UK Politics

Gordon Brown warns cuts are a 'great misjudgement'

Gordon Brown
Image caption Gordon Brown said it was possible for the world's major economic powers to reach an agreement

The coalition government's spending cuts programme may be seen in future as one of the "great misjudgements of history", Gordon Brown has warned.

The former prime minister likened current policies to those preceding the global depression of the 1930s.

Mr Brown, whose book on the recent financial crisis is out this week, urged "more imaginative" proposals.

But the coalition argues the cuts are needed to sort out the financial "mess" left by the previous Labour government.

They say Mr Brown mismanaged the economy, building up a huge fiscal deficit that had to be sorted out to avoid the UK suffering the sort of problems Greece and Ireland have had.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, which is serialising his book, Mr Brown said spending cuts by UK and other western governments could adversely affect the skills and technology needed to win business in China and India.

The former prime minister, who has largely avoided the spotlight since leaving Downing Street in May, added: "As the 1930s showed, the economic orthodoxies for which people are feted today will quickly come to be seen as the great misjudgements of history."

Mr Brown, who is the Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, has spent much of the past few months writing his book, called Beyond the Crash.

It calls for a global compact between the G20 nations - which include the major economies of Europe and North America and rising powers in Asia and South America - to encourage growth and create up to 50 million jobs worldwide.

Marshall Plan

Mr Brown wrote: "There is no comfort in the status quo. If, as I believe, the world's problems are structural, then we have to deal with them by major surgery, not by waiting for something to change."

He argued it was "difficult" for countries to reach agreement, but added that leaders had to work "in the space between the possible and the perfect".

Mr Brown also wrote: "Stronger, more sustained growth will not happen just by hoping for Asian consumer spending to rise. Nor from simply hoping for private investment to recover swiftly and strongly.

"It will require an agreement among the economic powers of the world, bigger, more imaginative and more lasting than even the Marshall Plan for Europe: a constantly updated plan for economic growth."

He added: "Such a plan will have to be accompanied by a constitution for the supervision of global finance, otherwise we will find ourselves in the same race to the bottom that characterised the past decade."

Mr Brown was chancellor from 1997 to 2007 and prime minister from 2007 until this May.

His book follows memoirs written by several other key figures in the New Labour movement, including Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson.

But Mr Brown told the Guardian he was "not interested in gossip" and instead wanted to give his advice on preventing a future downturn like that of 2008.

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