Sunday, September 17, 2006

Black Wednesday, David Cameron and why I became a joiner...

Thanks to Impossible Promises for reminding me why I joined the Labour Party. Yesterday was the anniversary of Black Wednesday, the day current Tory Leader David Cameron made perhaps his earliest appearance on national television.

September 16th 1992 was the defining moment in eighteen years of economic failure.

As hapless Chancellor Norman Lamont emerged into the media spotlight of Downing Street to raise interest rates for the third time on the same day, he was flanked by his Special Advisor in the Treasury: one David Cameron (before he became a PR consultant).

I wonder what special advice Mr Cameron gave his boss on what was to become known as Black Wednesday. Was Cameron responsible for Lamont's infamous soundbite of the day...remember the one:
“It’s been a difficult day…”
Well, what else can you say when you’ve mucked it up so badly that you have to hike interest rates by a record five per cent in just a few hours.

Like millions of ordinary hard working folk, I’ll never forget that awful day.

I was self-employed, re-mortgaged up to the hilt, raising a family and struggling to keep my head above water with interest rates already in double figures. After the Black Wednesday bombshell, work dried up as the nation tightened and retightened its belt. At the same time, my mortgage payments went through the roof to a crippling 18-per-cent for months.

Negative equity, unmanageable debt and a feeling of total helplessness followed. It took many years to recover.

I’d long known that the Tories were not fit to goven but it took Black Wednesday and its aftermath to shake me off my backside to do something to kick them out.

The one thing I could do was to join the Labour Party, and better still go and work for the Party.

These days, almost ten years into the Blair Government, it makes me laugh when I see so-called serious news programmes devoting whole packages to doom and gloom scenarios suggesting that Britain is about to slump into economic meltdown because interest rates have gone up by a quarter of one per cent.

But people do have extremely short memories – and many of those who have a vote for the first time at the next General Election were not even born on Black Wednesday when the Tories put up interest rates by five per cent in one day.

Some of us will never forget that it was the incompetent Tories who gave us boom and bust, two economic recessions, rocketing inflation, interest rates out of control, four million on the dole, whole communities thrown on the scrapheap...

And Black Wednesday.

Today, people take our economic stability for granted, along with low inflation and interest rates, a national minimum wage and more people in work than ever before.

But none of these things which the Tories failed to deliver in 18 years happened by accident.

They happened because of decisions taken by a Labour Government working in the long term interests of Britain.

For me, Black Wednesday is why the Tories - whether led by John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, David Cameron, or anyone else - can never again be trusted to run our country’s finances.

More on Black Wednesday at the BBC

7 comments:

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Andrew Woodman said...

Remind me of Labour policy arond the time of Black Wednesday. Are you honestly saying that it wouldn't have happened had kinnock won the 92 election.

fairdealphil said...

Andrew:

I am confident that Black Wednesday wouldn't have happened with Gordon Brown running our country's finances.

Just a couple of examples:

Pre-97, when New Labour promised the first ever national minimum wage, the Tories (then presiding over a dole queue of four million)predicted it would cost a million jobs.

(I recall the current Tory MP for Wellingborough in our part of the world bragging that he paid workers less than £1 an hour).

In fact, the minimum wage has been successfully introduced to protect workers from people like him - at the same time as an EXTRA million jobs have been created.

I also recall the Tory derision when Gordon Brown gave independence to the Bank of England to set interest rates, preventing the setting of rates for electoral rather than economic reasons.

And I also remember Thatcher's lost generation of youth who grew up with no hope of ever finding work.

One of the greatest legacies of the Blair Government will be that long term youth unemployment has been virtually eradicated - far exceeding the modest 1997 Labour manifesto promise of merely taking 100,000 young people off the dole and putting them into work.

Andrew Woodman said...

Phil, you've not explained why it would have been different. Can Gordon Brown control international currency markets now as well as taking the credit for stimulating growth created by Tory foundations.