying to do more to help them.

We're trying to give people better advice, how to renegotiate their debts, how to be in a position where they can get the best information and the best deals possible. But at the same time the level of debt in the economy as a percentage of people's incomes is a lot less than it was in the early nineties. The question however is are we making the right decisions to withstand this global financial turmoil.

ANDREW MARR: Can I turn to ..

GORDON BROWN: And I would say on both keeping inflation low, difficult long term decisions which you don't want as a government. It's easy to take the soft option you know.

It's easy to pay people what they ask for and what they want. But taking the long term and difficult decision people will see the benefit of it over the course of the next year because we will see ourselves in a position with inflation and interest rates ..

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: .. that we can withstand the global turmoil.

ANDREW MARR: Let me ask about one particularly difficult decision which is Northern Rock. Broad hint from the Chancellor that you are going to have to nationalise Northern Rock. Is that true?

GORDON BROWN: We don't rule out any options. But the preferable options as we know are the private sector bids that are in play at the moment.

ANDREW MARR: And those are still properly in play are they?

GORDON BROWN: These are in play. They've been looked at very carefully. We appointed Goldman Sachs to advise us on this. They will report very soon.

And of course our aim in this has been both to protect the depositors of Northern Rock and the mortgage holders of course and they have been protected, the depositors.

ANDREW MARR: The taxpayers?

GORDON BROWN: And at the same time to make - well what was the aim of this exercise? To prevent there being contagion throughout the rest of the economy. And so far as you know - because Northern Rock was an issue that started in August - so far that has been, that has been avoided.

As far as the taxpayers are concerned we have secured our guarantees against the assets of Northern Rock.

ANDREW MARR: You've been referring back to the early nineties when there was the last really big plunge in house prices and contrasting your management of the economy since then.

What do you say to all of those critics on the other side of politics who point to the gold sales and say that you've actually cost the country as much in that gold sale as was cost to the country on Black Wednesday?

GORDON BROWN: For decades people have been asking us to diversify our portfolio of holdings from simply gold to other currencies - the dollar, the euro, the yen and everything else. Now ..

ANDREW MARR: But again the sums are pretty clear aren't they?

GORDON BROWN: You've just got to look at it Andrew. The value of the euro, which of course most of the critics of the gold sales were people who didn't want us to buy euros.

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: But the value of the euro has gone up very substantially. So over all that has been the right decision to make for the government.

And of course it was looked at by many different public bodies and they examined the sale. And the sale was done in the right way and it was the right thing to do for Britain. Look you know it's easy to take softer options.

ANDREW MARR: Well that might have been the wrong option, not the soft option with respect.

GORDON BROWN: It was the right decision. You've got to diversify. Can you not look round the world and see every major economy including China now trying to diversify its holdings. I mean China depended upon dollar reserves ..

ANDREW MARR: Yeah but the French, the Germans, the Americans ..

GORDON BROWN: .. now trying to diversify.

ANDREW MARR: ... more gold than we've got.

GORDON BROWN: No but all the, all the major economies are trying to diversify. And if I may say so, what I learned from the nineteen nineties, we were twenty per cent ahead in the opinion polls when I was Shadow Chancellor.

But I made the difficult decision that we would cut back on public expenditure where necessary. We then went on to make the Bank of England independent.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah.

GORDON BROWN: We took the difficult decisions even in the good times, not the soft options. We took the difficult decisions ..

ANDREW MARR: Well ..

GORDON BROWN: .. and we will continue to do these.

ANDREW MARR: Okay. Let's look ahead to the other thing that you talked about in your new year message which was choice and personalisation in the public services. When it comes to the National Health Service and the campaigns around the country to save hospitals, tens of thousands of people getting together to save their local hospital and they're told no, no, it's going to close anyway, people are saying well what does choice really mean.

GORDON BROWN: Well if you take Manchester, we had a very long debate about reconfiguration in Manchester. And some hospitals in the Manchester area had to, had to, had to change, had to move, had to diversify, had to do different things. But the aim was that the specialist services in the region would be the best for people.

So children's lives will be saved as a result of having specialist children's services. We'll have better stroke services so people will get to the right hospital at the right time. Where people have heart attacks they'll get to the right hospital to have that dealt with.

ANDREW MARR: But that, but ..

GORDON BROWN: And that is, that is, that is ..

ANDREW MARR: .. with respect that is you saying this is the right option. This is the right choice.

