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No return to 'boom and bust' - will Brown ditch the old formula?

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 22 September 2008

It was a favourite phrase of Gordon Brown's but will it make it into tomorrow's speech?

"Boom and bust" featured 18 times in many of Gordon Brown's autumn conference and budget speeches over the last decade. The notorious two B's, along with "prudence" became his mantra for Labour's record on economic stability.

Budget booms

In his 1998 budget speech, Brown told parliament that "to avoid a lurch backwards towards the kind of boom-bust instability that brought interest rates as high as 15 per cent in the late 80s, the Government, and then the Bank of England, took action to ensure stability."

Two years later, the phrase became the more succinct "Britain does not want a return to boom and bust".

Almost this exact phrase then made a return in three out of the next seven budget speeches:

"Mr Deputy Speaker we will not return to boom and bust." (Budget speech 2001)

"No return to boom and bust." (Budget speech 2006)

"And we will never return to the old boom and bust." (Budget speech 2007)

In two more speeches in 2002 and 2004 "boom and bust" also made an appearance, but in these cases it was more to contrast with previous years.

Conference busts

Conference speeches also had their fair share of "boom and bust" references. On 27 September 1999 Brown exclained "And I say to Conference and to the country, we will never return to the days of Tory boom - bust."

The following year, "boom and bust" made a grand total of five appearances in his 2000 conference speech. "We will not put hard won economic stability at risk. No return to short-termism. No return to Tory boom and bust" he declared.

"Boom and bust" made a grand total of five appearances in his 2000 conference speech.

Yet it would be four years before the phrase re-appeared in an autumn conference speech. In 2004 and 2005 it was used as a way to show Brown's economic success.

"No longer the boom-bust economy," he said on 27 September 2004.

"In any other decade, a house price bubble would have pushed Britain from boom to bust," he claimed a year later on 26 September 2005.

However, in contrast to the budget speeches, Brown's last autumn conference speech as chancellor in 2006 and his first as prime minister in 2007 failed to include a reference to the two B's.

It is unlikely to make an appearance in his leader's speech tomorrow either. While the prime minister will talk up his economic credentials to silence his critics, he may not want to tempt fate by using this catchphrase after the financial turmoil of the last week.

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