David Cameron has been forced to rewrite his Wednesday address to the Conservative Party conference after an early draft indicated that the prime minister wanted Britain's households to pay off their credit cards.
"Households - all of us - paying off the credit card and store card bills," the draft speech read.
According to PA, the comment sparked concern among retailers and economists, with the British Retail Consortium warning that urging people to "retrench" was "at odds with promoting growth".
According to Natalie Berg, an analyst at Planet Retail, Cameron’s call brought with it risks of further erosion to consumer sentiment and further stagnation.
Figures from the charity Credit Action show total UK personal debt stands at £1.45 trillion - more than the country’s entire gross domestic product (GDP). The interest paid daily by creditors is £175 million.
Cameron's aides said that the original speech was not meant to encourage the speedy payment of debt, but was supposed to encourage households to continue to manage their finances carefully.
The rewritten version is believed to highlight the country's suffering during the debt crisis. "That's why households are paying down their credit card and store card bills," Cameron is expected to say.
The prime minister is also expected to reassure the party faithful and the public at home that there is no need to change course on the economy even if the benefits are yet to be felt.
05/10/2011 17:12 BST
Polly Toynbee At The Guardian Says We Will Remember Cam's Speech For Credit Gate:
"This was no catflap gaffe, but a frightening revelation of economic illiteracy", she argues. Her colleague Jackie Ashley says it will most likely "sink without trace. without a trace".
05/10/2011 17:01 BST
Toby Young: It Was About Swing Voters
Most of it was pitched at swing voters rather than the Tory faithful, from the reference to saving Nigerian babies to the praise for Dan Thompson, the man who started the “cleanup” movement on Twitter.
05/10/2011 16:52 BST
Was This The Time To Remind People Of Cameron's Broader Gentler Conservatism?
Asks Tim Montgomerie, who earlier this week complained about the government lacking a growth policy.
A Belgian bank has gone bust. Italy's being downgraded. American politics is in gridlock. I hoped this Conference would give us much more on growth. It didn't (although I may be underestimating the importance of credit easing).
05/10/2011 16:42 BST
Has Creditgate Turned Into Throatgate
|@ jameskirkup : No10 adamant DC does *not* have throat infection. So low-key, low-volume delivery was deliberate choice, in keeping with times etc.|
05/10/2011 16:41 BST
Total Politics' Caroline Crampton Says The PM Looked Tired
"He looked so weary, with bags etched under his eyes and a slight hoarseness to his voice. It reminded me of a Doctor Who episode from a couple of years ago, where the Doctor brings down a government simply by using a prime minister’s tiredness to undermine their ability to govern."
05/10/2011 16:38 BST
And A Pic Of Cam Giving The Speech
05/10/2011 16:32 BST
Business Says: Regulate (Even) Less
“It is important that the Prime Minister remembers that the lion’s share of apprenticeships reside in small businesses and so we urge him to ensure that deregulatory measures go further to allow small firms to offer more. Given today’s revision in GDP figures, the Prime Minister’s emphasis on leadership now needs to be accompanied by a clear and practical plan for growth", the FSB said in a statement.
05/10/2011 16:29 BST
And The TUC's Brendan Barber Has Highlighted The Small Matter Of The Economy
“This has been a disappointing conference that has failed to respond to growing economic difficulties. If we judge people by what they do, rather than what they say, ministers believe that unemployment will be solved by getting tougher with the jobless and that they will restore economic growth by increasing the number of unfair dismissals.”
05/10/2011 16:28 BST
Plaid Cymru Felt It Did Not Have Enough About Wales In It
“This was a Tory speech to Tory England, with little relevant to Wales, and no answers to the real questions about the economy.
“With the UK economy having barely grown in the past nine months, David Cameron and George Osbourne have their heads in the sand if they think that their economic plans are working.
“It is more jobs that people in Wales need – and they aren’t getting those as a result of Labour’s failure to invest in the economy in Wales or the Conservative cuts coming from London.
“Instead, it is Plaid Cymru who are standing up for Wales by arguing strongly for investment in infrastructure in Wales to help our construction industry, such as the Build for Wales Programme we recommended when in government, and a cut in VAT to stimulate demand and production.”
05/10/2011 16:27 BST
More Tory MP Reaction
|@ RoryStewartUK : Great speech by Cameron this pm: particularly liked the emphasis on social justice, confidence (and Britannia in arms-bands)|