“It is true that we
had ten years of record growth when I was Prime Minister. I have,
unfortunately, come to the conclusion that it was luck.”
Did the Right Honourable A.C.L “Call Me Tony” Blair, Privy
Counsellor and Past First Lord of the Treasury of the United Kingdom, really
We would certainly be grateful to any reader who can provide
us with the text of the lecture at Yale in which, according to the website
of the Adam Smith Institute, he said just that.
If the quote is genuine, then it shows a degree of honesty,
humility, and reflective self-awareness that is unusual in any politician – and
which has not, it is fair to say, been associated previously with Mr Blair.
However, even if it is genuine in its attribution, the quote
is not entirely accurate in its content – something more commonly associated
with Mr Blair – indicating it really might be his.
Indeed, Mr Blair might be uncharacteristically modest. He
may have been “lucky” in inheriting record growth from the previous Major
administration, but he deserves the “credit” for choosing to keep it going.
Alas, this also means he must take the blame for the method
he chose. Basically, he kept shovelling cash into an economy which was already
overheating. He took no measures to let off steam by raising interest rates or
cutting state spending. If he had tightened money supply a little in good
times, credit would not have blown up to the point where it was bound to burst
– as it now has.
Although Presidents Clinton and George W Bush did not have
as much direct power over the US economy as Mr Blair had over the British, both
are guilty of a similar fiscal laxity.
The Quote of the Year, whatever the source, is an honest and
accurate admission that the creation of a prosperous enterprise culture is
beyond the power of politicians. What it does not say is that they certainly have
the power to mess it up – and they did.