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December 2008

“Season’s Greetings, Comrades!”

THE EDITOR 

 

... Or should that be, "Happy Holidays, Citizens!"

Take your pick. Just don’t fight it. We’re all Socialists now!

For this year’s most unwanted Christmas gift - proletarian proprietorship of the capitalist banking sector (or "temporary public ownership" as they euphemistically prefer) - we can thank the amorality of our ruling class: politicians, financial regulators, bankers, hedge fund managers and the rest, most of whom would not recognise the Holy Child if they tripped over His manger. Yet they would never get that close! The virtues of simplicity and selflessness which radiate from the Christmas crib are not for them. On the contrary, their materialistic attitudes and appetites embody that cold and loveless world foreseen by Love Himself, even as He lay wrapped in swaddling clothes: "But ah, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith left on the earth?" [Lk 18:8]

Road to ruin

Forever demanding less and less government regulation of the free market in order to make more and more money, the financial elite approached their business like a benefit cheat at a roulette wheel. They jettisoned prudence, diligence and the most basic kitchen table economics, excised "collateral" from the banking manuals and borrowed 100 and 200 times their capital to fund salaries and bonuses which fuelled their hedonistic lifestyles.

It was this corrupt, venal behaviour which gave rise to the so-called "sub-prime" mortgage catastrophe and resulting "credit crunch" which paralysed the world’s financial markets.

A microcosm of the human fallout is on graphic display in Cleveland, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. A conurbation roughly the size of Manchester, when the sub-prime crisis first erupted in the second quarter of 2007, Cleveland experienced the greatest number of high-risk mortgage foreclosures in America - 17,000 in 2007 as opposed to a few hundred five years before.

The suburb of Slavic Village is representative. Once a handsome community of 34,000 proud residents, it is now a vandalised ghost town: abandoned, dilapidated and boarded up. Detached houses worth £50,000 three years ago are now on offer for as little as £2,500. A typical tale of woe involved one unmarried couple with virtually no money and loaded with credit card debt and a zero credit rating. They were sweet-talked by a local broker and given loans totalling $1 million by four of America’s largest sub-prime lenders. Today, the 11 sizeable houses they bought to rent out are abandoned wrecks, the couple bankrupt and homeless.

Though predatory and unprincipled, the broker was simply cashing in on the creative ways Wall Street had invented to chase profits. Responding to political pressure to promote easy mortgages for the poor, which started under the Clinton regime, and seeking to cash in on the expanding sub-prime market, they loaned vast sums to mortgage companies, often borrowing billions from other banks to finance their schemes.

When some banks rightly objected to lending without securing these massive loans against assets (i.e. the actual properties individual mortgage-borrowers had purchased), especially since impoverished sub-prime borrowers were often unable to meet their repayments, Wall Street got around the problem by packaging sub-prime loans together with much more secure mortgages in one large "wholesale" package. These were then traded on the global money markets, with banks everywhere buying and selling them on again, often without checking (or caring about) the sub-prime risks involved.

It was all fine while the economy was booming and house prices were rising year on year, but when U.S. property prices began to fall and sub-prime homeowners began to default on their loans, the whole pack of cards began to fall, as banks were forced to confront the true nature of the liabilities they had taken on.

With high-risk borrowers accounting for 12.75% of the entire $10.2 trillion U.S. mortgage market, it is easy to see why no major bank escaped unscathed. Unwilling to risk further exposure by offering new loans, banks stopped lending to each other and the flow of money on the global markets dried up - the "credit crunch." If the banks and markets have not rebounded as expected following the worldwide government bailouts (totalling £1.5 trillion at last count), it is surely because they understand that the volume of this bad debt sloshing around the banking system - estimated by the Bank of England at £1.8 trillion worldwide and £122 billion in the UK alone - has not been fully recognised. The figures continue to shock. On 3 November, Halifax Bank of Scotland revealed that its toxic loans and bad debts doubled to £5.2 billion over the past five months alone.

On 21 October, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, declared that not since the First World War has the banking system come so close to collapse. We have indeed entered, as his deputy added, the "largest financial crisis of its kind in human history." As a result, the supply of finance to firms has "ground to a halt," families’ access to credit has suffered a "severe blow" and "we now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions."

There has already been a shocking 70 per cent increase in the number of families evicted from their homes, with around 120 families unable to meet mortgage payments thrown out of their homes every single day between April and June (11,054 repossessions compared with just 6,476 for the same period last year). And repossessions are set to climb to far greater levels, since these statistics date from the period before the economic crisis escalated. Concurrently, according to the most reliable (Land Registry) figures, housing prices continue to drop at a record rate, with thousands of homeowners being plunged into negative equity - when the size of your mortgage is bigger than the value of your home.

With unemployment soaring, much depends on the solvency of Britain’s 4.7 million small and medium-sized businesses, the risk-takers and innovators of the British economy, who employ more than 13 million people (around 60 per cent of the private sector workforce). They make up more than 90 per cent all firms and half of them have been going for more than 15 years, the majority family-owned with many run by descendants of the original entrepreneurs. Yet they are in a perilous position. As one writer put it: "An unholy combination of greedy bankers, a grasping government looking for more taxes, a sales squeeze, bullying landlords and big businesses which don’t pay their bills on time is threatening their future." Already, nearly three hundred of them are collapsing every week.

While banks go on giving easy credit to their large customers (because they can’t afford to lose the money already loaned to them) small businesses are dispensable and can be squeezed quickly due to their common use of short-term overdrafts. Their interest rates and charges are often hugely increased. One Barclays customer had his rate raised from 11.8 per cent to 15.8 per cent overnight. "It’s so frustrating, because all our suppliers are being so tolerant," said the owner of a very successful restaurant in Devon, desperate for just minimal financial assistance to survive the traditionally slow months of October and November. "But when it comes to dealing with banks and mortgage companies there is just no flexibility at all. My mother even offered up her house to Lloyd’s as security, but they just weren’t interested."

According to research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses and published last month, 30 per cent of small businesses saw bank charges jump in the previous two months, making a mockery of the banks’ promise to the Government to treat firms fairly. The Federation is taking daily calls from members who are in tears because they are so worried about their survival. One said the interest rate on her overdraft facility had abruptly doubled and new fees had been introduced.

For its part, Labour feigns concern for small business while raising taxes at the same time. From 1 April 2009, the rate paid by firms making profits of up to £300,000 jumps from 21 to 22 per cent, earning the Government an extra £450 million a year. This third such tax increase since 2005 was unveiled by Gordon Brown in March 2007 when he was Chancellor. "It’s an awful tax hike when small businesses are in need of all the help they can get," lamented the Federation of Small Businesses. (To compound their aggravation, last April, tax for large firms was cut from 30 per cent to 28 per cent.)

Greed and self-serving

This snapshot of the misery occasioned by rapacious bankers, hedge fund managers, complicit politicians and regulators, and Central bankers running lax monetary policy reveals a world whose leadership has chosen Mammon over Christ. There are, of course, many others in our voracious consumer society who have made this same fateful choice. The sub-prime borrowers themselves, for instance.

The overseer of the British Telecom pension fund, the UK’s largest, who advises on £50 billion of assets, also pointed the finger at the "appalling" behaviour of institutional investors who stood by as investment banks led the financial system to the precipice. Those shareholders, he said, should have led the attack on risk-taking and blockbuster bonuses in the City, rather than leaving the job to regulators, and they now need to urgently ratchet up their scrutiny of City banks to prevent another stampede down the same path to ruin. He insists that the insurers and pension funds that actually own the investment banks need to take a far more active approach.

One commentator summed it up: "We have been living beyond our means. Government enabled it, banks exacerbated it and consumers lapped it up."

Nonetheless, the political and financial leadership bears the far greater burden of guilt. For while temptations (such as unlimited credit) must come, woe to those through whom they come [Matt. 18:7].

At base, we are suffering from "the biggest international regulatory failure in financial history." Despite their wide legal powers and professional staffs, wrote William Rees-Mogg, bank regulators everywhere "failed to detect the crisis, they failed to detect obvious abuses, in lending, in derivatives, in bonuses, in transparency, in off-balance sheet liabilities, in management and in mortgages. The regulators turned out to have been enthroned on a cesspit of blatant malpractices, yet they had no plan to deal with the inevitable catastrophe."

One of those most at fault was Alan Greenspan, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman from 1987 to 2006. For many years foolishly hailed as a financial genius, his easy-money policy essentially created the mess we find ourselves in. Bowing to political pressure after 9/11 he dramatically lowered interest rates, leading to an explosion of home mortgages and home building. The Economist even warned that he had created the greatest asset bubble in history. Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax editor-in-chief, believes Greenspan saw his role as a political mandarin. "He knew what he was doing would be bad in the long run."

Greenspan informed a Congressional committee that he was in "a state of shocked disbelief" about the present state of things, albeit accepting scarcely any blame himself. But he did confirm that the pressure to sell mortgages to people who could not afford them came not from grassroots mortgage brokers but from the top levels of the investment banks themselves. These bankers ruthlessly targeted those forced into paying high rates of interest for high-risk loans, profiting from poor people’s misery to drive the sub-prime boom which directly caused the credit crunch. As a measure of their immorality bordering on criminality, during 2007 Goldman Sachs made money both ways: buying, packaging and selling bad loans while at the same time, after spotting the imminent sub-prime collapse, setting up a special unit to make money by insuring against the market going down. It made £500 million on its insurance. While everyone else suffered, Goldman staff shared a £9 billion bonus pool for each of their 30,000 employees, with the top people making tens of millions.

For its part, the Labour government, like the American Congress, did nothing to halt the torrent of financial temptations, blithely waving away the amoral practices and obscene excess of financiers whose sheer wealth has now isolated them from the rest of humanity. Self-serving politicians were happy to accept casino-style banking and a spin-the-bottle financial system as long as it filled government coffers and got them re-elected: remembering that with the calculated demise of British industry and manufacturing the fragile world of money now accounts for about one-third of Britain’s national wealth (when all ancillary industries associated with financial services are factored in).

A measure of Labour’s happy dependence on the money men is seen in so many outrageous concessions made to the City high-fliers; like allowing super-rich entrepreneurs doing business in Britain to classify themselves as "non-domicile" and have virtually no tax liability, or slashing taxes on the profits of private equity companies to 10 per cent. These people, who under Labour have increased their wealth at double the pace of the average Briton, gladly back Labour’s higher taxes for the rest of us but would rather pay as little as possible themselves, exploiting tax rules at every opportunity to limit the amount they pay to the Treasury.

Typical of the many businessmen to whose tune Labour is prepared to dance in exchange for their money is Lakshmi Mittal, one of the world’s richest men, who is a British-based "non-dom" paying minimal tax on his vast fortune. He even placed his £70 million London house into a company to ensure he pays only half a per cent, not four per cent, in stamp duty. The man appointed by the Chancellor to run the nationalised Northern Rock on a basic salary of £700,000 is also a non-dom.

This sort of legalistic self-interest and disregard for the common good fostered by Labour is all of a piece with the greed of the bankers and financiers, who continue to shock and appall as they retire to their mansions and tax havens to count their sackfuls of cash garnered for rank failure and ruining lives.

Adam Applegarth, the chief executive who directed the catastrophic downfall of Northern Rock, now propped up by tens of billions of taxpayer pounds, is typical.

Against the advice of former directors, he had embarked on a suicidal policy of short-term borrowing in the money-markets, where banks lend to each other, to fund an expansion of mortgage lending. Then he sold his share options, collecting £2.6 million, while urging his fellow employees to keep buying shares. As the share price later collapsed and his colleagues slipped into the red, he bought himself an Aston Martin and his wife a new Jag.

He is now being awarded his full £760,000 salary for last year, plus a further £25,000 worth of non-cash benefits. To top it off, the Rock’s board paid £346,000 into his pension fund, which will fund a pension of £475,000 when he’s 60. His total pay-off thus runs to more than £1 million.

"While Applegarth enjoys the fruits of his incompetence," writes the Daily Mail’s City editor, Alex Brummer, "at least 2,000 former colleagues face the sack. Worse still, those who followed his advice and kept their savings in Northern Rock have lost almost everything."

There are countless other sordid examples, many far worse. The very year in which Britain’s largest bank, HSBC, lost £5.9 billion of shareholders money with its lending in the sub-prime market, the head of its investment banking operation, Stuart Gulliver, collected salary and bonuses worth £9.9 million. When Stan O’Neal, chief executive of international stockbrokers Merrill Lynch, was fired last year, after his firm ran up more than £5 billion in sub-prime loans, he walked away from Wall Street with a whopping £50 million. No one batted an eyelid. Last March, despite seeing its share price halved over the preceding year, Barclays Bank announced it was paying its President, Bob Diamond, £21 million, on top of his £14.8 million in cash and share bonuses. To be fair, Barclays has been relatively well run in comparison to many other banks and has not had to throw itself at the mercy of the taxpayer. Even so, in 2007, Barclays Capital, its investment banking offshoot run by Diamond, had been forced to write off £2.8 billion of loans. It makes you wonder what he earns when he actually turns a profit!

