IT is said that if a referendum were held in Britain on re-nationalising the railways, there would be an overwhelming vote in favour. Why, therefore, are Gordon Brown and his Chancellor Alistair Darling so reluctant to put Northern Rock out of its misery by nationalising it? Senior Treasury officials are believed to have been in favour of the N-word as the cleaner, more efficient option but were overruled because of the prime minister's fear of the fun the Conservatives would have in claiming that Old Labour had been re-born.

However, in avoiding that accusation, the government garnered one of the most uniformly critical press reactions that I have seen since Black Wednesday.” Bizarre..disingenuous... half-baked” were some of the milder comments and in search of a crumb of comfort for Mr Darling, the best I could find was “artful”. Only time will tell whether the leader writers are right in their criticism. It is very difficult indeed for a layman to judge; it was interesting to see even the Financial Times saying yesterday that “when a government on the run is being advised by an investment bank on the make, Goldman Sachs, forget about clarity.” The FT also offered this: “In a fairer world some might wonder why the government is being vilified for trying to clean up the mess created by the greed of the banks.” Indeed, but who expects fairness in politics?


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