Gordon Brown and the theft of pensions
About time this was published. More truths on the man who recently would only be interviewed on t.v. by ten year olds about their points of view and who shouldn't be P.M...Ever!
"Like a two-bob mugger at a sink-estate bus-stop, Gordon Brown has been caught with his hand in the pensioner's purse.
But, unlike the hoodie whose wildest dream might be a few quid to buy crack, the Chancellor doesn't deal in petty cash.No, sir. When Mr Brown goes on the rampage, he does it for proper money. The Clunking Fist lifts out billions. His victims have their retirement savings raided again and again and again.
Mr Brown is the Mr Big of Britain's pensions disaster. That doesn't mean, however, that the Chancellor hasn't learnt a trick or two from low-life criminals. He has.
When nabbed, his first reaction was to deny everything. Inconvenient truths were robustly rejected. "What me? Stealing pensions? Don't be ridiculous. I wasn't there."
Unfortunately for him, official papers released late on Friday, under what he must have hoped would be the cover of darkness, reveal Mr Brown's full complicity in the Great Pensions Robbery.
Caught by the administrative equivalent of a CCTV camera, Mr Brown's desperate attempt at self-exculpation led him to blame everyone but himself. "Not me, guv".
The Chancellor didn't say he was bullied at school and unloved by his family, but had that been a plausible option to mitigate guilt, I'm sure he would have grabbed it.
With Mr Brown overseas, his department's minions were sent out to defend the indefensible. Their efforts at getting the boss off the hook were as risible as they were duplicitous.
First, the near collapse of our final-salary occupational pension system (once the envy of the world) was all to do with "the dotcom crash". Later, Ed Balls, Mr Brown's arch gofer at the Treasury, blamed Norman Lamont. Remember him? If this is what passes for serious analysis of a pensions crisis that has destroyed long-term savings and jeopardised the future of millions of hard-working people, Mr Balls is not fit to run a Commons coffee bar, much less the nation's coffers.
Back in 1997, while Mr Brown was scheming to plunder private pensions for about £5 billion a year, he was warned in the clearest possible terms by the Inland Revenue that the proposed raid would "make a big hole in pension scheme finances", creating a shortfall of up to £75 billion.
He was further alerted to the fact that many of the hardest hit would be those who could least afford a blighted pension. Either the Chancellor was too stupid to see this or he didn't care. Not even Mr Brown's worst enemies (the queue is getting longer) believe he is thick. We must infer, therefore, that the arriviste at No 11, an old-fashioned socialist in New Labour wrapping, was interested only in sucking up as much revenue as he could.
He wasn't worried about private pensions, because he hates private. Private means that those who save and look after themselves need show no obeisance to the state.
They do not have to crawl to the Chancellor for his means-tested hand-outs. They are free from his obsessive meddling in other people's lives. Therefore, they must be battered into submission by the Clunking Fist. Stalin would have approved.
Before our occupational pension funds were cashed by Mr Brown, about 90 per cent of them offered defined benefits. In other words, they were a promise to pay a fixed percentage of final salary.
Once the full force of Brown's brutalisation kicked in - it took about three years before the pain started to become very obvious - a system of which we were rightly proud began to fall apart.
Today, only about one in 10 corporate pensions is final salary. Pensioners have been switched into defined contributions schemes, which are generally much less generous.
It's true that the Chancellor is not solely to blame for the unravelling of our retirement schemes. In the 1980s and 1990s, many companies were so complacent about funds being in surplus that they took "pensions holidays": they simply stopped paying in. That action now looks almost criminally negligent.
A sharp rise in life expectancy has also played a part. The longer that pensioners hang around, drawing from the pot, the harder it is for funds to be confident about meeting future obligations.
But all that pales alongside the Chancellor's decision to pay for his profligate spending spree on unreformed public services in part with the money of millions of pensioners.
No wonder Mr Brown refused to appear on my recent documentary for ITV, Where's My Pension Gone? No wonder he fought for two years to keep secret the warnings he had received about pilfering our pensions. No wonder when there are tricky questions to be answered about the annihilation of privately-funded retirement schemes, he's never there.
Mr Brown, of course, has bigger things on his mind. His personal sat-nav is fixed on No 10.
But when he gets there, as seems likely, he will discover that in the end, once all the spin and bluster have lost their potency, a man's reputation reflects the absolute reality of what he is.
For all his intellectual pretensions, Mr Brown is a flim-flam man - and the voters now know that."Thanks to Jeff Randall @ The Telegraph for this article. Link: Pensions mugger Brown has been rumbled.