Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Thatcher's real legacy - austerity?

You have to have a rather coloured view of the 70's if you think the economic train crash of the decade of the 70's, in so many ways, was all Labour's fault. Heath's Conservatives were just as complicit in all the 'beer and sandwiches' tosh of the era.

Thatcher's first term was hardly reknowned for its 'Union bashing' either; that did not take real strides until the NUM in 84/85. In fact if it had not been for the 'just in time' Falkland's 'win', Micheal Foot was heading for number 10 in 1982. Like many Falkland's vets I am left with the feeling I lost friends for no other reason than to save Thatcher's butt, undoing a daft decision by a 'here today, gone tomorrow politician' (John Knott) who would not listen to the intel coming from the South Atlantic because he and Carrington thought it was a MoD insiders plot to stop Knott, as Secretary of State for Defence, axing the armed forces.

From 1979, Thatcher rode a wave of increasing revenue from the North Sea Oil and Gas sector and pee'd it up against the walls of Threadneedle Street with little thought to what happened if her reliance on the 'City of London' ended up being disaterously wrong, which is exactly what happened in 2008. It is increasingly clear the original Halifax / BOS amalgamation was an attempt to bring some sensible banking practice to an out of control Halifax which held a massive subprime mortgage book of whale debt proportions. It is also why the banking services part was run as a defacto seperate business by the BoS team in Edinburgh. It is also why the BoS banking services could have been bought out of HBoS in November 2008 as it was profitable and a going concern. Of course UK Government could not let that happen because it would make the 'sale' to Lloyds of just the Halifax completely unpalatable to the Lloyds major share holders. Yet again Peston was fed information by the UK Treasury to spike the proposed buy out of BoS by a mix of Scottish and Chinese entrepreneurs. The real reason now seems obvious. The demonstration of a profitable, stand alone BoS, run from its HQ on the Mound, undoes the propaganda they had been feeding the UK to counter the SNP's growing support in Scotland using the 'Independent Scotland could not afford the bank bail out' line. A reconstituted BoS would have clearly identified the problems as being 'City of London' based.

It is also clear from a recent US senate report that the Thatcherite, neo-liberal, light regulation of the 'City' created a trading environment where these subprime 'whale debts' were allowed to be built without due diligence or any risk assessment by the banking sector , in the case of Chase Morgan this was £6 billion of 'whale debt' held in its London based company which we, UK tax payers, have paid out for.

Blair and Brown saw Thatcher as their heroine and they are Thatcherite neoliberals to the core. As the evidence becomes clear it is increasigly obvious that by 2008 HBOS was in a worse state than Northern Rock, so a plan was concocted in the Treasury to drive down HBOS share price to make the take over by Lloyds more amenable to Lloyds Bank shareholders. Peston was briefed with information by the Treasury to facilitate the HBOS share price to plummet; a point made in a BBC4 Moneybox program by a 'trader' two days after Peston's original disclosure about HBOS.

The only question there is no clear answer to, at present, was it Lehmann's or HBOS that triggered the subprime 'whale debt' crash that lead us to this point and why, like Norway, did the UK not have an oil fund to cushion our economy or had made serious Government investment in rebuilding a new manufacturing base and UK infra-structure (something that has been done in the Gulf States /  Norway / Venezuela)?

The answer to that is 33 years of unmitigated Thatcherite neoliberalism.

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