tv After Words CSPAN September 1, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT
they worked together as a couple, particularly in the political sense. how -- guest: that would take us a long time. would say as quickly as i can say this, that the clintons have a marriage that is somewhat similar to the marriage of franklin and eleanor roosevelt. it is essentially a working relationship. they have gone their separate ways in many ways. they do not live together often. but they are colleagues and collaborators on policy as eleanor and franklin were. on the other side, the obama side, we have a first lady in michelle obama who is best friends with valerie jarrett and
who is a behind-the-scenes adviser through her husband in a way that's quite different because in many respects michelle behaves toward her husband as though she knows better. he said in public that she is the boss. he often sounds like a -- i i must say. i know that's very radical to say that but i think there's a lot of truth to that. these women, both michelle and valerie have enormous influence over his policy decisions. another concrete example, when bill daly was the chief of staff of the obama white house, he said after he resigned, that he and obama would come to an agreement and then valerie jarrett would go upstairs to the residents that night, spend the
editing -- evening up there talking to barack and michelle and the next morning the president would come down and contravened and throughout the agreement that daley had. in daley resign because he said he couldn't bunch of that kind of white house. >> host: we talked about averted topics and other topics are exploded -- explored in "blood feud" edward kleiner who joins us for this discussion. mr. klein thank you. >> guest: it's been a great pleasure. thank you for having me on. >> up next on booktv "after words" with guest host toby harnden washington bureau chief of "the sunday times." this week's kwasi kwarteng and his new book "war and gold."
in its the member of the british parliament explores the history of money come its relationship to war and the resulting impact he believes the interconnection has on present day free markets worldwide. the program is about an hour. >> host: welcome to "after words." i am toby harnden with "the sunday times" of london and with me today is kwasi kwarteng a conservative mp born in london of ghanaian parents and he's here to discuss the superb new book "war and gold" a 500-year history of empires, adventures and debt. it has received rave reviews are ready and my paper has found it enormously readable and entertaining history which includes to pass 500 years into a rollicking area. it's great to have you here. rollicking narrative is not an easy description. this strikes me as not really a
politician's book. this is designed to sort of get you further up. >> guest: i have always been interested in history. i have a doctorate in history and i think when they look at what happened in 2008, the financial crisis, huge amounts of debate and loads of books and loads of books but they looked at short-term perspective. they were looking at the banks. they were looking at hedge funds. they were looking at cbo's and creditor if it is but i thought let's take a step back and i should try to understand something about the global financial system, something about the currencies that we have, the dollar, sterling and also the nature of gold as well because one of the features of this book is to remind people that for 400 years, 450 years we had a gold backed currency. it was only in 1971 when richard nixon famously went off gold.
>> host: one of the things i love about this is the dramatic moment. it's about you now dry subjects, money but tell me about that moment when the tv program is interrupted. >> guest: the key moments in any historic narrative there will be key moments when peoples what has happened. it was august the 15th i think on a sunday. it was very much one of those moments when richard nixon essentially appeared on national television after bonanza which was a great cowboy show, not really my time but some of the viewers will remember the show. he interrupted the show to say we are not going to allow the dollar to be converted to gold anymore and this in many ways upon most significant event, the most significant things that has happened in the history of money and it was a very decisive moment for essentially he shot the gold is what the term was where people could not simply come into fort knox
metaphorically and say here is $100 i want to get the gold value and that was a consequence of the big bad problems at that the american government, federal government with its debt after the vietnam war and to pay for the great society. it just didn't work out. there was a deficit, trade deficit and people like the french and the breads were coming to change dollars into gold. richard nixon decided to stop that. interestingly enough the federal chairman of the federal reserve was very skeptical about that. he was an old-school kind of balance the budget conservative guy and he was very wary of actually stopping the decoupling of the dollar from gold. >> host: another dramatic moment as lloyd george in the house of commons in 1914. >> guest: you see the great thing about british parliament for the 100 years before the first world war between 1914 was
