A brief glance at the papers this morning confirms that there will be plenty to do to set things right in the next government, from the nature of government, through what it promises, to what it actually achieves.

From the Guardian

Ecotown plan falters in tough climate:

Gordon Brown’s flagship plan to build a string of environmentally friendly ‘eco-towns‘ across Britain has been dealt a critical blow, with only two of the 10 sites promised now expected to be built.

Treasury figures show why pubs are closing:

Alcohol is up to a third cheaper in shops than it was a decade ago, say new Treasury figures, prompting a warning that cheap supermarket promotions are pushing pubs out of business.

The figures will increase pressure on the government to curb irresponsible price-cutting, blamed for fuelling Britain’s binge culture, as part of a planned review of alcohol prices due to be published next month.

Are we to be treated as responsible adults or not?

It’s your recession, Mr Brown. Deal with it:

The credit crunch may have started abroad, but it was custom-made to hurt Britain.

Naturally, Mr Brown does not want to admit that, since he was in charge of the economy for the last decade.

Treasury committee chair calls for lower taxes and higher spending:

John McFall, the influential chairman of the Treasury select committee, has today called on the government to lower taxes and increase spending in a bid to “rescue” the flagging economy.

But Mr McFall, Labour didn’t save in the boom.

From The Telegraph

Economists condemn Darling’s spending plan:

In a letter to today’s Sunday Telegraph the group argues that Mr Darling’s public works programme, based on the interventionist policies put forward by John Maynard Keynes in the last century, is too risky.

The economists also claim that the plan could boost the state to such a “dominant position” that it would “stunt the private sector’s recovery once recession is past”. They argue that taxes should be cut and interest rates varied to cope with economic downturns, rather than spending being ramped up.

John Greenwood, chief economist at Invesco Perpetual, said: “Japan tried to spend its way out of recession in the 1990s and the result was nothing except huge debt. Private firms will not be able to improve their own balance sheet if the government gets to the table first.”

Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown:

he financial crisis spreading like wildfire across the former Soviet bloc threatens to set off a second and more dangerous banking crisis in Western Europe, tipping the whole Continent into a fully-fledged economic slump.

Currency pegs are being tested to destruction on the fringes of Europe’s monetary union in a traumatic upheaval that recalls the collapse of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992.

“This is the biggest currency crisis the world has ever seen,” said Neil Mellor, a strategist at Bank of New York Mellon.

European Commission ‘broke its own rules’ over Mandelson:

MEPs and freedom of information campaigners last night accused the European Commission of breaching its own transparency rules by refusing to publish details of meetings between Lord Mandelson and the controversial Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Where have all the orators gone?

Why is the “inner God within” so absent from today’s parliamentary debates? Why is reading Hansard akin to ingesting a company’s report and accounts, when in earlier periods of our history it read like life-enhancing literature?

The standard of parliamentary discourse is as low as at any time in living memory; so where have all our orators gone?

From the Times

Banks exploit legal loophole to seize homes

Banks and credit card companies are exploiting obscure legal powers to seize the homes of thousands of people who cannot pay their credit card bills.

In some cases, people owing as little as £1,000 have been served with charging orders – the legal instrument enabling a creditor to order the sale of a property.

Nationwide, the building society, and Northern Rock, which was nationalised earlier this year, are among the most aggressive in using the court orders.

Pragmatic Hutton backs European army

John Hutton has become the first defence secretary to back a French plan for a European army, branding those who dismiss it as “pathetic”.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times, he said: “I think we’ve got to be pragmatic about those things. Where it can help, we should be part of it.”

Darling: slump will be long and deep

Alistair Darling will concede in a speech on Wednesday that the economic downturn is likely to be deeper and longer-lasting than first thought.

While Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that Britain was “better-prepared” than other economies, Treasury officials no longer believe the UK economy will escape lightly.

I could go on, but in fact I have a renewed optimism: historically, people and societies bounce back, and they do so without central direction.

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