Brown’s multi -billion fightback strategy

All the talk of “Brown must go” has such as stale flavour about it, as the Labour party conference begins in Manchester. Brown Fightback Begins has more guts about it somehow – I’d hate to see that great clunking bruiser, so subdued of late, give up without a touch of the George Foreman’s. A strategy is emerging – to throw hundred of billions in emergency bank lending and appear on top of the crisis. This is what governments have done in such circumstances from time immemorial. It diminishes the critics if not the criticism. Politicians keep bemoaning their disconnection from the real world but so much of what they do simply widens it – and widens it as much as the latest gap between Labour and the Conservatives, now a whopping 28 points. A majority of Labour party members, never a breed who risk putting their feet on the ground too often, also want Brown to quit. The real world this week is of course agog at the financial crisis, which is now Gordon’s Best Hope. Martin Kettle of the Guardian a columnist who takes a broader view than most, has the thought I’ve been struggling to formulate all week “ The political impact of the financial earthquake has barely made itself felt yet. After all, if this latest economic crunch frightens voters into demanding an experienced hand at the helm then – who knows? – we might even be on the verge of a Brown recovery. Or of a national government.”Can the man “who led us into this,” lead us out? He’s started already, his role in the Hbos survival and a City clean-up is being spun already. With wonderful gall, he is portraying himself as the same old “fairness for all” Gordon in an article in the Guardian. But back in the netherworld of politics, the Cabinet are starting to hedge their bets. Jack Straw admitting he’s been approached, Alan Johnson prepared to stand aside for favourite son ( though not the unions’ ) David Miliband, James Purnell, another young hopeful joining John Hutton in refusing to condemn the rebels ( I share your pain). The problem with all of them except Straw is their comparative youth, as largely unknown and unblooded members of second generation Labour government, managerial figures mostly, who have never had to display the scars of a big noisy political battle or have been in a job long enough to make much of an impact.

In their anonymity allied to Brown’s exploitation of the financial crisis lies the Prime Minister’s best hope of survival. It’s also an indictment of the weakness of cabinet government and testimony to the power of even a badly faltering Prime Minister. A lead lost over a year may be recoverable in such a crisis. But rumour has it that if Labour loses the Glenrothes by-election, the Cabinet will move against him. But what of the Glenrothes campaign?

  • Ann the anorak

    The idea that Brown could benefit from this crisis has been aired now for a day or two. When i first heard about it on sky, i thought OMG, remember the pensions scandal…..

    Still any port in a storm for mr broon. This is a desperate attempt to make Brown look good for all the wrong reasons.

    They only reason the party are rallying around the pm is because anything else is an opportunity for the conservatives. Too late, the infighting has damaged this conference and brown is seen as so inept by the real world that he is not savea ble.

    With or without a by election win in scotland, this laddie will go…hopefully sooner rather than later.

  • Dewi

    “Ann the anorak” – saying it doesn’t make it true I’m afraid…what was the score in the Glasgow Baillieston council by election on Thursday?

  • DC

    The impact working itself out is likely to be that of economic slowdown with bigger public spending deficit and this will probably come about over 2009 into 2010 meaning higher taxes or cut in some public sector jobs? Big lessons to be learned not just in terms of election of leaders but also of management of poltical change both ideological and leadership.

    New Labour was a Blair-hatched concept largely, finer tweaks delivered by Kinnock and Smith by cancelling out regressive unionising. Blair led up New Labour, but to those who said he was a phoney there is no better proof over the last or so with Brown at the helm of just how much Blair occupied his agenda and pushed it out into the media. In today’s 24/7 media world you need to be appropriately over everything like a rash but also Tony Blair had an air of media sophistication and contention re Iraq. He was a media magnet – did he didn’t he know about weapons, Kelly, Saudis etc.

    Brown just lost that traction both policy and in the media subsequently Labour has collapsed in on itself pondering whether it really is still that New Labour or Labour; centrist or centre-left. Brown isn’t helping in confirming just what Labour is about after the heavy spinning by Blair, but the market fiasco took on a life of its own and has helped move the debate away from terrible leadership to whether Labour and Britain will escape in one piece from this complete hostage to financial fortune.

