So Northern Rock is to be nationalised — something that should have happened months ago. What’s interesting is the light the affair shines on Gordon Brown’s shortcomings — his chronic indecisiveness, coupled with mindblowing stubborness, which means that his government is invariably dragged by the force of events into doing the obvious thing — but too late. This is an administration in terminal decline.
Later: Anatole Kaletsky is speechless with indignation:
Why should a Government that has consistently refused to offer public funding for potentially viable commercial projects of real national importance – aerospace, public transport, nuclear power – now be spending tens of billions on supporting a bust mortgage bank? Is it because Britain is short of mortgage lenders, lacks employment opportunities for bankers or suffers a deficiency of financial innovation?
Even if politicians at Westminster are unwilling to ask such questions there can be no doubt that others will. It is quite likely that the European Commission will veto the business plans for Northern Rock unless these provide for a rapid rundown of both its lending and deposit-taking operations.