The Sketch: More of the same dithering from rudderless helmsman

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The regulation of rip-off nail bars was the subject of Phyllis Starkey's Ten Minute Rule Bill. Disreputable operators are using cut-price polymers which can cause the nail extension to be physically ripped off, taking the nail with it and damaging (horrifically, I'd guess) the poor recipient's nail bed.

She told us that the licensing of nail bars falls into a regulatory gap between local authorities, the Health and Safety Executive and the Trading Standards Authority. Her Bill is going to rectify this.

Compare and contrast her practical plan with Gordon Brown's approach to the financial crisis. This also seems to fall into a regulatory gap.

From what we've heard in Parliament, there is no strategy for dealing with the crisis other than stuffing blocks of billion-pound notes into holes as they appear in the system. That's not exactly what we hoped from the great financial helmsman, with all his much-proclaimed experience.

He told us yesterday that "we will at all times remain vigilant". (It's why he gets up before he goes to bed.) And "we will continue to take whatever action is necessary to maintain economic stability".

And what does that mean? He told us less than Phyllis Starkey. Is he going to find out exactly what the liability is? Is he going to penetrate those balls of dung the banks have been flipping round the international pinball machine?

Is he going to prosecute bankers for failing in their fiduciary duty? Has he got a strategy for preventing the whole sector from going mad? Or from looting the sovereign wealth funds?

And if stability means "more of the same", how can we be content with that? Bankers (many of whom should be in jail) have ramped up their bonuses buying junk with other people's money and brought the global monetary system to the brink of collapse. And they get off? Huge crimes have been committed and all our pygmy Prime Minister can do is say he's going to do just what America does.

In other questions, David Cameron needled him on Peter Mandelson and his VAT proposals that were politely aimed at the bin. Others kept asking whether he would see, meet or take a phone call from the Dalai Lama. He dithered visibly. And Robert Goodwill asked him, in the light of a reference to "Czechoslovakia", whether he'd been taking foreign policy briefings from the US President.

I'm not sure Phyllis would have done any worse.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

Comments