Cameron: Recession caught us off-guard

By staff

David Cameron will admit the recession caught the Conservatives off-guard in his first major speech since coming back from compassionate leave tonight.

Speaking to the British Chamber of Commerce in Birmingham, the Tory leader will admit to not having the appropriate foresight to see the downturn coming.

“The unsustainable debts in our banks are a reflection of unsustainable debts in our households, our companies and our government,” he will say.

“But if I’m honest, I have to admit that we – the Conservative party – didn’t see this as early as we could have.”

Speaking earlier today to journalists, Mr Cameron fleshed out the statement, saying: “I’m sorry that we have got some things wrong, we were right to call time on government debt but should we have said more about banking debt and corporate debt, yes, we should have done.

“Actually saying sorry is the easy bit, the difficult bit is for politicians to look back and say right where did I go wrong.”

But Mr Cameron attempts to frame the lack of foresight as a cross-party problem, describing a
“cosy economic consensus” among mainstream politicians.

“All parties signed up to this cosy economic consensus, including the Liberal Democrats, whose spending plans have tended to be the largest of them all,” he will add.

“It is only by being honest about the past that we can get things right for the future. So we need to recognise that our economy, as well as our society, is broken – and we should have said so sooner.

“But if we’re honest, we must also recognise that some of our economic difficulties today relate not only to what has happened in the last ten years, but also to certain fundamental weaknesses that have been there for decades.”

Mr Cameron will suggest four key targets for a Tory government recovery programme: tackling debt, rebalancing the economy, getting people back into work and regulating the economy properly.

Analysts will invariably link the speech to Mr Cameron’s insistence that Gordon Brown apologise for his handling of the economy in the run-up to a recession.

But there remains little chance of Gordon Brown saying sorry for anything. Labour strategists are well aware that any apology from the prime minister would be quickly followed by demands for his resignation from the opposition.