essentially they ran budget balances. the whole victorian era in the 19th century of these guys in top hats. >> host: in a stable interest rate. >> guest: very stable interest rate and very stable fiscal policy at what happened was that all of that just went to pieces. in order to defeat the kaiser and in order to beat germany the british parliament had to vote through massive spending and he stands up and says you know this is an extraordinary thing that we have done that will amount to billions in sterling, generally hundreds of millions of the budget up to that point. but they borrowed huge amount. the national debt went up 10 times if you can imagine, more than 10 times from 700 million sterling to over a billion. the consequence was they would do whatever it took to defeat germany. >> host: i don't see a direct
right away in the title. is this a push poll effect of war? >> guest: absolutely. >> host: a consequence of calling the book order in chaos. >> guest: that's right. order i think is represented by the gold standard or buy a commodity standard where you can see this is how much my dollar or my pound is worth and some sort of external value. chaos and one of the arguments i put forward in the book is when you don't have any kind of boring to commodities have what is called fear. paper money and essentially the printing press. you can just keep printing money and there are many opinions in this country probably more than any other this said that was a mistake. that's associated with people like ron paul but my point, i'm not trying to write a really good narrative to explain how we got to where we are but i think
there are some force in the argument that we need something more structured than just the ability of government to print money. >> host: yeah the quotes from ron paul in 1981 saying the tenure experiment has failed and that's an argument that is very resonant here. there was a big following for ron paul and essentially ron paul is probably going to run for president in 2016. do you think he should? >> guest: there's a different factor in terms of how we talk about that initially. i mention that in the book, the chinese to essentially decide they can reinstitute the gold standard tomorrow. they could say r&b is going to equal x amount of gold and that may have the research about that. they run an export model so if they did that it would become a very strong currency which would be a complete reverse of their
policy where they want to keep the value of the one lows of their exports are cheap and we combined them essentially. that would be a complete reversal but in terms of actually introducing a gold standard they can do it because they have got the reserves and one of the points i make about the gold standard is to be look at the 19th century it was britain who largely sort of guaranteed it and britain was running great export services. britain was the manufacture of the world. british goods were flooding essentially the global markets at least in america, in south america and the reserves that britain acquired through its export trade meant that they could keep the gold standard. the british themselves never really had that much gold but everyone sort of relied on the stability and the export straight to britain. in the 20th century for much of the 20th century the united states ran a current account. it's unbelievable to think that. really until 1970 until 1900 to
1970 the u.s. was exporting more than it was importing so was building up reserves. it was building up gold and other foreign currency reserves. the united states guaranteed the gold standard certainly after the first world war and of course the whole settlement was based on this charismatic value of the dollar at $35 an ounce. that was how an ounce of gold, that was the relationship. that lasted from 19 night that -- 1944 to 1971. >> host: sounds like you don't anticipate the chinese doing this. it would be marriages. >> guest: given where they have come from 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 i think it was 1.512 a dollar and over 20 years it went down as low as 8.5 and now it's 6.5 and now sort of
thing but they deliberately have cheap money or rather low value for their currency and they could drive exports. so you are right to suggest that if they want to gold that would be a complete reversal of what they have been doing and how they're building their economy through this export growth. >> host: you argue that the return for gold standard will be impractical. >> guest: i think it's impractical but that i am saying is the current system is very vulnerable and in no a way explains what happened in 2008. i talk about that quite fully. i mention the fact that many economists predicted that this would happen when you have a system where if you just have current sandbanks essentially are pushing enter and printing money. you are going to get a very vulnerable and unstable system and i think that's something we have to consider. >> host: what about the effective war on 2008. obviously on 117 years early but
your argument it wasn't just about money love and and it was about something much bigger. >> guest: it wasn't that complicated. if you remember i was on the trading floor. i was at jpmorgan, that's right. but yeah i was a banker and the first thing that happened was obviously the 100r index went up 10%. the dow jones went down i think an appreciable amount and the response of the central bank was to lower interest rates. interest rates have been coming down all through that year from about 6.5. they went down to 1% and this was really true money. my argument was if you followed what happened there was a consequence of lowering the interest rate to such a low degree. what happened was that people wanted a yield. they feel getting treasury 2%, tenure money 2% in some banker in the midwest saying i need to
