The missing Chancellor

Last week the Opposition wanted to use one of their days to choose the business of the House to have a debate on the economy. They were told the Chancellor was not available.

They agreed to debate something else, and to debate the economy today instead. The Chancellor I hear still refuses to come.

Meanwhile, today is the chosen day to feed to the media the dreadful news of the Staffordshire NHS.

If the government is really proud of “doing what it takes” to tackle the economic crisis why will it not do what it takes to put the message across in the Commons? And why is it so reluctant for their conduct of economic policy to lead the news today?

I have been sitting by my phone waiting for the BBC invitation to give an interview on the state of the economy, but so far it hasn’t rung!

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19 Comments

  1. Ian Jones
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I also see that the Chancellor is coming around to the view he needs “another bailout” of the economy. Nothing to do with an election or the fact the last bailout has been given all of 3 months to work.

    I hope he comes out to play soon because there are a lot of questions that need answers and the British people are worried we have a lunatic in charge.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Clearly HM’s Official Opposition is being treated with complete contempt by this Government. This comes as no surprise to me as I have warned before that they will use whatever tactic they are allowed to “get away with” to cling on to power. Clearly they think they can “get away with” this and they will unless you DO something to stop them. It is the Opposition’s responsibility to hold Governments to account, particularly one as rotten as this, and you need more determination to achieve this than has so far been displayed. Do ineffective Oppositions make good Governments?

  3. a-tracy
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The Labour party seems to forget that they rule for all the people not just the people that voted them into power. Some communities wanted conservative representatives, some wanted Liberal Democrat representatives, the Chancellor needs to make time to discuss their economic plans and debate properly the solutions with all our representatives.

    They forget the rule of ‘what goes around comes around’, if they continue to change the courtesies of the house when they are in opposition there would be justification in playing the same game – very silly – they should be using all of the MPs ideas to get us out of this pit of despair.

    As for the BBC, have ITV, C4, or SKY news asked you or George Osborne to comment recently?

  4. Acorn
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Assuming the debate is on the Parliament Channel, Redwoodians should arm themselves with a down-load of the IFS GREEN BUDGET: JANUARY 2009. (See following link)

    You can then shout loads of expletive loaded questions at the tethered goat the Chancellor will deploy to not answer those questions. Chapters 6 and 7 particularly.

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    David Cameron, or George Osborne, or somebody else in the Tory Treasury team, should be able to get on TV and make a lot of noise about this; but first they have to stop wasting airtime on relatively trivial matters – eg Goodwin’s pension, freezing the BBC licence fee for one year – and start talking seriously and intelligently about the major economic issues.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Denis, I agree that taking key news time yesterday to discuss a licence fee freeze was wasteful, however, although Goodwin seems to you to be trivial, I’m of the school of thought that says if you look after the pennies the pounds look after themselves or the New York school of thought that one shouldn’t overlook small offences. As small infringements that are ignored can lead to larger problems later on.

      The previous RBS Directors have behaved appallingly in my opinion and as my private pension was invested in their bank amongst others I don’t want a blind eye turning. We should pursue the old directors and Goodwin through legal channels for their decisions at the end of their contracts (words left out) and they were still responsible to the old shareholders for the guardianship of the assets when they took these decisions (on remuneration and pensions-ed).

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        I’m of the opposite school of thought, which says that if you have limited time and energy (or in this case, media attention and airtime) it’s better to look after the pounds and let the pennies look after themselves.

        In this case, ballpark figures for the cost per average taxpayer:

        Goodwin’s pension: 80 pence, tops

        BBC licence increase: 150 pence

        “Asset Protection Scheme”: up to £15,000

        • a-tracy
          Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          The problem with this approach, and I do see the point you are making, is that it gives the wrong impression to those few people who created the larger problems in the first place. If we had kept tighter controls on the pennies, in that I mean the individuals in charge of the banks and large corporations, they’d have thought twice about making the decisions which benefited themselves over the shareholders. If the consequences of their actions, as alan jutson mentions below, aren’t worth the effort to sue then this cycle will continue forever.

          We’ve seen the same thing at our local Council with people serving just three to five years being retired early at council taxpayers’ expense rather than reallocate them to the new authority. We have to deal with this now to stop others in the future.

