TINA is dead on the ground

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser. It was published in the 27th October edition under the heading “This is no golden age”

TINA is dead on the ground

In criticising Gordon Brown for the current crisis of the British economy, David Cameron conveniently forgets the responsibility of Thatcher who began the process of de-regulation and freeing capital from any restrictions. She was the author of the “Big Bang” in the City which opened the way to “financial capitalism”. The current global crisis is a historical judgement on the ‘Reagan-Thatcher revolution’ and ‘self-regulating’ markets.

Brown’s responsibility for the current situation lies in the fact that he maintained much of Thatcher’s framework, with its reverence for the mythical “free market”. Conveniently forgetting what he has done and said for the last 11 years he has the audacity to say that now is “the end of the age of irresponsibility”. But he has encouraged that “irresponsibility” based on reckless lending and the creation of a “derivatives” market which threatens to drag down the real economy as its fictitious value is wiped out.

Brown was the author of “light regulation” which allowed the unrestricted growth of an unregulated financial system. He has boasted that he resisted pressures to increase regulation after the collapse of Enron and Worldcom resulting from off-balance sheet fiddling of the books and the collapse of the dot com bubble.

He is also a defender of “flexibility” which was nothing other than freedom for employer’s to exploit their workers. He has allowed the banning of employment rights for the first year of employment which allows employers to deny workers’ the most basic of rights.

Brown condemns himself from his own mouth. Only last year in his speech to the City of London he gushed praise for their activities and their super-profits.

“I have been able year by year to record how the City of London has risen by your efforts, ingenuity and creativity to become a world leader”. He predicted – how wrong could anybody be? – that this era would be one that history will record is the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London.” He believed it would be said of this new “golden age” that “a new world order was created”.

Brown believed that the City was “critical” to the British economy despite the decline of manufacturing. In fact the greater the weight of financial services in the British economy the more vulnerable it has become to the shocks on the global level.

His “new world order” is in ruins. The gold has turned to dross. Ironically Brown now talks of a new Bretton Woods (the post war arrangements with fixed exchange rates and capital controls) and global ‘regulation’. But don’t expect him to make a self-criticism of the neo-liberalism which was at the heart of New Labour, since he would have to accept that the ideas of New Labour were fundamentally flawed.

The key question now is action to defend and create jobs. TINA (Thatcher’s dictum, there is no alternative to the ‘free market’ and liberalisation) lies dead on the ground. There has to be an alternative, the only question now is what sort?

Martin Wicks
Secretary, Swindon TUC

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