Saturday, January 24, 2009

Denis Healey talking sense - mostly.

Now that some economic pundits are anticipating formal advice being given to the British Government by the International Monetary Fund, its worth listening to the opinions of the last UK Chancellor who was the recipient of such advice in the 1970s. Simon Heffer reports on a cracking interview with Lord (Denis) Healey in today's Telegraph. I'll just refer you to a few quotes. Remember that this is a dyed-in-the-wool old socialist, who threatened to squeeze the rich until the pips squeaked. He thinks that "Cameron's a pain in the arse", (that's the bit I didn't agree with) and still claims to be backing Gordon Brown. Now read the quotes and imagine what he might say if he'd abandoned partisanship.

"I wouldn't particularly blame Gordon. I would have made the same mistakes." That's my favourite quote. Its just a pity he didn't list them.

"But it (the Bank of England) should have continued to regulate the banks..."

When asked whether the 45p tax proposal was a gesture aimed at cheering up the core vote, he said "I think probably so.Because what I learned as Chancellor was that the rich man can nearly always find a way of avoiding tax that are legal, and in any case the amount raised is very small, and it does encourage people to leave the country."

When asking if he regretted raising income tax so high when he was Chancellor, he said "I think so, yes. The main effect was to get people to invest abroad."

"We've got far too many people working in the public sector.....There's probably twice as many people working in the public sector as necessary......I think Gordon will get around to doing something about it now."

And then there were two bits of advice to the Prime Minister that I hope he will take serious note of;

"There's no question that had we been in the Eurozone, we'd have been hit harder. Look at the riots in Greece caused by unemployment. I don't think it would be sensible for us to lose the right to devalue our currency. With us having so much trade outside of Europe, to be tied to the Euro exchange rate would be damaging. I wouldn't be in favour of entering the Euro in principle, but more than that the pragmatic arguments against are overwhelming."

And on the timing of the General Election "waiting until the last minute is a risk. I think he ought to go at least a year before".

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