Monday, 13 October 2008

Dr.Finlay Returns

No more Mr. Bean, no more Stalin:suddenly Brown and Darling have managed to make this government look like Dr.Finlay - that kindly and authoritative Scottish professional of impeccable probity and wisdom who knows and cares about his patients. Suddenly, improbably, they are world leaders in defusing crises of capitalism and the Eurozone and, somewhat less publicly, the States are queuing up to copy their policy proscriptions. Nobel prize winners laud Dr Finlay in the New York Times. Jackie Ashley in the Guardian is cock-a-hoop. Suggestions of a snap election to “re-affirm their mandate during the difficult times to come” can’t be far away.

Well, we’ll see. Richard Murphy is in no doubt: the respite is temporary and full nationalisation will have to follow. (He’s also warned of Ireland ‘doing an Iceland' btw).

Comrade Mason also warns that many economists say that this deal won’t hold and full nationalisation will have to follow across most of the Western world. Both of them are concerned about how governments now change previous commercial practice, whether or not full nationalisation occurs. Business as usual is what got us into this mess - so something has to change, despite Darling’s insistence on the radio this morning that the new state banks be run ‘on a commercial basis’. Murphy has a set of detailed policy proposals here which sound quite sensible to this non banker. Mason puts it thus:

If you are, say the head of corporate social responsibility at a bank like RBS your main obsessions have been with responding to lobbyists on two of the great issues of our time: climate change and international development. I suggest that this will now lead to a reprioritisation to a third great issue of our time - ending rip-off banking.
Once the wing public realises these companies are being run in part in the public interest there will be an avalanche of campaigns: over small business interest rates, over rip off lending practices, over off shoring. The banks, in other words, will be required to show some social responsibility towards their actual customers

Suddenly, the efficiency, ethics and politics of running finance capital come to the fore: it’s not just a technical question any more. TINA is dead, whatever the efforts of Dr.Finlay....

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