Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Labour's rewritten history of the Northern Rock saga

It's happened again. Gordon Brown in Prime Minister's Questions today attacked the Tories for their failure to support nationalisation of Northern Rock. The Tories got it wrong - that's Labour's message. Actually they are right on that. The Tories repeatedly got it wrong on Northern Rock as they had a different policy on different days on what to do with the failing bank. Indeed, they often had different positions on the same day.

But Labour posturing on Northern Rock overlooks the fact that they ineptly let the bank drift through the crisis for four months before events forced their hand and they nationalised the company. Vince Cable was the first to call for nationalisation. The proposal was put forward by the Liberal Democrats in December 2007 in the Commons. This brought a hysterical response from some Labour MPs in the North East who came close to accusing Lib Dems of eating babies for breakfast because of our call to nationalise Northern Rock.

Blaydon Labour MP Dave Anderson said in the debate, "The Liberal Democrats have come forward with proposals that they think will grab a headline. We are used to that. The people of the north-east will see through what they are doing and will not forgive them for it."

Now Labour claims they led the fight to nationalise the bank in the teeth of opposition from the Conservatives. Such posturing overlooks the fact that Tories and Labour we dithering in bed together on this issue for 4 months before Labour abandoned their hostility to nationalisation, and a large number of Labour MPs had to eat their words, along with a large helping of humble pie.

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