    Brown is probably finished at Glenrothes as up until now everthing he touches turns to brown; but, so too is economic growth and any leader coming into that situation should just think of the sterile Oppostion years. Sadly that’s what I think will happen to any new leader for Labour. The economic desert will mean nothing positive can be cultivated to an election winning extent and from here on it is really about damage limitation. This requires good political management meaning no one runs to the media to allow it to do the dirty work of spineless MPs who themselves have shown to be ineffective managers by using the media to try and fix their own political agenda.

  • frustrated democrat

    Brown Toast

  • Jimmers

    Brown is history. The economic outlook will only worsen in the short term; more unemployment, higher inflation, more government debt reducing the opportunities to intervene etc. All this will be (rightly) layed at Browns door, leaving any reputation for competent governance in tatters.
    Remember ‘no more boom and bust’? looks a pretty hollow boast now.

  • Ann the anorak

    “Ann the anorak” – saying it doesn’t make it true I’m afraid…

    If I say it often enough it will, repetition always makes things true! I warn you dewi – I won’t sleep my way to the top!

  • Rory

    A nice little sound-bite from US economist, James Galbraith (son of his more famous father, JK Galbraith), on Radio 4 this morning. Speaking of the inevitability of state intervention to bail out the now-not-so-infallible market he rather joyfully referred to this reversal of Thatcherite economic policy as “TINA”, saying “There is no alternative but to end Thatcher’s policy in the US economy”. He might just as well have used the term Reaganomics I suppose, but who am I to deny him his little bit of fun while broadcasting on the BBC?

    Whether or not there is to be an alternative to Brown in the UK one thing is clear – there is no one offering any alternative way out. All that the Tories can come up with is trying to persuade the electorate that all this would not have happened had they held the economic reins for the past decade. In this regard, on the same programme,, former Tory Chancellor (and failed leadership candidate) Kenneth Clark attempted to persuade us in his usual bumbling, cavalier style that things might now be so much better if only….

    If only, indeed.

  • baslamak

    A couple of points, firstly where is the Tory opposition this week, they should have been dogging Brown’s footsteps, instead no sign of them, as Cameron has absolutely no new ideas, he would be doing just as Brown is, pitiful.

    I agree with this take on this crises and who is to blame and it all comes back to Mr Brown and his hero Thatcher. I think if she were to be given a state funeral today people would throw rotten tomatoes at the cortege.

    http://www.organizedrage.com/2008/09/what-is-crime-of-robbing-bank-compared.html

  • Rory

    What with added security, armoured glass and electronic safeguards we are told that the numbers of bank robberies have greatly diminished since the heydays of Butch and Sundance and later John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd. But I have long argued that the real incidence of bank robbery, i.e. the robbery that banks relentlessly carry on day in day out against their own customers and the general public has in fact been increasing exponentially ever since, the more so since practically all citizens are now obliged to hold a bank account just to get along in today’s world. And, surprise, surprise! the poorest, the weakest and those most defenceless are most often the victims of this organised robbery while the perpetrators carry on with impunity. Who has ever heard of a senior bank official being charged with fraud for designing and implementing a policy whereby excessive interest and charges were routinely debited against unsuspecting customers’ accounts? Yet such robbery is perpetrated on a daily basis and, while any attempts to make the thieves desist or to provide restitution drag on painfully slowly through the courts, we can never hold out any hope that criminal charges would ever be brought against these thieving rogues.

  • well said baslamak and Rory.I could not argue with what you have said.

  • DC

    Rory, there isn’t a courtroom in the land that would put a bankman on remand even though the banks have been ripping off the people for years. I tell you what’s anti-social – flooding the estates with low paid jobs…or so a pro-socialist song goes anyway…

    Good points by the way. Tories own ideology screwed up after this yet Brown has to defend it as much of New Labour was written on the back of this stuff in terms of Thatcherite economics. Capital hasn’t work out too well and blown up in people’s faces – key line of argument is housing costs – these were removed from inflationary targeting but also from measures measuring the standard of equality and social justice, for example research measuring the gap between poor and wealthy; If New Labour is to exist it might well need to come clean on Thatcherite policy-land problems, but then Brown had her round a few times, both parties are pretty screwed over…the Lib Dems should really get its act together because now probably is the time for them after this unique set of circumstances.

    For example, re New Labour, as a Labour supporter even the core moderniser how do you explain to them in a way that sits and makes sense that not to mind too much as global capital system has been taken over by the Chinese, who really have a poor track record on human rights and enslavement to long hours of work. That will sit sweetly.

