PM's question time: Gordon Brown in Dublin to promote new book

Sat, Dec 11, 2010, 00:00

CUTTING FUNDING for education made no sense at the moment as it was one of the things that could help Europe move out of recession, former British prime minister Gordon Brown said last night in Dublin.

Mr Brown was addressing more than 200 students at Trinity College’s Historical Society. The society awarded him the gold medal for “outstanding contribution to public discourse”.

His comments come at a time when protests against an increase in third-level fees are taking place both in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

He told the students that in order to grow out of the current recession, developed countries needed to build smart economies to supply emerging new markets in the east.

“There has been an irreversible shift away from Europe and America. For 200 years the reality has been that it has produced and consumed the majority of goods and services. In 2010, we see for the first time the rest of the world outproducing it.”

Mr Brown said he was an optimist, however. A billion people would soon become middle class and would want to use their new-found purchasing power to buy more goods.

“It will open up markets for us,” he said, a prediction that, if correct, meant that cuts to education now could make Europe “the losers in the new world”.

The core message in Mr Brown’s talk was that greater global co-operation was needed in tackling economic issues.

Looking out solely for one’s own national interests encouraged “a race to the bottom”, he said.