In 2007, during which year the seeds of the financial crisis were sown, City bosses awarded themselves a record £17 billion in bonuses. Across the pond, the nine biggest U.S. investment banks have set aside $108 billion (£66 billion) for staff compensation in the forthcoming year. Spare a thought for the 443 partners of Goldman Sachs who will have to make do with a bonus of only $1 million (£665,000) each. This is down a third on last year. Times are tough.

Californian Democrat Henry Waxman wrote the banks a letter, asking how they can justify these sums when they have just received $125 billion (£77 billion) in aid from the U.S. government. He should save his ink. The self-appointed boards which allow such shameful compensation arrangements have no interest in controlling greedy behaviour, since it could be them next time and so it’s in their own interests that departing CEOs get big cheques.

A ruinous, job-sacking performance is simply another lucrative exercise for these aliens. Normal human emotions and reactions - guilt, shame and socially responsible gestures of contrition, like refusing bonuses and pay-offs or reining in self-indulgent behaviour - do not register. Within days of Gordon Brown calling for an end to the "Age of Irresponsibility" and excessive bonuses as he unveiled his £500 billion bank rescue plan, analysts revealed that City fat cats - hedge fund managers, investment bankers and commodity traders - are likely to receive £3.5 billion in bonuses this year and £2.7 billion in 2009.

Last month, only weeks after receiving £31.5 billion of taxpayer cash between them, two of the bailed-out British banks, Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS, treated hundreds of their executives to separate lavish parties at five-star Edinburgh hotels costing more than £600,000 in total. The Daily Mail reported guests at the HBOS function "whooped with delight as TV comedian Patrick Kielty cracked jokes about home-owners having to ‘scrimp and save’."

Reflecting the mores of a post-Christian society in which restraint and moderation are dirty words, this complete lack of propriety and basic decency gives new meaning to the phrase "moral vacuum." The guilty are clearly unmoved by the incalculable damage they have inflicted on the innocent, most feeling safe and smug in their anonymity. They know they are unlikely ever to be named and shamed by equally selfish MPs, of all stripes, who vote themselves huge pay rises, enjoy extravagant recession-proof pensions and sink their snouts ever deeper in the public trough, all the while seeking to avoid public scrutiny of their expenditure under the Freedom of Information Act.

The same goes in the U.S., where Bloomberg News reported on 11 November that: "The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn’t require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return. Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure."

Taxpayers everywhere are rightly outraged by this double whammy: their savings and investments being lost or whittled away by incompetence and greed, while their ever burgeoning taxes keep the public and private sector culprits in clover. Even on the rare occasions when they get to ask the hard questions there is no satisfaction. In early November, while seated before the Treasury committee, the Chancellor, the Bank of England Governor and the Financial Services Authority chief executive faced a barrage of strong yet simple questions from 5,000 ordinary people, who had been invited by the committee to forward questions they would like the three to answer. "Where has all the money gone?" "Why did the Chancellor not anticipate the looming crisis and take decisive action in advance?" "Hasn’t regulation utterly failed?" These were some of the killer questions posed by Joe Public. Infuriatingly, if unsurprisingly, the three accused failed to come up with a straight answer between them.

For the majority, the letters page of the daily press is their only mouthpiece. One typical correspondent explained that he had owned sufficient Lloyds TSB shares to produce enough income to pay his council tax. Now, he lamented, "my shares are virtually worthless, my bank is now controlled by the Government, it has a debt-ridden bedfellow (HBOS) and dividends will be frozen for at least five years. As a result [of now having to pay council tax from an inadequate and already overstretched basic State pension] my food allowance will be £20 per week less. Survival? Maybe if the winter is not too prolonged or cold."

To add salt to these open wounds, HBOS not only hired a comic to poke fun at such distress for the entertainment of their bloated executives, it has contracted the disgraced former head of the bank, Andy Hornby, to the tune of £60,000 a month to oversee tens of thousands of HBOS job cuts for which he was largely responsible!

A former ASDA supermarket executive with no banking experience whatsoever, Hornby was hired by the Halifax in 1999 (two years before it merged with the Bank of Scotland). He was given responsibility for running the bank’s retail division - savings, mortgages and so on - even though he admitted: "I don’t know anything about pricing banking products." Within seven short years, at the tender age of 38, he became HBOS’s chief executive and his gung-ho growth plan - borrowing huge sums from other banks to lend as mortgages - soon saddled the bank with billions of pounds of high-risk buy-to-let and self-certification mortgages.

With no knowledge of financial history and the bubbles and crises of the past, Hornby clearly assumed the boom would go on forever. He embodied the pernicious cult of youth which played out everywhere. In The Ascent of Money [Allen Lane, 2008], Niall Ferguson relates that the average career of a Wall Street CEO is just over 25 years, meaning few can remember anything before 1983. Consequently, they gambled billions on the assumption that U.S. house prices would never go down, since no one could recall them doing so. (Knowledge, experience and wisdom need not apply!)

In a recent letter to the press, a former employee of the surveying arm of HBOS recalled the Hornby free-for-all: "Every day, in typing valuation reports and surveys, I used to see the hundreds of thousands (or millions, in some cases) of pounds loaned to people and I often questioned how long this could go on. I wondered where all the money was coming from to fund these high loans. We were all conned into sell, sell, sell, encouraged by high bonus payments and actively encouraged to put our bonus into shares for Mr Hornby’s benefit and glory. Thousands of staff must be facing huge losses."

It was due to the mess created by Hornby’s cavalier lending standards that HBOS was forced to accept an emergency merger with Lloyds, who have now agreed the staggering consultancy deal with him. Likely to involve only one or two days work per week, it sees Hornby effectively selling his inside knowledge of the bank he wrecked to the new owners, advising it on its £1.5 billion cost savings target.

Debilitating debt

Amidst all this rampant injustice and endemic amorality the poorest fifth of the British populace now pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than any other group (while the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is at its widest since the Victorian era). They have been hammered by Labour for 11 years: whether increases to National Insurance contributions, council tax, stamp duty on house purchases and countless other stealth taxes.

Yet no matter how much or from whence tax revenue has poured in, it has all been flushed away by Messrs Blair and Brown in their eleven year orgy of spending. The public payroll has swollen to an unprecedented six million (or one in five workers)! And although these state-funded employees are also taxpayers, almost none will add to the prosperity of the nation in the way that workers in manufacturing do (whose jobs have steadily disappeared thanks, in part, to red tape and extra employers’ National Insurance costs imposed by Labour). The underlying strategy, of course, is that workers dependent on the public purse secure the Labour voting base, which is all that interests Mr Brown. That is why over an eleven year period he has eagerly funded more than a million new public sector positions, with hundreds of lucrative non-jobs - "transgender diversity co-ordinators," "strategic carbon-footprint advisors," etc., etc. - endlessly advertised, week after week, in the neo-Marxist Guardian, at phenomenal expense.

