The sale is still progressing despite the best efforts of American mortgage lenders and Northern Rock customers to trigger another great depression. The reason HOP had to be cleaned again is that the surveyors are coming tomorrow. It hasn’t undergone the type of ‘deep clean’ I’m certain our hospitals are going to get on the recent promise of Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown – just a superficial swish around with the mop, clearing of corridors and demolition of the dirty dishes mountain. It’s the last housework I’ll do until it’s time to move out.
I can think of nothing else. Obviously there’s a flurry of quite sensible activity happening in
The economic wobble which has so far dismally failed to ruin my life could have been much worse if the Government hadn’t stepped in to guarantee ordinary folks' savings, so I suppose grudging gratitude is due to the old duck. According to Martin Kettle at one’s beloved Guardian yesterday, we’re lucky that the crisis happened when Labour has the confidence of the business sector and no possible chance of losing control of the country over it,
Ever since 1997, Labour has built its financial policy on the rock - if one can use the word in these circumstances - of non-intervention in markets. Allowing the markets to find their own solutions under the operational independence of the Bank was the alpha and omega of New Labour's historic compromise with the British business class. New Labour had a prescriptive view of the rights and responsibilities of almost everyone else in the country - from toddlers to teachers. Bankers and business leaders, alone, were exempt. They only had rights.
All that changed for ever on Monday when Darling [Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer] - with Brown's backing - intervened with a taxpayer-backed guarantee to protect Northern Rock's depositors. This was not just a huge financial act in its own right - the guarantee is worth billions of pounds - but a huge symbolic act too. It said that the government must intervene to protect ordinary people's savings, however much this spits on the cloth of financial orthodoxy. It was a moment of choice worthy of Franklin Roosevelt.
My luck may be on the turn, but it raises an interesting question. Is doing the right thing that dependent on circumstances? Would we want a government to stand aside and let depositors lose their life savings, given that it would then inherit the responsibility of feeding and housing them? Since they’ve been haranguing us to save for the future - a thing they make no effort whatever to guarantee - it wouldn’t be good to be seen to be penalising people for having done what they were asked to do. In any case, Scrooge and his Darling have done the right thing and I probably won’t have to sell matches and/or my next door neighbours' infants/cat/dog in the street.
Last week a police superintendent defended two police community support officers who had declined to jump into water to save a child who was in danger of drowning. Instead they called the incident in but by the time a police officer and the child’s father simultaneously arrived on the scene and located him, the little boy was unconscious and could not be saved. The superintendent claimed that the community support officers ‘had not been trained’ to intervene in such an incident. By this, does he mean they couldn’t swim? That would appear to be the governing factor in these circumstances would it not? Anyone who can swim can save a child from drowning. If you can’t swim you’re likely to become part of the problem and should stay out of it. So where does ‘doing the right thing’ fit into this equation? It’s true that support officers do not have the same contractual duty of care to the public that police officers have. Are all police officers taught to swim? If not, should they be?
Marcel Marceau died today. Please join me in observing a minute's clamour...