Saturday, September 20, 2008

Economy saved as government injects narrative, values and emotional signals into markets

Here’s what Gordon Brown says our priority should be:

all the efforts of our party and our government must be concentrated on the needs of the British people, whose paramount concern is how this week's events will impact upon their families, and how we can help them through this crisis.
… We have acted to secure people's savings, support the housing market, and underpin liquidity in the banking sector. And with our support, the Financial Services Authority has banned short-selling of financial stocks.

But Jon Cruddas sees things differently:

We need policies to tackle the economic meltdown, but most of all we need a politics. … We have to rediscover our idealism and our belief in our founding values

Likewise Polly Toynbee:

It's about more than managing the crash efficiently, it's about sending the right political and emotional signals to people

I’m sure the two of them didn’t mean to sound so airily-fairily dismissive of policies to deal with the financial carnage, but that’s how it comes across. There’s a certain sort of person who cares about politics primarily for the feeling it can provide of being part of a narrative. Brown, whatever his other faults, is not such a person.

(Toynbee also offers the observation that “This is the last make-or-break chance for Labour”, which is unintentionally funny, a classic piece of journalese. There should be a comma after “last”: if so, it would have meant that this chance was both final and make-or-break; as it stands, it says that there have been make-or-break chances before but that this is the last one – a contradiction that illustrates the laziness of the cliché.)

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