The Prime Minister is signally disinterested in the fact that this unproductive state burden (which now consumes nearly half of what we earn) is helping weigh down the productive parts of the economy and threatening to drag the country back to the demoralised state in which Labour ministers left it last time they were kicked out of office in 1979. At that time Britain was a basket case, deep in debt, with a Labour government borrowing madly to pay the price of its failed policies.

So here we are again. By the time the mortgage bubble burst in the US and corrupt and greedy bankers had bundled up and passed on their toxic debts in a bid for even more riches, poisoning balance sheets worldwide and destroying house prices, pensions and savings, the British state entered recession with a higher proportion of national debt than Nicaragua or Uganda.

"We are going into the recession in one of the worst-prepared states of any of the developed countries, certainly of the G7 countries," Shadow Foreign Affairs Secretary William Hague told the BBC in late October. The European Commission warned that only Estonia and Latvia are expected to suffer more profound recessions than Britain in 2009. While the International Monetary Fund says Britain’s collapse will be extra painful, dwarfing those in the U.S., Germany, France, Spain, Russia, Brazil and six other major economies. Its November prediction of a 1.3 per cent British economic downturn in 2009 was more than ten times steeper than its forecast only a month earlier.

With the credit crunch hitting revenues, forcing the Government to increase public borrowing, The Institute for Fiscal Studies expects a deficit (the shortfall between tax revenues and public spending) of £64 billion this year, or 4.4 per cent of national output. (This is more than four times as high as the deficit at the start of the recession under the Tories in 1990-91, which was a mere 1 per cent of output, or £5.8 billion.) Elsewhere, EU forecasts suggest that the British deficit could hit £80 billion next year and £94 billion in 2010 - more than double Treasury forecasts given in March.

These are vital figures because they all go on the national tab. This is officially quoted at £645 billion. A ridiculously low figure. Through the sort of creative accounting for which he is infamous, Mr Brown keeps many hundreds of billions in Government liabilities "off balance sheet" - i.e. public sector pensions, Private Finance Initiative schemes (where private firms build schools and hospitals and the State pays them back over 20 years) and the debts of Network Rail. According to a report by the Centre for Policy Studies, if these things plus the rescue of Northern Rock and the nationalisation of Bradford & Bingley are included, the national debt stands at £1.8 trillion. The banking bail out adds £500 billion to that figure, which would take it to 2.3 trillion.

Not only is that much higher per head of population than even America’s humungous $10 trillion dollar debt, it is four times the level regarded as safe by Gordon Brown himself, who until his recent 180 degree about-turn had always insisted that it was dangerous for national debt to exceed more than 40 per cent of gross domestic product - or no more than around £500 billion.

The debt accumulated under the Labour hegemony is an almighty millstone which will hang around Britain’s neck for generations, until it is paid off. At £2.3 trillion, the Prime Minister has saddled every family in the land with the equivalent of a £96,000 second mortgage. Even in the unlikely event of the £500 billion bank handouts being paid back, it would be a £76,000 mortgage equivalent. (Moreover, this is leaving aside personal mortgage and consumer credit debt of nearly £1.5 trillion, fomented by Mr Brown, which if added takes the total national debt burden to an almighty £3.8 trillion, or £155,000 per household!)

At some point it will require swingeing tax hikes to rectify, to "get back to equilibrium," as Employment Minister Tony McNulty quietly confessed last month just after Mr Brown announced his forthcoming programme of tax cuts.

And yet the necessary economic conditions for those increases are a long way off. One grim yet surely realistic assessment by Professor Andrew Clare of the Cass Business School foresees not even the slightest upturn in the economy until 2010, followed by "at least five years of muted growth." In that event, just paying off the interest on the loans needed to keep the country solvent over the next decade is daunting. Not only can we expect international lenders to exact a heavy price for Labour’s incompetence, as domestic problems build and foreign investors panic, the pound will head even further south.

Dishonest, incompetent, deluded

Like the financial elite who carry on living the good life, oblivious to the rotten fruits of their handiwork, Mr Brown has not only waved away his direct responsibility for Britain’s unreadiness for the economic downturn (blaming all on the Yanks), he is now profiting from it. After lagging way behind the Tories, polls now show a sudden increase in Labour’s popularity among voters which has put it within reach of a win at the next election. (A dreadful possibility. The masochistic electorate voted in the cataclysmic Blair three times. Anything is possible.).

An October BIPX poll of 2,046 people for the Mail on Sunday revealed that "Mr Brown is seen as being stronger, more honest, intelligent, realistic and dignified than Mr Cameron. American banks and the global market collapse are also considered to be more to blame for Britain’s problems than Mr Brown (precisely his spin). These findings were echoed in a YouGov Daily Mirror poll and a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday.

Apparently, just as many accepted Blair’s transparent phoniness and ruinous self-aggrandisement, they now take at face value Mr Brown’s baseless view of himself as a "serious leader for serious times" who has "removed the partisan way" from politics. Since he is one of the most partisan figures in British politics, this statement should rank alongside his lunatic, decade-long boast that thanks to his policies there would be "no more boom and bust". Considering where we are today, that hubris alone should have damaged him beyond repair. But as well as being a shameless political dissembler, liar and schemer, Gordon Brown is nothing if not a resilient career politician who will not be denied. Having achieved his overweening ambition to become Prime Minister, which role he finally claimed by quasi-divine right without going to the polls, he is not about to let the truth get in his way now.

And the truth is that Mr Brown started lying from day one, alongside Mr Blair in the Formula One tobacco advertising exemption scandal, thereafter becoming a major contributor to the corrosive manipulation and distortion of facts, figures and information which defined the Blair government. In fact, he was matching his mendacious predecessor for cant and hypocrisy well before they came to power, attacking John Major for his ill-fated ERM venture, for instance, even though Brown himself was a far more fervent supporter of ERM membership than the Tory leader. Mr Brown was authoritatively quoted by a biographer as saying to serial liar Blair after a tiff in the autumn of 2004: "There is nothing that you could ever say to me now that I could ever believe." Yet Mr Blair could have said the same to his control-freak Chancellor, who was equally obsessed with spin.

The former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, has pointed out that "in Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown employed a personal spin-doctor whose energy and aggression was matched only by Alastair Campbell himself." Accordingly, and despite his typically empty pledge of a "new politics" post-Blair, the number of spin doctors has spiralled under his leadership. There are still several thousand New Labour press officers and spin doctors costing several hundred million pounds a year, as well as 68 special advisers (last time I looked) earning up to £137,400 each. The Home Office alone has 157 press officers - up from only 19 in 1997, when the Tories lost power. The Downing Street press team has soared from seven under John Major to 23 today.

