Spain, spin and the G20

At PMQs today, Gordon Brown answered a question about G20 countries and the recession by saying:

“Spain is in the G20 now and is in recession.”

Quick as a flash Tory Bear posted an article demanding an apology from Brown after saying he “lied to the House”.

So who’s right? Our facts on growth were a bit old yesterday but we did say:

“Spain, who attend G20 meetings, are also still in recession.”

Spain is not a formal member, as TB noted, however they did attend the London and Washington summits (see pics) and would like to attend the G20 again as the EU’s rotating president in the first half of 2010.

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44 Responses to “Spain, spin and the G20”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spain, spin and the G20: <— Your thoughts @guidofawkes & @torybear?

  2. Tory Bear

    So we are all in agreement then? Spain is not a member of the G20, however much they would like to be.

    Brown should apologise for getting his facts wrong.

  3. Tim Connor

    I attended those meetings in my capacity as a translator. Am I in the G20?

  4. Nick Osborne

    According to Tory Bear’s logic, Cameron should apologise for misleading the House for saying Australia went into recession after the UK and came out before. Australia never went into recession and while it did have slightly lower growth, was always in positive growth.

    Surely that is misleading, I’m sure Australian PM Kevin Rudd would have something to say about it. Or maybe Mr Cameron’s office can just update Wikipedia?

  5. Costello

    The reality is that Spain is not a member of the G20. Brown was either deliberately talking dishonest nonsense so that he could avoid dealing with the question put to him or – if we give him the benefit of the doubt – is simply embaressingly ignorant.

  6. Guido Fawkes

    Will, let it go. My evidence based research shows that Spain is not a member of the G20.

    The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi attended the G20 annual summit in April. So what?

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Nick Osborne – Before we start an “arms race” on who should apologise for what in the House of Commons perhaps you could remember the point of the article – Brown said we would “lead the world out of recession” and we haven’t.

    We haven’t because he’s useless with economics – always has been. Sold the gold at a third of the current value and “An end to boom and bust”.

    Instead of nitpicking about a single remark why can’t you see the big picture? The blokes useless. You know it. I know it. The Labour Party knows it. The electors in this country know it. Dump Brown or lose the election.

  8. Pete Bowers

    Given that the EU is the 20th member of the G20 and Spain is a member of the EU, surely it is fair to say that Spain is part of the G20 – even if it isn’t a member as such? It seems to me that there are no substantive implications of Brown being slightly wrong with his semantics. His point still stands, despite the petty quibbling from the Tories.

  9. Guido Fawkes

    It is the difference between Britain being the last G20 member in recession and not being. A propaganda issue of great importance as far as this blog and Downing Street are concerned.

  10. Billy Blofeld


    Some evidence for you to review – the G20 website says that:

    “There are no formal criteria for G-20 membership and the composition of the group has remained unchanged since it was established.”

    Screen Grab evidence confirming Spain is not a member of the G20 here

  11. Meredith A

    Pete Bowers, spectacular missing of the point, which concerned which member states of the G20 are still in recession. By your reckoning Norwich is in the G20. This is not a pub quiz.

  12. Carl

    I think it is entirely possible that this was an honest mistake, not deceit – who’s with me?

  13. Pete Bowers

    @Meredith A. I know what the point is – Cameron was trying to suggest that the UK isn’t doing as well as other similar economies. But using the membership of the G20 (or the size of an economy) to define what is similar to the UK is not necessarily fair. That method doesn’t, for example, take account of differences in terms of what the major industries are in the other G20 economies. Similarly, there is perhaps too much emphasis on the *speed* of recovery at the cost of a focus on a strong and sustainable return to growth(I’d suggest that the potential fragility of the impending recovery is a more significant issue than the speed).

    My reckoning doesn’t imply that Norwich is in the G20 because Norwich isn’t (yet) an independent state.

    Finally, I agree with Carl.

  14. Albert Hall

    I find it difficult to believe that Brown ever made an honest mistake. Plenty of dishonest ones though.

  15. GizmoDuck

    Brown is deliberatly lying. He knows Spain isn’t a member of the G20 and said so him self in this press conference.

    “If there is, let’s say, a G20 meeting, and Spain is not a member of the G20, I think, and I have said to President Bush that Spain should be represented at this meeting.” Gordon Brown, Thursday 16 October 2008,Prime Minister and Proven Lier

  16. Kirsty

    Come on boys – Spain not a member of G20, doesn’t matter if they were there or not. presumably of Gordon had gone to eton he would have known this? I thought his answer that Spain was not out of recession either, was completely childish, petulant and pathetic (not to mention wrong). All the Labour back benches should be ashamed they have allowed this farce to continue so long. This Country is a joke. It is not ‘talking down Britain’ to say we are still in a recession and Gordon’s plan for spending his way out of this has saddled us with debt and achieved nothing, He and his henchmen who giggled through this serious matter when all around people have lost jobs make my bllod boil. Keep giggling, Balls, Bradshaw – see you at the job centre.

  17. GizmoDuck

    *Sorry that’s Proven Liar

  18. Pete Bowers – Would be good if some people would pile onto Left Foot Forward and balance out the right wing comments.

  19. Kris

    Why don’t we just end capitalism? Then we wouldn’t have these disputes. An internationalist planned economy is the only way to achieve peace and community prosperity. VOTE LABOUR!

  20. Billy Blofeld


    Given the evidence presented, are you now planning to update your blog and provide a conclusion concerning Spain’s membership of the G20?

