Reuters (Link) - Jodie Ginsberg (December 28, 2008)
Britain's Gordon Brown will use his New Year address to call for a "coalition for change" with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in a speech intended as a rallying call to Britons. Brown, who frequently uses the comparison of the Second World war to describe the current global financial crisis, will tell Britons they have the strength of resolve to tackle a recession.
"Today the issues may be different, more complex, more global. And yet the qualities we need to meet them the British people have demonstrated in abundance before," Brown says in excerpts of the speech released by his office on Sunday. "So that we will eventually look back on the winter of 2008 as an other great challenge that was thrown Britain's way, and that Britain met. Because we had the right values, the right policies, the right character to meet it."
Brown identifies the economy, climate change, and security as the main challenges facing the world in 2009 and pledges to work with the United States to tackle them, positioning the U.S. alliance beyond a traditional focus on military cooperation. "I look forward to working with President-elect Obama in creating a transatlantic, and then a global coalition for change," Brown will say. "We can demonstrate this in 2009 not just in how we address global economic challenges but in how we tackle climate change at the Copenhagen summit."
Brown identifies the economy as the single biggest challenge for 2009 and defends plans for a massive spending boost to prevent a recession spiraling into a slump. "The failure of British governments in previous downturns was to succumb to political expediency and to cut back investment across the board, thereby stunting our ability to grow and strangling hope during the upturn," he will say. "This will not happen on my watch. The threat that will come of doing too little is greater than the threat of attempting too much. We will direct the next stage of our strategy at creating jobs and making the investments our economy needs."
The remarks are a swipe at the opposition Conservative Party, which has said that if they won the next election, due by mid-2010, they would not match Labor's spending plans. Labor trails the Conservatives in opinion polls ahead of elections due in the next 18 months, but the opposition's lead has shrunk since the summer as they struggle to convince voters about their ability to handle the economy.