Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Did Gordon Know and When Did He Know It?

Gordon Brown was like a slippery eel on Marr this morning. When asked what he knew about Northern Rock and when did he know it he slithered and slid like his life depended on it. Is it really conceivable that he didn't know months ago there was a problem with Northern Rock? Surely the Treasury was informed that a comparatively small building society had collared a fifth of the UK mortgage market by using dubious credit practices. According to today's Sunday Times they are still at it, lending people six times their earnings. Why can't (or won't) Gordon Brown given an honest answer to a simple question.

Interesting to note four Labour 'sleaze' stories in the papers today. Three of them involve the taxpayer footing the bill...

Mail on Sunday: Ed Balls & Yvette Cooper exploit seocnd homes loophole to claim thousands from the taxpaper.
Sunday Telegraph: Former Brown aide Nicola Murphy part of a company charging £181,000 to clients for services including tour of Number Ten & photo with Gordon Brown
Independent on Sunday: Taxpayer to foot Labour Party legal bill over Cash for Honours
Sunday Times: John Hutton's wife accused over lobbying for contracts at her husband's department.


Anonymous said...

GB's previous parliamentary diary sec - Nicola Murphy - is also Nicola Leslie married to former ODPM Minister Chris Leslie (Minister at time of firefighters strike), who lost his seat in 2005 when Nicola was campaign manager. Chris Leslie is now desperately vying for his former bosses old seat in Hull East

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the Balls' got their mortgage from Northern Rock.

Anonymous said...

A lot on Andrew Pelling too, thats one seat Labour will win on October the 25th, sure u agree Iain!

Like to comment on Andrew's behaviour?

Chris said...

The nulab stooge Marr will let Brown get away with murder.
Give the show to Andrew Neil.

Anonymous said...

Funny how The Times, FT and The Economist have all mentioned that Brown went AWOL for several days, cue for cryptic comments about McCavity...

Such silence and unavailability is a novel way to restore confidence in the markets. Strange how Brown found time to attend the rigged 'conference' on the NHS in Brum.

Northern Rock shares have been sliding steadily for most of the year, although the FTSE 100 had been rising.

The BofE has disclosed that support for NR has reached £3bn, but there again the FSA didn't seem to notice that NR had been lending agressively over the last six months.

Time to look for southward movements on NR shares tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

It's no surprise that there's a lot of New Labour sleaze stories around, they are an arrogant bunch of spivs on the make after all.

What is rather more surprising is the stunning silence from the Conservative opposition on this issue.

How different from Mandelson and Campbell's highly effective campaign against the major Government in the late nineties.

Doesn't Cameron want to win the next election for fear that coming economic meltdown may render it a poisoned chalice?

Anonymous said...

WE have got so used to these types of BBC covered-up shenanigans that one more government inspired financial corruption scam is almost boring.

Mainly because WE know Cameron dare not say a Dicky Bird about it and the public do not give a damn as long as their tax credits keep hitting their personal bank account.

Anonymous said...

Not many people really care, they are just happy that they can now go back to putting their heads in the sand, deluding themselves that everyone can keep running around with a fistful of credit cards until the end of time.

Yak40 said...

"the stunning silence from the Conservative opposition on this issue."

... and every other issue of any importance.

They've got ten year's worth of Labour screwups to use as ammo but all we hear about is parking fees in the supermarket and similar idiotic ideas.

Anonymous said...

Why can't (or won't) Gordon Brown given an honest answer to a simple question?

That's up there with "Why can't (or won't) Mugabe allow free and fair elections?"

Unsworth said...

"Why can't (or won't) Gordon Brown given an honest answer to a simple question"

At first I thought it was something contagious that all senior NuLab politicos seemed to catch. Now I'm more of the view that in Brown's case it is actually congenital.

It could be some sort of endogenous growth, of course. But I'm afraid there is no known remedy or antidote...

Ted Foan said...

Where the hell is Coulson?
I presume, even as I am asleep, he is masterminding a Conservative media onslaught on Gordon Brown minutes after he speaks at the NuLabour/Old Labour/Inclusive Party/Socialist/Focus Group Party conference on Monday?

