Gordon Brown was the key architect of Britain’s collapse into the Depression of 2010. True, the UK was programmed into the boom/bust cycle before he became head of the Treasury. But he could have reformed the tax regime to prevent the country being sucked into the financial vortex. He failed abjectly. And now, he seeks to resurrect his reputation by pontificating on how the world should save itself from the global crisis.
Brown was a big spender. His inflated idea of his own competence is based on policies that raised government spending from 38% to 47% of GDP. Using other people’s money, he could craft complex policies (many of which did not deliver) that disguised the levels of poverty that blight society. Poverty rates did come down, but only because the number of people who became dependents on the state went up.
Now, in Beyond the Crash (Simon & Schuster), Brown re-launches his crusade to save the world. It is this kind of megalomania that renders democracy a dangerous doctrine.
Brown censures the bankers for their “chronic recklessness powered by unchecked greed”. But how much more reckless can you get than Brown in his 10 years in the Treasury as head of one of the world’s G7 economies, who was alerted about the timing and scale of the downturn in the year that he came into office? I wrote to him and his colleagues in government in 1997. That story is now told in 2010: The Inquest.
The Blessings of Joseph Stiglitz
You can understand that Brown would want to cover up his domestic policy failures. But why is he eulogised in the Financial Times (December 12) by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz? His verdict is that “Brown knew what needed to be done and tried to do it at a time when others were paralysed, captured by the financial community”.
Brown was also paralysed by his obsequious respect for the high financiers in the City of London. Regulation of banks, he pronounced, would take the form of the “light touch”. Outcome: the unchecked greed that Brown now castigates.
But Brown and the other failed politicians will continue to escape censure for so long as economists like Stiglitz continue to draw a veil over the root causes of the land-led property boom/busts.