Thursday, October 09, 2008

The politics of denial

An overnight communication from a trusted source - very close to the "horse's mouth" – put the final pieces into place.

It confirmed beyond any doubt that the UK's bank rescue plan was not a unilateral action but – as we had suspected – part of a carefully structured and co-ordinated plan devised at Ecofin, building on the foundations laid at the "summit" in Paris on Saturday.

Thus, when Darling and the Gordon Brown stood up in parliament yesterday, the one during a ministerial statement and the other during PMQs, they may have taken on the familiar mantle of Her Majesty's ministers. In fact, they were speaking as representatives of a bigger entity, the government of Europe (or, more specifically, the government of the European Union).

This is not some grand fantasy – not some deep, dark conspiracy. It is fact. The evidence is there for those who want to see, apparent in part from the contrast between events here and those in the United States.

Confronted with a global crisis, in the US a plan was formulated in broad daylight, subjected to intensive public scrutiny and debate, put before Congress for approval and again subject to massive debate before being approved by the democratically elected representatives of the country and put into action.

Over here, what do we see?

As the crisis develops, the complaint arises of government "dithering" – reacting to events rather than taking the initiative with a pro-active strategy. The main action we see is a series of meetings with the European "colleagues" behind closed doors, poorly reported and completely misunderstood.

Then, after the final, key meeting of Ecofin on Tuesday, we see action taken. Parliament is not consulted. There is no debate. Parliament is simply told what is going to happen. It is then allowed to discuss the issues. But there is no vote, no approval. None is needed. Your government has spoken – the government of Europe.

Therein lies the difference – on the one hand in the United States we see, with all its imperfections, a functioning democracy in action. Here, we see a cabal of rulers working behind closed doors, coming out into the daylight only to inform us what they have done and how much it is going to cost us.

Why the "elephant" that now runs our government should remain so invisible is a subject all on its own. We touched on it in this post and many others. We will, undoubtedly, return to the issue many more times.

The bottom line, though, probably lies in psychology. Essentially, the political collective, the media and the hangers-on are in a state of collective denial. The phenomenon itself, helpfully described here, is triggered in the individual when he or she "is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence".

The response to being confronted by further evidence, however, is simply to reinforce the denial. We have seen this on this blog. As we have unravelled the story of quite how deep the European Union is involved in our financial affairs – with quite impeccable evidence - the groupescules shriek and run for cover. The more we shout, the faster they run.

Thus, while the daily hit rate of this blog has been increasing, the bulk comes from direct hits. The number of referrals from other blogs has declined sharply. We have been put firmly in quarantine. Part of this must be due do our (my) aggressive approach (itself born of frustration and despair) but, in the main, what we have to offer is too enormous, too scary for the collective to admit.

We also see the media retreating to its comfort zone, The Daily Telegraph projecting the myth – without saying so explicitly – that the UK action was "unilateral" and contrasting this and other events unfavourably with "the shambles of last weekend's EU summit".

The Times, on the other hand, retails in turgid detail how "Alistair Darling and his team got ready for all-night negotiations to part-nationalise Britain's banks – with tandoori chicken."

This is the sort of detail the hacks can deal with. This is what they are comfortable with. Real journalism would have been to reveal precisely what happened in Paris and in Luxembourg. But to acknowledge the big, outside, scary world is too much. The hacks prefer to bury their heads in the sand and indulge in the politics of denial.

  • Other posts on the financial crisis here.