7 Oct 2009

So, do we actually have a credit crisis?

I’ve just done a ‘sit down’ with David Cameron, and met his wife too – tall, elegant, very personable.

We all met on the 23rd floor of the Hilton here in Manchester, an eerily deserted place with splendid views across the jumble that is Manchester and the sun kissed Pennines beyond.

Talked with Cameron for tonight’s Channel 4 News and he talked austerity. I wondered how scrapping inheritance tax for the rich fitted with “we are all in this together” in paying off the debt?

I asked him too about why tax payers should fund the mortgage on his second home to the tune of nearly £20,000 a year – even more than many nurses, teachers policemen who will now be hit by his planned austerity measures?

He didn’t say he was going to forfeit it, and said the promise of abolishing inheritance tax would stay.

In the sunny light of day the Osborne gloom gamble, in a speech in which he never mentioned the word “growth”, is looking like a very risky gamble as an excellent article in the FT by Chris Giles questions – do we actually HAVE a credit crisis?

Isn’t the greatest threat that for undermining growth, recovery and accumulation of the capacity to pay down that debt. I asked Cameron why it was wise for him to be the ONLY G20 country slashing spending when unemployment was rising? You can see his answers for yourself.

It’s a strange old conference this – awash with private equity, hedge fund and financial sector operatives (courted at fundraising events for their money) – yet these are the very people Mr Cameron told me he was going to bash with the tax system if they pay themselves unacceptable bonuses.

One other thing. I should clarify the gay fringe event that I said last night was the first at a Tory Party fringe, was of course NOT the first ever GAY event but the first ever PRIDE event. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll blog again soon from here.

On Thursday Channel 4 News online will be providing extended live coverage of David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative conference, including film extracts, expert analysis and Twitter commentary.

To watch and contribute, go to www.channel4.com/news from midday on the 8 October.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

43 reader comments

  1. Steve Willis says:

    Jon, in your conversations with these leaders of parties, please remember; Politics is about the ruthless pursuit and retention of power. Nobody gets to the top of any political party without being ruthless – if the rest of us gain benefit along the way, it’s probably coincidental.

  2. Saltaire Sam says:

    You have highlighted the problem with the new caring conserviatives. No matter how much they want to show George Osborne in front of an ordinary housing estate, they can’t get away from the fact that they will ultimately always benefit the rich.

    I found it salutary that a public sector worker earning £20,000 a year will have to suffer a pay freeze while the bankers with their million pound salaries and huge bonuses are only being threatened if they overstep some unnamed mark.

    Similarly, Sir Fred Goodwin has been allowed to disappear into the night with his massive pension added to what was an excessive salary and perks, but a public sector worker’s pension is to be curbed at £50,000.

    Perhaps they are secretly telling us what they think of public services. Tories always claim that you have to pay the big money to get the best people, but consider that £200,000 and a £50,000 pension is enough to attract the people they want to run public services.

    Doesn’t this automatically rule out all those people over whom they fawn and refuse to tax heavily?

    Ignore the rhetoric. Tory actions are what count and they will always benefit the rich.

  3. Sue says:

    I agree that politics is the ‘ruthless pursuit and retention of power’ but we should not just accept it and let the ruthless ones continue without any resistance. It is up to us to see past the lies, hypocrisy and deceit of some or many of the politicians. Jon’s interviews with them are excellent at revealing their flaws I do believe that there are some politicians who genuinely care about this country as opposed to only caring about themselves. We should know who they are and give them our support.

  4. Saltaire Sam says:

    A thought on George Osborne’s ‘We are all in this together.’

    How interesting that he wasn’t saying that when the city was awash with cash and a smal number of individuals were stashing away fortunes.

    It seems ‘we are all in it together’ only applies in austerity – ordinary people are expected to share in the pain but not the bonanzas.

  5. Kate says:

    Nice work Jon – will be tuned in tonight.
    Yes, I wonder how many times George Osborne had to practise ” we are all in this together” in front of a mirror before he lost that smug look.
    As for the seemingly universal excuse that “we have to pay big money to get the best people”, Fred Goodwin didn’t exactly do a good job nor any of the Fat Cats who got us into this.
    Brown missed his chance to curb bonuses etc and the Tories are also pussyfooting round it. There is no will to act on this.
    I am so very angry that there doesn’t seem to be anyone standing up for the interests and needs of us ordinary people. What a bunch of incompetent and self serving ******* ( supply your own!) they all are!