get more than 2%. >> host: that pushes you to the margin of a higher risk? >> guest: that's absolutely right. i can only get 2% of tenure money buying treasuries. i've got to get some interest rates. i've got to get some yields. that was a phrase that was used commonly at the time and the search for yield i think drove a lot of the sub-prime lending, a lot of the very poor credit decisions in terms of expanding credit in terms of giving people huge loads which they could never afford to pay. that is what caused the current instability and that is where the long view is very interesting because i found exactly the same thing happened in england in the 1820s. it was south america and what happened was the napoleonic war after 1815 and the defeat of napoleon but after that they went back to gold and as a
consequence of that the government spending went down. there was a very low interest-rate environment and again it was a search for yield. they said if we buy u.k. government that we are only going to get small interest rates. so let's look for something which will give us more interest rates so there was the search for yield which ended up buying crazy bolivian government bonds at 7%, crazy speculative stocks, all that kind of thing. >> host: if we can get back to gold now how do we more board the currency? how do we sort of stabilize and stop another bubble? >> guest: i think the main thing that is missing from this and this is what people in the markets feel when i think people generally feel is that there should be more leadership. there should be more international coordination and if you look at bretton woods, that lasted three weeks. obviously there was two years of preparation before that but
essentially you have delegates from 50 countries they came to bretton woods from new hampshire and they decided what the international architecture would be. that was a very responsible and very effective. it lasted 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 perhaps. people are feeling less confident and there's less of an idea of what can be done. and i think that has really, about in the last four or five years. one of the things about that is in a way i think it's kind of the time in the 2000 a crisis a time when global leadership, and maybe u.s. being a bit unsure of itself. the u.s. itself is running a huge deficit which we can talk about later and the u.s. has been slightly burned by perhaps
over extension in foreign affairs, foreign commitments of the capacity of the u.s. to provide that level of leadership is much lower now than perhaps certainly was the case and in 44 world of post-war period. >> host: you are not for greater regulation. >> guest: not at all. i am always very robust defender of the free enterprise system. i'm a very robust defender of finance. if you look at my hometown of london, london has been the center of financial -- arguably today and apologies to new yorkers listening. it is still in terms of an international sense, the international banks in the timezone and the idea that british politicians should bash bankers and try to close down the city of london is insane. that's been a great strength of the english economy is what i always argue and i think is borne out by the historical record. >> host: in terms of debt and deficits your fascinating
chapter on thatcher and reagan where as i understanding is that what went out the window was balanced budgets and it was tax cuts became almost maybe a fetish and an end in themselves. and i think to a lesser extent reagan certainly talked about fiscal responsibility but in the end. >> guest: reagan was a great figure. he had parallel gifts of communication. he could boil things down very simply so people could relate to them and of course his idea, he has a great metaphor about government spending that he related it to alcoholism. his father at the monopoly. if you look at his speeches he keeps talking 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 use. when you actually look at his record throughout the 80s then
yes you are right, because of defense spending and because of the cold war there was this deficit and that was a time i think when certainly people on the conservative side of the argument here in america were very focused on tax cuts. regardless of expenditure. my argument is that right through really until the 60s the u.s. conservatives were balanced budget people so what they did if you look at the korean war and that was truman and the democratic president but certainly eisenhower continued it, they were reluctant to raise expenditures to raise income and various taxes to cover expenditure. so i think in the korean war, the president went to congress to raise taxes than they paid for that because they wanted to balance the budget. that was very much an old-school conservative approach in both eisenhower and truman stuck to that. it was only really in the 60s
we started getting into these deficits and away my argument in the conservative movement in america started wanting endless tax cuts because they said the tax cuts would increase revenue but they didn't really focus on the expenditure side. i think if you are going to reduce taxes you've got to try to reduce expenditure. smell good reducing taxes hoping you will get money for that while keeping expenditures rising in this argument, the supply-side argument people like jack kemp in the late 70's and obviously arthur laffer berry famously focused on tax cuts but in order to balance the budget you have got to address expenditure. you can't just balance a budget on tax cuts along. even though i would reduce taxes and reduce expenditure. the two have got to get together. >> host: george w. bush i think you describe him as a fiscally at one point. guest:wasn't my words. bush was an extraordinarily president because he tax from the left and the right because
