Deliverance Day minus 7. Last Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Inter Milan was extremely frustrating. Inter Milan resorted to boring defensive tactics that harked back to an Italian football style that had been consigned to the history book. Barcelona was compelled to attack and produced their hallmark one-touch and first-pass style that requires patience. There was too much patience as they kept possession of the ball but made little impact. As the minutes ticked on and the goals proved elusive it became clear that they needed a Peter Kay on the subs bench. In the John Smiths beer commercial, while the other players are playing keepie-uppie, when the ball comes to Kay he wallops it out off the ground with a grunt of satisfaction and the message – no nonsense.
Next day, the Leaders’ debate was equally frustrating like a game of keepie-uppie. All the leaders are pussy-footing around the issues with little to choose between them. The crisis issue of the mounting public debt has still not been addressed and none of them have come forward with an honest plan that spells out the pain that lies ahead. It needed a Peter Kay no nonsense moment.
Gordon Brown was on the defensive explaining how he had saved the economy, as if his policies were the only option. When Northern Rock collapsed the only reason for saving it was because of it being in a Labour heartland. The bank was not a big player and it could have been dealt with by conventional means. The Government did not have the resources for further bank rescue packages and had to resort to borrowing. But was that really necessary? It is no coincidence that the other two banks rescued are based in Scotland, where Labour has its stronghold. Bank of Scotland had saddled itself with the Halifax mortgage bank, and Gordon Brown personally engineered the rescue deal with Lloyds TSB that sucked them in to the crisis. The other beneficiary of the Prime Minister’s benevolence was Royal Bank of Scotland who had expanded with some dodgy takeovers abroad and had their fingers burnt. There were plenty of other viable banks and financial institutions who could and would have kept the UK economy functioning. The Government would have had to play its part by being frugal and prudent. It didn’t and Brown’s plan is still to keep on borrowing. His big pitch is that the Conservatives are going to take £6billion out of the economy with public spending cuts. Of course that £6billion will still be in the economy, but in the hands of taxpayers who will use it in different ways.
In the debate the onus was on Cameron and Clegg to break down Brown’s defence, but like Barcelona they did not make an impression because they were not going direct for goal. It needed a big hitter to wallop home the message, like Peter Kay’s no nonsense commercial advertisement. Someone like Winston Churchill, who had nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears. The crisis facing us is that bad. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. The only problem is that it is not apparent from where. There is no one on the subs bench.