Gordon Brown: Yesterday’s Man

The under-appreciated difference between newspapers and the net is that space is not infinite in the press. In the Observer column below I couldn’t deal with Gordon Brown’s interview with the Guardian last week in which he seemed to promise to get tough with tax havens. The radical accountants at the Tax Justice Network – don’t laugh and trust me on this one, these are radicals with accounting degrees – noticed at once that it was  a very sly commitment. He promised to tackle Switzerland.

But he can’t tackle Switzerland because Britain does not control Switzerland. He  dodged questions about Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Mann, Gibraltar, the Virgin Islands Anguilla, however, even though Britain actually does control them and maybe could exert its authority.

I would treat his apparent reconversion to social democracy in today’s Observer with equal caution. He sounds like he’s getting tough with the banks — and the BBC and this morning’s press bought the spin, which must cheer Labour greatly. But read to the end and you find him saying “We do not envisage, as some have advocated, a rigid divide in future between “narrow banking” – retail and corporate deposit taking – and investment banking and trading conducted at an international level.”

In other words, no serious change in the system.

In other words, he’s happy to let the banks go back to their bad old ways, safe in the knowledge that the tax payers will always pick up the cost of failure.

In other words, he still doesn’t realise that the age of globalisation, which began with the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, ended with the fall of Lehman Brothers on 14 September 2008, and that we need a new type of capitalism.

Or to put it another way, he’s yesterday’s man.

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