Comment: Brown's band of Roundheads would not work

Where Ken Clarke is a laughing Cavalier, Gordon Brown is a Roundhead. No matter how sure one is that the stern Scot would run a tighter monetary policy than our current Chancellor, tough on inflation and tough on the causes of inflation, one is bound to feel a few pangs of regret over the likely demise of the monthly monetary meeting, which during its three- year run has provided considerable entertainment. A clash of personalities might not make for wonderful interest rate policy, but boy has it been fun.

Nor is it obvious that the Cromwellian committee Chancellor Brown would install at the Bank of England will turn out to make better decisions than we get from the present system. Labour's advisers emphasise that the point of a Monetary Policy Committee is to get away from the distracting focus on personality. But the suspicion must be that the point is to remove the possibility of a clash - to make sure the Bank of England does not disagree effectively with the Chancellor.

There is, after all, a contradiction in Labour's plans for institutional change. Mr Brown would abolish the Treasury's advisory panel, the six wise persons, because its members never agree and cannot give consistent advice. How true - as cynical commentators said when it was first established, that was the entire point of setting up the panel. But he would create a new committee at the Bank.

No wonder many in the City suspect that the point of Labour's proposals is to create a more compliant Bank of England. Certainly the nature of Mr Brown's appointments will be watched like a hawk, although he has already emphasised that they would all be respected experts on monetary policy.

At best the new committee would be window-dressing. If Labour really believes the current arrangements have not served the economy well because of Ken Clarke's cheery disregard for stern advice, Mr Brown should make the Bank independent. Britain is the last big modern economy not to have an independent central bank. Other countries have managed to overcome any difficulties about political accountability.

Meanwhile, as Mr Clarke rides off into the Nottinghamshire sunset, he deserves some praise not only for panache in monetary policy, but also for doing a much better job of it than his more cavalier predecessors.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk