It looked the final victory of International Socialism as Brown wrapped up the G20 summit. Lenin himself couldn’t have been happier. The world’s banks have now effectively been merged into a global collective. There’ll be subsidies for the poor provided by the wealthy. Bonuses will be monitored. Salaries for top bankers may well be capped. Tax havens for fatcats will be squeezed into extinction. Colleges of supervisors will be trained and sent out to patrol the international bourses, like bean-counting beach attendants, to ensure that the world economy never again surfs onto the rocks of fiscal oblivion. The costs are so vast they vanish into the clouds. Their sheer scale obviates all scrutiny or criticism. A billion may be a blunder. A trillion is an act of God. Precisely how many trillions are involved got lost in the spider’s web of Brown’s rhetoric. His taste for making enormous funding announcements collided with another of his favourite tricks – revealing that the previous, or the expected package, has just been surpassed by an even more galumphing slice of dosh. So the detail of a trillion dollars – had he announced five of these monetary swarms or six? – vanished behind his oratorical sleight of hand.
But setting aside one’s cynicism, it felt as if something new and original happened today. We learned that the G20 will reconvene later in the year to monitor progress. Are we witnessing the birth of a world parliament that meets at six monthly intervals? Bob Geldof, commenting on the BBC, declared that today’s summit ‘makes the G8 redundant.’ And he agreed broadly with Brown’s global approach and in rather more colourful approach than a sober-suited politician can use. ‘We sucked on the tit of free money and the bloated asset that burst was us – and we have to clear up that mess.’
The credit crunch is Brown’s 9/11 and his language was suitably militaristic. This was the day, he said, when the world fought back against the crisis. It was also the day he fought back against his critics. Give him his due. He looked composed and commanding this afternoon. And he successfully concealed any pleasure he might have felt at announcing the biggest injection of state aid in the history of the universe.