  6. Zinoviev says:

    Couldn’t have put it better.

  7. Ray Turner says:

    I’d just like the Politicians to stop faffing around and get on with it. I don’t think the UK can afford to be in a state of limbo until next May…

  8. Andrew Dundas says:

    To a large but presently unknown extent, the decline in Corporation Tax receipts from banks – which is be far the main cause of gov. deficits – is because Banks have anticipated debt write-offs that may never materialise. Only Banks are allowed to massage their taxable profits in this way because they have to present cautious balance sheets. As our economic recovery continues, bank profits will grow and may be augmented by lots of bad-debts being written back into profits. Meantime, their revenues are boosted by record profit margins on the loans they are making, now that international competition is reduced from pre-crisis levels.
    Moreover, the actual share of national income we have to pay on these transitory debts is much lower than we had to pay in 1997-98: 3.6% max in 2012 vs. 5.2% of national income 12 years ago.
    In short, you’re right: the credit crunch is nothing like as large as is made out by some politicos. So keep pressing them ! !

  9. Alan says:

    We’re all in this together, but some are in deeper than others.

  10. JimmyB says:

    The bankers and banks have gotten away scott free from this whole sorry thing. The fact that any real banking reform has gone into the same “ignore until the problem has gone away” pile as MP’s expenses and parliament and voting reform. The financial lobbyists that are now being paid for out of the tax payers pocket are working very hard towards zero reform in this reguards

    A news report from the huffington post stated that American banks are back trading more derivatives now than when then the banks collapsed. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/28/derivatives-bailed-out-ba_n_300420.html). This is how the so call ecconomic recovery is happening, the banks are doing the same thing which got us into this mess to get us out, cause the system didn’t fail it only got a cold….

    I know I’m a cynical stuck record on this, but I firmly believe our politicians and leaders do not work for us the people who elect them, but the special interest groups that court and pander them.

  11. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    To us Nurses it is quite simple.

    Clinically we are being squashed.

    Private consultations by Doctors who hold the power are the all important.

    The mature Nurses have worked in medicine for most of their lives, administered medication, taking the responsibility for any mistakes made by the doctors ( we should not administer those medications which we know are not correct)

    We diagnose, and run clinical sessions,.We prescribe and monitor the progress of medications.

    We hold clinical autonomy for our decisions.

    We run chronic disease clinics and adjust medication.
    Over the last few years Nurses learning curve has been so great that the doctors don’t like it.

    They even deny us a life time’s medical knowledge by the terminology ‘ non medical prescribers’

    There is more to it than meets the eye .It is a power thing by those that hold the sterling.
    Theoretically we could practice , diagnose and prescribe on our own terms.
    You can see the threat to Doctors.

  12. Una Gillespie says:

    Hello Jon
    Wonderful reporting tonight – love the tie and socks. You always make my day.
    Kind regards

  13. evie murray says:

    Jon your questions have been on my mind most of the day. Imagine my delight to sit down and listen to them being asked.

    Its the bankers what did it!!!! hello??? ….Make them Pay

  14. phil dicks says:

    JS: top thread!
    You described Cameron’s wife as “tall and elegant”. Too right. And fragrant.

  15. evie murray says:

    We are all in this together….. pfft – £140 bottles of champagne to sip for you and your chums and rooms at the hilton?
    It hardly sounds like your in my boat, please!!!!!

  16. phil dicks says:

    You worry that deep down, a Tory is still a Tory, and we shouldn’t underestimate how Tory the UK is. This country swallowed hard in 1997. Britain isn’t a nicey-nicey country by political nature – Cameron knows “modern/carey/sharey” is just lexicon. These are very calculating people.

