This is George Osborne we're talking about here (rather than Dubya Bush) but both are equally clueless, and from suprisingly similar backgrounds: Gideon Osborne is a trust fund kid, Dubya had plenty of funds from his family oil business to buy coke and booze, dodge the draft and set up disastrous companies with names like Arbusto (Spanish for 'shrub').
But we digress... I don't normally take a rabid pro-Labour line in this blog as who the hell wants to hear that? But the Tories are so unbelievably clueless on Northern Rock that it's important to weigh in to point out just how duff they are.
There's plenty in the Northern Rock crisis that the Opposition could justifiably criticise: the government's dithering about, the desperate attempts to court lame-ass bids to asset strip the company from private equity hawks and Richard Branson, the regulatory slackness that allowed Northern Rock to overextend itself so ludicrously in the first place (although hindsight is a wonderful thing - for most of the decade the rock was being lauded as an example of genius financial management in the northeast by 'expert' commentators in the financial media). And indeed, Vince Cable for the Lib Dems has been doing a very good job of asking all the right questions of the Govt's approach.
By contrast, the official Opposition - the Tories - have revealed themselves to be economically illiterate on this one. On Monday when the news was announced Dave Cameron called nationalisation a "disaster". He thus revealed himself as a Tony Blair clone in a very real sense - both of them know shit all about economic policy. Now, this isn't necessarily an obstacle to a future Cameron government being successful - after all, Tony Blair won three elections whilst being an economic ignoramus. But Blair had Gordon Brown to do all the sums for him. Whereas Cameron has George Osborne, who is just as much of a numbskull as Dave is.
Where is the alternative Tory plan for Northern Rock? What would they have done instead of nationalise it? Let the Bank of England take it over? I'm sorry, that's the same policy slightly redressed. Let it fail in September when it got into difficulty? Ballsy, but foolhardy - a banking failure on that scale could have taken other financial institutions down with it and let to a major slump of a scale not seen since the 1930s. Of course, economic failure on that scale would have probably let the Tories in at the next election - and that is probably the point. But don't tell me that these guys have the competence to run a men-only private members' club in Mayfair, let alone the economy. New Labour is deeply unpleasant in many ways but the Tories are a f***ing laughing stock. Which probably explains why they are only about 10 points in front in the latest polls and not 25 or so...