Exploiting Brown's bottom: Why are Balls and Miliband getting an easy ride?

Brown's Bottom has Balls and Miliband all over it, so the question remains: why hasn't the government consistently used this to regularly hold Miliband, Balls, and the entire Labour front bench to account?

Gordon couldn't give it away fast enough
Jonathan Bracey Gibbon
On 11 May 2012 15:35

Before Manchester City and its Sugar Daddy Sheik actually won something, Manchester United used to have a 'ticker' banner draped over the Stretford End which simply displayed the number of years that had passed since City last won anything.

Over the years, come each the new season, it would notch up with depressing regularity for the Sky Blues and that number would reach 35 before it was dutifully removed this season following City's triumph in the 2011 FA Cup Final. As a piece of gentle inter-city rivalry it was hugely effective - a grinding, inescapable reminder of seemingly unending failure.

On that theme, a new parliament moves into view with the prospect of the same tired clichés appearing with the depressing inevitability of an unwanted season. As the economy lurches from bad to worse, there is no end in sight of Labour's opposition beginning and ending with robotic repetition of phrases like 'out of touch' or 'the global economic crisis' , 'taxes for millionaires', 'omnishambles' and so on, delivered with the customary absence of shame.

Only now, the clichés are actually hitting home. Alas, Osborne in particular, though little more than the progeny of a nob decorator, really couldn't be in touch even if he picked up a guitar and renamed himself Levi Roots.

So maybe it's time the Government adopted a 'ticker' of its own to drape over the dispatch box. The gold price. Or rather a reminder of the net loss to the nation of Brown's Bottom, in particular to those who had their tongues up it back in 1997, and who are in opposition now.

Brown's Bottom is trader speak for Gordon's record as history's biggest dip-seller. But the Government has a duty to regularly remind us that by his side in the sale of the century was nazi-coiffured property speculator, Ed Balls and fuzzy-felt coiffured property owner, Ed Miliband.

Brown may be gone, but he should never be forgotten as long as his former SpAds have the nerve to call the government to account on fiscal rectitude. They should never be allowed to forget that their voter-abusing, bogey-munching mentor was insane enough to promise an end to boom and bust.

With the Euro in crisis and the gold price predicted by some to break $2000 this year, going back through the reports into the sale is painful reading as the net loss to the nation grinds ever higher.

So, to recap. In 1997 Gordon Brown decided to consider disposing of part of this nation's Gold reserves. With Gold in a prolonged bear phase, happily the treasury consulted the advice of key figures in the financial markets, commodities and gold analysts not to mention their friends at the Bank of England

To a man they said, by all metrics and technical analyses, Gold was coming to the end of a bear phase, and to sell, especially at a time when the coffers were relatively healthy would be folly. So Brown, the man who said to parliament and the nation that he knew better than the market, ignored them.

Treasury documents released under a freedom of information request in 2010 showed that Ed Balls and Ed Miliband were both copied into correspondence on the gold sale, while working as Special Advisers to Gordon Brown at the time. Ed Balls is cc-ed in to the correspondence on pages 5, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 of the documents released by the Treasury. Ed Miliband is also cc-ed on p. 14 of the releases.

As the Times reported at the time, ‘Key Treasury advisers including Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, were copied in to the correspondence', as were David Miliband and Shriti (now Baroness) Vadera, for whose green shoots of 2009 the nation still waits.

It has been argued that there was something about Gold - the fact that it remains a sedentary instrument, producing nothing, acquiring value for its own sake - that offended Brown and Balls' political sensibilities. At the time, the Treasury said it wanted to "achieve a better balance in the portfolio" by increasing the proportion of reserves held in foreign currency. With nearly 50 percent of the net foreign currency reserves invested in Gold, the exposure to a single asset was too great, it said.

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