Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Big Bail Out, Round 2

I was up quite early this morning and decided to conduct an (entirely unscientific) investigation into mass panic. Before retiring to my hugely comfortable bed yesterday news had come through that The Big Bail Out had fallen on stony ground. Wall Street was a-crumbling and those who like to spend other people's money were complaining left right and centre. It was no surprise that the BBC was dragging in all its favourite doomsayers to opine upon the airwaves, and still less of a surprise that they felt they knew better than the people with responsibility to take the decision. So today I decided to follow the BBC radio news all day and see what pattern emerged.

This morning there appeared to be no wail unwailed and no tooth ungnashed as the doomsayers predicted the end of the world as we know it. It being the BBC, most of them made that prediction with glee. Many seemed to take obvious delight at having a new reason for abhoring the capitalist economic structure now that their former ammunition, global warming, has turned into global cooling. The west cannot survive, they crowed, without fundamental change. Only state control of banks can ensure bounty for all, thank goodness we have the supreme wisdom of Gordon Brown to lead the world at this pivotal moment. Thank goodness I had some Marmite on toast to keep me calm in the face of this feeble minded lunacy.

By the time my breakfast teapot was empty the London Stock Market was trading well. The collapse wished upon it by the BBC's finest guests was nowhere to be seen. By 10am a new set of doomsayers were being paraded. They had consulted the doomsayers' manual which advises them to use failure of the first prediction as evidence that things are even worse than previously feared. Just wait, they said, when Wall Street gets going there will be banks falling aplenty. Gordon Brown was brought out again: "doing the right thing", "global problem", "getting on with the job", "difficult times", "world stage", "experience". Yesterday the BBC spent much time promoting Gordon as the brains behind The Big Bail Out and the message had to be rammed home again today. There is a central message on the BBC today, Gordon is in charge and he has the answer.

Recovery in the stock markets continued, suggestions were coming forward for market-led measures to alleviate the problem (I got these from the internet, of course, not the BBC) and noises from across the pond were that things had calmed considerably. The message arrived that American taxpayers were not exactly cock-a-hoop about throwing vast sums of money at wealthy bankers when it was the bankers' bad decisions which had caused the mess. It became clear that a deal will be done in the next few days but it will be one the incumbent Congressmen can sell to their constituents (not a minor consideration when the whole House of Representatives is up for re-election in four weeks' time). The banks will be saved. Mass panic was over and the BBC turned to damage limitation mode.

Oh dear, poor doomsayers. Mid afternoon the BBC ditched them and turned to cementing Gordon's supposed reputation. A special interview was recorded and played widely. Just the same as he said earlier except that now it is the revised Big Bail Out for which he must be thanked. There's a lot of "we" in the interview, as though the man has been involved. He has not. He has been sitting on the sidelines giving interviews while the Americans responsible for the decisions have been busy discussing options among themselves. You would never guess that from listening to the BBC.

My mind goes back twelve months to last year's Conservative Party Conference. Poor gauche Gordon, the Marxist idealist who considers the Conservative Party to be Hitler in a blue suit, is such an obsessive, bigotted and downright rude man that he could not abide by convention. Convention requires each party to keep quiet while one of the other parties is holding its annual conference. The reasoning behind it is simple. No one has a monopoly on good ideas and democratic government requires the people to have a chance to hear what everyone has to say. For one week and one week only the opposition parties have greater access to the airwaves than throughout the rest of the year and, of course, the governing party also has a week in the spotlight. It is only one week for each opposition party, the rest of the time they are in the background as the government's decisions and proposals are aired. But Gordon is not a fair man. He is deeply spiteful. Any chance to cause trouble for his opponents is music to his ears, so last year he decided to drop into Iraq during the Conservative Conference and seek to grab some headlines for himself. It backfired hugely because it showed even those favourable to him what a devious and nasty piece of work he is, so uncertain of his own abilities that he feels the need to drown out dissent.

This week he is doing the same. He has no business being in Washington. Neither the White House nor Capitol Hill asked him to visit and neither is consulting him. It is a pure stunt to divert attention from the Conservatives. As always, the BBC backs Gordon all the way so he gets lots of airtime and even more supportive editorial comment.

Today was a fine example of mass panic as an excuse to display prejudices. Positions harden when the chips are down. That is why the Americans are ignoring Gordon, there is no benefit to them from pretending to consult a man who has bankrupted the Treasury he has commanded for eleven years. It is also why the BBC has mounted an all-out campaign to promote him. As a keen listener I have noticed increasing concern among BBC radio hacks in recent months as the polls have shown ever increasing Conservative leads. They were desperate for an excuse to close down coverage of the Conservative Conference and place Gordon centre stage.

Panic over, The Big Bail Out will become The Big Stringent Loan With Painful Consequences For Bad Bankers. Gordon will claim credit, the BBC will give Gordon credit and it will take up to three months for his empty position to be exposed fully. As always, panic brings out prejudices and, as always, prejudices come back to haunt those with a duty to be impartial.

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