To top it off, the two most notorious exponents of Blairite spin and smear, Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, have just been recalled to this crowded inner sanctum! (Worse still, Brown has ennobled "Lord" Mandelson and made him Business Secretary - a sodomite twice sacked from Cabinet for dishonest dealings and already up to his neck in yet another conflict of interest scandal.)

Thus, the corrosive culture of deception Brown vowed to consign to the dustbin continues unabated. Just recently, the Royal Statistical Society complained to the UK Statistics Authority about a Home Office press officer who hijacked immigration statistics that were meant to be politically neutral yet contained "selective" points and "misleading" comparisons. It said the incident "epitomises some of the bad practices that have helped to undermine public confidence in official statistics."

Among so many, perhaps the unemployment stats are the most risible, with research by the House of Commons Library concluding that the real jobless figure is more than 4 million (12.8 per cent) when "hidden unemployment" is factored in, as opposed to Labour’s figure of 1.7 million (5.4 per cent). As for inflation, Brown is not about to ditch the utterly deceitful Consumer Price Index calculator introduced by Labour in 1997 and return to the previous realistic Retail Price Index, since the latter includes key items like housing costs which doubles the official CPI inflation figure.

No one, therefore, should be the least surprised by the seamless transition from Blair to Brown. Despite his dour Scottish image, sober personal habits and lovely wife (a pleasing change, to be sure, from flash Tony and shameless Cherie) Gordon Brown is not the pillar of integrity he likes to present. In fact, he is morbidly self-obsessed. "Brown is in a class of his own," observed one political pundit. "He’ll literally say anything to advance himself or keep back others. And he doesn’t care how much he spends - or how much debt he piles up for our children and grandchildren - because it’s a heads-he-wins, tails-you-lose game."

As Chancellor, he was not only a master of obfuscation, forever refusing to answer honest questions, he also systematically misled the House of Commons and the British public while adopting the most self-congratulatory air.

Again and again his budget announcements turned out to be bogus and spurious. Not least his repeated self-congratulations for introducing lower tax rates when in the first six years of his Chancellorship over a million more people were pushed into the higher-rate income tax threshold through wage inflation, not to mention 60 other sneakily presented (stealth) tax rises, the increase in National Insurance contributions and swingeing council tax increases.

The notorious £5 billion tax-grab from pension funds in 1998 exemplified Brown’s technique. This involved him axing relief on dividends paid to pension funds, which has cost private schemes £175 billion, or nearly £17,000 for every worker’s retirement, according to a recent report by the TaxPayers Alliance and a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. (Others put it at £200 billion owing to 1998 changes to Advance Corporation Tax.) It was a major contributory factor to the substantial destruction of what was one of the strongest pension systems in Europe.

Chancellor Brown was particularly good at recycling pledges from months or years before which had not and have never since been fulfilled, in attempting to create the illusion of good, vote-catching news. His tenth and final pre-budget report in December 2006 was riddled with this habitual dissembling. One of his headline figures - an apparent extra £36 billion a year in education spending - had not merely been unveiled before. It had been spotted and condemned by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies as a "highly misleading presentational device." At the same time, he typically suppressed worrying information e.g. that he had revised downwards the growth forecast for the British economy for 2008, that business taxes had been raised by £1 billion a year, or that borrowing had risen more sharply than hoped.

This pattern of deception and aversion is telling. In his serial manipulation of reality and refusal to admit and address the actual situation, Mr Brown shares yet another trait with his appalling predecessor: self-delusion. This was never more evident than in his clearly genuine belief that he had reinvented the art of economic management; that he had solved a problem that had baffled the world finest minds for centuries and brought to an end the economic cycle. "No more boom and bust," was his sacred mantra. The reality - that he built the economy on a mountain of public and private debt and that his legacy as Chancellor is an unprecedented, catastrophic mess - is simply shut out.

His delusion has become even more embarrassingly acute in recent months with regular Downing Street statements not only stressing the decent state of the British economy against all the evidence, but also insisting that it is in a far better position than other economies to confront the crisis. These, as we have seen, are clearly farcical claims. There are only three countries in the top 50 economies with more profligate public borrowing policies than Britain: Egypt, Pakistan and Hungary (the latter two having already run to the IMF for help). Yet on 20 October, a straight-faced Mr Brown told the House of Commons public finances were in good shape and the Government could afford to borrow to pay for a major programme of public works in the hope of staving off the worst effects of the recession. "It is because we cut the national debt over the last few years that we are able to do what is the right thing," he said.

The self-deception is truly breathtaking and trumpets Mr Brown’s unshakeable regard for himself and his own brilliance. In fact, he is such a genius that he sold half the country’s gold reserves at a rock bottom price and lost £4 billion overnight. He was so terribly clever at managing the nation’s money that he has left the Treasury cupboard bare, at a time when it should have been full, and the British economy unprepared for one of its gravest crises. As a commentator remarked, he should be "totally destroyed - morally, intellectually, emotionally and politically - by this utter disaster and humiliation." It speaks volumes for his ego and self-regard that he has not only survived but turned it to his advantage, deflecting the blame he so richly deserves while creating an illusory image of successful and robust leadership. This has been the pattern of his repeated good fortune.

Despite encouraging U.S. casino-like markets that encouraged outrageous risk-taking; regardless of fostering a £1 trillion mountain of personal debt among British consumers; although gladly allowing ruthless financiers to force their agenda on him, all the while throwing the government rake-off from their larcenous activities down a bureaucratic black hole - in spite of so much extraordinary irresponsibility, he acquired a laughable reputation for competence and "prudence"! This was because things were going well. But also because he was a very lucky Chancellor (if things like premeditated mass immigration qualify as "luck"). "Each time a real threat to economic growth appeared on the horizon, a remarkably fortunate event came to his rescue," noted the Sunday Express. "A classic example was the arrival of a million East European workers whose low wages ensured productivity... minus the threat of inflation."

Similarly, the financial collapse arrived just in time to bail out a Prime Minister on the skids - his short rein characterised by broken promises, vacillation, lies, incompetence, scandals.... Not the new post-Blair political world he promised, just the same old anti-life, anti-Christian, incompetent, snout-in-public-trough New Labour. Then, on cue, the U.S. sub-prime crash provided the miraculous scapegoat he needed to change his fortunes. Just as he fostered his "prudent Chancellor" monika, he is now playing up his newly acquired and equally absurd national and international "financial saviour" persona while covering up the reckless, self-serving trail behind him.