    In contrast to the Tories, the market is full of selfishly arrogant people who bankroll that party and the market with those people have screwed over its own financiers and now the working people.

    Or so the stereotypical arguments will run, there must now be a clean line of attack for the Lib Dems who with their leader Clegg, if tightened up sowewhat, could take it to Cameron – Clegg just needs a few steroidal injections to finish Cameron off, as there isn’t that much between them both talking about fairness and social justice. In terms of credibility the image problems rest with the Tories not Lib Dems.

  • Dave

    “And, surprise, surprise! the poorest, the weakest and those most defenceless are most often the victims of this organised robbery while the perpetrators carry on with impunity.” – Rory

    Yes, Rory, because it was the rich and not the feckless poor who took out subprime mortgages and then didn’t repay them, wasn’t it? *rolls eyes*

    “Remember ‘no more boom and bust’? looks a pretty hollow boast now.” – Jimmers

    True, but even if he had the financial wizardry of Warren Edward Buffett, he’d still wouldn’t be re-electable, lacking charisma and irreparably damaged by playing second fiddle to Tony Blair.

  • Wilde Rover

    Dave,

    “because it was the rich and not the feckless poor who took out subprime mortgages and then didn’t repay them, wasn’t it? *rolls eyes*”

    Banks gave mortgages to poor people, many of whom would never be able to pay if there were even a slight shift from a perfect economy, some of whom would never be able to pay it off all.

    Poor people who took up the mortgages are being punished for their poor decision making, often by finding themselves homeless.

    The bankers, however, are still getting their golden parachutes despite their poor judgement.

    So by all means, point the finger at the mark who fell for the scam, but do not forget the scam artists in this equation, because they are the only ones who will make out in all of this mess.

  • Dewi:

    Baillieston Results in order:

    Scottish National Party, David Turner, 2318
    Scottish Labour Party, Andy Muir, 2167
    Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, John Anderson, 259
    Scottish Liberal Democrats, David Jackson, 159
    Solidarity, Tricia McLeish, 74
    British National Party, Charles Baillie, 73
    Scottish Socialist Party, Daniel O’Donnell, 58
    Scottish Green Party, Moira A Crawford, 45
    Scottish Unionist Party, Ian Dickie, 43

  • Dewi

    Thanks but that’s first preference: Lol

    Please don’t look further – I ‘ve got what I need – thank you.

  • Dave

    Wilde Rover, you’re ignoring the inconvenient part that doesn’t fit your theory: the lenders don’t set the base interest rates, the Federal Reserve sets them – and it set them at very low rates to accommodate a socialist agenda that was aimed at providing credit to people that the banks considered to be poor risks and, ergo, traditionally avoided extending credit to them.

    The aim of the Federal Reserve was to interfere in the free market in order to distort in favour of a particular social group. This is socialism by the backdoor – and it has failed spectacularly. The banks yielded to the agenda of the Federal Reserve, and adapted the credit-scoring models that were proffered by the Federal Reserve to justify extending credit to bad risk groups.

    Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, preached this fashionable socialist dogma and used the Reserve as a means to proffer it via the backdoor of federal regulation. Here he is praising “advances in technology” and crackpot “credit-scoring models” that justify, he claims, the lenders “extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers” and to the “once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit” (i.e. those who couldn’t afford to repay large loans and wouldn’t have gotten credit under old models of lending that didn’t suit the Federal Reserve’s socialist agenda):

    [i]”With these advances in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers. The widespread adoption of these models has reduced the costs of evaluating the creditworthiness of borrowers, and in competitive markets cost reductions tend to be passed through to borrowers. Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending; indeed, today subprime mortgages account for roughly 10 percent of the number of all mortgages outstanding, up from just 1 or 2 percent in the early 1990s.”[/i]

    Here he is demanding that the banks should not discriminate bad risk groups because they are bad risk groups, but that it should reclassify them as good risk groups and offer credit to them:

    [i]“… it is essential that policymakers, regulators, bankers, researchers, and consumer groups remain fully engaged in monitoring developments in the consumer finance market and continually seek to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the financial services industry, including how well it serves lower-income and underserved consumers.”[/i]

    Here he is spouting dogma about “working-class people” being excluded from the American dream because they couldn’t get credit and praising the how it is all so much better now that they can:

    [i]”From colonial times through the early twentieth century, most people had quite limited access to credit, and even when credit was available, it was quite expensive. Only the affluent, such as prominent merchants or landowners, were able to obtain personal loans from commercial banks. Working-class people purchased goods with cash or through barter, since banks did not make consumer loans to the general public.”[/i]

    However, he wants to see more credit being extended to the poor, and doesn’t want any credit-scoring systems that introduce any element of reality into the process, expressing sympathy with “consumer advocates” who complain about the “exclusion of some consumers” from the credit splurge “such as those with little or no credit history, or misrepresentation of the risk that they pose.”

