There has been a clamour in the Labour Party over the last couple of years for Labour to apologise for the global financial crisis.
I’ve written posts calling for Labour to apologise for weak financial sector regulation, and some have even gone as far as suggesting Labour should apologise for “spending too much” (as if somehow it was building schools and hospitals, paying pensions and tax credits that crashed Lehmann Brothers).
Much of the clamour from Labour people to get the party to apologise stems from the belief (borne out by polling) that Labour is seen as more to blame for the financial crisis than the Tories. Of course we are blamed more than the Tories. We had been in power for 11 years by then, and when the music stopped we were the ones sitting in the ministerial cars. The Tories – despite calling for weaker financial regulation and for Britain to be more like Ireland – can’t really be blamed, as they hadn’t been anywhere near the levers of power for over a decade.
Labour are blamed more for the financial crisis than the Tories, because we were more to blame, I’m afraid. But it doesn’t follow that either a) Labour must now follow the crazy Tory “remedy” of über-austerity, or b) that Labour is mostly to blame for the financial crisis. Because although Labour gets blamed more than the Tories, there’s another group who are seen as far more to blame than any bunch of politicians.
A poll from Survation/Progressive Polling released today shows that a whopping 61.7% of the British public blame the banking industry for the 2008 financial crisis and everything that has come afterwards – more than double the number who blame Labour most.
Ed Miliband can’t escape the fact that Labour was in power in 2008, and cannot undo the mistakes that were made by Labour in government. But he can turn the fire of the British people in a direction that most of them are already facing – and bash the bankers. A Banker bonus tax, stricter financial regulation and prison time for fraudulent banksters who damage the British economy in future with reckless illegality are all potentially populist policies which Miliband should pursue in the run up to 2015.
Blame the bankers Ed – because the British public already do…