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15 April 2010

Brown’s regulation admission and the absurd right-wing response

Standard, Sun and Tories portray crucial and cathartic apology as a "gaffe"

By James Macintyre

Yesterday, I posted about this crucial if belated admission by Gordon Brown:

In the 1990s, the banks, they all came to us and said, ‘Look, we don’t want to be regulated, we want to be free of regulation.’ … And all the complaints I was getting from people was, ‘Look you’re regulating them too much.’

The truth is that globally and nationally we should have been regulating them more. So I’ve learnt from that.

I argued that more should be made of it, little knowing that in fact much was being made of it — it was being almost universally attacked. Last night’s Evening Standard casually referred to it — within another story — as a “gaffe”. When I first saw that on the Tube, I thought that either I had mis-read or that it was a typo. But then I realised it is a near-perfect demonstration of the right-wing centre of gravity in the British media. I only caught up with yesterday’s Sun last night, which had a big piece on Brown’s supposedly humiliating climb-down, portrayed as a way of pinning the recession on the Prime Minister. Predictable, yes, but also ironical given the rampantly free market ideological position of the Sun’s owner, Rupert Murdoch. Now, conventional wisdom seems to be — and the Tories seem to be putting it about — that Brown has made a damaging apology. Perhaps they are worried by what could be a bit of catharsis for Brown.

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It is certainly true that Brown has much to apologise for when it comes to his absurdly liberal approach to regulation in the past. But his admission — not a moment too soon — should be welcomed. Indeed, it should be repeated in tonight’s debate.