As Bradford & Bingley, the last of the independent former building societies, is shared between Santander and the state, the Tories have been attacking New Labour – whose economic policies (light-touch regulation, privatisation of public services) they have supported.
[On that B&B bail-out, the BBC’s economic correspondent Robert Peston notes that “For taxpayers to lose a penny Bradford and Bingley’s future losses would have to be unthinkably huge.” That doesn’t mean that it’s a good move, mind…]
Why it’s conference season, and the Tories are in Birmigham – and they’re not complacent, honest.
Aside from promises to stand Tory candidates in the six counties (AKA Northern Ireland), carry on state harrassment and demonisation of Muslims, and cut council services, we have an overture to Blue Labour ministers:
Senior Blairites could be offered jobs under a David Cameron government in the ‘national interest’ […] in a bid to poach some of Labour’s brightest talents and split the party.
Michael Gove, the shadow children’s secretary, singled out Schools Minister Lord Adonis, but also warmly praised current cabinet ministers James Purnell and the ‘outstanding’ Hazel Blears.
As for the Tories economic proposals, Green leader Caroline Lucas says we need more people power, not quangoes:
“We are in the middle of a financial crisis caused by a lack of democratic control of the economy, and the Tory response is to marginalise democracy even further. It’s what they call ‘disaster capitalism’ – seizing on an emergency as an excuse to drive through a hard-right ideological agenda.
“The Tories want to outsource oversight of government fiances to a quango they call the Office of Budget Responsibility. But we already have an Office of Budget Responsibility. It’s called Parliament.
“We don’t need another quango, filled with the same corporate bosses that got us into this mess, with a few Tory donors and ultra-right think-tank wonks for good measure. We need real democratic control of the economy, with power returned from multinationals to parliament and, most importantly, to ordinary people.
“The Tories want to outsource the handling of failed banks, too. When a bank has to be nationalised, it should be dealt with for the benefit of ordinary savers and borrowers, but George Osbourne wants banks handed over to the Bank of England for another dose of the insular City thinking that caused the problem in the first place.
“Under a Green New Deal, banks that failed would be restructured into more, smaller companies, so that any problems they have in the future can be contained without putting the whole economy at risk. High-street banking would be separated from high finance to improve the security of people’s savings and mortgages. We would restore some of our lost building societies, which added much-needed stability to the market. We would get finance, and the economy as a whole, working for people rather than distant corporations.
“The Tories want to cut public investment just at the time we need it most. Their attitude is ‘you’re on your own’. A Green New Deal means government doing its job: investing in keeping our economy healthy and building a sustainable economy for the future.
“By borrowing from the people through local bonds, government can create a secure investment for savers. That would allow us to revamp our public transport, energy supplies and housing, generating jobs, revitalising money flows, loosening ties to unreliable oil markets and cutting carbon emissions.”