GORDON BROWN: But it was - no but Andrew ..

ANDREW MARR: I know best.

GORDON BROWN: But Andrew ..

ANDREW MARR: .. even if they want to keep their hospitals open.

GORDON BROWN: No Andrew it was after a long consultation. It was after a lot of debate. And I think you'll find that although a number of people may be dissatisfied with the outcome for their hospital that people recognise that this reconfiguration - you don't want if you have a stroke to go to the hospital that hasn't got the expertise. You'll want to go to the specialist centre. If you have a brain ..

ANDREW MARR: ... this "choice" word ..

GORDON BROWN: .. if you have a brain injury you want to go to the best as well. And choice is right because ..

ANDREW MARR: Well ..

GORDON BROWN: .. over the course of the next year people will have a wider choice than ever before about the hospitals in which they have their operations. That will include private sector hospitals that will charge the NHS tariff as well as NHS hospitals.

I want to see that expansion of choice in the hospitals people can go to, in the times they have their operations, in the consultants that they can choose and have to advise them. And I want to see in primary care where we have the GP services a far wider range of choice for people including new providers brought in. Now that's the ..

ANDREW MARR: Right. Okay.

GORDON BROWN: .. way forward for the Health Service. But you know when people are asked what they want, they want the best service as well.

ANDREW MARR: But they want some choice. Anyway ..

GORDON BROWN: And you don't, you don't want to go ..

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: .. to the wrong hospital when you've actually got something very serious to be dealt with.

ANDREW MARR: Right. Turn to the Labour Party Conference. You said there was going to be a government funded deep cleaning programme on MRSA and C. difficile around the hospitals of the UK. That hasn't happened.

GORDON BROWN: It is happening and it is happening ..

ANDREW MARR: No hospitals have yet had a deep clean.

GORDON BROWN: There have been hospitals deep clean and it's going right across the country over the next ..

ANDREW MARR: I don't think ...

GORDON BROWN: .. over the next few months it is going right across the country.

ANDREW MARR: And there's no extra money for it either.

GORDON BROWN: There is extra money and it's been put in by Alan Johnson. I think you've got that wrong if I may say so. We've put in fifty million pounds of extra money, I think in total far more is going to cleaning. He is publishing his detailed plans on all of these things later, later this week. And I think you'll see that not only deep cleaning but if you go into hospital you will get screened by next year for MRSA or for C. difficile.

We have got a doubling of the number of matrons so they are in charge of the wards. We have got stiffer penalties for hospitals where there is no cleaning being done properly. So there will be stiffer penalties in relation to that. We've got the Healthcare Commission that is going to move in where they find contractors are not doing the right job. We're strengthening the powers of ward sisters as well as matrons. Now if you've got a hospital you have got to be sure that everything possible is being done for the cleanliness of that hospital and we ..

ANDREW MARR: Under Labour the number of people dying of MRSA and C. difficile has shot up. I mean it's hugely increased.

GORDON BROWN: This is, this is unfortunately a modern disease that is affecting all countries. I think you'll find that the numbers with MRSA are going down as a result of the action we're taking.

But if you take the wide ranging action that includes screening, includes deep clean, includes new matrons, includes ward sisters with more power and includes the power to fine the contractors if things are going wrong, and includes other aspects of cleanliness in the wards itself, in the uniforms that doctors and nurses wear, we're doing everything in our power to root out this problem. And it's something that I regard as an absolute priority because the National Health Service has got to be able to offer people clean hospitals that are safe ..

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: .. for patients to come to and use.

ANDREW MARR: One last NHS question. In the proposed NHS Constitution or founding document that people are talking about there's a lot of talk about personal responsibility.

And many people worry that your personal habits - whether you drink a bit too much, whether you eat the wrong things, when you don't go up for, off to the gym often enough, those sorts of things are going to affect your right to NHS treatment.

GORDON BROWN: No, that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about for example a patient who agrees an appointment time and doesn't make that appointment. And therefore if for no good reason ..

ANDREW MARR: So there will be some sticks in there.

GORDON BROWN: Well if for no good reason you don't make the appointment then the guarantee that we are going to have about an eighteen week cycle from the point you go to your doctor to the point you have your operation you can't say that in circumstances where patients don't turn up for their appointments.