Re-employed spin maestro Alastair Campbell assures us that the Prime Minister is "stepping up to the mark" now as Tony Blair did when a global response was needed after the September 11 attacks. Talk about portentous comparisons! As Mr Blair so tragically underlined: one cannot - must not - step up to the mark if one is not up to the job! And as Sunday Express Business Editor Lawrie Holmes bluntly stated: "Brown isn’t an economist who should have grasped where our casino economy was heading. Instead he is a career politician armed with a PhD in History but no real skills to dig us out of this hole."

With a first class degree in pride and ego, however, Mr Brown is perfectly qualified to dig an even deeper one – by addressing a crisis caused by too much borrowing with his cunning plan for even more borrowing of gargantuan proportions, and telling the public to spend more and save more at the same time! This perverse response has been derided by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck. In an interview with Newsweek he said that repeating the mistakes which caused the crisis and tipping the UK into record levels of debt is "breathtaking" and "crass." While "tossing around billions" will only "raise Britain’s debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off." He speaks from a position of strength. In far better economic shape than Britain, Germany had a 2007 current account surplus of five per cent, compared with a UK deficit of 3.2 per cent. It also makes a healthy profit as a trading nation, in contrast to the UK which is in the red. Furthermore, only 5% of Germans possess and use credit cards, while they like to save (depositing 13 per cent of their disposable income in the bank compared to a UK savings rate of almost zero). Echoing Steinbruck’s assessment, one of Chancellor Merkel’s economic advisers, Steffen Kampeter, has rightly branded Britain’s debt debacle a "complete failure of Labour policy."

Poachers turned gamekeepers

Historian Brown simply cannot comprehend, let alone accept, such scathing expert criticism. In this respect he perfectly reflects his clueless Chancellor Alistair Darling, whose Budget last March was pure fantasy. There was scarcely a reference to the ructions in the global market, the effects of which he claimed would be negligible - predicting only a slight fall in the British growth rate this year, and a recovery in 2009 and beyond. His inflation, unemployment and borrowing figures were also wildly inaccurate. And yet Dail Mail political commentator Peter Oborne insists that "all the factors which have brought about our desperate economic predicament - rising oil and commodity prices, the so-called credit crunch, and Britain’s chronic over-dependence on government spending and consumer debt - were blindingly obvious last spring." Oborne and others pointed out as much at the time.

Thus, Alistair reflects Gordon and both reflect the serial failure of their Party. The list is endless: routine mismanagement of NHS reforms; the collapse of the Home Office as a functional organisation in 2006; the handling of the 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis; the Millennium Dome; the failure to prepare for the post-war situation in Iraq; the nationalisation of Railtrack; catastrophic IT systems breakdowns in Whitehall departments .....

About the only thing they do efficiently is oversee the destruction of life in the womb on an epic scale. But the Party of Death is also the Party of Ineptitude and Failure. Not least because of its lack of meaningful managerial experience in the private sector. The only Cabinet minister in Tony Blair’s 1997 administration with any such outside experience was former 1950s ship’s steward John Prescott. Later on, Alan Milburn, who was handed the monumental task of running the National Health Service, had only very limited commercial experience briefly running Days of Hope, a Marxist bookshop known to its patrons by the spoonerism, Haze of Dope. He was succeeded by John Reid, who only had a brief spell in the insurance industry in the 70s. Not one of the Brown Cabinet formed in June 2007 had any serious private sector experience.

They are simply career politicians living in a gold-plated Westminster cocoon. As a result, writes Oborne, "very serious decisions are made with a lack of elementary preparation or understanding on a scale which would be completely shocking in the private sector." This problem is endemic, of course, and far too many Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs also lack real-life experience in the business world. It’s just that the Statist ideology and godless social engineering that accompanies Labour’s formal materialism (as opposed to the informal consumerist materialism of many Tories and Lib Dems) compounds the problem.

In this regard, it was hardly surprising that a survey conducted by the Mail on Sunday last December found only 8 out of 22 Labour ministers prepared to identify themselves as Christians, with two, Alan Johnson and David Milliband, admitting to being atheists. After all, the warmed over socialism of New Labour is legislated, directed and enforced by Cabinets packed with unrepentant Marxists and Trotskyists. For starters, atheist Milliband and his brother Ed, who occupy the posts of Foreign Secretary and Energy and Climate Change Secretary respectively, are the sons of leading revolutionary Marxist academic Ralph Milliband, "whose textbooks on class struggle," writes a CO reader, "were as ubiquitous as beer mats in student unions across Britain in the 1970s-80s."

Former Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells was once a self-styled anarchist revolutionary associated with the Revolutionary Socialist Student Federation, which was under surveillance by MI5 and Special Branch for protest activities around London and in Northern Ireland. The manifesto of the RSSF called for the abolition of exams and grading and was opposed to imperialism, racism and immigration control. According to a new book, Hornsey 1968 The Art School Revolution, as a fine art student at Hornsey College of Art in North London, Howells led demonstrations and delivered firebrand speeches about the "phoney conditioned mind of the bourgeois elite" to fellow students who occupied the college for six weeks in 1968 as part of an organised Marxist campaign of student unrest. Both Government and MI5 files on the period are still classified, as are files on Howells’ later role as an official of the National Union of Mineworkers during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. A taxi driver was killed by two striking miners and Howells later confessed to destroying information at the NUM offices associated with co-ordinating the strike for fear of a police raid. Today, Howells is chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, whose brief is to closely scrutinise the Security Services!

Alistair Darling himself typifies the breed. "Twenty-five years ago," writes the Daily Mail’s Geoffrey Levy, "the man they knew as a bushy-bearded ringleader at a Loony Left council, and who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, one of whose key objectives was the nationalisation of the British banking system as a first step towards full-blown Communism."

Nor was he just a rebellious youth at the time. "At the peak of his madcap Leftie days, Darling was... a qualified solicitor approaching his mid-30s and was just being admitted to the Scottish bar." A Trotskyist - "a clever fixer, a plotter, a manipulator rather than a motivator" - Darling displayed that complete disconnection from reality and ordinary life we now associate with Labour politicians.

"He lived in cloud cuckoo land," said Bob Thompson, a former chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, "always talking about the kind of industrial action people should be taking. He didn’t seem to realise that people had to pay their rent and buy food, and that a week without a wage would put them in Queer Street. He saw himself as the working class’s champion... He was looking for revolution rather than compromise, always wanting us to push harder and be much more radical. He didn’t really understand the issues facing working people nor the fact that they weren’t always ready to man the barricades."

Naturally, to get ahead, the radical turned opportunist and after teaming up with Tony Blair in the 80s went "from Trotskyist to New Labour overnight," according to Thompson, even shaving off his beard and presenting himself, "in accordance with party instructions, as clean-shaven."

"Alistair’s problem is that he takes his opinion from whoever’s his boss," says Thompson. "In the early Eighties, it was John Mulvey (his Lothian council boss), then it was Tony Blair and now it’s Gordon Brown. He’s a man with no opinion of his own. But he’s done well, I’ll give him that."

Opportunistic time-servers and poachers turned gamekeepers, they have all done very well indeed, at Britain’s tragic expense.

Socialist messiah

In their eyes, the present financial turmoil is just a means to turn a capitalist calamity to personal and socialist advantage, in that order. And none more so than Mr Brown, the most self-promoting and ideologically motivated of them all; a man who even turned the recent tragic torturing and death of a 17-month-old baby boy into a point-scoring opportunity. Asked a perfectly dutiful, reasonable and clearly heartfelt question by David Cameron about the bureaucratic failures in the high-profile case, he accused the Tory leader of "making a party political issue" of the matter. He refused to withdraw the sneering remark.

The dramatic incident laid bare Brown’s mindset. Parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts who observed the shocking exchange, was moved to write: "The country at large, watching, may finally comprehend that this is a Prime Minister for whom no matter - be it the wreckage of an economy or even now the violent death of a babe in arms - is too horrific to be weighed and tasted for his own selfish advantage, everything seen through the wonky prism of narrow, gut-churning electoral gain."

It is also perfectly in keeping with his disregard for human life, which makes a mockery of his religious and moral pretensions. The son of a Presbyterian preacher, he likes to evoke Scripture, as in a November address delivered at a UN meeting when he stressed that we must not do unto others what we would not have them do to us. He has often spoken of how his church upbringing gave him a "moral compass." Really?

Despite his own daughter having died in his arms ten days after her premature birth in 2002, prompting him to say "there is nothing worse than having a young, precious baby taken from you," he has voted consistently for abortion: several times up to birth, including for disabled babies; for abortion on demand in early pregnancy; to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland; for selective foeticide in multiple pregnancies; to facilitate RU486; to suppress information about abortions on disabled babies; to promote destructive embryo experimentation. He also launched the International Finance Facility to raise money for the Millennium Development Goals: goals which the British government interprets as including a universal human right to abortion on demand.

A squalid mirror of his anti-life, pseudo-Christian predecessor, Mr Brown is morally unfit for public office. And most certainly unworthy of leading any kind of international financial recovery, his "economic framework" finally having been shown up for the sham it always was.

Like Mr Greenspan, Mr Brown always knew his actions would be bad in the long run, but he did them anyway. In particular, his ideological recommitment to the NHS, a monolithic monument to Socialist inefficiency, has poured hundreds of billions of pounds each year into a monopolistic black hole. He has taxed the middle classes into the ground while condemning lower income earners to even greater dependency on State handouts, disguised as Orwellian "tax credits" of one kind or another. How ironic that he has written two books about courage! He has never offered the slightest glimpse of courageous decision-making which might imperil the Statist gravy train or his own career. His Chancellorship was merely a staging post on his ego trip to the top job he coveted as his by divine right.

It is in this light that one must view the projection of himself as the leader of the international recovery; positioning himself on the world stage, à la Blair. Then, it was all about Tony. Now, it’s all about Gordon. "His greatest dream," opines one writer, is to "demonstrate to the world - not just Britain - that he, and he alone, has the answer to its problems." This grandiose self-regard was further witnessed in his now celebrated Freudian slip during Prime Minister’s Questions on 10 December. The Opposition benches erupted in gales of derisive laughter and contempt when, in response to Mr Cameron’s criticism of his recapitalization of the banks, Mr Brown replied that the Government had "saved the world" (when he meant, of course, "the banks")! Just as telling, though, was his typical inability to share the mirth which filled the Commons and laugh at his own expense. As the Daily Mail’s Tom Utley recalled, even during the boom years he enjoyed as Chancellor, "he used to quiver with barely suppressed rage at the Dispatch Box if anyone dared to poke fun at him or take issue with his economic forecasts." His messianic calling, you see, is no laughing matter.

Nor is this limited to financial affairs. There is no "problem" he cannot solve through the globalist/socialist advance and coercive social engineering (like his "opt out" organ donation plan involving "presumed consent"). But first he must fix the world economy, always with an eye to his own future: perhaps as head of a beefed-up IMF if he loses the next election. Hence his grandiose proposals about a new cross-border "college of supervisors" to monitor the world’s top 30 financial firms and a new early-warning system for the world economy (as if to con us into believing that the present mess came out of the blue!).

It all spells more socialistic regulation and centralised government control, more jobs for the boys, corruption, inefficiency and phenomenal waste of public monies. In a portent of things to come, Alistair Darling has already announced a massive new Government-owned company - UK Financial Investments Ltd - to manage taxpayers’ shares in nationalised banks. Moreover, as a measure of the cost of this coming layer of international regulation, a Cato Institute study of the price of federal regulation in the U.S. estimated that a "broadly constructed" compilation of annual regulatory costs reached $877 billion in 2004. This was equal to the corporate profits of American industry at that time.

That the man responsible for leading Britain’s economy to the precipice should be dictating this global agenda is galling but predictable. It all fits with Brown’s summary breaking of the promise of a referendum over the EU constitution: his sell out to Brussels of a further huge tranche of Britain’s sovereignty without consulting voters, who overwhelmingly opposed the move. The dogged determination he displayed in giving away these powers of self-governance - which do not belong to him or to Parliament but to the very British people he so arrogantly ignored - signals once again that nothing and no one will be allowed to stop the onward neo-Marxist march: involving armies of ever more dictatorial bureaucrats, imposed and policed by creatures like Gordon Brown, in which the red flag is replaced by red tape.

EU template

The EU is vitally important to the Brown agenda because it is the primary modern conduit for old-style Soviet Socialism; a wicked construct which calls to mind the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s sober warning:

Although the earthly ideal of Socialism-Communism has collapsed, the problems it purported to solve remain: the brazen use of social power and the inordinate power of money, which often direct the very course of events. And if the global lesson of the twentieth century does not serve as healing inoculation, then the vast red whirlwind may repeat itself in entirety. [New York Times, 28 Nov., 1993]

Nowadays, of course, the kind of socialist "whirlwind" likely to re-emerge in reaction to the current abusers of power and money is more likely to be EU Fascist than Russian Stalinist. Yet the difference is only one of degree and presentation, since ideologically, as renowned twentieth century Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky states, the centralised EU leviathan is simply "a milder version of the Soviet Union."

He knows this not only because the manifest Statist structure and corruption of the EU mirror what he endured for so many brutal years in Russia, but from classified documents of the Soviet secret archive (some with high security clearance, including KGB reports to the Soviet) to which he was given privileged access in 1991 and furtively scanned onto a laptop computer. At a 2006 talk in Brussels, hosted by the United Kingdom Independence Party of which he is a patron, Bukovsky explained:

These documents show very clearly that the whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a joint project which Gorbachev in 1988-89 called our "common European home."

