Martin Meenagh writes:
To listen to the press at the moment, Gordon Brown is the author of all misfortune in the United Kingdom. The former Iron Chancellor celebrated by the Sun and the New York Review of Books alike a year ago has become a ridiculous tribute band version of John Major, to listen to the critics. David Cameron, the empty vessel currently leading the Tory Party to a crushing possible third of the vote, is apparently some form of national saviour.
There is little more unedifying than the English middle classes and the metropolitan elite blaming someone else. Buck-passing is a national forte. It's also partly Brown's own fault for presenting himself as the saviour of Real Labour and posing as super competent whilst not having laid down the tracks of success over the past ten years. British political history is laced with seams of once fabled also-rans, though. He made it. The terms on which he had to make it have damaged him, but ask yourself; What would Brown have had to do if he really had been in control of government as a super-chancellor if the present troubles for which he is being blamed were to have been avoided?
As I have been suggesting in response to an interesting post on the somewhat libertarian blog nourishing obscurity, Brown would have had to at least five different things.
Firstly, he would have had to over-rule every single backbench loudmouth, newspaper editor, and economist (most of whom have spent the past few weeks stating the obvious about the descent pattern we have been locked into for months) that the gold should not have been sold off.
Secondly, he would have had to tax the rich and companies and used the money not for the NHS or education (both of which absorbed billions) but instead to pay off the national debt.
Then he would have had to convince individuals not to see property as a guaranteed investment--a decision they all took willingly after the better part of two decades of compulsory education at least-- and not to use any apparent appreciation in their house price to take out more credit.
Fourthly, he would have had to overrule the greens and their silly Kyoto fetish and build tonnes of nuclear power stations to avoid peak oil, which he would have had to foresee. He may have also as a part of this process have invested hundreds of millions in plasma containment technology when it was but a twinkle in scientific eyes.
All of this would have been predicated on not only stopping his boss from joining the euro, and fighting mad wars, whilst fighting a constant battle against the flunkies, warmongers, former communists and narcissists Tony Blair surrounded himself with. It would also have depended on Brown lowering costs by eliminating the PFI, taking infrastructure, energy and railways into some form of social ownership (which would have been cheaper) whilst floating off universities, building up cheap privately-funded or supplemented schools and hospitals, and emphasising social insurance.
If he had done that, we'd be OK. He couldn't because the people with any money or access to it in this country, and the see-no-evil monkeys of the commentariat, were not interested. So now he gets the blame for food, oil, and energy rises that are not his fault; a credit crunch that is the voters' fault; and a creaking state that is the fault of every single manager, consultant, and their supporters in a country with no ability to manage anything.