By Paul Goodman
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Matthew Hancock is out and about, putting the boot into Ed Miliband's speech on banking (and Ed Balls too, while he's at it).
Mr Hancock puts five points, saying that the Labour leader:
- Calls for the Government to go faster on improving competition, but this is undermined by Ed Balls’ opposition in November to the sale of Northern Rock to Virgin Money.
- Calls for more high street banking competition. But Ed Miliband and Ed Balls failed to implement their own banking competition review when they were Gordon Brown’s Special Advisers – the Cruickshank report.
- Calls for bankers to be struck off for life for malpractice. But Labour’s own rule changes in 2010 mean the FSA can only remove individuals from their approved person list for just two years.
- Complains about traders manipulating LIBOR. But he fails to acknowledge – as the FSA’s Lord Turner has – that the FSA does not have the power to impose criminal sanctions for LIBOR manipulation under Labour’s rules.
- Claims the Government is ‘watering down’ Sir John Vickers’ recommendation to ring fence retail from investment banking. This is not true. The Government is implementing the Vickers ring fence, and Sir John Vickers has not objected to the Government’s plans.
Just in case you'd missed the thrust of the argument, he says:
“Ed Miliband and Ed Balls had 13 years to reform the banks when they were at Gordon Brown's side, but failed. They even failed to implement their own banking competition review when they were at the Treasury – so the dominance of the big banks actually got worse under Labour."
All this is a continuation of the long blame war between the two front benches over the banking crisis, of which last week's excitable events were a part.
George Osborne is trying to paint a big picture of Labour as the party voters simply can't trust on the economy (which explains why Mr Hancock, his former Chief of Staff, is active today).
I believe that Chancellor is right to try to paint this picture. Dan Hodges, whose grip on Labour politics is tight, agrees. And John Rentoul thinks Mr Osborne's not doing too badly.