A few years ago when the Conservatives were stuck in the low 30s in the polls it became fashionable for the party hierarchy to try to copy everything Blair had said and done in the late 1990s when he was so popular. It did not work as a strategy, for people thought to themselves if even the Conservatives think Blair is right we might as well stick with him, or abstain from voting as there is no real choice. Subsequently it emerged that Blair had wasted his golden economic legacy and frittered his high standing with the public in the early years.
Now that Labour are wallowing in the mid 20s in the polls they are following a different strategy – hitting out against the Conservatives. It is an even more absurd strategy than the old Tory one. They create the Aunt Sally of a Conservative government, as if some parallel government existed in the UK, and then condemn it. Hence this weekend we are treated to the criticism that David Cameron has not done enough for single parents! How can David Cameron do anything for anyone, as he is Leader of the Opposition, unable to win a single vote in the Commons?
Labour figures on TV and radio programmes must also have been briefed to criticise the Conservatives for calling for an end to mortgage regulation. This according to the BBC and Labour Ministers is proof we are unfit for office. Clearly none of them who make this criticism have either read the Policy Report from which a single sentence has been extracted, nor have they any serious interest in trying to sort the unholy mess in the money and mortgage markets which they have created on their watch.
The Policy Report was a serious contribution to the debate about how to regulate and supervise markets. It warned that the removal of powers from the Bank of England would leave the Bank unable to handle a banking crisis, as time has proved to be true. It recommended giving the Bank the necessary powers to control markets in times of easy credit, and to make more liquidity available at times of stress, the very things this government has failed to do. It went on to say that this government’s extra mortgage regulations which they introduced were all cost and no benefit, as again time has proven. If their mortgage regulations had worked we would not now be facing too many people with negative equity struggling to pay the mortgage.
This was a balanced report. It said where we needed to strengthen control – in the money markets where huge mistakes were being made – and where we could cut out needless costs where regulation meant bureaucracy but no grip on the underlying risks and dangers. The events of the last year have more than vindicated the analysis of our Report. We warned that things had been too lax and were now too tight. We warned about sloppy public finance, and the lack of Central Bank power to handle credit creation and money issues.
Labour’s deliberate misrepresentations of this Report just make them look silly. Their technique of bashing the Tories may get them through a party conference, but it will not wash with the electorate. Voters expect them to grapple with this crisis and come up with some answers. This crisis was not caused by a single line in Conservative Report. It was caused by Brown’s bungled reforms of the Bank of England and by the way the world regulatory system was regulating the wrong things in the wrong way.