Monday, 3 May 2010

Nick Clegg: some doubts

Mind you, it's not like I'll be voting Liberal Democrat without some reservations. Nick Clegg did well on the televised debates and made the most of the opportunity to sell himself to the general populace and muscle in on the usual two party domination. He's a good speaker and a convincing leader who comes across as far more "normal" than the other two. Not difficult to look normal next to Gordon of course. Cameron, meanwhile, has always carried a whiff of implausibility about him: like he was built to order by Conservative Party HQ under the instructions "give us a Blair". The best description I have ever read of David Cameron was by Caitlin Moran of The Times who declared him to be "like a C-3PO made of ham", a "slightly camp gammon robot". Absolutely spot on.

So Clegg has had a good campaign, but I still have issues with him and his party. I'm voting for them really for two reasons: 1) his party probably have the best opportunity of winning my constituency from the Tories and 2) I would like to see electoral reform and a hung Parliament with Clegg holding the balance of power is the best opportunity we have ever had to see this happen.

Serious doubts were raised in my mind about Clegg in the third and final debate when he touched upon the subject of the banking industry. Attacking the banks is such an obvious thing these days and I understand why politicians do it: it's an easy, populist target. But when he's banging on about how it's necessary to separate high street banking from investment "casino" banking to avoid another crisis like the one we have just witnessed you realise he can't understand what he is talking about. The consolidation of investment banks and retail banks had nothing to do with it, Nick. Lloyds TSB, HBOS and Northern Rock were all, exclusively, traditional lending banks. Meanwhile the major investment banks that went under, or nearly went under (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch) were all exclusively investment banks. Really the only bank (and, admittedly, a major player in the crisis) that combines both elements is RBS and there isn't really any convincing argument that breaking it up into smaller parts would be of any particular benefit to anyone.

9 comments:

Philip said...

Reason 1 - not likely (see previous comment)
Reason 2 - The only way that will happen is if Gordon is still PM and there is a Lib-Lab pact.

The liberal policies seem to be
£700 tax back to every one, free tuition, larger class sizes. They appear not to have heard that GB has pissed the money away.
As for 16 year olds voting - clearly Nick has never met one.

As for the banks - they were not traditional - they were getting most of the money to lend, not from savers but from international money markets on very risky terms - they were gambling. The government probably cannot financially penalize the buggers as the banks are far too crafty/immoral, but I would introduce a bank employees tax - perhaps another 20% on top of income tax. It might make some of them give up the banking and go and do something useful

Citizen Sane said...

1: I live in hope.
2. Yes, and if that's what it takes then so be it.

And you're right: a lot of the LibDem policies are atrocious. And Clegg has been flip-flopping like a bastard. I just want the electoral reform - vital to give credibility to our political system.

As for the banks, well. They were effectively lending money to poor homeowners through investing in pools of mortgage backed (and extremely risky) securities. And yes, they became highly reliant on short term borrowing in the international money markets. My point is simply that the failed British banks - with the exception of RBS - were already separate from investment banks. So Nick's "remedy" wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference.

Philip said...

By the way - lets have a prediction from you.
Mine is Tories most seats - but not by many, Labour second, liberals third. But after the dust has settled the PM will be Gordon, supported by a disgruntled bunch of liberals wondering why constitutional reform is taking so long

Citizen Sane said...

I was thinking: Cons get greatest percentage of votes, but Lab scrape a couple more seats due to the iniquities of first past the post.

But latest polls are saying Cons will get a tiny majority and will form govt with the help of Unionists.

I personally now think the Tories are going to just scrape through on their own.

*shivers*

Philip said...

Having the UK governed by the Celtic Fringe sounds bad to me

Philip said...

See that our constituency was a complete blue-wash. With the other parties hardly registering their prescence

Philip said...

and more - the number of Tory councillors just takes the piss. You need to chuck em out now and again To Keep Them Honest

Citizen Sane said...

A change of council would be good. Since moving here last year I'm very unimpressed. Lewisham were far better.

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