Northern Rock: Which party leader do you think has got a grip on the issue?

by Stephen Tall on December 11, 2007

Is it a) Vince Cable

The acting Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable, has written to the prime minister to urge him to introduce a bill in parliament before Christmas to permit “temporary” nationalisation of the bank. … Cable said efforts to sell to a private buyer had so far failed and temporary measures must be taken to secure taxpayers’ money.

“The consortiums involved are struggling to raise the vast amount of money needed. We are talking here about raising £30bn – roughly the size of the current defence budget – in order to repay the loan. … At the moment [the bank] is bleeding to death – approximately £3bn two weeks ago and £1.5bn last week had to be put in additionally.

“Once [it] is under temporary public ownership – I stress it’s temporary, not a permanent solution – it would reassure the banks who are lending that there’s an absolute sovereign guarantee. It would provide a period of stability.”

Or is it b) David Cameron?

“I don’t support nationalisation [of Northern Rock],” Cameron told the Today programme. “What we want is a private sale, but I suspect the government is running out of time and money and it may well be that it needs to go down the path of nationalisation. If it does it will be a monumental failure.”

(Translation: “I can’t support a Lib Dem idea, even if it’s right, and even though I may do in the future. But ’til then I want to keep my hands clean so I can attack the Government whatever. Responsible opposition? I’m not familiar with the phrase.”)

(Source: The Guardian, 11th Dec.)