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Cowboy builder Gordon Brown blamed for leaky roof

Cowboy builder Gordon Brown blamed for leaky roof

There was something strangely cheering about Mr Philip Hammond’s pessimism, as if reality was at last breaking in and the illusions fomented by Mr Gordon Brown were at last being exposed.

A hole has appeared in the roof, rain is pouring in and three rival roofing firms gathered around yesterday to give their estimates of what needs to be done.

Philip Hammond, for the Conservatives, said it is a huge hole which should have been fixed years ago, and laid the entire blame on Gordon Brown for believing that the sun would go on shining forever.

Mr Hammond has all the charisma of a 1950s bank manager, which made his condemnation of Mr Brown all the more devastating. In a commendably dull tone, Mr Hammond described how, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Brown had given in to the temptation to believe “the dragon of inflation really had been slain” and to ride “the Asian tiger of imported deflation”.

Already we could tell that the dragon was going to spring back to life and riding the tiger would end in tears, and so it has proved.

Mr Hammond read out a list of terrifying increases in the cost of food and fuel, warned that “the prospect of a summer of discontent looms”, and concluded in his best bank managerial tone: “Either real living standards will fall in the immediate future or inflationary wage rises will defer the moment of pain.” There was something strangely cheering about Mr Hammond’s pessimism, as if reality was at last breaking in and the illusions fomented by Mr Brown were at last being exposed.

But Yvette Cooper, who replied for the Government, naturally did not see it that way. Miss Cooper had the air of feeling insulted, while knowing that she could not say so.

For it was not just Mr Brown whom Mr Hammond was writing off as a dodgy roofer: the handiwork of Ed Balls, who has spent years as Mr Brown’s chief assistant and also has the distinction of being married to Miss Cooper, was likewise being described as a hopeless bodge.

Yet Miss Cooper could not just dismiss Mr Hammond’s complaints as groundless, for every motorist knows the price of petrol has rocketed, and people who buy staple foods such as bread know that those have gone up quite a bit too.

So Miss Cooper said “the fundamental problem is the soaring price of a barrel of oil”, which “is affecting countries right across the world” and is in no way Mr Brown’s fault, added to which the Tory record in 1992-97 was “atrocious”. Rob Marris (Lab, Wolverhampton South-West) intervened to attack the Tories: “They’re the ones that caused the roof to be leaking in the first place.” But Miss Cooper did not aspire to win this debate: her aim, which she just about achieved, was the more modest one of getting through it intact.

Vincent Cable, for the Liberal Democrats, came on in his favourite guise of far-sighted elder statesmen who is above the fray and impartially distributes praise and blame. He agreed with Mr Hammond that Mr Brown yielded to “hubris” by claiming to have abolished boom and bust and to have created “the best economy since the Hanoverians”.

But Mr Cable found the Tories’ proposals “feeble in many respects” and “dishonest in others”. He also, rather splendidly, reminded us of the “truth” that “oil prices are likely to remain high” and it is “important they should”, in order to encourage conservation and security of supply.

All those of us who find modern houses overheated and dislike motor cars will feel tempted to vote for Mr Cable. If he can do something to end the scourge of cheap flights our admiration for him will be complete. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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