  21. george

    come on will, love the blog, but admit Gordon is either spinning one or is confused


  22. Claire Spencer

    People seem to have come to an eminently reasonable conclusion on Twitter – Cameron deliberately didn’t say “we are the only major economy to emerge from recession” because he knew that we were not – but he phrased it cleverly and Gordon Brown walked into it. It’s really not a big deal, it’s a point of accuracy. Perhaps he should clarify that he was incorrect, but apologise?

    I should add that, by definition, you can only spend out of a recession. How and who spends is up for debate, but if no-one spends, you’re in recession forever. Further, considering how much of our GDP is reliant on financial services, it was pretty much a given that we would be slower to emerge from recession than large, manufacturing-based economies – like Germany, for example. As Peter said, emerging at speed should not take priority over emerging properly. Now, if we fall back into recession after Q1 2010, saying that the measures undertaken haven’t worked may have some credence.

  23. Anon E Mouse

    Claire Spencer – Since you believe you have a means of spending your way out of recession and being an economy based on financial services it can take longer to recover (you may be right) why didn’t Gordon Brown know this?

    The trouble with making grand statements is they can come back and bite you.

    And all those people here who are arguing Spain is in the G20, or black is white just grow up.

  24. Billy Blofeld

    Claire Spencer,

    Here is an easy to digest cartoon which explains how Gordon’s approach to spending is crashing the countries economy into the ground:

    This is why the UK is the last G20 country out of the recession

  25. Claire Spencer

    All I suggest is that you moderate what has been an unnecessarily outraged example to a point of accuracy. I was very polite in my response – and I would go so far as to call it “grown up”.

    Re: spending out of a recession, I am right:

    And yes, Gordon Brown seems to be aware of this. The prediction that we would come out of recession in Q3 was wrong, but it’s not as though Brown & Darling were alone in thinking that we would. It’s a difficult business, growth (or lack thereof) forecasting.

  26. Claire Spencer

    And Billy Blofield, I am a financial journalist – so while I am not an analyst or an economist, I can just about understand what is going on without your visual aids. But many thanks.

  27. Guy Forks

    For goodness sake, can’t all of your Tory types spew out your inaccurate propaganda on your own blogs ? Your comments are treasonous!

  28. Anon E Mouse

    Claire Spencer – I agree with you. I was not suggesting you were not grown up.

    If I was not clear I was stating that people saying that Spain is in the G20 are delusional. Saying “you may be right” was not a slight, I just don’t know if you are or are not – I think you are right.

    I DO know Spain is not in the G20 though.

  29. Therese

    Spain won’t be a rotating EU president – Mr van Rompuy is the new permanent President. Brown got it wrong.. time to fess up and think of a new line.

  30. Claire Spencer

    Lovely, I like people who agree with me… 😉 …and you are basically correct. But the blog still makes a valid point that should be taken into account. That’s all!

  31. Richard

    The G20 website states

    1) The number of countries involved is restricted and fixed
    2) Membership of the Group has “remained unchanged since it was established”
    3) Spain is not in the G20

    There we go problem solved, Spain is not a member of the G20

  32. Will Straw


    Just for the record, Left Foot Forward has never claimed that Spain was a G20 country. We’ve only pointed out that they are very keen to be a member and have attended several meetings.

    Therese – the Council will still rotate even now we have van Rompuy. After all, he can’t chair all the junior ministerial meetings.

  33. Billy Blofeld


    In your blog piece you pose the question “So who’s right?”

    You also position this blog as “evidence based”. Thus given the evidence presented – isn’t it time for you to update your blog and provide us with a conclusion to your original question? Just who is right?

  34. simon

    “I think it is entirely possible that this was an honest mistake, not deceit – who’s with me?”

    Oh purlease. At least have the guts to admit it when you’re using deliberate cynicism and propaganda to make your political opponents look silly.

  35. Rob

    “Just for the record, Left Foot Forward has never claimed that Spain was a G20 country. We’ve only pointed out that they are very keen to be a member and have attended several meetings.”

    What the buggery sod as that got to do with anything? I’m very keen to be in the Sugababes.

  36. Straws in the wind? « Bage Blog

    […] Alistair Darling has no wriggle room, and Britain’s refusal to join the rest of the G20 (and, depending on your view, Spain) in the sunlit uplands of economic growth might see the fightback choked off before […]

  37. John Moss

    “You can’t spend your way out of recession”. G Brown, Labour Party Conference 29 September 1997

  38. John Moss

    Cameron’s “mistake” was to say Government funding for the school came from scheme “A”, when actually it came from scheme “B”. So pedants amongst us ought to be just as worked up about Brown’s mistake about the G20 membership.

    Personally, I am concerned that an organisation charged with sorting out the economic mess calls itself the “G-20” yet only has 19 members. (I don’t count the EU as it has no legal status – oh, hang on…..)

  39. Harman Misleads the House - Guy Fawkes' blog

    […] the last member country in the recession. As Guido comprehensively pointed out and even the left conceded was correct, Spain is not in the […]

  40. Sam

    I am perfectly willing to accept it was an honest mistake. I mean, if you see a country represented at G-20 events often enough and they are a large western European country (rather than, say, Ethiopia), it is not unreasonable that Gordon forgot they were not a G-20 member. But for the love of all things, now that it has been shown they are not in the G-20 just OWN UP TO IT. Most people who watch PMQ’s know it is a bearpit and sometimes people make mistakes during the debate. Accept it was a mistake, apologise, and move on!

  41. Tim Johnson

    Sign the petition lets get Spain into the G20!

  42. Tim Johnson

    In response to the point that Gordon should apologise and move on, his problem is that he doesn’t do apologies, until he is absolutely forced to. It does him a lot of damage.

  43. Ned

    This obsession with getting GB to apologise is insane. It’s like none of you know anything about politics?

    This obsession with recession is equally silly.

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