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Former British prime minister regrets over financial crisis

07-26-2010 08:38 BJT

LONDON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- British former prime minister Gordon Brown on Saturday gave his first interview after stepping down after the defeat of his Labor party in the May 6 general election, and said he had regrets over the global financial crisis.

Brown is still the member of parliament for his constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, in central Scotland, but he has kept a very low profile since the coalition government was formed on May 11, rarely being seen in the House of Commons and steering clear of the media.

Brown gave his first interview to the BBC, and said "I've always said that if we had spotted the financial crisis earlier, it would have made a difference.

"I think you learn lessons all the time, and I'm always prepared to learn lessons, and always prepared to admit that if you made a mistake you've got to say that things can be done better."

Brown defended his record, and criticized the move by many governments around the world to begin to cut government budgets as a response to the continuing financial and economic pressures.

Brown campaigned in the general election to cut government spending, which ballooned under his premiership as his administration struggled to tackle the effects of the financial crisis in late 2008 and 2009.

He argued on the campaign trail that cuts should come later because if they were made now they threatened the recovery and heightened the danger of a double-dip recession, where the economy sinks back into decline after rising out of recession.

Brown said: "I think we dealt with the global financial crisis and therefore the economic as well as we could, but we can see all around the world governments are suffering because there is high unemployment, there are big changes, deficits and everything else and I think the greatest failure is we haven't moved on from where we were in April 2009. We need a global plan for recovery."

This view predictably sets him at odds with the new British coalition government under prime minister David Cameron, which has set as its main task the cutting of the record public sector spending deficit, currently at 153 billion pounds (about 240 billion U.S. dollars) by 100 billion pounds over the next four years.

Cuts of over 6 billion pounds have already been implemented in this year's budgets, and government departments, apart from health and overseas aid, have been told to plan for budget cuts of up to 40 percent which will be revealed in the autumn and implemented from next spring onwards.

Brown's Labor party opposes the speed of the cuts. Cameron's eagerness to cut budgets is mirrored in the policies of many European governments, and has been backed by the European Central Bank.

In contrast, United States policy under president Barack Obama is less keen to see tough cuts in government spending implemented now.

Speaking about his defeat, Brown said he was not too hurt by losing the prime ministership.

He said: "It wasn't bruising, it's something you just have to come to terms with, and you have to come terms with quite quickly, because things in Britain move quite quickly indeed.

"When I walked away from Downing St, and we did it as a family, my two children and Sarah, I knew that was the end of a particular era and I had to accept that, and you accept it and then you move on and say look, there are other things you can do that can make a difference."

Brown was speaking in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where he gave his first major speech since losing office on the potential of Africa to help lift the world out of its financial difficulties.

He said in his speech on Saturday "Future growth in the world economy, and future jobs in the developing world, will depend on harnessing both the productive potential and the pent-up consumer demand of this continent.

"There is an alternative to a decade of low global growth which would fail to meet both the development needs of Africa and the growth needs of Europe and America.

"To me the answer is obvious -- as we struggle to find new sources of growth we must turn here, to Africa, to this continent of huge potential and talent."

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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