If not, why not? Wake up Andy! You're time has come!

Anonymous said...

It's not as if GB is a personal friend of the NR Risk Committee Chairperson or something.

Anonymous said...

My observations on the economic questions in this interview are:

Marr: “We know they got it wrong because we know there was a U turn.” Brown ignored this comment and tried to change the subject by referring to the 80 and 90s and added “we now have low interest rates.”

The facts on interest rates instead of the spin are: when Brown became Chancellor after the 1997 General Election he inherited a Bank Rate of 6% and so after 10 years as Chancellor the current 5.75% represents a huge decrease of 0.25%!. In the 4 years prior to the 1997 Election Bank Rate had fluctuated relatively narrowly - between 5.25% and 6.75%. In the first 4 years after the election it fluctuated slightly more (5.5% - 7.5%).

Marr then asked again about the Bank of England’s U turn and in response Brown praised Mervyn King profusely. However when asked if he would be reappointed he ducked the question and just said “that’s a matter for ……..”

Perhaps he didn’t finish the sentence as he suddenly realised it was a matter for him or his Chancellor, which probably comes to the same thing.

Marr then asked about the Northern Rock management: “So far none of the senior people in charge (at Northern Rock) have gone. Would you like to see some heads roll?

True to form Brown ducked this question and so Marr followed up with: “You don’t think anything went wrong?” To which Brown amazingly answered “No”.

So now we know that queues outside Northern Rock branches were always part of the plan to save Northern Rock. Perhaps the idea was to save the bank but destroy as much shareholder value as possible in the process!

Marr asked again about the Bank of England’s U turn, this time with success. Marr: “There was a U turn?”. Brown responded: “Yes, but I just look at it this way….”

Marr then moved on to the wider economy and said: “We have £1.4 trillion of private debt, which has happened on your watch. Do you accept any responsibility for the fact that we are such an indebted society?” Brown’s reply was: “That is because large numbers of people have been able to take mortgages and buy their homes for the first time.” Marr interjected: “and buy other things with mortgages too”. To which Brown responded: “But hold on, that is a good thing, not a bad thing.” He claimed that nearly 2m more people had become home owners since 1997 and again claimed that we have relatively low interest rates.

Fact: according to Hansard, in response to a question on 26 June this year from Mr Pickles, Yvette Cooper (the Housing Minister) gave detailed figures for the number of homeowners in England in the 10 years to 2006 and these showed an increase of only 1.1million, an average increase of 110,000 p.a., with the number actually falling in 2006. This compares with an increase of 4 million in the 18 years of the previous Tory rule, an average increase of 222,000 p.a., or double the figure brown was boasting about.

Brown then claimed “It was because the Government of the day was not good enough in dealing with these problems, was lax in dealing with these problems, that we had these repossessions and we had negative equity.

He is on firmer ground here as repossessions and negative equity were clearly a major problem in the first half of the 1990s, with repossessions peaking at 75,500 in 1991. However, his recent record here is nothing to boast about as, according to the CML, repossessions increased by 184% in the two years to 2006 and this trend is continuing, with the increase in the first half of 2007 compared to the first half of 2004 being over 350%. Repossessions this year will almost certainly be in excess of 30,000 and next year’s higher still.

He added “I do remember that in 1992 the person standing next to Norman Lamont is (sic) the current leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, who was the political adviser to Norman Lamont at that time.

Fact: The Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) fiasco was a humiliation for the Conservative Government, which was effectively forced to leave the ERM by a run on sterling, but nevertheless the decision to escape from the ERM in September 1992 was the right one and so if Cameron advised Lamont to do that he deserves to be congratulated, not pilloried. The adviser who should be castigated is whoever advised the then Chancellor, John Major, to join the ERM in October 1990!

Anonymous said...

Its always interesting to come back and read the postsafter the dust has settled. Well Northern Rock what a mess that was, we are still dealing with the fall out. Or otherwise known as Northern Rock orphans.