Roger and his views > Archive of earlier articles > Westminster September 2008
Gale's Westminster View - September 2008
"Big Bang Day", September 10th 2008.  With the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider the world was predicted to disappear into a black hole as the machine designed to "smash particles together with cataclysmic force" whirred into action.  At a mere five billion pound price-tag  the Collider, costing far less than the price of a second-hand bank, seems a quite modest investment.  Planet Earth is still with us. Black holes have, however, been appearing in investment accounts around the world and the smashed particles of political and financial reputations are spinning out into orbit even as I write.

September is also the Hurricane season.  The Southern States have been pounded by Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike and the Big Organ Grinder has been battered by Hurricane Clarke and Hurricane Kelly. All have, at least for the moment, survived but severe structural damage has been sustained and it will be a long time, if ever, before the damaged communities on both sides of the Atlantic recover. And the storm clouds still threatening  Bradford and Bingley and "H" and BOS may yet prove to be the whirlwinds generated by the winds that The  "He will be seen to have been as great as Churchill" Legacy  and his Chancellor have sown.

Back at the start of the month it all seemed relatively tranquil. At that time it was still possible for Chancellor Darling to single-handedly talk the economy down by referring, with a straight face, to a "slump" rather than a "recession", The Milipede felt bold enough to stick a newspaper article here and a quote there to begin to rally disgruntled New Labour troops to his putative leadership banner.  Russia was, if not actually Marching Through Georgia, at least able to recognise a couple of breakaway provinces in the certain knowledge that a Europe and a United States embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan were not looking for other sabres to rattle.
"Embittered" former Minister Charles Clarke announces that the Labour Party, for which read "Labour leadership", must either "change or face utter destruction" The Liberal Democrats meets  irrelevantly in Bournemouth and the Leader of that Party put his Clegg in it by demonstrating that he had not the faintest idea of the current value of a single State pension.

Crash!  The world's fourth largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, takes a nosedive and suddenly the lid is off. Hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds are wiped out, seemingly in minutes.  Confidence in institutions that have been household names for centuries hits rock bottom and, as Victoria Derbyshire so elegantly put it on BBC Radio's Foive Loive, "house prices have fallen through the roof"!

Curiously catastrophe at least momentarily  favours the Big Organ Grinder.  A Labour backbench racked with disloyalty and rumours of multi-member Cabinet disaffection and possible resignation find that their time is out of joint. The situation is so bad that even Chancellor Darling has something to be cheerful about. From Washington the BBC`s Jonathan Beale announces that "a sense of gloom and despondency has descended over the World".  Against this backdrop Brown feels able to state that of course he is serious because "there is plenty to be serious about" (as if he is ever anything other than lugubrious) and that now is "no time for novices".

The media argues over whether the "novices"  jibe is directed at Young David or the short-trousered young pretender Milipede and Brown has the gall  to tell his less than aggressive  TV inquisitor, Sir Trevor MacDonald, that his government will "do what is necessary at the time that it is necessary".

I beg your pardon?  Which planet have you been living on for the past ten years, Prime Minister?  This recession, to call it by its proper name, was made in Britain. By you and Mr. Blair.  You were bequeathed a strong economy. You squandered it. You did not mend the roof while the sun was shining and you put nothing aside for a rainy day.  Worse you - yes, you personally- removed the regulatory powers from the Bank of England and with Blair, your partner in this crime, you allowed public and private borrowing to run away to the point where Britain now has the highest level of  personal debt in Europe.  "Keep people shopping and spending and they will keep voting for us " seems to have been your motto.  So let's cut the talk of a "global economy and worldwide crisis" disastrous though Bush may have allowed things to become in America.  This UK crisis  is of your  "prudent" making.  As David Cameron said at the start of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, "You have had your boom and now your reputation is bust".

One of the memorable television shots of this squalid fiscal pantomime has been of the Governor of the Bank of England, leaving Number Ten Downing Street following a "crisis breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister".  As he departs, the camera reveals the front of the Downing Street residences to be clad in scaffolding.  Whether to prop up the crumbling edifice or from which to hang the guilty occupants we can only speculate!

Elsewhere, a serious fire shuts down the Channel Tunnel and Eurostar services.  Compelled to fly from Gatwick to Brussels for a meeting, therefore, I am subjected to the sad sight of grounded X-Cel aircraft following the collapse of a once-successful travel company that left in its wake thousands of marooned holidaymakers around the world.  Another sign of the times, I fear

A step towards justice.  The High Court determines that aged Ghurkhas, including some of the bravest of the very brave, must be given the right that they have been so shamefully denied for so long and allowed to settle in the UK. We next have to make sure that the government does not weasel its way out of this direction. Show your support. Visit  Now if can just win financial compensation for those protected personnel incarcerated in German prisoner of war camps who were worked as forced labour while having their pay docked by successive and miserly UK governments……………!

It is, of course, all relative. Eighteen year old student Ianthe Fullager has won 7 million pounds on the lottery.  Having knocked back some bubbly, bought a new car and paid her university fees her only worry now is to find a bank safe enough into which she can place the balance of her money!

The months end. The news tells us that the established Church of England is to lift its restrictions so that young couples may choose to be wed not only in their local churches but in the churches that their parents or grandparents were married in or in which they were themselves baptised.  This is because the number of Church Weddings has fallen dramatically it seems.  Don't blame me: In the past eighteen months my two boys have married (in church) and I now have two delightful daughters in law.  And last Saturday our only daughter took her marriage vows in the Crypt Chapel in the Palace of Westminster, which is why this column is late! 

Misty and Roger

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