Who said this ?
I am grateful to a poster called Rob P on Conservative Home for reminding us of the following trenchant criticisms of the then Chancellor Gordon Brown, made two years ago during the debate on the 2005 budget.
Read it first, and then see if you can work out who said this.
"One thing can be said about the Budget with absolute certainty and conviction. It is not a prudent Budget, and it is not the work of a prudent man.
It was clear from the statistics given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition that this is not the first time that the Chancellor has been losing control.
Instead of reflecting, as a sober, responsible and prudent Chancellor would do, on the way in which these favourable outcomes have been achieved, on the risks attached to the policies that have been pursued, on the potential threats to those policies continuing to be successful and on whatever changes might be required—that is the sort of sensible and sophisticated discussion we ought to have in the House on these occasions—the Chancellor went in for an orgy of self-congratulation. I do not believe that people who do that can ever be described as prudent. They may or may not succeed in deceiving other people, but they are clearly running a considerable risk of deceiving themselves. Once someone has deceived himself into a state of complacency about the world, he is not prudent and responsible, and not a person to be entrusted with the management of anybody's finances, let alone the country's finances.
That was an unattractive and frankly problematic attitude adopted by the Chancellor. He is not a Chancellor who has not made any mistakes. One might have thought that, for a second's genuflection in the direction of modesty and humility, he might have referred to an absolutely devastating misjudgment and mistake—the destruction of our pensions system. The right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) and many others have used similar words in different places, including in the media, when speaking about this matter. The words I will use are cautious, sober and not in any way exaggerated.
In 1997 we had a pensions system in this country, including very substantial defined benefit pension funds in the private and public sectors, that was the envy of the world. It was the envy of the whole of the European Union, except for the Netherlands, which had a similar system to ours and has managed to preserve it. In eight short years, the system has been completely destroyed
That has been destroyed by a devastating mistake. I do not suppose that the Chancellor wanted to destroy that. He was just incredibly imprudent. He thought that the rise in the stock market would go on for ever. He said at the time that he would get away with it because the stock market kept on rising. After about two weeks, he said that that rise had compensated for the damage that he had done by reducing the return to pension funds over that period.
What an extraordinarily incompetent thing to say. What an extraordinarily naive thing to think. What a desperately complacent attitude towards something that is fundamental to the sense of security and well-being of millions of families. The Chancellor needs to be on the Front Bench when someone talks about pensions and to tell the country himself what he really thinks about that now. Was it really so clever to introduce that pensions tax eight years ago? If not, I look forward to hearing an apology in the House. Nothing less will do.
As a result of that self-congratulation and complacency, the Chancellor is becoming so cut off that he is beginning to underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. When politicians underestimate the intelligence of the electorate in a democracy worthy of the name, something nasty happens to them. I trust and believe that something nasty will happen to the Chancellor in electoral terms before too long. He will have no one but himself to blame.
Worked out who said this yet ?
Yes, it was Quentin Davies, MP for Grantham and Stamford, on 16th March 2005.