And I think that's where I think people have got to recognise there is a cost to the Health Service when people who make an appointment and have a time and they're happy with the time and then for some reason don't bother to turn up, that's where people have got to exercise responsibility because it's a waste of the Health Service's time, it's a waste of the doctor's time. As far as lifestyle diseases are concerned and the conditions, we've got to do everything in our power to get people the information about physical fitness, about prevention, about the dangers of alcohol but that's a decision ..

ANDREW MARR: For them.

GORDON BROWN: .. people have got to do it for themselves.

ANDREW MARR: Good. It's for them. Okay. Half a million people under the age of thirty five not working because they are sick. Many of those people are saying because they're stressed or depressed.

When David Cameron says he wants to take two hundred thousand of them off that particular benefit he's absolutely right. That's a, it's a popular and right thing to want to do isn't it?

GORDON BROWN: If I may say so we're trying to take a million people over the next ten years out of Incapacity Benefit. We've set down our proposals. They're proposals that are detailed to deal with both the flow onto Incapacity Benefit and the s... And the key thing is I think that something the Conservatives are forgetting is getting people into work.

And we have got three million more people into work over the last ten years. We've halved unemployment. Now what's the next stage? It's not what the Conservatives are talking about. The next stage is actually giving people the skills for work. You know ten years ago ..

ANDREW MARR: You don't believe do you ..

GORDON BROWN: .. ten years ago ..

ANDREW MARR: .. that there's two hundred thousand people, three hundred thousand people too stressed to work?

GORDON BROWN: I believe that we are ..

ANDREW MARR: Do you?

GORDON BROWN: .. making an impact on this already.

There are less people on Incapacity Benefit than there were a year ago. And we are giving people the chance to get jobs. Look the key is giving people both jobs and the skills for jobs. And showing people that there is a chance of them getting into the labour force if they're prepared to make the effort.

So it's been tough on the sticks if you like so that people will not get benefit without making an effort to get a job. And it's also giving people the skills for a job. Now ten years ago the New Deal was a revolution in this country. And we've helped two million people by it. But that, the issue then was there was an absence of jobs and we had to get people into jobs.

Today the issue for many of the people is they don't have the skills, even when there are six hundred thousand vacancies in the economy. And it's our task in the next few months to get more people with the skills that are necessary to get the jobs.

ANDREW MARR: Into work. Okay.

GORDON BROWN: So it's a far more revolutionary change in the Benefits system that I'm proposing. What I want to do ..

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: .. is to make it a duty for people not just to seek work but to get the skills for work.

ANDREW MARR: Skills, skills for work. You've had the, the break to think about what went wrong in the final weeks of the year, a very, very difficult few weeks for you, for the government, in which many people in the country thought you weren't quite the Prime Minister they'd expected, that actually you were a ditherer.

GORDON BROWN: I don't think so.

ANDREW MARR: Well that's clearly what the polls showed.

GORDON BROWN: The lesson I take out of this is do not be diverted from the long term decisions that you've got to make. This is a year of big choices for ...

ANDREW MARR: Did you look in the mirror at all and say I've got to change in any way?

GORDON BROWN: Well the lesson as I say I've learned is there will be events that happen. There always are. That's what I think Harold Macmillan famously said as a Prime Minister.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. You happened a few events yourself.

GORDON BROWN: And the question, the question Andrew is, is this. Do not be diverted from the short term events when you've got long term decisions and choices to make. This is a year of very big choices for the British society and for Britain as a whole. It's about equipping ourselves for the future. A year of big long term decisions. I will be judged by whether I get these big choices right. And so will the whole government be judged by that.

These are choices about secure energy, about building new houses for people. They're choices about building our infrastructure, about getting our education and health systems right and they're choices about of course making our economy secure when faced with global financial turbulence.

ANDREW MARR: Do you ..

GORDON BROWN: Now these are the big issues.

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: And I will be judged by getting these big issues right. And the big choices that we make will be the basis on which of course we will be judged over the next few months and years.

ANDREW MARR: Do you at least accept that now the political race is wide open, that Cameron has been giving you a very hard time, some people would say trouncing you from time to time in Prime Minister's Questions. He's way ahead in a lot of the polls. Jack Straw from your own Cabinet said that his messages were resonating strongly in the country.

GORDON BROWN: What I accept is that you're going to be judged by how you do the job over the longer term. You know you've got ups and downs, you've got ..

ANDREW MARR: But are these messages resonating? Is he resonating?

GORDON BROWN: You've, well you've got ups and downs. You've got things that go right or wrong. Events come and they go. The question is - and I think most of your viewers will want to know the answer to this question.