    [i]”For some consumers, however, this reliance on technology has been disconcerting. Credit-scoring models are complex algorithms designed to predict risk. Consumer advocates have raised concerns about the transparency and completeness of the information fit to the algorithm, as well as the rigidity of the types of data used to render credit decisions. Consumer advocates contend that the lack of flexibility in the models can result in the exclusion of some consumers, such as those with little or no credit history, or misrepresentation of the risk that they pose.

    To address these concerns, some firms have worked to customize credit-scoring systems to include new data and to revalue the weight of the variables employed. Also, new organizations have emerged, developing new systems for collecting alternative data, such as rent payments and other recurring payments that will enable creditors to evaluate creditworthiness of consumers who lack experience with credit.

    Improved access to credit for consumers, and especially these more-recent developments, has had significant benefits.” [/i]

    The rest of this backdoor socialist agenda can be read here:

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/BoardDocs/speeches/2005/20050408/default.htm

  • Dave

    “Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants.” – Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, speaking in 2005

    When the agenda of the Federal Reserve is to proffer cheap credit and subprime loans to “immigrants” and it uses its federal regulatory powers to set low interest rates and support this lunacy, distorting the free market according to a backdoor socialist agenda, you don’t need to wonder too much about why the system failed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘distorting the free market according to a backdoor socialist agenda, you don’t need to wonder too much about why the system failed. ‘

    We’ve heard it all before . Ye can’t interfere with the ‘free market -because if you do 1 million Irish would not have died of starvation and neither would 27 million Indians, and neither would it have been possible to uproot millions of Africans and sell them into slavery and for the modern world without a free market it won’t be possible to emisserate millions of middle and lower income Americans .

    The sicko neo con joke of ‘Libertas ‘ is seen for what it’s worth – f**k all .

    This shower of shites won’t be happy until they resurrect another Hitler and destroy whatever is left of our democracies 🙁

  • Dave,

    “The aim of the Federal Reserve was to interfere in the free market in order to distort in favour of a particular social group.”

    I agree, but not perhaps on the social group.

    The Federal Reserve is controlled by private banking interests. These people are interested in distributing wealth, but what we have seen over the last nearly 100 years is the distribution of the wealth of the people into the hands of the few.

    The system outlined above makes debt slaves out of the poor and helps to destroy the middle classes.

    The kleptocrats at the top still reign supreme.

    So, from their point of view, the system is working very well.

  • Dave

    Rubbish. It is a regulatory authority that is controlled by government, not businesses, and which supervises and regulates the US banking system. The US President appoints the board of governors (who hold all of the executive positions), and the US Senate confirms them. The only role that banks have is at local, not federal, level – and all of their allotment of positions is non-executive. It is the Federal Reserve (i.e. the government) that sets the interest rates at which credit is supplied and controls the credit-scoring models that are used to estimate the risks of supplying credit. We know how well those government models and that government policy of supplying cheap credit to all and sundry worked, don’t we? So let’s have more of this government regulation of private industry – they haven’t bankrupted all of it yet. It is absolute nonsense to claim that it is in the interests of private business to bankrupt itself and be nationalised by the government. That is a socialist agenda, not a capitalist one.

    The Federal Reserve’s responsibilities fall into four general areas:

    1. Conducting the nation’s monetary policy by influencing money and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of full employment and stable prices.
    2. Supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers.
    3. Maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.
    4. Providing certain financial services to the U.S. government, to the public, to financial institutions, and to foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation’s payments systems.

