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« Quote of the day, chutzpah edition | Main | How wrong can the Guardian be? »
Monday
Mar022015

Another line for Gordon's political epitaph

Having used his time in office to slap a supertax on the oil industry, Gordon Brown is now demanding massive state intervention to fend off the collapse of the North Sea drilling industry:

He is suggesting a number of measures that he said could help the industry, including;

  • A North Sea reserve to maintain and upgrade essential infrastructure and to provide "last-resort" debt finance for companies who want to keep fields open.
  • UK government co-investment through public-private partnerships.
  • Government loans.
  • And advance purchase agreements.

Mr Brown said: "In the most extreme cases, to avoid the field being mothballed in its entirety, the government could go into partnership for a take-over of the field.

"If it is temporarily abandoned, the government should act to ensure that sometime in the future it is possible to come back and exploit the oil.

To be fair, the situation has not been helped by low oil prices, but I think it's fair to say that the political establishment had pretty much done for the North Sea already. That, I suppose, needs to be added to the list of misdemeanours on several political epitaphs, including the particularly lengthy list of Mr Brown's.

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Reader Comments (32)

Gordon Brown is a berk and knows nothing about economics. I think this was evident from his early 'achievements' - selling gold reserves for 2d a bag, destroying pensions, minimum wage (economics 101 - false bottoms). But I am pretty sure it was not until about 2007 that anyone in the public prints challenged the mantra that he was economic super-genius-hero - and that was Matthew Paris. Until then the 'establishment' had united around that concept of Gordon's brilliance. Anyone for conspiracy?

Mar 2, 2015 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Revenue from the North Sea has provided much of funding for the disastrous green projects so beloved of our eco-blinkered political class. The spectre of a collapse of the North Sea has frightened them as, without it, the futility of the UK's current energy policy will be exposed as the eye-wateringly expensive folly it is.
I hope the UK gets just a small taste of the cold, uncomfortable green utopia that Bennett and her kind want to force on us for our own good. That way, the politicians might just put in place an energy policy that provides reliable energy.

Mar 2, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Well, as mentioned, he is clueless about economics but then again so were the vast majority of economists who apparently failed to see the financial crisis coming, despite being warned time and again by people who bothered to look beyond the GDP headline numbers to the debt mountain that had inflated it. Not to defend Brown but he was seriously badly advised by the BoE, the Fed (ie 'Guru' Greenspan), the rump of the economics establishment and of course by Ed Balls who wants another chance to screw us up.

Mar 2, 2015 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Is this the same Gordon Brown who flogged off our gold reserves at the bottom of the market?
The same Gordon Brown who abolished "boom and bust"?
The same Gordon Brown who increased Public spending by 17% of GDP?
etc etc.

Talk about the "reverse Midas touch"!

As "jilted John" sings "Gordon is a Moron".

Mar 2, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The new company could be called the British National Oil Corporation - and it could enter the domestic gas and electricity market with lower prices and make a profit for the British taxpayer! :)

Or maybe it should be BONG, British Oil & Natural Gas, though I expect we would be landed with SONG and WONG as well.

But why bother? With government place men dictating Engineering decisions, what is the point. If the PPE's can't to Philosophy, Politics or Economics, what hope Science or Engineering?

Mar 2, 2015 at 12:41 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

JamesG on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:24 PM
"Not to defend Brown but he was seriously badly advised by the BoE, the Fed (ie 'Guru' Greenspan), the rump of the economics establishment and of course by Ed Balls who wants another chance to screw us up."

You are joking?

Brown was a giant among pygmies. He didn't need any advice as he was the financial expert that saved the World. He reconfigured the Bank of England and the Financial Services sector so they became more effective in enabling the untold wealth, created in the coffee shops of Britain, to spread throughout the land; ask those in the City what it was like.

It was his way of ensuring that the leap to Brownian Economics, from Brownian Motion, was seamless. Everyone laughed when he said he was going to abolish 'Boom and Bust'. They are not laughing now.

Brown ignored insurers' pension grab warning
"Gordon Brown was warned days after the 1997 election that his planned £5billion-a-year pension tax raid could damage funds and increase the volatility of the stock market.
In a confidential note seen by the Daily Mail, the Association of British Insurers told the new Chancellor such a measure would lead to a 'drop in income' of at least £2billion a year for pension funds.
A defiant Mr Brown yesterday insisted he would repeat the scrapping of tax breaks for pension funds despite continuing attacks from all sides."
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1608794/Brown-ignored-insurers-pension-grab-warning.html

Explain why you sold Britain's gold, Gordon Brown told
Gordon Brown has been ordered to release information before the general election about his controversial decision to sell Britain's gold reserves.
...
Gordon Brown pushed ahead with the of Britain's gold despite serious misgivings at the Bank of England, it is believed"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/gold/7511589/Explain-why-you-sold-Britains-gold-Gordon-Brown-told.html

Labour spending: Gordon Brown and Ed Balls ignored warnings and wasted billions
Gordon Brown and Ed Balls ignored warnings over the profligacy of their spending plans and the damaging impact of key tax policies, leaked documents disclose.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/8569367/Labour-spending-Gordon-Brown-and-Ed-Balls-ignored-warnings-and-wasted-billions.html

