Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Questions, not answers

Gordon Brown wasn't answering many questions at Prime Minister's Questions today. He yet again dodged David Cameron's prodding to admit that his debt and deficit rules are dead, which they are since Brown did not run sufficient surpluses during the boom to cover the extra borrowing he will need to do in the bust. In fact he seems to want to attach an asterisk to the bust, in the sense that if the bust wasn't "caused" by government, they're not obligated to stick to the rule. There has to be moral hazard in there somewhere.

But he also dodged Peter Robinson's question about the Army homecoming parade in Belfast on Sunday --

Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East) (DUP): Will the Prime Minister join me in welcoming the decision by the Army to organise a homecoming parade in the city of Belfast? Does he recognise that the troops from Northern Ireland who have performed so well and so bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan come from both sections of our community? The decision taken by Sinn Fein to run a counter-parade and protest is therefore all the more preposterous, and has heightened tensions in Northern Ireland as a whole. Will the Prime Minister join me in urging people in Northern Ireland to ensure that we have a peaceful Sunday, and that everyone has due respect for the role that has been played by our brave troops, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan? I have seen the role that they have played in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the work that they are doing in mentoring the Afghan army. Will he urge everyone to do nothing to drag us back to the bad old days?

The Prime Minister: I want every Sunday to be a peaceful Sunday in Northern Ireland, and I want us to work together to ensure that we can undertake the remaining stages of the devolution that will make stability for the longer term possible. I also agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the troops in our armed forces deserve the support of every community from which they come. Where there have been parades in the different cities and towns of this country, not only have they been peaceful but large numbers of people have turned out because they want to give support to our troops and show them that they have the confidence of the British people. I want that to be a feature of our life in every part of the United Kingdom for many years to come.

Read it carefully: he never actually says that he endorses the Sunday parade.

UPDATE: on the fiscal point, Darling buries the golden rule. The claimed compliance is with non-recessions in 2000 and 2005.

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