|The UK under Gordon Brown|
Hmmm....I don't think we should let go unchallanged these assertions made about Gordon Brown in the new damian McBride book. If only becuase they show the usual one-eyed perspective expected of an apparatchik. Apprently Brown as amazing during the 2008 crisis because he managed to discuss getting troops on the street. Not only that but he was allegedly very clam with other world leaders and showed good leadership during the time of crisis.
How exactly did this crisis come about? As my colleague Nick Drew described eloquently last week, the banking crisis started in early 2007 and really kicked off when Northern Rock went under in the middle of 2007. Its peak was in October 2008. What did Brown and everyone else do for a year whilst the banks went under. Where were the stress tests and emergency capital calls that could have saved RBS or HBOS or indeed any of the other mutuals that went under. Or where was the preparation to allow the banks to fail whilst preserving the banking system and the deposits of small retail customers? No this was the time for great rhetoric from Mr Darling in hte 2008 Budget; he spoke of 'this other Eden' and about the opportunities that awaited the UK. Even in the teeth of the Financial Crisis there was to be a budget surplus in 201 and growth prediced at 2.25%.
It is hard now, just 5 years later but with so much having happened, to remember just how absolutely delusional the Government was at the time, not even realising there was a crisis until September 2008 and then being left with no alternative but to take over the bust banks which it had encouraged through the noughties to lend money and not worry about that pesky regulator or commercial reality. Tax income was too important for that.
Even in the crisis to say that Brown of Darling were statesmanlike is laughable. They knew nothing until the crisis was upon them and then had to make obvious decisions in the space of a few hours. Where was Brown counselling Bush against letting Lehmans fail or stopping the Wall Street domino crash of investment banks?
Nowhere to be seen, that's where.
They were worrying instead about how to reverse the 10p tax gimmick that had gone wrong. Worrying about whether the current budget was Green enough for Polly Toynbee.
That's where there were busy.
Could any Government have avoided the terrible crisis we have endured, probably not, could it have been handled much better than it was? Certainly. Idiotic scorched earth policies like 50% tax rates show how important political points scoring was over economic reality and also how they were happy to predict a future of easy growth to justify their vast over-spend ahead of what was obviously going to become a huge recession.
Leadership? Bravery? Do me favour. It's a horrific episode in our history that will scar the Country for the rest of my lifetime. Brown and Darling should be arrested for treason.
Finally, let's nto forget that at the heart of this Government, giving advice and inside the small cabal, were Edi Milliband and Ed Balls, the men who will likley be in charge to create the next economic crisis.