National politics

Vice chancellors?

I am sorry but the least credible thing proposed during this evening’s leaders’ debate was Nick Clegg’s emergency deficit summit.

He proposed gathering all of the parties’ chancellors and vice chancellors along with the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA). I am sorry but this is 9/10ths nonsense.

First off the only vice chancellors in British public life are the chief executives of our universities who usually take the title of vice chancellor. I can only imagine that Clegg was referring to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and his or her shadows. The Chief Secretary’s role in our government is number 2 to the Chancellor and involves negotiating with government departments about budget allocations, public sector pay, welfare reform, and procurement policy.

Clegg has clearly not thought through how to tackle the deficit and this statement shows that he is making it up as he goes along. The main role of the Bank of England nowadays is monetary policy and the control of inflation, not fiscal (tax and spend) policy. The FSA is almost totally irrelevant to sorting out the deficit. The FSA are a finance industry regulator – why not bring the water regulator into the conversation? What a jerk?

The idea that you will come to a swift conclusion about what to cut or what taxes to raise by bickering with your political opponents is just risible. The players in this conversation are the next government’s Treasury ministers with the spending ministers around the Cabinet table supported by their senior civil servants who will already have presented their ministers with a list of possible savings as soon as they arrived at their new desks. Clegg doesn’t know what he is talking about.

One reply on “Vice chancellors?”

Yes it did sound as though he was making it up as he went along but he said it very persuasively with confidence and sincerity and that is what people would pick up on.

It seemed as though he was putting forward a helpful and sensible idea if you didn’t think about it too much, which is rather his style. Managing to sound sincere, sensible, and confident has pulled him up in the polls – appearance over substance for which TV is a good medium.


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