Gordon Brown admitted Labor was too light on punishing the bankers responsible for the 2007-08 global financial crisis, saying some should have gone to jail.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the former Chancellor-turned-Prime Minister said “there should have been a prosecution”, adding that while he would not interfere with the work of potential prosecutors, “what you you can do is change the law and make it tougher”. on people – and obviously we would have if we had regained power”.
While Brown’s response to the crisis – bailing out Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland – helped stem the worst of its effects, the UK still fell into a deep recession.
He also brokered a billion-dollar global stimulus package, hailed as “historic” by Barack Obama at the G20 in London in April 2009, but he conceded neglecting the domestic audience, adding that “I spent too much time trying to solve the financial problem”. crisis and organize the international community”.
He also regretted not taking off the gloves with the bankers, pointing out that even John McCain, Obama’s Republican rival, attacked Wall Street in the 2008 US presidential election.
“We didn’t explain how bad the banks were and what we were actually doing to address these issues,” Brown said in the interview. “We had dealt with issues like bonuses, all the heads of these big financial institutions left – we didn’t allow them to stay – but we didn’t really explain that to the public.”
Brown’s Treasury has since been criticized for regulating financial services too loosely, arguably making oversight less effective by stripping the newly independent Bank of England of its oversight functions.
“We should have done more for the banks,” he said. “But if you had written your columns in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, you would have written about city leaders saying they were over-regulated.
“Every time I met Fred Goodwin [the former RBS boss, stripped of his knighthood in the wake of the financial crisis] he complained of being too regulated.
Brown’s latest book focuses on the rise of nationalism, which now seems timely given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are entering a new geopolitical era, and nationalism is the dominant ideology,” Brown commented. “Politics is actually now more important than economics.
“Whether it’s Putin with his invasion of Ukraine or China with Taiwan, or America being very defensive about pulling out of Afghanistan and returning to an ‘America first’ position. , nationalism is in fact the greatest political force in the world today.”
In Seven ways to change the world which he published last year, Brown diagnoses the cause of “us versus them” nationalism as the financial crisis and the uneven recovery that followed, with low interest rates and quantitative easing inflating asset prices, but low growth eroding living standards.
“People feel like they have a lot less control over decisions that affect their lives – and nationalism wants people to believe that unless there is a change of regime or border, you will always remain a second-class citizen.”
In a new chapter Brown is writing for the paperback edition, he directly addresses the Ukraine crisis, calling for Russia to be brought before international tribunals for “atrocities that cannot go unpunished.”
He adds: “Europe can never be the same again, because it is also an all-out struggle between competing nationalisms.
As for nationalism at home, he noted that “the SNP will not stop advocating for independence” because that is its raison d’être.
“I think you will find that they will produce a leaflet very soon saying that breaking free from Britain and having fiscal autonomy would cause Scotland no problem contrary to all the evidence… so people in London who think that the problem will just go far if you have new leaders – it has to be dealt with at a higher level than that.
The collapse of the Labor Party in Scotland since Brown’s tenure was ‘avoidable’ and ‘not inevitable’, but he believes it stemmed from an ‘unwillingness to face some of the arguments’ and an inability to litigate in favor of the union. .
Brown said he was frustrated with the way the SNP tried to make “Scottish cultural identity antithetical to British citizenship”.
“A Scot is the head of the Supreme Court, and the deputy head is a Scot,” he begins, before continuing: “A Scot is president of the House of Lords, the largest manufacturing company in Great Britain. Britain, Unilever, is run by a Scotsman. , the biggest energy company, Shell, is run by a Scot, two of the three biggest unions are run by Scots, MI5 is run by a Scot – and you’re sitting here in Scotland and no one here knows .
“Whereas 25 years ago people would have been proud to have Scots in these positions, nationalism is so deeply rooted now that it is almost considered an aberration.”
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