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/pf/pf.htm

    Much of the problem is that you had a huge cult of personality surrounding Alan Greenspan, such that if he was telling the banks to take “advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers” that are proffered and approved by government’s regulatory authority, the Federal Reserve, then very few of them are going to question either his authority or the authority of the US Government or the Federal Reserve, particularly when the Federal Reserve is praising the credit splurge as mutually beneficial to both consumer and bank and enabling the American Dream by providing “a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants” and for “working class people.” I agree that the banks couldn’t give a toss about this socialist agenda, but it should have rang warning bells about the motivations of the man who was making a political speech to the US financial industry that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at a British Labour Party conference. It wouldn’t be the first time that the US Federal Reserve responded to political pressures from Capitol Hill, either. Yes, giving credit to the poor is a worthy aspiration, but the clue about their ability to manage money is in the word ‘poor.’ I suspect like Bill Gates’s claim that “no-one will ever need more than 64k of memory” that Alan Greenspan’s claim (quoted below) will be one of the great misjudgements of our time:

    “With these advances in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers. The widespread adoption of these models has reduced the costs of evaluating the creditworthiness of borrowers, and in competitive markets cost reductions tend to be passed through to borrowers. Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending; indeed, today subprime mortgages account for roughly 10 percent of the number of all mortgages outstanding, up from just 1 or 2 percent in the early 1990s.”

    This is what happens when socialism comes into play. 😉

  • Dave,

    “Rubbish. It is a regulatory authority that is controlled by government, not businesses,”

    Sure, and Tony Soprano is in the waste management business.

    “It is absolute nonsense to claim that it is in the interests of private business to bankrupt itself and be nationalised by the government. That is a socialist agenda, not a capitalist one.”

    Why can’t it be both? If you are bailed out despite your losses then it is corporate socialism. Privatized profits and socialized losses. Why worry about your company being nationalized if you are covered by the taxpayers?

  • Rory

    “Yes, Rory, because it was the rich and not the feckless poor who took out subprime mortgages and then didn’t repay them, wasn’t it? *rolls eyes*”

    With all that eye-rolling, Dave, you seem not to have noticed that I was not addressing the question of sub-prime mortgages but rather the blatant thievery that debits fraudulently calculated interest rates and levies illicit charges against ordinary customers’ current accounts. Or with all that eye rolling going on had you missed all the furore on that issue?

    I do love your assertion that the offering of low interest rates was a socialist intervention into the market when it was in fact a result of the excess capital being created in India and China, among other economies, that has been flooding the world market and was naturally begging for the buzzards of Wall Street to make a quick lunch from it. G W Bush might be looking more like FD Bush today but he owed more to Herbert Hoover when his Federal Reserve wallahs decided to make a killing from the poorest.

  • A majority of Labour party members, never a breed who risk putting their feet on the ground too often, also want Brown to quit.

    Unlike, of course, those polemicists who frequent this particular locale.

    Let me assure, you, as one who first tramped the streets, knocking on doors, stuffing letterboxes in the early ’60s, who first stood for election in the later ’60s, many of us have feet welded to the asphalt. We needed it: we survivors of the Labour routs of 1968-9, even 1992 with just 34% of the vote…

    We came to the conclusion, long ago — unlike these far-seeing visionaries now instructing us how eggs should be sucked — , that what goes around, comes around. I remember the Daily Telegraph, in both 1959 and 1983, promising the faithful that Elysium had been achieved and that the Labour Party was finished for at least a generation. Anyone on the other side of the fence remember the position Thatcher was in, say, Tuesday 2nd April, 1982? At that moment, much of my Tory acquaintance, all with feet on the ground, were muttering about her not lasting the week.

    Sounds familiar?

    And your version is as far from the reality as is possible.

    Does it ever cross your mind that the “whopping 28 points” (you chose your poll evidence impartially, of course) is a self-justifying prophecy? The Great British Press tells the public that’s the result: then asks them what they think: nice piece of circular self-justification, don’t you think?

    Now, put your money where your mouth always is: would you bet on such “leads” being maintained for the indefinite future? Say, all the way to June 2010?

    Because, if not, brace up. Ignore the personality politics. Tell us what you think about issues. Take one particular item: taxation. Both sides of the Atlantic we have Republicans and Tories, even PDs and the odd — in this case, very odd — FG voice, peddling the notion of tax cuts. Are you, in your economic omniscience, saying that is a realistic possibility, even well into the next decade? If so, explain how an incoming administration, be it McCain’s or Obama’s, takes over next January 20th and deals with a near-$500B deficit (and that’s before the present splurge). Equally, where does Cameron’s expenditure commitments come from, if not cut-backs in Health, Social Welfare and Education? — then sell those in the reality of an election campaign. If you want a precedent, refer to what happened to Gaitskell’s campaign in 1959.