of this fiscal incontinence. i think if you look at that period from 2001 the u.s. started running deficits quite aggressively and those deficits were compounded by the foreign affairs and the foreign wars but the bush government went into and i think people on the left and the right, certainly in the right were saying what has happened to this? we are supposed to 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. it wasn't me. it was a lot of the guys from the think tanks, the heritage foundation and all that sort of thing. always coming even at the time and therefore 2008 they were criticizing bush for spending too much money. >> host: that was one of the things that led to the tea party movement. >> guest: that's right so the tea party i think was a legitimate protest of this
endless cycle of expenditure and federal debt was going through the roof. the deficit was going through the roof and you forget, people forget that in america and my country in britain as well the budget was balanced in the late 90s. i remember when i started work in the late 90s they said the 30-year bond, the t 30-year bond would be abolished because the government wasn't borrowing any more money so in 50 years we have gone through a complete reversal of that position. i think and in my book i argue the bush administration had a part to play in math also. >> host: so how do you view the clinton era, the clinton era the 1990s? >> guest: 2016 who knows about that but if you just look at the numbers, if you just look at where the budget was, it was quite a responsible time in the sense that public expenditure rose a little bit but not as
fast. actually revenues were because of the economy were increasing and the budget was largely balance. a lot of his opponents will say and a lot of the problems were deep-seated but he didn't address in terms of entitlement and social security and that sort of thing but year-on-year the budget was very balanced and i "matt greenspan when he came to congress in 2001. if you read what he was saying, it's extraordinary. he said essentially we will balance the debt. that was the environment in 2,002,001. it was very much pre-9/11 and that somehow we discovered perpetual motion. the u.s. economy was growing at three or 4% every year. public expenditure wasn't going up very fast. >> host: that was based on some very optimistic estimates which were not shared by everybody at the time. >> guest: they weren't shared
by everybody the type of effect that the chairman of the federal reserve could speak as you mentioned of zero debt in 2001 before 9/11 is extraordinary given where we are now. it's extraordinary that 15 years ago people credibly thought they would abolish the national federal debt. certainly by 2014. >> host: so what is your view of alan greenspan? >> guest: i think he was, the most important thing about him. i'm a historian i look a what people do in their personalities. i think that's very important one of the interesting things about him was he loves jazz music. he was a jazz player, clarinet or saxophone in the 40s. i would suggest that he took very much a jazz players approach to managing the economy. it was very improvised. i quote him and he said there was no plan.
he was very savvy about what he felt about markets. he responded very quickly to what the markets were doing and the most important thing about him in terms of his career was early on in 87 early on in his tenure as chairman of the federal reserve he essentially in his own mind saved the western world because of the crash of 87. it was a break -- big wall street crash? >> guest: with a certain degree of self-confidence. >> guest: that's right. that was a tricky phrase at that time. he lowered interest rates and pump huge amounts of liquidity into the fiscal and averted a 29 style disaster. that was very much and so once you do that early on in your career and he played those again and you are successful doing one policy very early on that temptation is to keep repeating it which is essentially what he did. i would argue by 2002, 2003 the
very cheap money policy stored up its own problems as we have talked about. low interest rates, the search for yield and people investing in very high-risk products to get that the yield and that is what created the instability. >> host: i think you describe the consequences as an obsessive interventionists. >> guest: yes. i think greenspan said the ball rolling. one thing you have to remember about all of these people running the federal reserve is that they are obsessed with 1929. the one lesson they have learned from 1929. i have done papers papers and on 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 and all the rest of it. this endless liquidity pumping liquidity into the system was very much in their response from a pay learned. >> host: do you think it was
the right response? >> guest: i think to do it willy-nilly as they did was perhaps slightly risky. i think that they perhaps over learned and learned some of the wrong lessons from 29 and what i pointed out was in 29 the authorities made it worse by shrinking the money supply. they didn't need to do that but these endless bailouts, these endless huge amounts of money that people can't even comprehend i thank creted potentially its own instability and also alienated a vast section of middle america. 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 got really got cross about. we are still seeing the ramifications of that now. >> host: you talk about and certainly rhetorically in the
reagan thatcher era a lot of talk about the household budget and putting things in a very simple manner. although as you say diversely perhaps from a balanced budget. but now we have a system where you have a currency that's untethered, sort of the jazz approach to managing it and these huge as you say, trillions. you have to google it to begin to comprehend so i guess for the average american, how do we get back to some sort of sanity and something that people can understand? >> guest: what i argue in my book and what i think people from all sides of the political spectrum argue is you have to balance the budget at some point. certainly in the u.k. in my country the argument isn't about whether we balanced the budget. it's how quickly would get to the balance because endless
deficits aren't sustainable and i think there is more of a consensus about that than people might realize. how you balance the budget and under what timeframe these are political discussions. >> host: entitlement reform. >> guest: a lot that is very important that i think certainly if we are going to get back to stability in the next 10 or 20 years i think a balanced budget approach is something people are getting to focus on even though the rhetoric might not -- might suggest otherwise with endless debates in congress which i follow. i think the most extreme democrats isn't suggesting we run deficits from now until kingdom come and i don't think anyone is suggesting that. >> host: this would be i imagine a book like paul ryan or anybody would like. >> guest: is getting as you say rave reviews and i think it's an important book because it brings back this idea of a balanced budget straight into
the political mainstream. i'm trying to show that balance budgets are what made britain and america very powerful countries over the time in which they held a -- and global affairs i think it's very timely and important. i tend to -- i'm a conservative politician so i tend to be more hawkish on public spending than perhaps some of my other colleagues that this is definitely something which is being talked about. >> host: yeah, yeah. morally speaking the terms in the public debate growth versus austerity, i mean is that a useful way of looking at a? >> guest: is a slightly crazy way of looking at it. the argument about growth which is a new argument in the context of 500 years. early in the 60s people started saying it was lyndon johnson, jfk and his brief
tragic tenor of the presidency, they said we shouldn't worry about balancing the budget because if we run a deficit we will get more growth and therefore we will be able to balance the budget. so what do i do? i got a deficit. let me run the deficit more so i can bring more money and to pay off the deficit and pay off the debt. you didn't really hear it until the early 60s. that's a point to make in the book. they talk about about keynes visiting canes that the keynes himself realized deficit spending was an exceptional thing. when there was a slump he said you can spend more money but he didn't envisage, he never dreamt of people running deficits year in and year out and it was in the 60s they were saying we won't deal with a deficit because we do have growth in order to deal with it. i mean it's a slightly crazy argument you hear it now from
people like krugman but is not a keynesian argument. keynes himself grew up in the victorian era. he was 31 when the first world war broke out so his whole childhood and youth was conditioned by this balanced budget framework and that he thought was the norm. he said look an exceptional times you can borrow money and he wasn't envisaging that all the time. the narrative i use is if you have kids, the victorian approach would be you can't watch television ever. keynes' view was okay you can watch two hours when you need to and now we got to the point where the tv is on all the time. >> host: right. >> guest: keep growing the deficit in order to get growth i
think is wrong because you have to understand him in its historical context. that historical context as i write about in this book "war and gold" is the u.k. government balanced the budget and that is what the government, that was the key function of government. that was actually agreed by both sides. >> host: you talk about china earlier. where is china in all of this? i will describe america's banker and it's interesting in this section you talk about some of the rhetoric from republican politicians, in 2012 talking about naming and shaming china as a currency from day one of his presidency which never happened and nationalism. let's. >> guest: economic national and has eyes been a theme in america. people like pat buchanan talked about this and they were on the fringes of the debate in many ways but if you look at the
19th century america was the great protectionist country. that's a historical fact. we can argue about whether was the right thing or the wrong thing but the fact is as someone described to me the american industrial base was built, that's just what happened. so the argument on the right is very much, has been about or shaded into as you say economic nationalism and actually it's not just about economic nationalism. it's about having a level playing field so if i'm exporting to china i probably have a 15% tariff to get into china whereas if i make chinese exporter to get a 15% subsidy so they trade argument is about equalizing that playing field. >> host: it's not just about harley-davidson. >> guest: right, again these things arise more complicated.
reagan is portrayed as this great betrayer but he saved harley-davidson. in the early 80s people remember all these japanese motorbikes are flooding america and harley-davidson was going bust. he slapped a tariff on the japanese motorbikes and saved the domestic industry. >> host: if china had been named and shamed in that way what with the effective than? would it be domestic populism? >> guest: yes, i think would have been. the problem is there still a massive demand for these chinese goods. you could add flat terrace but the naming and shaming, you could. this is the greenspan argument. greenspan argument was if we impose tariffs were we all china malaysia and the southeast malaysian industrial base if you like what provide goods anyway. it wouldn't help the u.s. manufacturers. that was his arguments. but if you look at the way --
where china started from and we mention this early. in 1980 it was 1.5 to 1 dollar. over 20 years that went up to 8.5. this wasn't an accident. this wasn't something that just happened because it happened. it was deliberate policy and the chinese, the strength of the chinese compared to ourselves and the west and britain and america the like like is they have a long-term view. american politicians were accusing the chinese of currency manipulation in the early 90s. you guys are manipulating the currency or driving a currency down to flood our markets but of course as the new president and a new cycle the chinese kept in the same thing. >> host: in the chinese were very contemptuous in this american cycle. >> guest: that's right and that's what i try to outline in the book with regard to their own currency which they develop. it's very easy to forget this
but as late as the late 80s, 85 or 86 or a bit later than that china was running a trade deficit if you can imagine that. they were importing more than they were exporting. i refer to various articles from their times of that period. you could argue because they devalued the trade deficit became a trade surplus which has remained. >> host: you're relatively unusual as a politician, you have a sophisticated knowledge and experience of united states historically but you also spend spent a year at harvard? >> guest: i spent a year in cambridge massachusetts. 96, 97 so i looked through a lot of that crazy period. it was an interesting time because a lot of my classmates, people who are my age, were going through it also.
this was just before the dot.com boom and a lot of that went into that so those were kind of go-go years. there were cigar crazes and all that sort of thing, consumption high living in and all of that sort of thing. it was a kind of wild west period in finance and of course that all came to a grinding hault certainly after 9/11 and there was a long bear market which was a short and sharp bear market when the tech bubble burst in early 2000. we both forget that. it was a difficult time for the markets. >> host: given your historical knowledge what strikes you is the big differences in economi economic -- on either side? >> guest: i think in america people are much more conscious of the spending idea. i was amazed, used to cover debates and look for newspapers
in britain at the time. >> host: you saw briefly a journalist. >> guest: that's right but guess what amazed me about these congressional debates i think one-time and 96 they were arguing about $300 million would sound like a lot of money. but the budget was something like 1.6 million or 1.3 trilli 1.3 trillion. this was a very passionate debate and i think that level of scrutiny doesn't quite exist certainly in britain and perhaps in western europe. and the whole language and culture about pork and earmarks, all of those sorts of terms. >> host: do you think britain and europe could learn something from some of this? >> guest: yes, you think we could have a more hawkish -- you could argue that the debate was relevant because people talk about all of this stuff so you could argue all of that intense scrutiny on that didn't amount to much.
