In today’s Wikileaks revelations, it is Mervyn King’s turn to be pushed through the
mill. Did he act politically when pushing for a deficit reduction plan? Was he critical of David Cameron and George Osborne or just pointing out the obvious: that the Tory leaders had not held
power before and – shock horror – were keen to get elected?
The Guardian’s reading of the cables suggests that the government’s Batman and Robin (
"http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8166775/Wikileaks-what-the-US-embassy-files-say-about-world-leaders.html">to keep with US diplomatic style) were unprepared for the
task ahead. But re-read the key passages and it is clear that Cameron and Osborne were no different from any other opposition leaders – reliant on a small staff, and unprepared for the special
pleading they would face as they entered government and tried to cut the deficit. A US cable about Tony Blair in 1996 would no doubt have said the same.
The choice of quotes from the cables and the spin put on them by The Guardian is also interesting. In the dead-wood edition of the paper, Extract 249236 is given an anti-Tory headline.
"[Mervyn] King’s fears over leadership’s ‘lack of depth’".
But an equally truthful reading about the Bank Governor’s views could have been: "Gordon Brown on sidelines of international debate". The cable reports Mervyn King saying that the UK has
"been on the sidelines in the debate over Greece" exactly when the then Labour leader claimed he was at the centre of international policy-making and his backers contrasted his "save
the world" role with the Tories’ lack of international experience.
The cable itself begins with the Bank of England chief saying that "reining in the UK’s debt will be the
greatest challenge facing the party that wins" the election. Given that the Tories were the only party intent on immediate and serious deficit-reduction, a headline could have been: "King
vindicated Cameron’s deficit strategy." But it is not.