    No, it isn’t the realist pavement-bashers with heads in the clouds. That other-worldliness is the preserve of journalists, the paid-professional politician class, and their fellows inside the bubble.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I thought about getting involved in this thread, but the idea that the Fed is under the control of a “socialist agenda” and that the credit crunch was caused by poor people not repaying their subprime loans is just too much.

    The problems that we are dealing with at the moment are caused by the availability of cheap and easy credit which should not have been provided to people in the first place. A more careful approach to lending and a less optimistic perspective of the pyramid scheme that is the housing market might have avoided these problems.

    BTW I happen to believe that the US Treasury are on to a blinder here. In 5-10 years time, the real estate behind those mortgages will be well on the road to recovery, and I expect they’ll be making a profit for the US taxpayer.

  • dewi

    Malcolm – there is a difference about Brown. Nobody listens to him anymore. He’s a bit like the mad uncle that you keep chained up in the basement and wheel out for weddings and funerals.

  • dewi @ 12:06 PM:

    Thanks for that gem of wisdom.

    “Nobody is wearing brown this season.”
    “Nobody rides a Vespa anymore.”
    “Nobody listens to big-band jazz anymore.”
    “Nobody reads novels these days.”
    “Nobody shops at Sainsbury’s.”
    “Nobody will holiday in the UK next year.”

    And:
    “New Coca-Cola? Nobody’ll touch their stuff again!”
    “After the Performas, nobody’ll buy an Apple product ever again!”

    etc. etc.

    Well, there’s an awful lot of us nobodies out there.

  • Now that I’ve had ample time to reconsider Dewi’s dismissal of Gordon Brown (see above), as I emptied and dismantled three of Ikea’s best efforts at bookcases, I suppose I ought to agree with him absolutely.

    Once a political figure has lost the confidence of the people, as expressed by the collective voice of those vanguards of democracy, the Mail, the Mirror, the Express and the Sun, there is nothing else to be said. We obviously do not need the formality of an election. The erstwhile leader must be slung out of office, with ignominy and ridicule, defenestrated, disgraced: he (or she) should be obliged to take the hemlock forthwith. Thus we are rid of any further potential for embarrassment. Our great nation (however we may reckon that term) can then proceed with pride to greater and greater glories. Then we can build up some other personage before they, too, must be consigned to the tumbril. After all, that is precisely how the back pages have guaranteed continued success for English football these many years.

    Think how the world would have been improved had we been rid of Churchill permanently after Gallipoli, and Thatcher after the Argentinians landed at Port Stanley. Nixon obviously had no way back after losing the Governorship of California in 1962. Well, at least two out of three, whichever way you count it, can’t be that bad.

    And the ultimate political Lazarus? Not any of those, not even Jimmy Carter or the “come-back kid” himself, Bill Clinton. My nominee would be Herbert Hoover.

    He left the White House in 1933, the day the banks collapsed. By then, he was the most hated and despised political figure across the 48 States (only six of them went Republican in 1932) . The hoboes and drop-outs named their shanties and camps “Hoovervilles” in his honour. Then, post-war, President Truman appointed him a roving ambassador for famine relief. Hoover was, after all, an engineer and organiser of some distinction. His efforts then helped to feed millions. Twice he was invited to advise and direct the reforming of the US Executive Branch. He wrote some thirty books. At the end, into his tenth decade, he was asked by Justice William O. Douglas how he had coped with decades of exclusion and vituperation: his reply was “I outlived the bastards.”

  • frustrated democrat

    MR

    Q. ‘We are not in a bust following a boom’. Who said that?

  • frustrated democrat @ 06:21 PM:

    Self-evidently, Jayne Mansfield’s corsetière.

    Now, look what you’ve done! The password for submission is “fall”. Obviously the corsetière didn’t make it in time.

  • Sorry about that last one. I had my mind elsewhere (probably the delicious photograph of Sophia Loren icily observing la Mansfield’s — err — elevation).

    Hoover’s nemesis was his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon. Mellon, that good scion of Ulster, considered the Wall Street Crash to be a healthy sign: “It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living will come down. People will work harder, live a moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

    Curiously, after reading the weekend “expert” comment, that, too sounds frighteningly familiar.

