Europe on brink of another financial crisis, Darling warns
Austerity has made things worse, not better, says former chancellor
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 01 April 2012
Europe is in the eye of an economic cyclone, with a fresh storm about to hit vulnerable countries, the former chancellor Alistair Darling has warned.
Mr Darling, who accurately predicted in 2008 that Britain was on the brink of the worst economic downturn for 60 years, said European Union leaders should not be lulled into thinking that the worst of the eurozone crisis is over.
In a lecture to students at Queen Mary, University of London last week, the Labour MP said the situation in Spain, where the centre-right government is imposing severe budget cuts and a general strike wreaked havoc on Thursday, should trigger alarm bells across the EU.
The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed last month that following agreement on a fresh EU bailout of Greece, the eurozone was out of the woods. And David Cameron and George Osborne have insisted that Britain's strategy to push on with austerity measures has helped stabilise European economies. By contrast, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has warned that Europe remains in a "fragile situation" and that the crisis is far from over.
Mr Darling told the university's New Labour in Government class: "Part of the problem with Europe is that a lot of them took the view that that this crisis is now behind us, therefore this is a time to visit austerity, whereas the countries who are going to be most hit by austerity [like Spain] are not out of the crisis at all."
"I think we're in a lull in Europe at the moment. It's rather like going through cyclones. You get in the middle and you think, great. And then you forget the other side of it."
Mr Darling urged the British government to do more to stimulate the economy until there were clear signs of recovery. "In my view it's clear: the Government should support the economy through stimulus until the economy is clearly recovering. Then you start getting the borrowing down. But you shouldn't be carrying very high borrowing and very high levels of debt – there's nothing good in that in the long term."
Mr Darling faced a backlash from Gordon Brown's Downing Street when he warned in an interview in August 2008 that Britain was on the brink of the worst economic storm since the 1930s. Yet within weeks he was proved right by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and within months the country plunged into recession, from which it is still struggling to recover.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
Justin Bieber's unfinished monkey business
World news in pictures
David Cameron goes to war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Tears and cheers as David Beckham ends glittering career after helping PSG to final win
- 2 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 David Cameron goes to war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...
£240 - £260 per day: Progressive Recruitment: WPF Developer (C#, VB.Net) North...