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Press Cycle 4 - Northern Rock Collapse
#21
Now I was worried that there wouldn't be much play on this cycle but by golly in the last day business picked up. Right off the bat I will say that the public are very happy with the Government for "securing their savings" and protecting the bank from going under (which they think is scary), so at the start of this Labour have a massive advantage for this press cycle even if as the economy starts to turn they might regret their position as the governing party.

The cycle began with another rare praise moment from Laski to the Government followed by the announcement from Mr Lockhart that the Treasury are bringing Northern Rock into public ownership and the Lib Dems supporting the move. Sir Dunk however went further and criticised the economy New Labour had put together following the economic negligence of the 90s Tories and calling for policies to reorient the economy away from debt fuelled spending. Then I extended the cycle.

Mr Beddow was the first Tory voice on this issue and his basic takeaway point was that Parliament should be able to hold the Government to account and criticising the Government going to the press before Parliament (kind of like a certain Mr Blair used to do) before the Prime Minister himself appeared to praise his number 2's work in this area. Beddow returned to the arena to lament the Government not giving Virgin et al better play and jumping straight to the nationalisation option leveraging the risk of lawsuits if the Government get the price wrong. Mr Lockhart explains why there is little Government oversight of the Government's ability to use its nationalisation powers (emergency powers reminds me of Star Wars prequels xD) before Ashbury turns up to lament the Government not being open during PMQs. She was told to wait and see, she has waited and she has seen this nationalisation. She points out that it is unfair to ask the Opposition why they didn't ask questions about a topic they didn't know was happening and the public kind of agree on this issue. Ashbury then asks about potential negotiations with Virgin to try and get a price which was not a good deal for the economy or Exchequer to turn into a deal that ticked those boxes. A smart response to a nuanced issue. Lockhart's response was to ignore the point about negotiation and to talk about the deal as it stood (probably a wise move), but trying to paint the Tories as ideological zealots on this matter probably wasn't too smart since all they're really asking is why wasn't more done to try and do a deal.

Ashbury seemed to mix up the decades next, when I think to the 80s (admittedly a solid 17-7yrs before I was born) I do not think of mass-nationalisations, maybe I'm wrong, after all I was busy not being born yet so I could have missed it. Sadly people who were born disagree with the Leader of the Opposition's assessment and this is a needless gaffe that undermines the point being made subtly, but the point is strong enough to survive mostly unhurt. Labour again refuse to engage with the negotiation point, by this time it is starting to drag a little and if the Tories bring it up again it might start doing damage to the Labour argument in its entirety. Beddow comes back with an attack against the Banking Act saying it allows the Government to ad hoc nationalise banks in trouble (which it does) saying they are hiding this fact from the country (read the Chancellor's house speech, they aren't hiding the fact). People are a little worried by the complete lack of oversight and it does make the markets nervous, but the prospect of economic Armageddon makes them positively wet themselves so they're prepared to overlook it for now even if they'd prefer something like a sunset provision in the bill to ensure it self-repeals and stops a future more radical government from being able to use it in non-crisis times. Ward and O'Neill make some comments before Lockhart rounds off the cycle with a statement about the emergency powers and then another about the Shadow Chancellor although the last one does make people very nervous that we could be looking at a Government run high street bank since the Government refuse to commit to the BBC's inference that this nationalisation would be temporary. The Northern Rock share price did rise (because people want to milk it for more money if they can't buy the shares back later) and the market confidence did take a very small dip (because the banks don't want to be nationalised permanently).

All in all this was a good cycle for Labour, they looked decisive and definitely deserved the Healthy Win. But it is not all plain sailing for them, the Tories are beginning to gain traction with the negotiation line and the markets are getting increasingly uneasy about the prospect that these nationalisations may not be all that temporary which is going to make it more difficult for the Government to act if the markets aren't fully trusting of their motives. The Lib Dem offering was good, but as the conversation developed I would have liked to see Sir Dunk chime in again perhaps to remain relevant to said conversation.
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