Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Vicky Pryce back on firmer ground with speedy analysis of euro crisis

Ms Pryce showed every sign of absorption and none of nervousness

Since Vicky Pryce is still serving her sentence over those speeding points – albeit with an electronic tag – it’s tempting to draw a parallel with Second World War safebreakers who were sprung from gaol by the military to steal Axis documents from behind enemy lines. Sometimes a crisis is just too big to tackle without the real experts. The eurozone is in meltdown; send for Pryce!

That at least seems to be how the Lords’ European Union Select Committee saw it. How could they properly review the subject without the advice of one of the country’s foremost authorities? Or consider the latest, perilous, slide of the Continent’s most ancient civilisation without the former joint head of the UK Government Economic Service, currently updating her standard work on “Greekonomics”?

If we secretly expected one of their Lordships suddenly to lose it and ask her about her feelings about gaol, marriage, or the hazards of talking to the press, or that Ms Pryce might play the tragic heroine in some lachrymose bid for sympathy, we were seriously wasting our time.

What we got was “Unless the debt is written off to a certain extent in most of the peripheral countries such as Greece, Portugal – and we probably need to do something in Spain – who knows what will happen this year? So the second thing that needs to happen... is for the European Central Bank to heavily intervene and finally be allowed by the Germans to buy bonds in the market. It hasn’t done that. Basically we need  our own Quantitative Easing, in Europe  to see us through. So, a big stimulus package is what  is needed.” 

Gulp. This no-nonsense summary, delivered at characteristically breakneck speed, was fairly typical. The peers had weight, at least if judged by the declared company directorships of some – including 11 held by the former Tory Treasury Chief Secretary and scourge of public spending, Lord Flight. But clad in a black jacket and pink and white striped shirt, occasionally brushing back her hair, leafing from time to time through a sheaf of papers, and making notes with a white translucent pen, Ms Pryce showed every sign of absorption and none of nervousness as she sat between her fellow witnesses, political scientist Stephen Haseler, an avowed pro-European, and her fellow economist Ruth Lea, formerly of the Institute of Directors, who is much more Eurosceptic.

There were some crispy moments. “For once I agree with Ruth,” said Ms Pryce at one point. “For once?” asked a surprised Ms Lea. And she deflected a masochistic invitation by the session’s Labour chairman, Lord Harrison, to say to the committee what she had written in the past, that politicians “just don’t get” economics. “Well, there are different views around, so I can’t generalise,” was her retort.

So grateful was Lord Harrison for the three experts’ “magnificent” testimony that he invited them all for a coffee. Maybe then did they discuss a topic that wasn’t once mentioned during the open session – Ms Pryce’s recent experiences. But, since she is now writing a book that will reflect upon them – Prisonomics, an appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee cannot be far off.

If nothing else, this woman gives good witness.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
News
The show will be billed as Clarkson, Hammond and May Live
people
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence