tv After Words CSPAN June 28, 2014 10:00pm-10:59pm EDT
soldiers would collect severed heads. she shows us how great figures, poets had their -- severed. this fascinating study. i wish i could be personally drawn to a history of severed heads but she tells us about the part of human collecting which i never knew existed before which sheds light and insight on larger history itself. >> bob wilde publishing director of blue dragon booktv is on location at bookexpo america. this is the publisher's annual trade show. you can see a lot of the crowds here. once here the publishers get together and talk about the upcoming fall books. you are watching booktv on c-span2. >> up next on booktv tv "after words" with guest host toby harnden washington bureau chief of "the sunday times." this week kwasi kwarteng and his new book "war and gold."
and it their member the british parliament explores the history of money, to relationship to war and the resulting impact he believes the interconnection as i'm president day free markets worldwide. the program is about an hour. >> host: welcome to "after words." i am toby harnden of "the sunday times" of london and with me today is kwasi kwarteng a conservative mp who was born in london and he is here to discuss his superb new book "war and gold" a 500-year history of empires, adventures and debt. it has received rave reviews already. my own paper described it as enormously readable and history which looks at the five hundred years is a rollicking narrative. it's narrative. it's good to have you here. rollicking is not usually description you get for her from politicians quotes and this strikes me as not really a politician's book. this is the designed to get you
further up. why did he write it? >> guest: i have always been interested in history. i have also got a doctorate in history and i think when we look at what happened in 2008, the financial crisis, huge amounts of debate, loads of books, i mean loads of books but they all looked at all looked a very short-term perspectives at the short-term perspective. they were looking at the banks. they were looking at maybe hedge funds. they were looking at videos and creditor that it's that i thought let's take a step back and try to understand something about the global financial system something about the current cease that we have the dollar sterling and the nature of gold as well. one of the features of this book is to remind people that for 400 years for 450 years we had a gold backed currency and it was in 1971 when richard nixon famously went off gold. >> host: one of the things i love about this is you have a
knife or the dramatic moment and it's about you know the dry subjects such as money. tell me about the moment. >> guest: the key moments in any historical narrative of the key moments when people step back and say oh my.this is what's happening. it was august the 15th i think on a sunday. richard nixon essentially appeared on national television halfway through bonanza which was a great cowboy show, not really my time but maybe viewers will remember the show and he interrupted the show to say we are not going to allow the dollar to be converted into gold anymore. this in many ways was one of the most significant events, the most significant things have happened in the history of money. it was a very decisive moment where essentially he shot the gold. that is what the term was, where people could not simply come into fort knox metaphorically and say here is $100 or want to
get the gold value and that was as a consequence of the big bad problems the american government had gotten into with its debt in the vietnam war and also to pay for the great society. it just didn't work out. there was a deficit. there was a trade deficit and people like the french and bad people like the birds were coming to change dollars into gold. so richard nixon decided to stop that. interestingly enough the federal chairman of the time head of the federal reserve arthur burns was very skeptical about the avenue is an old-school balanced-budget conservative guy. he was very wary of stopping decoupling the dollar from gold in that way. plus go another dramatic moment as boyd george in the house of commons in 1914. a big year. >> guest: the great thing about british public finance for the 100 years before the first world war before 1914 was essentially
they ran balanced budgets. it's difficult to imagine that now for but the whole victorian era in the 19th century. >> host: very stable interest rates. >> guest: very stable and gestures and very stable fiscal policy. one of the key moments in the book was that all of that just went to pieces. only to defeat the kaiser and defeat germany. the british politicians had to go through massive spending and he stands up and says you know this is an extraordinary thing that we have done. we are now going to borrow billions in sterling. generally hundreds of millions of the budget up to that point but they borrowed a huge amount. the national debt went up 10 times, more than 10 times four from 700 million sterling to 11 billion the house of commons didn't order it through because they would do whatever it took to defeat germany. that was the attitude. >> host: i don't see a push poll
effect of war and money. you contemplate calling the book ordering chaos. >> guest: that's right. order a think as represented by the gold standard or buy a commodity standard where you can see this is how much my dollar or pound is worth and its link to some sort of external value of a commodity for example. chaos in one of the arguments i put forward in the book is we are in a period of chaos is when he don't have any kind of mooring to commodities. we have what is called fiat money, paper money and essentially you are at the mercy of the printing press. he can just keep renting money. there was a strand in this country has said that was a mistake. it's associated with people like ron paul. this is not polemic. i'm not trying to write a really good narrative to explain how we got to where we are but i think there were some force in the argument that we need something
more structured than just the ability of governments to print money. >> host: the quotes from ron paul and his co-author in 1981 and the ten-year experiment has failed and that is an argument that is very resident here with ron paul in 2008 in 2012 and his son rand paul who's going to probably run for president in 2016. do you think you should? >> guest: there's a different action and how we should talk about that initially. the chinese essentially essentially to the site in o'reilly. they could reach raise a difficult center tomorrow. they could say it won't is going to equal x amount of gold than they put in enough reserves to back that. the only problem with them as they have an export model so if they did that no one would be a strong currency which would be a complete reverse of their export where they want to keep the
value of the value of the one below value of a one close-up of their exports are cheap and we can buy them essentially. i would be a complete reversal but in terms of actually introducing the gold standard they can do it because they have got the reserves. one other point to make about the gold standard is that if you look at the 19th century it was britain who largely guaranteed it. britain was running great export services. britain was the manufacture of the world. the british goods were flooding essentially the global markets, at least in america and south america and the reserves required for its expert -- export trade method that you keep the gold standard. the british themselves never really have that much gold but everyone sort of relied on the stability of the export strength of britain. similarly in the 20s for much of the 20 century the united states ran counter. until 1970, from 1900 to 1970
the u.s. was exporting more than it was importing so was building up reserves. it was building up gold in the foreign currency reserves. the united states guaranteed the gold standard certainly after the first world war and to the settlement was based on this charismatic value of the dollar at $35 an ounce. that was an ounce of gold, that was the relationship. that lasted from 1944 to 1971. >> host: it sounds like i suspect wouldn't be in marriages. >> guest: given where they have come from in the last 25 years they have deliberately force their currency to be much lower and i write about that in the book. if you look at 1980 to one was to a dollar and over 20 years it went down as low as 8.5 and now 6.5 and that sort of thing but they deliberately had a very
cheap money or rather low value for their currency so they could drive up exports. you are right to suggest that if they went gold that would be complete reversal of what they have been doing and building their economy through this export growth. >> host: you argue that a return to the gold standard would be impractical. >> guest: i think it's impractical for what i'm saying is the current system is very vulnerable and in a way it explains what happened in 2008. i talk about that quite fully. i mentioned the fact that many actually predicted that this would happen when you have a system where you have fiat currency essentially printing money you will get a vulnerable and unstable system. that's something that we have to consider. >> host: what about the effect of war on 2008. obviously 9/11, seven years earlier but your argument was
that it wasn't just about 9/11 but about something much bigger than that. >> guest: it wasn't that complicated but if you remember, i was with jpmorgan. i think that sort of a swear word in this country. i was a banker and the first thing that happened was obviously the index went down 10%. the dow jones went down i think it to personal amount, the same amount and the response of the central bank was to lower interest rates. interest rates have been coming down all through that year from 6.5. they went down to 1% and this is really cheap money. what happened as a consequence of the lowering interest rates to such a low degree, what happened was that there was a search for a yield. treasuries are 10% and you were some banker in the midwest who are thinking i need to get more than 2%.
>> host: pushing to the margin and higher risk. >> guest: that's absolutely right. i have got to get some interest and get some yield in the search for yield. the search for yield i think drove a lot of the sub-prime lending, lot of very poor credit decisions in terms of expanding credit common terms it giving people huge loans which they could never afford to pay and that was what caused this instability. this is where the long view is very interesting because i found exactly the same thing happening in england in the 1820s. it was south america. what happened was after the napoleonic wars in 1815 and the defeat of napoleon sharp shred was a popular tv show in britain but after that they went back to warren as a consequence of that
the government spending went down. there was again the search for yield. if we buy u.k. government debt we are only going to get small interest rates on that so let's look for something that's going to give us more interest rates. so there was the search for yield which ended up buying crazy bolivian bonds paying 70 cents, crazy speculative stocks and all that kind of thing. and they blew up. >> host: if we talk about gold now how do we more the current sequence how do we stabilized and stop another bubble? >> guest: i think the main thing that is missing from this and this is what people in the markets feel and i think people generally feel, is that there should be more leadership. there should be more international coordination. if you look at bretton woods that lasted three weeks. it was two years of preparation before that but essentially you had delegates from 50 countries
that came to bretton woods resort in new hampshire and they decided what the special architecture would be. there was a responsible and very effective and blessed from 44 to 71. in this current crisis we have not really been able to reach the level of international cooperation that has been a slight lack of leadership or hats. people are stealing less confident and there was less of an idea of what can be done. and i think that it's really come about in the last four or five years. one of the things about that is that in a play the 2008 crisis came at a time when global leadership in the u.s. is feeling perhaps unsure of itself. the u.s. itself is running huge deficits which we can talk about later. the u.s. has been slightly burned by overextension and
foreign affairs. so the capacity of the u.s. to provide that kind of global leadership is much lower now than perhaps was the case in 44. >> host: you were an advocate of greater regulation. >> guest: in the house of commons on the robust defender of the system. if you look at my hometown of london, london has been at the center of international finance for 300 years. apologist in new york say it's still the leading international center. the timezone and the idea that british politicians should bash bankers to close down the city of london is insane. that's been a great strength in the british economy. that is what i would argue and i think it's borne out by historical record. >> host: in terms of the debt and deficit viewer -- have a fascinating chapter where i
understanding your purchase real is that what went out of the window was balanced budget and it was tax cuts became almost maybe a fetish end in and of themselves. and i think to a lesser extent certainly reagan talked about fiscal responsibility but in the end -. >> guest: reagan was a great figure. he had unparalleled gifts of communication. his idea, he was very much come as great metaphor about government spending in relation to alcoholism and his father was an alcoholic. if you look at his features he talks about we have been on this massive bench and we have a terrible hangover. we need to sort ourselves out and that was the metaphor to use. if you look at his record throughout the ages then yes you are right.
because of defense spending and because of the cold war there was this deficit. that was a time i think when the conservative side of the argument in america were favorable of tax cuts regardless of expenditure. write to really to the 60s the u.s. conservatives were balanced-budget people. what they did if you look at the korean war, that was true and eisenhower continues that they were reluctant to raise expenditures to raise income and to raise taxes. i think in the korean war they raised taxes than they paid for that because they want to balance the budget. that was very much an old-school conservative approach in both eisenhower and truman stuck it out. it was only in the 60s that we started getting these deficits and in a way the conservative
movement in america wanted endless tax cuts. the tax cuts would increase revenue but they didn't really focus on expenditure side. i think if you are going to reduce taxes you have to try to reduce that expenditure. so good reducing taxes hoping you will get more money while keeping expenditures rising. this argument, the supply-side argument by people like jack kemp and arthur laffer famously focused on tax cuts. you have got to address expenditure. you can't just balance the budget on tax cuts alone. in an ideal world i would reduce taxes and expenditures. the two about to go together. >> host: george w. bush he described as fiscally incompetent. >> guest: wasn't my words. bush is a tax from the left and
from the right. if you look at that period from 2001 the u.s. started running deficits quite aggressively. those deficits were compounded either foreign affairs and foreign wars and i think people on the left on the right and certainly on the right were saying what has happened to this? we are supposed to be hawks on public expenditure. we want to reduce the federal government and its impact in terms of spending. but the spending is out of control. and it wasn't me. it was a lot of the guys from the think tanks, the heritage foundation and all that sort of thing read even at the time and before 2008 they were criticizing bush for spending too much money. posts that was one of the things that led to the tea party. >> host: that's right. at the tea party was i think a
legitimate protest in this endless cycle of death that expenditure. the debt was going through the roof and the deficit was going through the roof and people forget and america the budget was balanced. in my country in britain as well the budget was balanced. i remember when i started working in the mid-90s they were saying the 30-year bond, the thirty-year t-bond would be abolished because the borrowe borrowed -- government was what was in barring any more money. in 50 years we have gone to a complete reversal of that position. in my book i argue that the bush of administration had a party plan that. >> host: how do you view the clinton era? >> guest: certainly you can just look at the numbers. just look at where the budget was. it was quite a responsible time in the sense that public expenditures rose a little bit
not as fast consequently. revenues were increasing and the budget was largely balance. a lot of people say a lot of the problems were deep-seated but it didn't address in terms of entitlements and social security and that kind of thing that year-on-year the budget was was very balance and i quote greenspan when he came to congress in 2001. if you read what he was saying it's extraordinary. he was saying essentially we are going to abolish the national debt. >> host: bring it down to zero. >> guest: that's right. this was pre-9/11 and somehow we discovered perpetual motion and the u.s. economy is growing at three to 4% every year. republican expenditure wasn't going up very fast. poster that was based on optimistic estimates which were not shared by everybody at the time. >> guest: they were shared by everyone at the time but the fact that the chairman of the
federal reserve could come to congress and speak as you mentioned on zero debt in the summer before 9/11 is extraordinary given where we are now. it's extraordinary that 15 years ago people thought, credibly thought that they would abolish the national federal debt certainly by 2014. >> host: what is your view of alan greenspan? there's a lot about him. >> guest: the most important thing about him and i'm a historian so i look at people and what they do and their personalities because i think that's very important. one of the unique things about him was he was a jazz player, clarinet and saxophone in the 40s. i would suggest that he took a jazz players approach to managing the economy. it was very improvised. i quote people who worked with him and they said there was no plan. he was very very savvy about
what he felt himself and savvy about markets. he responded very quickly to what the markets were doing and the most important thing in terms of his career was early on in his tenure as chairman of the federal reserve essentially in his own mind saved the western world because of the crash of 87. there was a big wall street crash. >> host: there was a crash and self-confidence. >> guest: that's right. very cheap money and lowered interest rates pumping huge amounts of money into the system and he averted a 29 style disaster. once you do that you play those tunes again. if you are successful doing one policy early on that temptation is to keep repeating it quizzes is essentially what he did and i would argue by 2002, 2003 the cheap money policy stood up its own problems as we have talked
about. people investing in high-risk products to get that yield and that is what is created instability. >> host: you described and excessive interventionists. >> guest: that was very much a style. i think greenspan said it and 87 and the thing after member but all these people in the federal reserve is that they are obsessed with 1929 and the one lesson that they have learned from 1929. doing papers and research and they are possessed with the idea that in 29 the federal reserve the authorities if you like didn't do enough and they contracted the money supply. so there's endless liquidity. putting liquidity into the system was very much the response from what they learn. >> host: do you think it was the response? >> guest: i think to do it
willy-nilly as they did was perhaps slightly risqué. i think they perhaps overlooked and learn some of the wrong lessons from 29 and the people like friedman did in 29 for shrinking the money supply. they didn't need to do that. these endless huge amounts of money that people can't comprehend a thing created potentially and it's on its instability. the tea party revolt was very much initiated or given fuel by these endless bailouts and this endless printing of money in this endless spending and that is what people really got cross about. we are still seeing the ramifications of that now. >> host: you talked about rhetorically at least in the reagan thatcher era a lot of talk about the household budget
and putting things in a very simple you know it diversity from the balanced budget. now we have a system where you have a currency that sort of untethered a jazz approach to managing it. these huge i would say trillions of figures you have to google to begin to comprehend. i guess for the average american how do we get back to some sort of sanity and something that people can understand? >> what i argue in my book and all sides of the political spectrum are looking at is you will have to balance the budget some time. the u.k. in my country the argument is whether we balance the budget and how quickly we get to balance. this deficit simply isn't
sustainable and there's more of a consensus about that than people might realize. how you you balance a budget and over what timeframe is a political discussion. >> host: entitlement reform. >> guest: i think all of that is important but certainly we are going to get back to stability in the next 20 years a bounce budget is something that people are beginning to focus on. even though the record might suggest otherwise with endless debates in congress which i followed about the budget and the rest of it. i don't think even the most extreme democrat is suggesting we run deficits from now until kingdom come. fresco have you talked to american politicians about this? i would imagine someone like paul ryan or anybody -- guess that they should. it's getting rave reviews. it's an important book because it brings back the idea of this balanced budget. i'm trying to show balance
budget are what made britain and america powerful countries over the time in which they held -- in global affairs. so i think is very timely and important. i am a conservative politician so i tend to be more hawkish of public spending and so are my other colleagues that this is definitely something which is being talked about. >> host: yeah. broadly speaking this terms used in simplistic terms in the public debate is growth verses austerity. is that a useful way at looking at things? >> guest: with a slightly crazy way at looking at. the argument about growth which is a very new argument. in the 60s people started saying it was sort of lyndon johnson, jfk in his brief tragic tenure the presidency they started saying we shouldn't
worry about balancing the budget because if you run a deficit we will get more growth and therefore we will be able to balance the budget. saying what do i do a good deficit and then they take more money from the deficit to pay for the deaf. it's a secular argument and he didn't hear it until the early 60's and that's the end that's the point i'm making the book. they talk about maynard keynes but keynes himself realized deficit spending was an exceptional thing. when there was a slump he said he can spend more money but he never dreamt of people running deficits year in and year out. that really only came in the 60s because they adopted the circular arguments saying they would have growth so we need to run a deficit to beat well. it's a slightly crazy argument and you hear it now from people
on the left. it's not a keynesian argument. keynes himself grow up in the victorian era. he was 31 in the first world war broke out so his whole childhood and youth was conditioned by this balanced budget framework. that he thought was the opening. he said look in exceptional times you can borrow more money. he wasn't envisaging that all the time. the analogy i use is if you have kids the victorian approach what if they had tv which is a big is coming to can't watch television ever. keynes view was you can watch two hours when you need to and now we have the tv on all the time. [laughter] so you know to grow the deficit in order to get growth i think is wrong because you have to understand in his historical
context and that historical context as i have outlined in the book "war and gold" the u.k. government balanced the budget and that was the key function of government. that was actually agreed by both sides, both the liberals and the conservatives. >> host: tell us about china. where is china in all this? described as america's banker and you talked about some of the rhetoric from republican politicians and talking about naming and shaming china on day one of his presidency. and you talked with some of the economic nationalism. >> guest: economic nationalism has eyes been a theme in america. people like pat buchanan talk about this and are on the fringes of the debate in many ways. america was the great
protectionist country. that's a historical fact and we can argue whether was the right thing or the wrong thing but the fact is that someone described to me the american industrial base was built behind the wall. that's just what happened. the argument on the right very much has been about shaded into as you say economic nationalism. and actually it's not just about economic nationalism. it's about having a level playing field. if i'm exporting cars into china i'm probably going to have a 15% tariff to get my goods into china for as if i am a chinese exporter you get a 15% subsidy. the loss of trade are about equalizing that playing field. >> host: and about polly davidson. >> guest: again these things are as markup agape. reagan is portrayed as this great free trader but he saved
polly davidson by running a 30% tariff. in the early 80s people remember all of these japanese -- were flooding america. he slapped a tariff on these japanese motorbikes and save the domestic industry. >> host: if china had been trading in that way well be the effect without the domestic populism. >> guest: the problem is they are still a massive demand for these chinese goods. i suppose you could slap on tariffs. this was the greenspan. if we impose tariffs on china or malaysia and southeast industrial base if you like would provide goods anyway and it wouldn't help the u.s. manufacturer. that was his argument but if you look at the way her china
started from and we mention mentioned this earlier. in 1980 the rupee was 1.5 to the dollar. after 20 years that led to a .5. this was not an accident. this is an something that just happen because it happen. it was deliberate policy in the chinese and the strength of the chinese compared to ourselves in the west in britain and america you would like is they have long-term view. so american politicians were accusing the chinese of -- and early 90s. bush won in 91 saying you guys are inflating your currency and driving your currency down to flood our markets. of course there's a new new president in their sights a new cycle. the chinese get doing the same thing. they have a steady plan and that is what i tried to outline in the book. it's very easy to forget this
but as late as the late 80s 85, 86 and probably a bit later than that china was running a trade deficit if you can imagine that. they were importing more than they were exporting and i refer in "the new york times" from that period which was saying they have a trade deficit. you could argue that because they devalued it became a trade surplus which has remained. >> host: you're relatively initial as a politician who have got a sophisticated knowledge and experience of united states historically but you also spend a year and a half -- >> guest: i spend an excellent year in boston and cambridge manor -- cambridge university. so i lived through a lot of that crazy. not. it was an interesting time because a lot of my classmates people who are my age were going straight into wall street and
this was just before the.com boom and a lot of them went into that. so there was kind of those go-go years with the cigar crazes and all that. consumption and high living and all that sort of thing. it was so wild west period and finance and of course that came to grinding hault certainly after 9/11 and there was a long bear market that was a short and sharp bear market when the tech bubble burst in 2003 people forget that. that was a difficult time for markets. plus the given your historical knowledge what strikes us is the big differences in economic and political debates on either side? >> guest: people in america are much more conscious of the spending. i was amazed and i used to cover the debates for newspapers in britain area postcode you served
briefly as a journalist. >> guest: that's right but yes what amazed me about these congressional debates was i think one time in 96 they were arguing about $300 million which sounds like a lot of money but the budget was something like 1.6 trillion and this was a very focused and very passionate debate. i think that level of budget scrutiny doesn't quite exist certainly in britain and perhaps in western europe. and the whole language and culture about pork and earmarks, all those terms. these are not terms that are used in europe. >> host: you said britain could learn from some of this. >> guest: you could argue that the debate was relevant because people talk about this but they continue spending money so you could argue all day intense scrutiny didn't amount to much. but i think having a conscious
approach to tax dollars the phrase tax dollars, i have never heard the view tax viewers. think people here have a fundamental sense of the idea that taxation comes from the people's work and it's spent by the government wears a think in europe think in europe there's a morbid casual acceptance of government spending. somehow the government didn't really make the connection. fisca there's a real sense that this is our money and there is anger that you are spending it. >> guest: absolutely right. we the people on one side and the government which is extracting money from the people through taxation and frittering it away is kind of the tea party view of life. whereas in europe i think europeans and british people have a more slightly benign view of government so that benign view is the government spending
money for us and there there is in that sense of this is my money. >> host: was that the reagan line, i'm from the government and i'm here to help. >> guest: that's right. there are deep-seated reasons for that. if you look at the birth of the united states it was a revolt against the government. it was a revolt absolutely taxation without representation. that is very much more deep-seated in the american consciousness that it is the europe. >> host: we have mentioned the tea party a few times and of course the big political story in britain at the moment is the u.k. independence party. what is your view on this? are we now in a three or four party system in britain that we haven't had before? >> guest: we just had european elections last week in which you cap the fourth party came along
and that's the first time since 1986, 108 years when neither conservative nor labor the two main parties have wanted a nationwide elections was very significant. we didn't actually know where this would end up. you cap extensively their main reason is to get britain away from europe. they want us to leave the e.u. but it's a much wider cultural review -- revolt against a political plus they believe is out of touch and his elitist that doesn't touch -- understand ordinary people. even though they are different parties they are pretty much the same. it's very much in anti-establishment peasants revolt type of thing which america people are familiar with. >> you see some parallels. >> guest: they are clearly parallels.
washington and westminster is smaller than washington but it has the same sort of resonance. these are people go to fancy restaurants anywhere fancy suits. they speak a language that we don't understand. they have completely cut off their constituents and they essentially regardless of who's in power whether democrat or republican the spending goes up and there's no responsibility or accountability. and the people on main street are saying we have had enough. there's a popular aspect to it. >> host: sort of smoking and drinking. >> guest: absolutely. in a way that no politician would dream are dared to do. so there is very much the view that these people are out of touch and it's time for dreck the action.
he calls his army to people's army, his troops, his party. he calls it the people's army and that is very much with the peasants with pitchforks over the hill coming in saying they are bad enough. let's go do you think you're part the conservative party could learn from the u.k. u.k.? isn't about bringing them into the town's? >> guest: this is the 64,000-dollar question. i suspect that the center-right and this is my own private private view the center center-right in britain needs to have some conversation at some point with the u.k.. it's different given their parliamentary system to see how the parliament can get an overall majority. they generally are of a conservative disposition. i know people argue about this but if you look at the counselors and you look at activists a lot of them have come from the conservative party. >> host: what we are seeing at the moment in the u.s. 2014
primaries is there are a lot of tea party challengers losing that a lot of tea party ideas and the narrative the establishment versus the tea party but a lot of republican candidates are fusion candidates. >> guest: the difficulty we have with the u.k. as they are not part of the conservative party. the tea party generally in the u.s. as far as i can see are within the republican party to klitzka to a degree. >> guest: they are fighting primaries within the republican party. where as u.k. are fielding other candidates. the tea party could end up being as opposed to party challenging the republican party and if that were the case of the republican party would have a serious problem problem.
a sensual instead of contesting the primaries and deciding on one candidate you would have the democrats, the republicans in the tea party representatives. you have that i think with ross perot. that was very much a similar situation where as a third-party to think he killed bush in 92 trade that's very much the danger. >> host: we talked about the political class. do you see yourself as a professional? >> guest: no, i've done other things. i have been for years and i'm a writer and a historian. i have done different things. i think it's quite unhealthy actually to have professional politicians. i can see why they get involved but i think you need to have politicians with one perspective and that was a great strength for the house of commons. the house of commons drew on people from all backgrounds in many ways. you had manual workers and
people like winston churchill who was a journalist and writer. he had a lot of different professions and i think that added to the variety. he didn't just hear the same voices. the nature of modern life people are more specialized. there's a huge culture of special adviser or in the american case working on the hill. that is sort of bread its own momentum. >> host: i think you say the three party leaders in britain are essentially better politicians. >> guest: if you look at them, this is a fact. they were born within three years of each other between 1966 and 1969. they are all exactly the same age. they all went to either oxford or cambridge and out of the university worked in politics and that's a fact. the head of the u.k. comes along and just went to private school but he didn't go to the u.s. and
he does not have a degree. so he can say look i have actually worked as a commodity trader. i have done this and i'm an ordinary bloke, an ordinary guy. he has been a politician as long as i can remember but it had sort of a grain of truth in people who are angry that are not looking for a forensic tru truth, they are not looking to analyze all the circumstances. they just want a story and history is quite convincing essentially. >> host: and your own -- i'm always very struck about that session anyway with britain or maybe it's the british press with class and schooling and you yourself point to the eaton. >> guest: at the slightly
unusual background because my parents were immigrants from ghana which was part of the british empire. so i have an unusual relationship with the british establishment. as far as my parents being immigrants they came to britain in the 60s. then i went through these elite institutions. i went to cambridge university and so i kind of got both sides if it were. my parents were very much from the old colonial empire. it's not a common name in britain. i can see both sides of the light and with that double hat i would say there was a problem and there is a potential probl problem. people from marginal backgrounds to struggle to get a voice. i think it's very important as a political class we open ourselves up to people who are active in politics.
not just in britain but america should be more open and there should be an easier way for people to feel the come and get representation and maybe be representatives of themselves but the nature of the medium to meet nature of monica mitigation's modern life if you you like means you have to be quite specialized. you have to decide to do that at a relatively young age and that creates this class i suppose. klesko is the three books you have written the last four years? >> guest: two big ones and a couple of others. >> host: i notice you have not tweeted since 2010. [laughter] i know you have kids. even so how do you manage to write something as thoughtful and wide-ranging? >> guest: that's very kind. i think two things about writing a book, the smallest thing that anyone said about writing a book was winston churchill. he said it's like building a house. you have to work out how many floors the house have sent
external structure of the house and you have to work out how the rooms and bedrooms will be before you worry about -- klesko and churchill actually built houses. >> guest: you have to have a structure how your sofa is going to appear. you have to look at the actual structure. once you have a structure than the second thing about writing a book and it's an african proverb if you want to e an elephant you have to chop it up into little pieces. once you have the house and with a book like that they think you were slid out of thin air. it took six years. i was thinking about it before. let's go your ph.d. was in economic history. >> guest: that's right. when i spent my year abroad in boston these thoughts have been
evolving for quite a while. i never was interested in gold and being from the african continent my home country was the gold coast so there were signs that interest in looking at politics in terms of finance and i worked for a bank for eight or nine years. all of that came together and i gradually took a gradual approach in writing the book. when the book appeared they said how did you do that? it must have taken me three months must have taken a three month but ask it takes a much longer time. >> host: did you have a routine with a certain number of hours? >> guest: there were routines in the week. saturday afternoon was a good and in the recess i try to allocate a bit of time every day. the eating elephant thing if you just do steady as you go and then if you have a clear idea of what the book you want to write you can actually get there. the danger is you need to keep
