Rescuing Banks Is Brown’s Policy

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At the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth yesterday, Chancellor Alistair Darling stressed his support for the banks.

In his keynote speech, moving the resolution ‘Prosperity and Work’, Darling said: ‘Our financial services industry is strong. It has an international reputation.

‘It is vital to the economy.’

Pledging his allegiance to the bosses and bankers, Darling said earlier that Labour will ‘do whatever it takes that serves the long term interest of the country’.

Referring to the Northern Rock crisis, he admitted that ‘last week was difficult’ and that ‘there are lessons to be learned’.

Darling pledged to ‘protect ordinary savers’ and press for ‘effective supervision for banks, not only here but across the world’.

Meanwhile, interviewed in the morning by the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, prime minister Brown defended Bank of England governor Mervyn King’s handling of the run on Northern Rock funds.

Brown repeatedly refused to say at what time he and Darling were first aware of the Northern Rock crisis.

Marr went on to ask Brown whether he was ‘happy about the way that an organisation like Northern Rock has gone about its lending policies?’

Brown replied: ‘Northern Rock has obviously got to look at the issues that affect them. Northern Rock has got to look at the methods that it was employing to both raise money and manage its affairs.

‘But Northern Rock, because of the importance that we attach to the financial system as a whole, the depositors and savers in Northern Rock – the depositors and savers have a guarantee from the government, and of course we want at all points to maintain the stability of the financial system.’

Meanwhile, the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee has called on Darling to appear before it to be questioned about the Northern Rock crisis.

In his BBC interview Brown was asked: ‘Do you think this is the end of something or the beginning of something?’

He avoided the issue saying: ‘However good your economic policy is there will always be those issues, in a fast-moving global economy, where you’ve got to react to events.

‘The question is do you have the right system in place to guarantee and ensure the stability of the economy?

‘And I believe the events of the last ten years have proven that we have a good system in place, probably a better one than any of the other major countries in the world, able to act to deal with these problems.’

Signalling that will mean dumping the problems on workers, he added: ‘And my assurance to the British people is at all times we’ll not take risks, stability will come first.’

• In the opening section of the conference delegates representing, Hampstead, Kilburn and Islington Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) moved reference back over the exclusion of emergency motions opposing military action against Iran.