The Queen seizes control of her Treasury

Posted in Bank of England, banks, Britain, Gordon Brown, The Queen by Deputy city editor on March 29, 2009


One knows the value of an audience

The Queen debags the prime minister

Even though I am by nature a Republican (in England – even if a monarchiste in France) it needs to be admitted that Her Majesty has pulled a blinder, whether or not you want to call it a coup. It was the first time in 57 years she had granted an audience to the man who signs her money; it was of course a coincidence that Bank of England Governor Mervyn King (presumptuous surname) had spent the morning telling MPs that he had declined the prime minister’s credit card.

All this as the demented/self-deluded sub-prime minister was being humiliated in Strasbourg, before flying to South America to be humiliated again, while psychotically imagining that he is saving the world and his own discredited regime with it.

Her Majesty’s deftness was astounding – a move combining media cunning, split-second news cycle timing, and unmistakable symbology (look at that handshake – no gloves) all culminating in the magic of a puff of smoke, as The Queen once again disappeared, answering no questions, telling no lies.

The woman is truly amazing: she may not be a genius but is even better, like a very wise old horse. She has been around the course many times, and knows every single hedge, ditch and rabbit hole. Like the rest of us, she has no confidence in Gordon Brown. (You can imagine what her husband must think.)  Unlike us, she was able to do something, and did. It was a clean kill.

So Brown lingers still in office, yet no longer in power. His ability to do much more terrible damage seems to have been limited. A pity that the Conservatives are second-rate politicians with sub-prime policies and ethics of their own. British claims to being a democracy are anyway much more ridiculous than a shrewd old woman derailing a prime minister with a photograph.

Nobody will be surprised that Brown, a coward and a bully, responded by meaninglessly threatening Her Majesty with constitutional “reform.”  The man is beyond embarrassing. The BBC has tried to pretend that none of this has happened.  (It’s what they leave out that’s the real scandal – not the drivel they actually broadcast.)


The top of the morning…

Molière, Blair: not to be confused

I tune in France Inter to hear the unwelcome voice of Tony Blair, ignoring Wodehouse*, speaking French. One is very pleased by the poverty of his accent. Nevertheless, Blair is now firmly out of the closet as an aspiring francophone and his vanity and the thirst of French television producers for the absurd suggest that this is a distressing foretaste of future Blairite discourses in the tongue of Molière.

Update, 18 December: Alastair Campbell was plugging his book on Ce soir ou jamais (FR3) last night and I am furious to admit that his French was excellent, fluent if sometimes approximative, and much more cromulent than that of his erstwhile boss. Campbell is as slippery in French as he is in English. 

Conspiracy theorists will feast on Irwin Stelzer’s splash in The Sunday Times which was a glorious salvo at Gordon Brown. Presumably the days of intimate tête-à-tête between Gordon and Irwin are now over. I take this piece as affirmation that the affair between Rupert Murdoch and Gordon Brown is certainly over. It is unusual if not unprecedented for Irwin’s name to go on a splash. The link above does not do justice to the dramatic treatment on the printed page:

Normally this is the sort of material Irwin might confide to Rupert over dinner so to share it with the rest of us is bound to have some significance, to those of a high enough pay grade to appreciate it.

There is return fire from the Treasury in The Telegraph.

The sting of Irwin’s piece is that Gordon and Darling are paralysed by the bank/banking crisis and the Bank’s advice for an exit from the crisis is ignored. The Telegraph/Treasury says that Mervyn King lost the plot and has landed everyone in a fine mess. Either way, nobody is forecasting that it will be five more years for the governor. I think they should put Irwin in charge, provided he stops taking orders from Murdoch.


* Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.

-The Luck of the Bodkins, 1935