Place Not Your Trust in Gordon Brown ; Financial Markets in Disarray, Greedy Banks, Pensions Chaos: Why Isn't David Cameron Laying the Blame at the PM's Door
Watkins, Alan, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
There is now a clear division between two branches of my trade or profession. Perhaps it has always been there, but in the last week the separation has become more pronounced. I refer to the respective occupations of political correspondent and economic (or City) correspondent.
These days they are all called "editors" rather than correspondents. This was a result of a wheeze designed to evade a pay policy imposed by Edward Heath in his early days as Prime Minister.
It makes no odds. They do not edit anything but are given a title instead. The difference is that, on the whole (for naturally there are exceptions in both directions), the economic editors think that matters are quite serious for the Government, or may become serious; whereas for the political editors, there could not be a cloud in the whole of Mr Gordon Brown's universe.
One script, the first, reads as follows: cheap credit, mountain of debt. Smoke-and-mirrors, lack of regulation, City greed, pensions up the spout, mortgages up, crash round the corner, recession looms, all Gordon Brown's fault.
The other script, the handiwork of the political editors - or it was, before most of them went off on holiday - depicts Mr Brown as the most reassuring Prime Minister since... well, since Sir John Major in his first phase, before he won the election against Labour in 1992. What people forget, or what they choose not to remember, is that the election having been won, the country was then promptly expelled from the European Monetary System.
You might imagine that Mr David Cameron and Mr George Osborne would have warned us of the storms and waves that lay ahead. Place not your trust in Gordon Brown: that should have been the message for these febrile times. Widows were being deprived of their pensions, or soon would be; while, the autumn closing in, orphans were being cast out of their dwellings by the rapacity of the banks and the heartlessness of the building societies.
In the meantime, millionaires in their battleship-sized yachts were enjoying the fruits of their manipulations as a consequence of having thrown thousands of honest Tories out of work by means of nefarious financial practices of one sort or another.
It was all Mr Brown's fault. Or, if it was not entirely his fault, he had certainly done nothing to bring to an end those dubious financial devices which were at the bottom of our present troubles. And yet, as far as I know, neither Mr Cameron nor Mr Osborne has said a critical word about the financial excesses of the recent past.
I couple the two because Mr Osborne is supposed to be Mr Cameron's friend and he is Shadow Chancellor. Indeed, he appears to occupy the position he does simply because of his relationship with the young leader. There can be no other plausible explanation for his elevation.
Presumably Mr Kenneth Clarke has had enough of frontbench politics. I have not spoken to him recently but merely waved to him in a friendly fashion across a crowded room. It would certainly be understandable if he were fed up with the Tories. But he remains the only candidate who is able to trouble Mr Brown.
There is certainly nothing wrong with resurrecting figures from that darkest of dark ages, the day before yesterday. Mr Cameron's defect is that he has a knack of choosing the wrong people to bring back to life.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Place Not Your Trust in Gordon Brown ; Financial Markets in Disarray, Greedy Banks, Pensions Chaos: Why Isn't David Cameron Laying the Blame at the PM's Door. Contributors: Watkins, Alan - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: August 19, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.