  17. Ray Turner says:

    Quite right Jimmy. Give it a year or two and there’ll be endless documentaries on the scandal of where all the Taxpayers money has gone. I don’t know why Government left them the scope to do this (well, perhaps I do) and I don’t know why we can’t do anything to stop it happening now that it is apparent what is going on…

  18. adrian clarke says:

    a pity that as a supposed impartial news reporter and interviewer ,you dont display theimpartiality the job demands. the interview with david cameron came across as a “snow” diatribe of a labour candidate . A pity he didn’t interview labour ministers with the same ferocity last week.However, it did highlight camerons ability to answer in the face of adversity

  19. g7uk says:

    ‘Pride’ has been turned into a brand and marketing tactic, to be used as an add-on by any big business that fancies grabbing a few pink pounds. I’m not saying that some of the gay Tories who organised this aren’t genuine. I’m sure they are.

    I was at the protest outside, made a video (see it on my website), and several of the Conservatives were happy to engage and discuss, including an MP. They couldn’t understand why anyone would protest about this: ‘isn’t it a good thing?’

    But they have a superficial view of gay life in Manchester. They don’t realise that Manchester’s youth and money oriented gay scene and £20-a-ticket Pride event actually exclude more people than they include (most LGBT adults are aged over 40!).

    So, another elitist £15-a-head club event on Canal Street is just more of the same as far as many people are concerned. Even if it does carry the ‘Pride’ name and gives a couple of quid from each ticket to Manchester Pride (in 2007 just 12% of the money raised by Manchester Pride went to good causes after 88% costs).

  20. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    I need some “Quantitive Easing” to help my cash flow and make me in line with a typical average professional pay.

    I suppose I could start a new business with that extra money or I could bank it for capital off -shore and just borrow extra money anyway. On top of that I could then tell you to tighten your belts up to allow me to develop.

  21. Beverley C says:

    I am usually a big fan of yours, but did not enjoy this interview. Whilst teachers and other members of public sector have to suffer a pay freeze, thousands in the private sector have been losing their jobs. My husband and many others in IT have been forced to accept paycuts of between 10-20%, let alone pay freezes. We all have to suffer to pay off the debts, lets not just single out nurses and teachers. Perhaps Labour should have put some money by during the prosperous years.

  22. Sadie says:

    The country cannot afford to freeze the pay of police, teachers, nurses and doctors or our standards will fall even lower. Their pay is too low now for what is expected of them in production terms of science, interpretetion, ethics, character and more. We are below where we should be now hence the Police issues of – violence, un-professionalism; Medicine – mistreatment, infection rates, mistakes; Teaching – unruly classes, poor literacy figures. Frozen/less pay will merely mean that applicants will be even more ignorant of the ethos of a professional worker – and that is what is deteriorating already our society as one poor effect creates another poor presentation and so the decline continues and no-one has the ability or realisation to intercede before disaster. Public Sector workers of the professions are already underpaid for their accountability and ongoing learning for their different jobs, never mind their day to day practical work. Mr Cameron think again, take back from the bankers what they squirraled away and not from the countries standard givers who have never been given pay they deserve in the first place, never mind bonuses – it’s more like, ‘please work extra hours but I can’t afford to pay you but you can maybe go off early sometime’ !

  23. Phil Kay says:

    Yes we do have a credit crisis. Mr Brown has been using our ‘credit card’ to pay for his imprudence and to buy time until after the next election when he hopes that we, the prudent, can be ‘caned’ in his pathetic redistribution of wealth programme; the most outrageous ‘live now pay later’ scam on the British taxpayer.

  24. Patrick Dunlop says:

    Mr Snow, I though that you missed David Cameron accepting that the Deficit was economically necessary and of him assuming a tacit responsibility for it coming into being. As far as I am concerned the Conservative’s are running the risk of becoming a ‘single-issue’ party with regards to the coming Election. That issue is ‘The Deficit’ which they say is evidence of the Governments ineptness. But talking to you Mr Cameron accepted the need for it. I think this undermines the credibility of their of their message to the voters. What you did though was went on to nurses pay. maybe you could look at the clip? It is 17 minutes into the bulletin. Have you got a scoop?

  25. kenherts says:

    You ask do we really have a crisis Jon as if you had been on another planet for the last two years.
    We owe billions and are borrowing billions more weekly.
    Try that argument on your bank manager if you are in that position and hear what he has to say.
    Brown has destroyed the pensions of millions of people by taxing pension dividends and on top of that sold off our gold reserves costing us billions more and he goes on about judgement in others.
    Millions are being withdrawn from building societies every month by people who have seen the interest rates fall close to Zero and you ask is there really a crisis!. Just try asking all those people who have had their income destroyed by low interest rates and see what answer you get.