The idea was very simple. It first came up in 1985-86, when the Italian Communists visited Gorbachev, followed by the German Social-Democrats. They all complained that the changes in the world, particularly after Thatcher introduced privatisation and economic liberalisation, were threatening to wipe out the achievement (as they called it) of generations of Socialists and Social-Democrats - threatening to reverse it completely. Therefore the only way to withstand this onslaught of wild capitalism (as they called it) was to try to introduce the same socialist goals in all countries at once. Prior to that left-wing parties and the Soviet Union had opposed European integration very much because they perceived it as a means to block their socialist goals. From 1985 onwards they completely changed their view. The Soviets came to a conclusion and to an agreement with the left-wing parties that if they worked together they could hijack the whole European project and turn it upside down. Instead of an open market they would turn it into a federal state.

According to the [secret Soviet] documents, 1985-86 is the turning point...the conversations they had are really eye opening. For the first time you understand that there is a conspiracy - quite understandable for them, as they were trying to save their political hides. In the East the Soviets needed a change of relations with Europe because they were entering a protracted and very deep structural crisis; in the West the left-wing parties were afraid of being wiped out and losing their influence and prestige. So it was a conspiracy, quite openly made by them, agreed upon, and worked out.

In January of 1989, for example, a delegation of the Trilateral Commission came to see Gorbachev. It included [former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro] Nakasone, [former French President Valéry] Giscard d’Estaing, [American banker David] Rockefeller and [former US Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger. They had a very nice conversation where they tried to explain to Gorbachev that Soviet Russia had to integrate into the financial institutions of the world, such as Gatt, the IMF and the World Bank.

In the middle of it Giscard d’Estaing suddenly takes the floor and says: "Mr President, I cannot tell you exactly when it will happen - probably within 15 years - but Europe is going to be a federal state and you have to prepare yourself for that. You have to work out with us, and the European leaders, how you would react to that, how would you allow the other East European countries to interact with it or how to become a part of it, you have to be prepared."

This was January 1989, at a time when the [1992] Maastricht treaty had not even been drafted. How the hell did Giscard d’Estaing know what was going to happen in 15 years time? And surprise, surprise, how did he become the author of the European constitution [in 2002-03]? A very good question. It does smell of conspiracy, doesn’t it?

Luckily for us the Soviet part of this conspiracy collapsed earlier and it did not reach the point where Moscow could influence the course of events. But the original idea was to have what they called a convergency, whereby the Soviet Union would mellow somewhat and become more social-democratic, while Western Europe would become social-democratic and socialist. Then there will be convergency. The structures have to fit each other. This is why the structures of the European Union were initially built with the purpose of fitting into the Soviet structure. This is why they are so similar in functioning and in structure.

Global designs

In light of Bukovsky’s exposé, how nakedly disingenuous are those EU leaders who compared the current upheaval and their response to that which met the fall of the Berlin Wall and the supposed collapse of the Soviet empire! In fact, the financial collapse has simply provided an excuse to take the EU to the next level of the Socialist leadership it has absorbed and assumed from the Soviets.

To that end, they are calling for a new Bretton Woods, the 1944 conference at which the allied nations fixed exchange rates and created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Nikolas Sarkozy, European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet and others taking up the Bretton Woods cry with Gordon Brown, are looking to create a new global economic system based on their fascistic corporate-socialist EU model. The nationalisation of banks to avoid a meltdown was the first step in that direction, opening the way for politicians rather than free markets to allocate capital through multiple corporate and bureaucratic layers, increasing their power immensely at the expense of ordinary people.

We should, therefore, be very careful about throwing out the free market baby with its filthy bathwater. The sort of long-term dangers posed by current developments could be glimpsed in the power turned over to German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck in mid-October. The Financial Times suggested that no German minister will have held such sway over Germany’s economy since Albert Speer was put in charge of the country’s entire production capacities by Adolf Hitler in 1942. The Fascist comparison is apposite: both in terms of the brand of Socialism proposed and the totalitarian intent. This is not about brownshirts and jackboots but, rather, the corrosion of national sovereignty, in respect of which currency is the key. For the fascist Left worldwide, the euro is the model and inspiration.

The Associated Press has reported that "Europe wants to present a blueprint for a new worldwide currency system." While Reuters quoted Sarkozy musing on 16 October: "Another subject in tomorrow’s world is that of the great currencies. How many should there be? What should the agreement between these great currencies be? Should we organize a discussion?"

From the EU experience we know too well that any discussion would be purely academic. The elite know what they want - a world carved up into several EU-euro equivalents - and they know how to engineer it. "The control of money and credit strikes at the very heart of national sovereignty," observed A.W. Clausen, president of Bank of America. To engineer this control on a global scale, however, you need an upheaval. As Robert Mundell, "the father of the euro," remarked last year, "international monetary reform usually becomes possible only in response to a felt need and the threat of a global crisis."

So, was it all cooked up? And where it is all heading?

Certainly, the irresponsibility of elite "political mandarins" like Alan Greenspan is hard to explain away or rationalise. As is Gordon Brown’s sham "economic structure." Or the doubling of America’s national debt to $10 trillion during Mr. Bush’s eight years in the White House, which requires the United States to borrow $2-3 billion a day from the rest of the world to maintain its high standard of living (how can this be sustained?). Everything seemed tailored for disaster and clear danger signs were studiously ignored.

We can only note once again that after a two year study of primary source documents, Carroll Quigley, Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University, confirmed that the far reaching aim of the masters of financial capitalism is "nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole... controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences." [Tragedy and Hope, 1966, quoted in "Satan in the Public Square," CO, April 2004]

Pray always

Such is the remorseless spirit of Antichrist at work in the world; the machinations of wicked men in high places. They have given Bethlehem a wide berth because they do not recognise the Holy Child and cannot bear His Gospel, which rebukes them in the depths. Instead, they have chosen Mammon, the way of chaos and death, and formulated a Social Gospel to fit their own disorders. Corrupters and killers of faith and life, masters of all they survey, will they extinguish faith on earth?

Christ Himself asked the question, but also supplied the answer, Just as the unjust judge gave redress to the nagging widow, He promised to give His elect "redress with all speed" in response to constant, patient, persevering prayer. Insofar as we meet this standard, "crying out to Him day and night", we will not only rouse the just and merciful Judge to thwart the Prince of this world and his well-heeled minions, but when Christ returns in power and glory He will, indeed, find the light of faith still burning in us.

To one and all, therefore, in this joyful season, in these troubled times, a very happy, holy and prayerful Christmas.

 


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