Are you making the right long term decisions for the country. Now on all the big decisions - I think the Opposition parties are ducking them - on energy, on Heathrow, on transport, on infrastructure, on housing, on planning, on education to eighteen, on all the big issues affecting the country I'm going to make the right long term decisions ..

ANDREW MARR: You say ..

GORDON BROWN: .. be judged by them.

ANDREW MARR: You say people ..

GORDON BROWN: And I hope, and I hope the country will understand that I'm not going to be diverted by short term issues.

ANDREW MARR: You say you hope the country understands but the country is watching what's going on and the country is choosing Cameron over you.

GORDON BROWN: Well let's wait and see. It's a long game. And I think the issue for the next year is are we going to make the right long term decisions. And I believe we will.

ANDREW MARR: And you acknowledge he's resonated?

GORDON BROWN: Well you see if you take the issue of housing ..

ANDREW MARR: No, no but you acknowledge he's resonating?

GORDON BROWN: Well no I don't because of this, this point I'm just about to make to you. If you take the issue of skills, we've got to educate people to a higher standard, the Conservatives don't support us on our education to eighteen. If you take housing, three million homes, we've got to build three million homes ..

ANDREW MARR: All right.

GORDON BROWN: They don't support us. Now the question is are we making these right long term decisions? Because we need affordable housing ..

ANDREW MARR: Well ..

GORDON BROWN: We need better skilled people. We need secure energy.

ANDREW MARR: The country is watching ..

GORDON BROWN: We need better infrastructure.

ANDREW MARR: .. will take its decision in due course.

GORDON BROWN: These are the issues Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: For now Prime Minister thank you very much indeed.

End of part 1

Gordon Brown and Annie Lennox

ANDREW MARR: Prime Minister, at the start of the programme I was talking to Raila Odinga and he was saying that there's going to be international mediation.

He is now prepared to talk to the President face to face. Is this the breakthrough people have been looking for?

GORDON BROWN: Well this is about saving lives. But it's also about sending a message about democracy in Africa.

And I think it's very important that the two sides come together. We've been working night and day behind the scenes to see what we can do to bring the sides together.

I think there is a chance of reconciliation.

I spoke to President Kufuor of Ghana who is going to come to Kenya in the next day or two to be a mediator. And there's a great deal of work being done behind the scenes. And I think Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki both recognise that unless they make a change, unless something happens that brings them together then the prospects for Kenya are very poor indeed.

ANDREW MARR: And would you bring pressure therefore for another election?

GORDON BROWN: I think that is one of the things that has got to be talked about when these discussions take place with the mediator. And I hope they will look at both a new constitution and what happens after that.

And I think it's not just about an election, it's about the constitutional arrangements for the future, whether there's a prime minister as well as a president. That's one of the things that's being discussed.

ANDREW MARR: ... in the mean time?

GORDON BROWN: Well I've talked to Mr Kibaki and I've talked to Mr Odinga and I think they both recognise that something has got to give and they should now come together. These talks should take place urgently.

Loss of life is completely unacceptable. And this is a country that needs a path, both a democratic path and a path to economic and social justice. I was there two years ago almost at this time in Kabira and saw the slums that really have got to be dealt with.

ANDREW MARR: Dreadful.

GORDON BROWN: And that needs a strong government.

ANDREW MARR: Annie you were talking about Aids earlier on. What would you, what would you say to Gordon Brown about what the government should be doing in Africa? I mean ..

ANNIE LENNOX: Weeding out corruption for one thing would be a very good thing. And I don't actually know how the international powers that be can actually really, really address that.

And that is one issue that hugely concerns me. From my experiences in South Africa I've realised a great deal, I've learned a lot and I've processed a lot. And I know that the issue of HIV Aids is immensely complex, and that actually basically fundamentally stems from chronic and endemic poverty, and that is really what we should be looking at.

ANDREW MARR: That's what you've been ...

GORDON BROWN: Well I was, I was in both Kenya and then in Tanzania. And when you meet the Aids orphans, young children who've got very little chance because either both their parents have got Aids or have died or one of their parents has died and is not able to care for them then you know this is a human tragedy that cuts right across the generations. And we are doing more in giving help with Aids.

ANDREW MARR: Okay.

GORDON BROWN: But we need to do more to eradicate disease and we need to get children to school because that is one of the most important things that can help, education.

ANDREW MARR: A sober note to end on. Thank you both very much indeed.

INTERVIEW ENDS


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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