When I was a teenager, my parents would often try to ‘help’ me make my own decisions. ‘Theres option a,’ theyd say. ‘And it’s a really great one because of xyz. Or you could do option b but that would be really horrible-but of course the decision is entirely yours.’
Ah such happy memories!
Now forgive me if Im wrong, perhaps Im mistaken in thinking that a referendum is where you give people a choice and then let them decide.
But apparently, the way it works in the UK is ‘we’ll have a referendum but we’ll tell everyone how we want them to vote. And if that doesn’t work we’ll get our friends in high places to dish out some scary forecasts-‘see look! They agree with us, now isn’t that a funny coincidence!’
While doing a rather tedious but necessary task at work today, instead of reaching for my usual remedy to keep my mind focused (which is normally listening to My Chemical Romance or any good chart songs I like the sound of), I tuned in to the live stream of the Treasury Select Committee grilling senior members of the Bank of England about their latest Financial Stability report.
I wasn’t actually watching it, I was just listening, but I swear I could hear the cogs frantically whirring as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was asked about some ‘private meetings’ hed had with Chancellor George Osborne.
Ironically, these committee hearings are there to promote transparency.‘Sure were transparent-but please! For Gods sake don’t publish the minutes of our private meetings!’ When asked by the committee if they could see the notes from these meetings, Mr Carney said ‘he would not want to create a situation where those conversations were “minuted, recorded, tweeted in real time, that is not in the interest of monetary and financial stability.’ (Neither is issuing dire forecasts Mr Carney!) But just to ease your mind, Ill tell all those people lurking behind the curtains secretly tweeting your every move to go away. I can see his point however-one word from him can send the markets tumbling or rising, as has been seen in recent weeks.
He reluctantly agreed, but I cant help wondering whether there will be a full compliment of notes handed over. Reminds me a bit of when you were a teenager, and your parents demanded to see your record collection, and you quickly hid all the ones with explicit lyrics under the bed and produced the most innocuous set of albums you could find.
When asked whether any politicians had ever tried to influence him, Mr Carney said that when he was the Governor of the Bank of Canada he couldn’t remember that ever happening. Good to know. And so…. how about now?He insisted that no one had tried to influence him, merely to ‘inform’ him. Because of course, the head of an institution that publishes reams of (fascinating in my opinion) data on the UK economy, needs to be informed.
A few weeks ago everyone was blaming Boris Johnson, conservative MP and former mayor of London, who led the Leave campaign. After pulling out of the Tory leadership race he was accused of ‘abandoning a sinking ship,’ ‘unleashing intolerance’ ( there was a rise in racial abuse crimes immediately following the result), ‘knocking billions off the value of the nations savings’, practically bringing down the government, –basically singlehandedly bringing the country to its knees. Quite an accomplishment for one man. Never mind all those other people who voted Leave.
Ah well, people love a scapegoat. So while everyone was busy pointing the fingers at Boris (not to mention shoving a few knives into his back), Mr Osborne gets to back away quietly hoping that no one will realise this mess is actually all his fault.So confident was he that wed never actually vote to leave, that he didn’t even plan for it. At least the Bank of England did, albeit in secret ( I guess all those people frantically tweeting every word were successfully rooted out.)
With a reckless disregard for the consequences, as well as threatening us with tax rises and spending cuts, he warned that interest rates would go up. Odd, given all those meetings he had with Carney and yet he still appeared to have no clue about the action he would likely take in the event of a leave vote. I mean seriously, Mark Carney putting interest rates up? ‘Well I was gonna get round to it at some point…’
I cant help wondering what things would be like now if we hadnt had all those dire warnings. Now, everyone thinks there will be a recession because everyone thinks there will be a recession. Sure, there are a few tangible risks in the future but Ill talk more about them in an upcoming post. But a lot of this is just based on fear.
Its interesting to note that it was only after the result that other analysts, those without any close links to the government (not that Im aware of anyway), began to downgrade their forecasts. Perhaps they were just slow off the mark-oops! We really didnt see that coming-better revise the forecasts down!
Or perhaps we are just seeing a real life episode of Yes Minster being played out in reverse.
Oh well, looks like Mr Osborne wont have the privilege of ‘informing’ civil servants for much longer.