but i think having a conscious approach a very critical approach to tax dollars, i have never heard the tax euros. i think people here have a more fundamental sense of the idea that taxation comes from the people. it comes from from the peoples work and it spent by the government whereas i think in europe there's more of a casual acceptance of government spending. somehow the government spending its money or they don't really make the connection. >> host: there's a real sense that this is our money and there's anger. >> guest: absolutely right so we the people on one side and the government which is extracting money from the people through taxation and frittering it away. that's part of the tea party view of life. whereas in europe i think europeans and british people have a slightly more benign view of government and said that benign view means the government
is spending money for us and there isn't that sounds of this is my money. >> host: was that the reagan line, that joke you know i'm from the government and i'm here to help you. >> guest: absolutely right. there are deep-seated reasons for that. if you look at the birth of the origins and the united states it was a revolt against the government. it was a revolt absolutely taxation without representation but that is very much more deep-seated in the american consciousness that it is in europe. >> host: now we have mentioned the tea party a couple of times. of course the big political story in britain at the moment is the rise of the u.k. independence party. what is your view on this? are we now have three or four party system in britain that we haven't had before? >> guest: it's interesting you raise that topic topic because we does have european elections last week in which the fourth
party if you like it took the pole and that's the first time since 1986, that when neither conservative nor labor the two main parties have one a nationwide election. so it's very significant. we don't actually know where this will end up. extensively the main reason is to try to get britain away from your. they want us to leave the du but it's a much more cultural revolt against the political class that they feel is out of touch, that is elitist, that doesn't connect to people and lives in its own bubble, that is very much drawn from the same type of person even though they are different parties. >> host: sort of a political class. >> guest: that's right in an anti-establishment peasant revolts type of situation which in america people are very familiar with. >> host: yeah so you see some parallels. >> guest: there are clearly
parallels. we are in washington now but westminster is much smaller than washington but it has the same sort of resonance. these are people who go to fancy restaurants. they wear fancy suits. they speak a language that we don't understand. they completely cut off their constituents and they essentially regardless of who is in power whether democrat or republican the spending goes up and there's no responsibility and no accountability and a bunch of guys what you call main street are saying we have had enough. there's this popular insurgence aspect to it. >> host: is smoking and drinking bloke in the park. >> guest: absolutely. in a way that no politician would trademark deer to do and so it's very much the view that these people are out of touch and it's time for direct action anti-calls it his army the
people's army, his troops, his party. he calls the people's army and that is very much the peasants with pitchforks over the hill coming and saying they have had enough. >> host: do you think your conservative party can learn from this? is it going to be about trying to bring them into the thames? >> guest: this is the 64,000-dollar question. i suspect that the center-right, this is my own private view, the center right in britain needs to have some sort of accommodation at some point with u.k. because it's very difficult given our parliamentary system to see how a conservative party can get an overall majority without a lot of them coming back. they generally are of a conservative position. i know that people argue about this but if you look at their counselors and if you look at the activist a lot of them have come into the conservative party. >> host: what we are seeing at
the moment in the u.s. 2014 primaries is a lot of tea party challengers losing the tea party ideas and really doubts about the establishment versus the tea party but in a way of a lot of the primary victors in the republican primaries are these candidates. >> host: >> guest: the difficulty we have with the u.k. is they are not part of the conservative party. the tea party general in the u.s. as far as i can see and have followed is within the republican party. >> host: to a degree, yeah. >> guest: they are fighting powers within the republican party whereas a fielding of the candidates is a simple party. the tea party could end up being i suppose a party challenger and if that were the case i think the republican party would have a serious problem because
essentially it's contesting primaries. you would have the democrats, the republicans and the tea party representatives. and you have that with ross perot. i was very much in a similar situation whereas a third-party that killed bush in 19 -- and that's very much the danger. >> host: we talked about the political class. you have been in parliament sends -- >> guest: i'm a writer and historian at work to the bank for 10 years. i've done different things and i think it's quite healthy to have professional politicians. i can see why they have evolved but i think you need to have politicians with one perspective. that was a great strength in the house of commons. the house of commons drew on people from all sort of backgrounds in many ways sega had workers, talking about the mid-20th century.
you had people like winston churchill was a german writer and you had people from different walks of life, different professions and i think that added to the diversity and the variety. he didn't just to the same places. people are more specialized. there's a huge culture of being a special adviser or an american case working on the hill and i think that has bred its own, got its own momentum. >> host: i think you say the three are essentially politicians. >> guest: if you look at them and this is a fact, they were all born within three years of each other in 1966 and 1969. they'll want to either oxford or cambridge and as their first job out of university they all worked in politics. that's a fact. nigel farage ahead of u.k. guess
he went to private school but he didn't actually, he doesn't have a degree so he can say i'm not like these guys. i have actually worked as a commodity trader. i've done this and i'm an ordinary bloke, an ordinary guy. but you know it has a sort of grain of truth in people who are angry, they are not looking for a forensic truth. they are not looking to analyze all the circumstances. they just want a story and his story is quite convincing. >> host: and i mean your own personal, the sort of obsession and a way with britain or maybe just with the british class with schooling and class. he went to be in a public -- private school.
