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RECORD VIEW; Cool hand on wheel.

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown's public image is grim and often gloomy. Not so - he is grinning happily in the middle of a storm.

Seventeen months ago, he and Labour promised us things could only get better. And, despite being battered and buffeted by world events, he obviously still believes that.

The Chancellor's optimism may not be shared by everybody. But the fact that he can be so confident is a vindication of last year's tough decisions on public spending.

His cautious handling of the economy has produced a surprise surplus and a few unexpected winter warmers - especially for those who deserve them - in the fairer treatment for the disabled and new minimum incomes for pensioners and poorer families.

Questions can be asked about some of the Chancellor's other bonuses.

His pounds 250million winter windfall for the NHS is welcome - but is it enough? Last winter, hospitals were in trouble despite an even bigger hand- out. And what we need is a health service that can cope with a harsh winter without emergency help.

Will a pounds 50 cut in Vehicle Excise Duty really make well-off gas-guzzlers switch to smaller cars?

Above all, how can those who have lost jobs or whose jobs are under threat from the world recession share the Chancellor's confidence?

Brown's performance has reduced the Tories to sour-grapes sniping. But where would we be if the Tories were still in charge during the world crisis?

Answer - in a lot worse mess and with nothing to grin about.

Price of peace

GUARDSMEN Mark Wright and Jim Fisher have paid a heavy enough price for the tragic shooting of unarmed teenager Peter McBride.

They were young soldiers who made an error of judgement while doing a difficult job in a tense and hate- filled situation. Many believe the six years they served was more than enough.

Cold-blooded sectarian murderers have been released and allowed to return to their previous lives - yet any suggestion of similar treatment for Wright and Fisher has always created furore.

Now they are being allowed to stay in the Army, it is understandable that Peter McBride's family should be shocked and unhappy. No more so than hundreds of other bereaved families who have seen terrorist killers walk free.

Reconciliation means all those trapped in the Northern Ireland tragedy should be allowed to get on with their lives.

The reel thing

TIN-EARED education chiefs have hit a sour note by dropping the accordion from school music exams.

It is a betrayal of Scottish culture. Ceilidhs, country dances, Mods, weddings, the White Heather Club and countless broadcasts wouldn't be worth a "hooch" without the squeeze-box, .

Don't they know the accordion is The Reel Thing?
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 4, 1998
Words:446
Previous Article:YOUR GOOD HEALTH, GORDON; pounds 250m more for the NHS; Crackdown on sickies; pounds 50 tax cut for cleaner cars; Every worker pounds 66 better off.
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