Michael Fallon: what would you have done differently?

The Conservative Party deputy chairman's criticisms of Gordon Brown are just cheap shots. Let's have

Michael Fallon, the acerbic deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, criticised the appointment of Gordon Brown to an unpaid post at the World Economic Forum, where he will chair a new policy and initiatives co-ordination board.

"This is a case of putting the arsonist in charge of the fire station," he said. "It beggars belief that somebody who is yet to apologise for the mess he made in our finances should now be advising the rest of the world." I suppose that means he doesn't like Gordon much. Just cheap shots.

Interestingly, the Tories matched the Labour government's spending plans and have still not explained what they would have done differently during the greatest financial crisis for a century. I would be interested in hearing from Fallon what he would have done differently during the crisis. Would he have allowed Northern Rock, RBS and Lloyds to fail? Would he have kept rates at 5 per cent through 2009, 2010 and 2011? Would he have implemented fiscal stimulus or not and, if so, what sort of stimulus would he have done? What would you have done differently, Michael?

I wonder what he has to say now about the coalition's failure to regulate banker's bonuses, given what he said on 23 September 2008 in a column in the Guardian.

Finally, Conservatives have to think more deeply about the nature of reward. The excesses of the past few years have taught us that it's not enough to believe only in the equality of the starting tape. If we are to rebuild faith in the free-market economy, we need to address fairness and restore some proportion to outcome as well as opportunity. It can't be right that bankers are rewarded so extravagantly for "deals" that don't add long-term value, that bonus structures distort proper investment decisions. Mega-bonuses, out of all proportion to ordinary earnings, destroy the social consensus on which a free economy depends.

Michael: are the "mega-bonuses" being paid in the financial sector still destroying the "social consensus"? Michael, I really am interested in hearing your views on what you would have done differently in the great recession. The big test for any of your proposals is whether they would have prevented unemployment hitting 20 per cent or even higher, which is what doing nothing -- as you seem to have proposed -- would probably imply. Maybe I am wrong and you had a great plan. Looking forward to hearing the details from you. What should Gordon and Alastair have done differently in 2008 and 2009? Let's have a serious debate.

David Blanchflower is economics editor of the New Statesman and professor of economics at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

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All party leaders except Theresa May and Paul Nuttall sign EU citizen pledge

The Home is Here campaign asks candidates to commit to guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals. 

The leaders of the Tories and Ukip have refused to back a pledge to campaign for the rights of EU citizens signed by all the other mainstream parties. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood have all signed up to the Home is Here pledge. The campaign asks candidates to commit to guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals.

More than a hundred candidates from different parties, including Labour's Clive Lewis and Jo Stevens, and Ukip's David Dews and Helena Windsor, have signed the pledge. One Tory candidate, Antoinette Sandbach, has signed up. 

Lewis, who is the incumbent MP for Norwich South, and quit the shadow cabinet rather than vote to trigger Article 50, said: "It should shame us all that 3 million people who have built a home in this country are, as a result of Theresa May's posturing, being denied basic guarantees over their right to remain here. 

"We need to end to this situation and send a clear message to EU nationals who make such an amazing contribution to Britain: 'You are welcome here'".

Since the vote for Brexit in June 2016, EU nationals, many of whom have lived in the UK for decades, are facing uncertainty about their future rights in their country of residence.

The Tory Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said she is in favour of the right to remain, but has refused to commit to this until the same guarantees are received for British citizens living abroad.

However, May's unwillingness to act unilaterally has been blamed for causing widespread ill-feeling in Brussels.

Ukip generally does not sign third party peldges, but its manifesto promises to allow law-abiding EU citizens living in the UK before Article 50 was triggered the right to stay indefinitely.

The Conservatives have been contacted for comment. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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