Mar 2, 2015 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

JamesG

...the vast majority of economists who apparently failed to see the financial crisis coming, despite being warned time and again...
This gave me a quick blast of déja vu. It wasn't just the economists and it wasn't just government.
In the early 1990s I was arguing with Lothian Region about the follies inherent in their Structure Plan, aiding and abetting a man called Jock Snaith who was a co-founder of the David Hume Institute and a lot cleverer than me.
The financial economy of Edinburgh was doing extremely well and the powers that be saw no reason why that state of affairs should not continue indefinitely. We argued that the Lothian economy was in danger of overheating and that the projected requirements for office development and housing for the following 10 years (and beyond) were grossly over-optimistic.
We might as well have argued with a brick wall.
Development went ahead at Gyle and Granton (among others) and the main beneficiaries appear to have been the printers of "To Let" signs.
In some areas housing that was due to start in 2005 has still not been completed while there are other "committed" sites from which developers have distanced themselves as quickly as they could. One got his fingers burnt by over-paying for a site and in two other cases the landowners found their own development plans stymied because the potential buyer(s) are — last time I heard anything — "waiting to see" before even submitting planning applications.
Meanwhile local councils have to some extent carried out plans which were at least in part based on developer contributions which now look unlikely to be forthcoming.
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."
Nils Bohr
.

Mar 2, 2015 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

R. Cristopher
Well you better hope it was Brown and not Balls just pulling the strings. Many, if not all, of Browns grandiose speeches were written by Balls.

Mar 2, 2015 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Trouble is everybody didn't laugh when he said he was going to abolish boom and bust. I remember it well because I said to myself at the time, we'll have the mother of all booms followed by the mother of all busts. But I couldn't find many who shared that view. He's still leaving disaster in his wake - as with the Scottish referendum settlement.

Mar 2, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

JamesG You can't expect Balls to accept any of the blame for Brown's mistakes. Brown did not make any mistakes, everything was someone else's fault. Brown said so, in speeches written by Balls. So it must be true, and 97% of Labour agree (figures compiled by BrownBalls Selective Public Opinion Surveys)

Mar 2, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

mike fowle, Brown's intention to end the bosom and bust economy, has been widely misquoted and misinterrpreted.

Mar 2, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Hmmm......97% of climate sceptics also despise Gordon Brown/deny his economic genius. I wonder what Lewandosky would make of that.

Mar 2, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Epitaph ... The Most despised Labour politician in modern History ?

Mar 2, 2015 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Well there is another dimension to the stupidity. I remember the Tory intellectual John Redwood during the apparent Blair/Brown 'boom' claiming on his blog that it was all built on Tory foundations and the copying of Tory ideas. I wrote him a reply saying that when the inevitable crash came he'd forget that line entirely and just blame Labour, while Brown would blame a worldwide recession just like Lawson did before him. Ergo if you think any other politician would have been better than Brown you are living in a fools paradise. To his credit Redwood actually replied, though he ignored my attempt to get him to deny his future position and focused on a minor point I made about real wealth being created from manufacturing and selling, not moving money around (he replied that he believed the service sector also contributed).

I also remember the gold sell-off and the gold-bug commodity traders at that time suspected it was done at the behest of the USA in order to prop up the dollar by deliberately depressing gold. The Germans did something similar later. Of course only the contrarian investors predicted gold would rise to crazy heights so to expect clairvoyance on that point from Brown is the same level of daftness as blaming Salmond for not predicting an oil price drop. At the time every TV pundit and 'expert' just knew the dollar was king and they scoffed at naysayers and gold-bugs with their defeatist talk of deficits and debt.

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

BLACK PEARL wait until the public work out who was responsible for the Climate Change Act. Some achievements take a while to be fully appreciated.

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

" it was done at the behest of the USA in order to prop up the dollar"....done at the behest of the USA. This seems to be the background noise to a lot of things, that the American finger is in the pie but its never admitted publicly and no-one quite knows why for sure......Another Tory intellectual, one J Enoch Powell, was quite convinced of the American hand in events, particularly as regards the IRA and our pussy-footing around with them for about 30 years......the EU is often 'explained' as more convenient for American business.....but this way lies madness surely?

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

BLACK PEARL wait until the public work out who was responsible for the Climate Change Act. Some achievements take a while to be fully appreciated.

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Golf Charlie
*****
Yeah.... where Seal Team Six when you want them ?

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Brown's intention to end the bosom and bust economy

Now we know why it went "tits up"!

Mar 2, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Robert Christopher
It looks like Milliband and Balls haven't learnt anything from the tenure of Horace Broon. Let us hope the electorate did and remember the lesson.
He never actually left education and journalism before entering politics so it's no real surprise that he still hasn't a clue on running a country.

Mar 2, 2015 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

It would be fair to mention that Osborne (and the OBR, who provided a false supporting analysis) should get a large share of the blame: he went for a big tax hike that caused some 28 fields to shut in in the ensuing year, including the closure of key infrastructure that left some smaller discoveries stranded. He has only recently rescinded part of that grab, having seen his ***** presented on a plate via the consequent sharp fall in production that preceded the fall in oil prices.

