Steve Richards: Brown's bid to run the IMF deserves a fair hearing

There is evidence that Brown's fiscal stimulus propelled Britain and other countries towards growth

Share
Related Topics

The rubbishing of Gordon Brown's candidacy for the top job at the IMF says more about his opponents and complacent political orthodoxy in Britain than it does about him.

George Osborne has ostentatiously endorsed the French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, for the post, even though as Chancellor he has no formal powers in relation to the appointment. His mischievous endorsement is a logical consequence of Cameron's interview on the Today programme earlier this month when the Prime Minister was so confident that he spoke for the nation in opposing Brown that he was a little taken aback to be criticised for his display of ruthlessly partisan diplomacy.

Brown's candidacy should be treated seriously even by his many opponents. From a parochial UK perspective he was a long-serving chancellor who managed for a decade to address the severe under-investment in Britain's public services while presiding over a growing economy.

When banks started to collapse, beginning with Northern Rock here in 2007, Brown recognised the apocalyptic sequence to be the first economic crisis of the global economy and acted accordingly, urging governments from across the world to act together. The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was exaggerating when he wrote a column praising Brown for saving the world, but his argument is almost lost in the orthodoxy of British political and media culture.

Without Brown's international hyperactivity in the autumn of 2008 and his package to save various banks on the verge ofcollapse in the UK, the crisis might have been much worse.

We do not know yet what the impact of the Coalition's monetarist economic experiment will be. But there is evidence that Brown's fiscal stimulus propelled Britain and other countries towards growth. The growth figures for the UK were slightly higher than expected and borrowing a little lower during Brown's final phase in power.

In contrast, Cameron and Osborne opposed the nationalisation of Northern Rock and the fiscal stimulus, arguing almost uniquely in the Western world for immediate spending cuts as the global economy stuttered dangerously. At the very least they lack ammunition to prove they were right. Yet they are the ones declaring that Brown is unsuited for the IMF, as if his record is indisputably calamitous and theirs a forensically demonstrable triumph.

Brown's economic record is far from unblemished and his range of critics is proof of an awkwardly tempestuous personality, but the casual dismissal of his case by far less experienced policymakers is an act of unnecessary spite.





React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links