  26. JimmyB says:

    Did any one else read Johann Hari’s very interesting opinion piece in today’s Independent? If so is anyone else wondered why the mainstream media outlets have failed to highlight some of the very astute observations of other nations debt to GDP percentage and the comment by Paul Krugman on the plans.

    This politics of fear is what American Conservatives did for years under Bushes version Compassionate Conservatism. Now we see Cameron again talking about Compassionate Conservatism and using the politics of fear to set up an old Tory agenda of cuts to public spending.

  27. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

    Not your best interview Jon. Not sure why you launched straight into the “it’s the bankers wot dunnit so why punish the poor line”. It takes a lot of players to make an economic screw up like the one we’ve just seen. Sure enough the bankers played their part magnificently, but you also need gullible mugs – to borrow more than is good for them, mortgage brokers, estate agents, impatient consumers, and even C4 played its part (Location Location Location, “your home is your best investment”, etc). Finally there’s the BoE and the government – failing in their duty to protect people from themselves. Everyone of the played their part to “make the market”. BOOM !! CRUNCH !! And everyone has to pick up the bill.

    George Osborne hit the mark when he said “we’re all in this together”. But not for the reasons he thinks. We all made this together. Tell me I’m wrong.

    But fair play, go after the bankers, they deserve it. But as far as rebuilding the UK’s balance sheet is concerned that’s only something only the tax-payer can sort out and the conservatives deserve just a smidgin of credit for pointing that out. And quite gently I thought.

  28. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Have just seen a BBC news item about the bad care at Blackpool. A&E It looks as though they are trying to privatise another institution.

    Whilst a problem is being investigated one side of the story should not be broadcasted.

    I dont believe the complaints in their totality.

    For example a lady in A&E wasn’t given medication for 2 days. I can’t believe she was in A&E for 2 days.

    A few other complaints which sound as the children don’t believe it is in their own mother’s interest to help their own family.

    It has started already, allowing complaints to go through to bring something down…..I have seen the same type scenario for years and it is taken over usually by a worse situation ,but only positive things go to the media.

    The staff suffer within these cruel tactics.

    The one thing that really gets me is that whilst the people who have grabbed the power are gawhuffing and trying to put that little’ nobody ‘in his or her place, they veneer over their faults and tactics with the US or WE pose.

    I also had a private firm that was “brought down” so have worked on all sides and have seen collective manipulation, where people’s lives are played with, to the extent that they commit suicide .

    By the way the way the ‘light ‘or ‘charge ‘is switched on by the breaking of a magnetic bond and then the sitting on one side to manipulate.

  29. Alan says:

    That bank manager argument only really works if you are earning 2.13 Trillion a year.

  30. Jane Jones says:

    You’ve shown your true colour tonight Jon asking David Cameron if he was a millionaire. I don’t remember you asking Gordon how much he’s worth, or whether Alistair had ‘Flipped’ recently. No personal questions for the (New) Labour Party!

  31. Alex Birkett says:

    I like Jon Snow and Channel 4. I only wish the left wing politicians who, along with the bankers, caused this debt crisis were interviewed with the same ‘vigour’.

  32. phil dicks says:

    Is that before or after bonuses?

  33. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    By the way Phil, have you read a lot of Charles Dickens novels?

  34. adrian clarke says:

    i agree that the bankers need to be hit and controlled.I dont agree that the failings in policing , nursing or any public service are to do with lack of pay.It is bad organisation /administration and political correctness plus so called human rights.I am a pensioner and was a police officer(no policepension),so dont say that the public services don’t get enough salary

  35. Cliff says:

    So there was a Gay Pride’ event was there? Makes you proud to be British doesn’t it?

  36. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    re Steve Willis’s comment.

    We are preaching to the converted.

    Jon has interviewed politicians at home and abroad all his life. He has seen tragedy, heartbreak , corruption, danger man’s inhumaity to man, married to human right’s lawyer, befriends the powers that be.our opinions are like GCSE students crititiquing Milton.