          If the repurcions to the individuals concerned would have led to their personal financial hardship, fines or imprisonment, I believe they would not have been so frivolous with the assets under their guardianship.

          How do you expect to look after the pounds when we leave the very same set of people in place knowing they have no responsibility for the consequences of their actions and a bumper payout whatever happens?

          On the Asset Protection Scheme I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why George Osborne isn’t making a song and dance of it, unless he would have to do the same thing, what could be done instead?

      • alan jutson
        Posted March 18, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        You will be wasting your time in legal fees.

        Equitable life attempted to sue the ex board of Directors, and after spending “loadsamoney” on legal fees they decided it would not be worth the effort.

  6. Jason
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    unemployment over 2 mill and wildly optimistic growth numbers (and the implied subsequent revenue shortfalls) must have the chancellor in his bunker preparing some bunkum to droll out to the masses trying to hang onto his every word and their wallets at the same time. Sterling weakness is giving you the market view of this nonsense. Targeting asset prices (maintaining a fictitious market) whilst leveraging the country’s balance sheet and international credibility/feasibility/viability to do so is a lunatic policy that can only lead to disaster. Bernanke made some more upbeat statements about the end of the recession being in sight, however a common inside joke in Japan in the 90s was that the BOJ had predicted 9 out of the last zero recoveries….as Mark Twain said, history doesn’t repeat – but it does rhyme.

  7. Michael
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    John

    What about an early day motion calling on the BBC to invite you for an interview on the state of the economy?

    Would you like me to orchestrate a campaign with standard text in emails and on postcards to be sent to our MPs?

    🙂

    Reply Nice one. It’s a funny old world – the BBC are coming to interview me Friday for Monday on how to sort out the banks

    • Michael
      Posted March 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Great news – will be looking out for the broadcast.

      Please consider pointing out that the fact that there are countries whose banks are not in dire trouble (for example Canada and South Africa) demolishes Gordon’s Brown’s spin that, because the whole world has a problem, he is totally blameless.

      I am sure that you will also point out that the biggest problem with the financial industry is lack of transparency, or asymmetry of information available to the industry on the one hand and the regulators and general public on the other. So, the main remedial action is not heavier regulation, but fairer access to the relevant information on risks. We need a believable, reliable risk rating.

  8. patently
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely the right message, but in the wrong place.

    Don’t tell us bloggers; don’t wait for the BBC to call you. Get out there and shout it. Invite the BBC to a press conference. Tell them this. Make a fuss!

    Reply: I use what outlets I can to get my message across, and will be repeating it this afternoon in the Commons if called.

  9. Not an Economist
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    “I have been sitting by my phone waiting for the BBC invitation to give an interview on the state of the economy, but so far it hasn’t rung!”

    Yes well they have been far too busy interviewing the entire Labour Cabinet in psycophantic interviews on programmes like the Andrew Marr Show. Obviously they don’t want to stop the govt getting its message (but no one elses) across …

  10. no one
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    you should see what the medical blogs are saying about the A & E, saying there are plenty more examples etc, if the conservatives cannot gain the high ground on this I really wonder about their strategy

    the public know the nhs is a shambles they want some fixes

    and not just support for the status quo

    more power to the patients, turn the nhs into a state back insurance company owning no providers of care, give the patients cheques to spend where they choose

  11. adam
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Have you received a free DVD yet.
    If they bribe you with Tory Tory Tory you might forget all about your phone.
    Still, they’ll probably give you something by their uber hero Dickens about heartless conservatism in the Victorian world. Just a guess.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    He is not available because he is waiting for his new calculator.
    The old one does not have enough spaces for the huge numbers needed to calculate the Countrys actual debt.

    That is why he cannot give you an answer yet, he does not yet know the figures.

    When he does find out he may faint, lets hope he is near a hospital, but for his sake, not Mid Staffs.
    Although they tick all the right boxes I am told.

  13. mikestallard
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I would very much like to know the simple answers to the following two questions:

    1. Exactly how much debt have the government incurred? I would like the bank liabilities, PFIs, pensions as well as all the guaranteed spending commitments factored in here.
    2. How do they intend to pay it all off?

    Silly me! We will have to wait for the budget for all that.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The scandal is that you won’t find out then either.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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