Mar 2, 2015 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

BLACK PEARL no need for Seals, when he is surrounded by sharks

Mar 2, 2015 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Broon is a medicated bipolar- so serious that iirc he had essentially to waiver side effects.... that much is clear.

That he's deluded and decidedly living in cloud cuckoo land shouldn't really cause much surprise. What is mildly surprising (or maybe not...) is that some sections of the media still repeat his blatherings.

Mar 2, 2015 at 5:39 PM | Registered Commentertomo

graphicconception, I think that Brown, rather like underwear designers at Marks and Spencers, never fully appreciated the proper scale of what he was up against.

Jeremy Paxman mentioned "pants" and "Marks and Spencers" in a similar context.

Shareholders have not been happy with what they are left with. Much like the rest of the UK population.

Mar 2, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

They ate the golden goose and now wonder why egg production has stopped. Typical socialist economic theory of using OPM, great until the OPM cash flow ends. All so very predictable, oil fields decline and production costs go up, the north sea is no different than any other resource.

Mar 2, 2015 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

JamesG & bill - my view on Gordon Brown is that he meant well, but was out of his depth. His sell off of UK gold (and the announcement of the sale in advance) was unforgivable. The reason for the sell off was never given at the time nor to my knowledge has any official explanation been given since. Which leads me to think that the explanation in this article by Thomas Pascoe (Daily Telegraph, 2012) is probably not far from the mark, and basically Gordon was doing a favour for American banks.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/thomaspascoe/100018367/revealed-why-gordon-brown-sold-britains-gold-at-a-knock-down-price/

It is easy to bash Gordon Brown, but I think the world would have been a much better place if he had not been stitched up by Blair and Mandelson in that Islington cafe, and he had become the PM in 1997. The UK economy would probably be worse off, but at least Brown would have been less likely to partner the USA in the folly of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which as our intelligence agency warned at the time, would just incite more terrorism and make more trouble for us all in the long run.

Mar 2, 2015 at 7:09 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Brown's character was deeply flawed. For all his prating about his moral compass, when he sold the gold, his minister (I think it was Patricia Hewitt at the time) announced that the UK would be selling a small percentage of the reserves, leading people to think (deliberately) that he meant of the gold reserves; in fact he was referring to total reserves, but it was half the gold, IIRC. When enormous errors occurred in his working tax credit (itself one of his most damaging ideas), he got some other patsy to take the flak in the House, Dawn Primola once and somebody else another time.

Mar 2, 2015 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

It would be extremely difficult to seperate the stupid from the more stupid in a comparison of brown and minibrain or the more slimy between brown, blair and balls.

Picking them up would be like wrestling with eels from the river gironde.

Mar 2, 2015 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Don Keiller

and the same brown who offered his services to save the world in 2008/9.

Mar 2, 2015 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

My wife and I were working in London prior to our retirement when Broon became PM and, eventually, told all of us rational, sceptical folk pre-Copenhagen that we were 'flat earthers' for not believing him re the coming of universally fatal Climate Change. At the time, I worked in a newish school building that had recently been built consequent upon Broon's passion for off-the-government-books finance schemes, a school which, despite being less than two months old, was falling apart due to the application of building standards that would make the average cowboy builder blush. Broon and his 'genius' was one of the primary reasons we decided that our planned retirement in the UK would be non-viable because of all of the idiotic, anti-people legislation enacted by politicians of all stripes during the time when the Brit political establishment kowtowed to Broon's 'genius'.
Now safely back in NZ for some years, we are still sad that we could not continue to live in a country we had not only come to love but felt drawn to because of my paternal grandfather and my late father-in-law both emigrating from Yorkshire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries respectively. We are almost constantly appalled by the madness that appears to have overtaken the LibLabCon political spectrum in almost every sphere. The current pronunciations of Broon and his adherents make us very glad we came home to NZ, whose (very) Conservative (National) government is performing better than any other Western government. Not everything the NZ government does meets with our complete approval, but in general terms we feel that NZ government is acting in the NZ populace's best interests, unlike that of the current UK government.

Mar 2, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

To be fair, the situation has not been helped by low oil prices

How long, exactly, has the oil price been "low" ... ?

Mar 2, 2015 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Lapogus
One day we will know why the gold was sold and whether it was meant to collapse the gold market, prop up the banks or the dollar but not that much was really lost compared to, say the 40 billion plus spent on debt interest per annum. Furthermore hindsight is 20-20: While I thought gold should go up in price during Browns bottom I still didn't buy it because who could ever expect such a subsequent rise? Well nobody! Just like nobody expected the oil price to drop recently. However, if Brown selling at the bottom (that he created) of the market was bad finance rather than bad luck then it is even worse for Osborne to be buying it back at the top of the market because he should know from Browns debacle just how volatile and/or manipulated gold can be.

Mar 3, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The funny thing is that last September the SNP were telling Scotland that North Sea oil would fund Nirvana north of the Tweed for decades to come. To transform a massive source of wealth into a basket case needing State subsidy inside 6 months is good going even by socialism's usual standards.

Mar 3, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim

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