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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness