Friday, February 22, 2008

Northern Rock attack backfires on Cameron - Cable emerges with honours

The Telegraph reports:

Mr Cameron’s aggressive attacks on the Government’s handling of the Northern Rock nationalisation had backfired.

A YouGov poll for The Economist found that six out of 10 people thought the Tories were opposing nationalisation because they were “playing with politics.”

And only a fifth of voters said the opposition would have handled the crisis better than the Government.

The Economist writes:

As polling conducted for The Economist by YouGov shows, the Tories do not seem to have gained from Labour's woes. Only 5% of people blame the government for Northern Rock's difficulties; over a third think its handling of the crisis has been fair or good (see chart). And critics say the Tories' own response has been shrill. Conservatives pretend to believe that this view does not resonate beyond parliamentary sketch-writers and other denizens of the Westminster village—but only a fifth of voters say the main opposition party would have handled the crisis any better than the government. Almost two-thirds think the Tories are playing politics by opposing nationalisation; their own proposal—putting the bank into administration by the Bank of England and winding it down—is not all that different.

By common consent, the only politician to have emerged from the Northern Rock saga with much kudos is Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman, who impressed as the party's caretaker leader before Nick Clegg was elected to the job in December. An economist by background, Mr Cable was among the first to suggest that public ownership was the “least worst” option for the bank.

It is interesting that the public blame Northern Rock's management for the crisis. 60% of respondents blamed the management - head and shoulders above anyone else. The government is only blamed by 5% while financial conditions or the Bank of England/FSA get the other votes.

The Economist concludes that, although the Bank's crisis was "Bad news for Labour", it was "No Black Wednesday".

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