The patients are the story, not Mrs Mayor

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I WAS disappointed to see the photograph of the Mayor of Wigan at Wigan Infirmary for the annual Christmas visit (Wigan Evening Post, Friday).

In years past, I used to look forward to seeing the Mayor on the wards with patients, for surely they are the most important people in this story, not the Mayor and health bigwigs?

Why would the people of Wigan be interested in seeing the Mayor being welcomed by administrative managers, albeit with two volunteers, rather than with the people she has really gone to see.

And please don’t come up with the excuse of patient confidentiality – it certainly doesn’t apply when footballers are visiting wards.

Name and address supplied

Saviour Brown found wanting

It is interesting now to see the Financial Services Authority identifies the weaknesses in its structure, but little is being said about how the then Labour government, its Chancellor Gordon Brown and his successor “danced around their handbags” while the entire financial edifice they created came crashing down.

Back in 1997, having given the Bank of England operational independence in monetary policy (responsible, through its Monetary Policy Committee, for interest rates), Mr Brown then proceeded, under the Bank of England Act of 1998, to strip the Bank of any “formal powers” to intervene to save the banks, and failed to define what its role would be in the event of any crisis.

These actions almost precipitated the resignation of Eddie George, its then governor, and this general level of animosity would have been apparent during the subsequent events.

What was put in place was a committee comprising the Treasury, Bank of England and FSA.

This committee was given the responsibility of increasing financial stability but, despite its being his big idea, Mr Brown did not attend any of its meetings and Alistair Darling, who steered the enabling legislation through parliament, attended only one.

According to Andrew Rawnsley, the principals in this tripartite system, the Chancellor, the governor of the BoE and the head of the FSA, “never met” and the monthly meetings of the standing committee were being attended by deputies.

To test the new system, the Treasury undertook a “war game” which raised “serious questions” and, although there was little in the way of communication between the Treasury and the FSA, the latter “did flag as many as 30 warnings about individual banks”.

Setting aside the concept of prudence, the objective was to increase financial stability but the above extracts show that the system was tested, found to be flawed and, prior to its collapse, nothing was done.

While it is laudable for the FSA to recognise its weaknesses and failings, there is a deafening silence from our erstwhile “saviour of the world”, Gordon Brown.

Alan McKinney, via email

Their business to know the ropes

How about this for an idea: ban people from any political role until they have gathered experience of running a business.

That would keep out all trade unionists and political assistants. Then local councils and Westminster would be the better for it and legislation would be superior.

Name and address supplied