It’s interesting to see where voters, unschooled in economics except by Robert Peston, place blame for the current financial crisis. An opinion poll out yesterday by Channel 4 and YouGov found that 61% of people blamed ‘Banks in America and elsewhere lending irresponsibly’, whereas only 21% blamed the government.
For Conservatives, it is essential that we don’t let Brown place blame anywhere but squarely on his own shoulders. That’s where it deserves to rest. For Brown to deserve to avoid blame, he must answer to the media and population some searching questions:
1. If it is caused by American banks, and is an American problem, why is it that the value of the pound has plummeted by 19% in the past three months against the US dollar?
2. If the UK is better-placed to deal with the crisis than other countries, why is it that world GDP will grow at 3% next year, whilst the UK’s will contract by 1%? The gap between those growth rates is twice the average over the past five years.
3. If oil is to blame for the crisis, why is it that fellow European oil-producer Norway’s mainland GDP – i.e. excluding direct oil and gas production – will grow by 3% this year and 1.1% next year?
The government owes us some answers on these counts and others. In not have asked anything of the government so far, the mainstream media owes us some questions.