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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 19:59 GMT
The capitalist in socialist socks

This was the statement of a capitalist chancellor wearing socialist socks.


Gordon Brown privately admits that a war or some other shock could turn it all sour

Gordon Brown's warning words about too much market influence in schools and hospitals, his emphasis on jobs and his crusade for a 100bn world fund for the poorest countries were flashes of red to cheer up the troops.

The huge rise in borrowing is happening let's remember because he is spending lavishly on health and education at a time of economic slowdown.

He can do it because he has been prudent in the past so debt repaid in the fat years allows him to borrow in the lead ones.

But is he gambling on the future? You bet.

Smiling at the bank manager

He believes the upturn is happening in the world but he privately admits that a war or some other shock could turn it all sour.

More to the point, he knows that cutting that spending would destroy any chance of improved services and therefore call into question New Labour's vision.

That move, or rising taxes yet again, would infuriate the middle classes.

Politically, going to the nation's bank manager with a nice smile is a much smaller risk.


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