Rather than attempting to foretell the future, it would be more enlightening if either or both had outlined what went wrong “under their watch” – when they were actually in a position to do something.
For instance, under the Bank of England Act of 1998, Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, stripped the Bank of England (BoE) of any formal powers to intervene to save the banks, even in the event of a financial crisis. Just exactly what did he consider was the role of the BoE?
At the same time he created both the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and a Standing Committee for Financial Stability (T3), a monitoring body designed to ensure that the new financial structure he, Gordon Brown, had introduced was actually operating correctly – when we all now know that the system was a failure. Exactly what went wrong?
In looking into the operation of the T3 committee, I was advised by the FSA, in April 2012, that “currently the principals (of T3) are” the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the governor of the BoE and the chairman of the FSA”.
The use of the phrase – “currently the principals are” – is very interesting as it indicates this was not the original structure. Had it been so, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, as a principal, would have been alerted to the 30 warnings about individual banks that were flagged up by the FSA and the negative outcome of the one “war game” undertaken by the BoE.
As it was, Gordon Brown did not attend any meeting of this “Financial Stability Committee” and Alistair Darling found time to attend only one of its meetings.
But now, freed by the electorate from the burdens of office, both appear to be more than willing to pass on their financial wisdom and experience to anyone prepared to listen.