Monday, 12 October 2015

Baron Howe of Aberavon

The son of Port Talbot had many admirable views. He saw the benefits of both European community and of fair votes. He also kept in touch with local politics, acknowledging the contribution made by the band of Liberals in Port Talbot.

However, his first contribution to government was not benign. Thatcherites have puffed his chancellorship as a period of great and necessary reform, aided by the fact that political memories dim and that today's noisiest commentariat were hardly out of nappies in the 1980s. Those who were unnecessarily put out of work or out of business by Thatcher and Howe's actions had a different view. Therefore it is good to have this testimony by someone who was in HM Treasury as a young economist at the time. Enoch Powell, an early Friedmanite, is on record as doubting Margaret Thatcher's understanding of the principles of monetarism. Now we have confirmation from Mr Wren-Lewis that arithmetic was not Howe's forte. Clearly a grasp of the effects of his playing with interest rates (is there better evidence for the virtue of an independent Bank of England?) was beyond him also.

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