Magazine article Public Finance

Man with a Plan?

Magazine article Public Finance

Man with a Plan?

Article excerpt

Responsibility was the name of game at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham. Out went the Bollinger, triumphal ism and, belatedly, the cardboard cut-outs of David Miliband clutching a banana. In came sobriety and statesmanlike speeches about 'putting aside our differences' to save the nation from economic meltdown.

Responsibility, said a very serious David Cameron, was for him 'the most important word'. And how could it be otherwise, in a week of more banking collapses, a stalled US bail-out scheme - and Gordon Brown edging ahead as the leader most, trusted to manage us through a financial crisis?

Eager to rebut the 'novice charge, Team Cameron has come up with an economic rescue plan and some Churchillian soundbites about backing the government in its hour of need. But the details do not bear close scrutiny.

Parliament, unlike the US Congress, does not require bi-partisan support for emergency measures to tackle the banking crisis. Cameron's pledge was pure showmanship.

Meanwhile, a proposed Office for Budget Responsibility (that R word again) is meant to curb 'spendaholic tendencies and forestall future booms and busts.

It s a neat idea in theory. But what difference a purely advisory body would have made under the current circumstances is debatable - as is the desirability of looking to unclcctcd experts for a panacea for the ills of casino capitalism'. …

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