How a Cabinet record supports our late PM’s insistence that he knew what was coming. And why Gordon wouldn’t want to take advantage of it.

Four years ago, blind former Home Secretary David Blunkett published his memoir of Cabinet jottings, My Life in the Bear Pit.  It became the basis for a fairly trite Channel 4 docudrama allowing various members of the Left to wash their dirty agendas in a public medium…and was then largely forgotten.

But there is an entry in these Diaries from July 2004 (pointed out by an insider Slogger, for which thank you) and it makes for very interesting reading on the subject of Britain’s then Chancellor, Gordon of Ourdoom. Referring to our GEC, Blunkett records:

He painted a picture of what would happen from 2008 onwards, of 1.9% average growth, how dreadful things were going to be, and how everybody needed to wind down what they wanted to do.”

To the best of my knowledge, this entry has entirely passed the commentariat by, but if accurate it is
(albeit now somewhat academically) the final stick of dynamite under his reputation: he knew all along that Labour was spending on the garden when the roof needed fixing, but he carried on bulk-buying begonias anyway….although not the golden variety.

For the interest of those readers who don’t have this speech etched upon their admiring hearts, this is what Brown said in his Budget Speech of 22nd March 2006 :

“Mr deputy speaker, the British economy is strong and strengthening. I can report that inflation is currently 2% – on target.

And in the latest quarter, the economy is growing at an annual rate of 2.5% – on target, as we enter the 10th year of growth under this government, the only government in British history to be entering the 10th consecutive year of uninterrupted economic growth.

And with the pace of world economic change accelerating, this is a budget to further strengthen Britain for the global opportunities ahead: to lock in stability, but also to lead the world in the new industries and technologies which will increasingly shape our future.

For British people, higher-skilled jobs with higher wages, but also new choices for parents to balance careers and family life…..As I have said before mister deputy speaker: no return to boom and bust.”

Effectively, Blunkett’s record of that 2004 Cabinet is a direct challenge to the received history of the 2008 Crash: far from being Cyclops the Simpleton, Gordon was Machiavelli the Mad Liar. Even worse, he lied to the House: he foresaw the bust coming, but said it wouldn’t.

On the Mad Liar dimension, veteran Sloggers will know that The Slog’s predecessor nby was the first to utter the Brown secret that dared not speak its name. So it’s just possible that his 2004 Cabinet summary for colleagues was a symptom of his disability. And it is also, of course, likely that as a Chancellor with a new fiscal coming up, he was laying it on with a trowel.

So on balance, the real historical re-write here is what Gordon Brown’s ideal soubriquet should be. That is, Cyclops the Mad Liar.

I’m glad to have cleared that one up.