Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A rude awakening

The first voice I heard this morning was Neil Kinnock's. What a nasty shock! It's only the first day of the election campaign. I shall be voting Labour, for some complex reasons related to it being the party founded by the trade unions, even though that relationship is in an advanced state of decomposition.

However, or perhaps because of that, I loathe New Labour, and people like Kinnock set us on the road of "reforming" the Labour Party and gutting it of its democratic structures.

John Humphrys gave Kinnock a deserved hard time on Radio 4's "Today" programme. You can hear it here. After five minutes and a lot of waffle about personalities (yawn) there is a priceless section on New Labour's approach to the economy. Kinnock blows a lot of hot air, but cannot avoid the accusation that Brown's slavish devotion to unregulated free markets has helped to lead us to the economic mess we are in now.

I've transcribed the exchange below:
John Humphrys: ...when a man says to the nation, there will be no boom and bust and then effectively denies that he actually said that, and that is precisely what we get, we get boom and a spectacular bust, people are entitled to say ‘hang on a minute’...

Neil Kinnock: Do you think it started here, John?

JH: Oh, yeah, let me tell you why it did. Because what Gordon Brown did was encourage the boom here, he encouraged unbridled lending and borrowing, didn’t he?

NK: I remember those years of what you call unbridled borrowing and lending and we all know the result.

JH: Yes, a boom, an unsustainable boom.

NK: Other than Vince Cable, can you name me one single politician that was warning that it was going to end in tears and that therefore governments should have been retrenching since the early years of this century? You cannot find one, and you know very well that the borrowing and the lending were part of the experience that this and several other countries had; in our case, in the longest sustained period of economic growth in the whole of British economic history.

JH: It was a long sustained period of economic growth because it was built in part on sand... he didn’t at any time worry about that. He didn’t even include the price of houses in inflation rates. House prices were raging away, he didn’t offer the mildest note of caution about that; he didn’t offer any caution when private debt passed a trillion pounds for the first time; he didn’t offer any note of caution to the City, he said ‘take more risks’.

NK: We know what happened, we can examine it in detail, it would be ridiculous to hold an individual, a Chancellor or Prime Minister, responsible for the collapse of global capitalism, which was based on an utter miscalculation and a great deal of hubris in the operation of the market economy.

Now, I’m sure Gordon Brown will take whatever share of responsibility that comes with that. But it is absurd to suggest that this monumental change in the whole context of global economics is related or attributable to the economic policies of Gordon Brown which did bring us those years, which brought sustained growth and will again restore sustained growth...

JH: So you are telling me that Gordon Brown’s unsustainable boom was not even related to where we find ourselves today?

NK: I didn’t say that. I said, first, he will take the share of responsibility properly due to him, not exaggerated. And, secondly, it would be utterly absurd to attribute all that has happened in the global economy in the last two years or so to the policies when Chancellor of the Exchequer or when Prime Minister.

JH: That’s a straw dog. I didn’t say that.

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