    Totally irrelevant to this thread, but (to me) of interest was this evening’s BBC4 programme on the Blue Whale model in London’s Natural History Museum. I had forgotten this attraction until my grandsons came to London a few days back, desperate to see the dinosaur skeletons and the blue whale in the NHM. Until tonight I did not know the model was made around the outbreak of the Second World War.

    Fair enough.

    What the programme also had was a clip of the opening of the Regent’s Park children’s zoo, in 1938 — by a very young Bobby Kennedy (presumably on a quick trip across from Honey Fitz’s residence). Quite extraordinary.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Malcolm,

    It’s not completely impossible for Brown to make a comeback, but I think it’s unlikely. The problem in the Labour Party is not just Brown; it’s a systemic rotting of their core values which have been under attack by Blair since the results of the 2001 general election came in (and possibly before that depending on your perspective). They have truly lost their way. They have no idea about where to take the country next.

    There is no precedent in UK politics that I am aware of where a Prime Minister makes a successful comeback in some other career later on, especially after being discredited and hounded from office before time (Heath ? Callaghan ?). It seems to me that to be Prime Minister means to have reached the pinnacle of your life’s work. The rest of it is spent giving speeches, writing books, and having foundations set up in your name.

  • Comrade Stalin @ 07:40 AM:

    There is no precedent in UK politics that I am aware of where a Prime Minister makes a successful comeback in some other career later on, especially after being discredited and hounded from office before time (Heath? Callaghan?).

    I have to say, without trying to whale the hide off a dead horse, I am not wholly sure whether I go all the way there. For a start, these days any recruit to the ex-PM club is kept under armed guard day-and-night.

    Then, are we comparing apples with oranges?

    Until the latest generation, most PMs arrived at office in full maturity, and then departed at an advanced age. Even so, Lloyd George remained a potent force for two decades (he was still around to refuse a place in Churchill’s war cabinet). Chamberlain would have been Churchill’s director of home affairs, if cancer had not got him (so the job fell to Attlee, Morrison and Bevin). Churchill, with the post-1951 government in his senility, was the nearest thing to a failure.

    Let me do a mental check on the ex-PMs of my lifetime.

    Douglas-Home served his Party better, and longer, after the October 1964 Election than his stint as PM. In the circumstances, he was by no means the worst Foreign Secretary Britain has ever had.

    Wilson was considered eccentric because he gave up once he reached retirement age (and when he realised he had the onset of Alzheimer’s).

    When Callaghan left Downing Street, he was in his late 60s. He remained a major figure in the Party; and was a respected and regular attender of the Lords. Since he never had a Parliamentary majority throughout his tenure as PM, and was dependent on the good will of minor Parties, I find the expression “discredited and hounded from office” somewhat inventive in his case. He and his wife continued to serve good causes (especially Great Ormond Street, and UC Swansea) quite admirably in their extended retirement

    Heath, quite frankly, blew it: he was so convinced of himself as a “House of Commons man” that he couldn’t see beyond that cockpit. In 1979-80 Thatcher wanted him to go as Ambassador to Washington: he refused — probably a mistake. He will, therefore, be remembered as “the Great Sulk”. Even so, credit where it is due: the 1975 Euro Referendum; occasional forays into foreign affairs (trying to deal with Saddam when UK hostages were taken in the first Gulf War); his stewardship of one of the finest houses in England (in the close at Salisbury). Above all he had her bangs to rights …

    Margaret Thatcher was bundled out by her own Party, indeed: but at the age of 65. Since then she has traded on being the Grand Dame of British politics. Quite frankly, what else could she have done?

    John Major, I submit, has been successful with his life since he was decanted. I see nothing wrong with a love of cricket; and Surrey has benefited from his involvement; he has written one decent book on the history of the game. My impression is not many politicians of his generation have bad words about him. He anchored his Party into something like Euro-neutrality, when hotter heads wanted stronger meat. He was largely correct (i.e. suspicious) about the Iraq imbroglio. Until Blasted Boris was induced to stick his Etonian oar in, Major was a good prospect to stand as Tory candidate for the London Mayorality: I know which I would prefer.

    That only leaves us the People’s Tone, about whom a long history has yet to be written.

  • DC

    The People’s Tone:

    We liked him, we loved him, we regarded him as one of the people – he was the people’s politician

    There, no need for a long write-up.