George Osborne and his advisors at the Treasury are in deep trouble.
As usual the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a hash of things – this time in his handling of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
It seems he has a personality problem. He cannot stand the success of others, especially those who don’t do his bidding. By sacking Stephen Hester he made matters far worse for the Royal Bank of Scotland at a time when at the end of the first quarter of this year the state-owned bank was back in profit – the balance sheet was £1 trillion smaller and £200 billion of toxic assets had been disposed of.
The share price was almost at a level where the taxpayers’ loss, if any, would be limited and possibly recouped.
Since then shares have plummeted and are now worth around £4.5 billion less than when Stephen Hester said he was stepping down (a more polite way of saying he’s being removed).
The City was shocked, for Hester has done a phenomenal job in extremely difficult circumstances. A combative but highly talented chief executive is far better placed to prepare the bank for privatisation than a bunch of ignoramus politicians who have no clue whatsoever what to do next – except perhaps put the clock back by appointing a docile yes-man who will flatter his masters and lose the plot.
The government sways with the wind and changes direction on a whim if it believes it has a chance of winning the next general election.
They thought gay marriage was the answer but so far all the indications are to the contrary. They also have the habit of rewarding failure instead of success. You have only to look at the list of people they elevate to higher positions and you have your answer.
George Osborne appears to be calling the shots and David Cameron is beholden to him as a sort of messiah who will lift Britain from the recession and win the accolade of the nation. Far from it, for I believe he is becoming a liability due to his arrogance and his mishandling of the economy. He overrates his ability and became in the words of Simon Heffer ‘an international laughing stock’ when President Obama confused him with the black soul singer of the same surname and addressed him as ‘Jeffrey’. The blunder, he added, exposes a deeper truth: ‘The view of Obama’s administration that most British politicians are pygmies and our country can be disregarded. The US president made this abundantly clear at this week’s pointless G8 summit.’
Simon Heffer’s words reflect a growing concern that the British public are badly served by their political elite who consider themselves their masters.
One of Max Hastings’ favourite stories of Winston Churchill concerns a moment in 1942 when he was much troubled by the prospect of preparing and delivering a speech to the House of Commons about the war, which at the time was going badly. His Chief of Staff General ‘Pug’ Ismay said emolliently: ‘Why don’t you tell them all to go to hell, sir?’ Churchill turned on him in a flash and said furiously, ‘You must not say such things. I am the servant of the House.’ Hastings adds, ‘Who can imagine any modern British prime minister saying, far less believing, such a thing.’
Politicians today are greedy for power and treat us as the underdogs. Democracy as we knew it is rapidly disappearing to be replaced by a bunch of parvenus whose ethics and moral standing lack the commitment and conviction that their office demands. Unless we bring radical changes to the way we view our politicians and do something about it, we risk the degradation of the very system that made Britain a great nation and a bulwark of true democracy.