I nearly missed this extraordinary piece buried in the business pages of yesterday's Telegraph by half-decent economics commentator (and there aren't many of those) Edmund Conway. The thrust of the piece, supported by an interesting flashback to the days when Blair was, apparently, Labour's City spokesman, just when the '87 bubble burst, is that a series of FoI requests have revealed that Blair knew about Brown's mega housing bust as early as 2004, possibly before. Said Conway:
So concerned was the PM back in 2004 that the housing market was turning into a bubble that he asked the Treasury for a full briefing note (in fact he was prompted by an FT column by Martin Wolf, warning: “Nobody knows when the bust will come. But come, I believe, it will”.)
Fine, but nothing, as everyone no doubt recalls, happened. Why? I think we can guess. Conway continues:
Now, it probably isn’t a surprise to hear that the Treasury dismissed this view in its document, which PricedOut has attained under a Freedom of Information request. But I was surprised by the length of the document (eight chunky pages) and throughout its length a sheer unwillingness to countenance the possibility that the housing market would crash. It underlines the simple fact that the Treasury under Gordon Brown was blind to the possibility that things could go horribly wrong – even within the confines of Downing Street. It turns out no-one was allowed to challenge the “end to boom and bust” trope – even Tony Blair himself.
Blair's role in this debacle simply demonstrates how weak a prime minister, and person, he actually was. And, of course, it shows how far he would go to keep the title. He knew and yet he did nothing. If he'd had a spine, he would have fired Brown when he had the chance. But he didn't, and should be judged accordingly.
As for Brown. My God! Is it any wonder that I hate him (and I mean hate) and all he stands for? Is it really that surprising that I, and millions of others, believe he is the worst man ever to have held high office in this country? Should it really be that much of a shock that I am 100% sure that if this unelected, incompetent, vainglorious oddball is somehow given a mandate this year, the damage he will do to this country afterwards would make terrible harm he's caused so far look like the good old days?
At least the politics are therefore very straightforward: you vote Labour in your constituency and you will get five more years of the lying economic wrecker. Vote Tory, you don't.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a moral duty to vote Conservative this time around, and all that that implies if you don't. That what's at stake here. The documentary proof in Conway's article provides the proof, as if more were needed.
And now, just for a bit of extra entertainment, and in case you can't be bothered to click through to original article, is that video of Blair in '87. Who'd have thought a wet-behind-the-ears political unknown, who'd never had a proper a job in his life, would one day be prime minister.
Well, so much for David Cameron. But it is interesting to see Blair back then...
...about the same as he looks now, only less suntanned and without the Yank accent.