to the structure and you need a plan. if you don't have a plan it's practically impossible to do something like that given the pressures on the constraints you have and the amount of time you spend in the constituency. my constituency is quite close. i have been to the national archives and my constituents are interested in their family history and as a hobby. people have hobbies even if they worked very hard so it's not something that i see is work really. >> host: although extremely relevant. >> guest: if they work very hard. it's not something that i see is work really. >> host: although extremely relevant. that historical perspective is something that politicians sometimes lack. >> guest: i think it's key to trying to understand modern politics. i think it was winston churchill or someone like that who said if you don't learn from the past
you are condoned to me the same mistakes. >> host: i said from the beginning it's not a politician's book. it's not polemic and you are not judgmental. does this help you political career? >> guest: i think in the long run you have to clearly set out what your beliefs are, where you are coming from if you are coming from intellectual hinterland if you like and that has to help the political career in the end. i think certainly in britain and i'm not sure about the united states the united states there's always been a big connection between understanding history and politics. we have a long tradition of historians in politics and politicians who write history. churchill as i mentioned many times was the greatest example of that.
he wrote reams and reams of history throughout his career. he read the history of the first world war and six volumes. i have no idea how you manage to do that but people like lloyd jenkins. lloyd jenkins our current foreign secretary hague has written volumes and famous politicians. something that is quite connected in britain this link between history and politics. i think that's quite healthy actually. >> posted is a great quote from norman lamont who said politicians don't have the luxury of expressing doubt. i sense from here you use the word nuance quite a lot but you do have a new once approach. are there that are there other things that surprise you and things that actually changed your view? >> guest: they did. if you look at this whole idea of government spending i mean what i was amazed at was the extent to which we are living in
completely uncharted territory. as i say hundreds of years before the gold standard and really in the 60s the people challenged britain and america challenge this idea that we have to balance the budget every year. this idea where we are running continual deficits and we have paperback currency for money is quite new. it's not something that happened and certainly after 1971 you know the extent to which we were spending more money wasn't as pronounced as it is today but these bailouts. >> host: so they're there's sort of this new normal. >> guest: doesn't have to be that way. more than 10 years ago who had ever heard of that? i think i first -- first heard that in 2007 and that it became one of these received phrases. you would think it would have existed but it didn't. it was news to the extent to
which today's situation and today's circumstances are relatively new for was something that struck me. >> host: what of your political career? i think you have been floated as a british -- >> guest: every politician of color black ethnic whatever in britain is touted as the british obama which given obama's poll ratings isn't something one would necessarily respond to. we have to get through the 2015th election. i want to hold my see what i have to do. majorities can come and go and it's something you've got to keep an eye out. that's scary where we are for 2015. the whole political sort of career thing, debate in terms of where people are going is dependent on your party's
success. obviously i'm hoping the conservative party wins out and mike grier will go on a different direction. if we are out you know who knows what will happen? >> you wrote another book. >> guest: well, i'm toying with it. i am interested in market bacher. she said key person in the book. i know charles well. he had been working on that for a long time. thatcher was one of those figures in british life who immediately became an iconic figure. once you died in new as someone that people argue about for decades to come and i am nearly 40 but they're few people people in my lifetime in britain who have that iconic status. i mention churchill. he died 50 years ago. this was before my time than thatcher for my generation with my generation what do you love her loads to her was a i'm very
interested in her leadership style. not just that she was a woman and she had a nonconformist methodist background, she had a lot of imagery which she used, she was almost like a sort of preacher in terms of her style. >> host: she was a big inspiration to you. >> guest: she was. she was an inspiration. she became prime minister when i i was four years old so i don't remember that. the day she left i was probably 15 and a half so that was a very long time for she was the dominant figure in british politics. a whole decade where she was prime minister and i liked her style of politics. i like conventional politics. i like the fact that she stuck to her guns. i was doing a bit of research about her. three days before the election she said i'm not a consensus politician. can you imagine someone saying that three months before a in a lecture in? if you wt