    On the other side of the coin, he is also trying to maintain a viable business and needs to use the tactics and wiles of a man in a hugely competitive arena.

    Sad isn’t it to feel so insignificant.

  37. Kes says:

    Sorry to see your innate bias degrading your standing as a newsman, Jon. No tough questions for the man who has wrecked the economy (That’s Brown) but snide jabs about personal wealth for Cameron. Such a shame.

    On bankers, you seem to have joined the “all bankers are evil” camp which is facile and stupid. Sure, some bankers should have been prosecuted and I am amazed that they haven’t been. However, those are a small proportion of the universe of bankers. Most bankers work in the retail part of the business, earn only moderately, have far less job security than your precious public sector workers, far worse pension prospects and have no part of the blame. Even in the “investment banking” world, where pay can be huge, the architects of the leveraged vehicles which kicked the crirsis off are very few in number. They are the villains, along with the top bosses who were negligent in their oversight of their employees and the control departments who were inept. As Brown and Co have found out, government cannot sue or prosecute them, except as shareholders. I suspect that the reason no nationalised bank bosses have been targeted is that they were Gordon’s buddies, not Cameron’s.

    On public employees, you try and blur the issue, which is poor reporting. Nobody is criticising the “front line” pay bill, even though it is huge. What people object to is the utter waste of tax revenue on public employees who merely add a level of bureaucracy without providing any real benefit to society. A neighbour of mine works in local government and is constantly being told not to work so fast that someone notices that one person could comfortably do the job of three. The NHS now costs more per year than the total income tax take. The NHS is a fine idea, but is now so inefficient and wasteful with the cash that it needs vigorous improvement.

    I would really like to see some TV reporting attempt to be objective and accurate rather than being driven by soundbites and daft, slanted questioning.

  38. phil dicks says:

    Margaret:no, life’s too short. I don’t understand your reference.

  39. phil dicks says:

    Sadie: good points. I must be too unreconstructed a lefty, but this seems to be one of those threads where you realise how right-wing or right-friendly some C4 bloggers(not you) are. Nothing wrong with that, but it is surprising.
    If you check the thumbs up/down ratio of this thread, we’re not exactly talking Marxist. Maybe times have changed.

  40. adrian clarke says:

    i think it is labour who have allowed fred goodwin to escape , and all the banks to get away with robbery . it may surprise you but labour have been in power for 12 years , so any economic grievance must be laid at their door . it sounds as if you want more of the same

  41. KoomKwat says:

    Ouch!! Some people have a sting to their tail. I actually find it appalling how bullying and nasty the political game can be. Gordon Brown has personally been dragged through the mud even receiving comments on how he looks, and jon dares to ask a question of the opposition. This is outrageous, why? This does not seem like the right wing are expecting an equal playing field, does it?

    You cannot lay the blame at labour’s door actually. Its ridiculous to even try, many more processes were playing apart. This crisis would have happened under tory rule, the rich would be protected and most folks would be suffering. Surely blame is an unhelpful attitude anyway. The UK is heading for a complete break down of the union; England goes tory Scotland wont… were will this lead! England going right wing now will be sure to seal the Scottish Nationalists deal. This fight between tory and labour is old hat, new more complicated debates exist, old rhetoric matters not. Its about time they transformed politics to the point that people came together and did what was right for the Country. This debate is being held at a time when people are scared, worried and nervous about the future of UK and the wider community. To attack a wounded Country makes no sense, who’s interests does it serve. The only productivity to come out of this dance is between Cameron and Brown and their respective parties. A self serving motivation and who wants to run a country like this. The arguments kill morale and surely we want our children to grow up in healthy environments. The political elite are leading our behaviour and the whole country is in debate, children are watching and learning all about this cruel nasty UK.
    Then you ask Why –
    Brits behave badly abroad?
    Brits are on drink, drugs or generally unhealthy?
    Brits are bullying in schools?
    Yes that’s right, its you what did it, you and of course the media who court your debate!!!!! Moral Leadership Required

  42. roger bater says:

    If we all lived our lives with no access to any news or media would we actually be able to work out which party was running the country. I doubt it.

  43. David says:

    Posts like this keep me searching on Google

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