Sunday, February 24, 2008


Phew!........It'sNo Black Wednesday

A few days ago I expressed the hope that Northern Rock being nationalised would not amount to Labour's 'Black Wednesday; Andrew Rawnsley today demolishes
the Tory case that it is. Naturally, Cameron and Osbourne have been desperate to stick this damning label on the government's handling of the crisis and to emerge, maybe, with the prestigious scalp of Alistair Darling. Such an outcome would depend on voters' perceptions of the crisis and we discover from the Economist poll that this is not the case.

According to this, only 5% blame the government while over 40% rate government actions from 'fair' to 'good'. Only 20% reckoned the Conservatives could have handled it any better and some 60% saw the Tory criticisms as merely 'playing politics'.

It's quite reassuring to discover that the public can see through the spin surrounding this issue and spot that this is no Old Labour 'nationalisation'; the government is extremely keen to off load this extra responsibility as soon as it can painlessly do so. It is also the case that, while Black Wednesday cost taxpayers billions of pounds, the Rock has not yet had to call upon monies merely made available. Even the apparent 'dithering' by Brown-Darling over the decision can now be seen as determination to exhaust every avenue in the search for a private buyer.

There is still much rocky terrain to negotiate before this crisis can be said to be over- one thinks of those share-holders claiming huge compensation and bogging things down in legal action. But, amazingly, considering his position just before Christmas, Brown seems to escaped the worst of the political damage and his attempts to re-establish his credentials for good government and sound economic management, can continue. As for the Tories, they have to search anew for that elusive knock-out blow and reflect that their poll ratings are nowhere near what they need at this stage, to stand any real chance of winning the next election. Phew!

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