as did david cameron. >> host: i have a slightly different background because my parents were immigrants from ghana so i have an unusual relationship with the british establishment. so far as my parents were immigrants and making her in the 60s, i was brought up in london but then i went through these institutions. i went to cambridge university and so i kind of got both sides. my parents were very much from the old colonial empire. so i could see both sides of the light. and with that double hat i would say there was a problem i think in there's a problem potentially a problem that people from marginal backgrounds to struggle to get a voice. i think it's very important as a political class we open ourselves up and get people who
are active in politics, not just in britain but america. it should be a much easier way for people to be able to come and get representation and maybe be representatives themselves. but the nature of the media, the nature of modern communications, modern life if you like me to have to be quite specialized. you have to decide to do that in a relatively young age and that creates this class i suppose. >> host: now, is it the last four and a half years? i know you have tweeted since 2010. and you don't have kids. even so how do you manage to write something as thoughtful and wide-ranging? >> guest: that's very kind. i think the best advice, the two things about writing a book, the smallest thing that everyone -- anyone said about writing a book was winston churchill. it's like building a house. you've got to work out how many
floors the house has in the external structure of the house is at work out how many rooms before you worry about. >> host: in churchill actually build houses. >> guest: absolutely. you have to work out the structure before how your sofa is going to appear or the patio in the garden. you have to work on the actual structure so once you have got a structure then the second thing about writing a book and i don't know whether it's an african proverb that if you want to eat an elephant you have to chop it up into little pieces. once you have got the house then you have just got to take a valued approach. a book like that people think you were slid out of thin air. it took about six years. in 2008 and i was thinking about before. >> host: your ph.d. was in economic history. >> guest: that's right. i have done with university and spent a year abroad in boston
and so these thoughts have been evolving for quite a while. i've always been interested in gold and being from the african continent my home country is called the gold coast so there was always that interest and looking at politics in terms of finance and i worked for a bank. all of that came together and i very very gradually to take very gradual approach in writing the book. when the book appears people say how did she do that? a must have taken you three months but actually it takes a much longer time. >> host: and you have a routine, certain number of hours in the day? >> guest: a routine in the week. monday afternoons are good. saturday afternoon is good and to allocate a bit of time everyday. it's the eating the elephant in chopping it up into small pieces and then you just do steady as you go. if you have a clear idea of what sort of book you want to write you can actually get there.
i mean the danger is you need to keep to the structure and you need a plan. if you don't have a plan is practically impossible to do something like that given the pressures or the constraints you have or the amount of time you spend in the constituency but my constituency -- when i went to the international archive i bumped into constituents because they are interested in their family history and it's a hobby. people have hobbies if they work very hard so it's not something that i see is work really. >> host: although extremely relevant. the historical perspective is a thing that a lot of politicians i think sometimes lack. >> guest: it's absolutely key to trying to understand politics. you have to understand where we have come from and again winston churchill or someone like that say if we repeat -- don't understand understand the pass we can repeat the same mistakes. >> host: one thing that struck me and i said this from the
beginning is this is not a politician's book. this is not polemic. you are not judgmental but does it help your political career? >> guest: i didn't write it for that but history and understanding history is more of a medium to long-term thing than trying to get appointments week by week. i think in the long run, they think you have to clearly set out what your beliefs are, where you are coming from, whether an intellectual hinterland if you like and i think that will help a political career in the end. and i think certainly in britain and i'm not sure about the united states that has always been a big connection between understanding history and politics. we had a long tradition of historians in politics and politicians who write history. churchill who i mentioned many times is the greatest example of that.
he wrote -- read reams and reams of history throughout his career and if you are writing the history of the world war ii in six volumes, have no idea how he managed to do that but lord jenkins was a writer and secretary william hague has written excellent biographies of british politicians. it's something that's quite connected to britain this link between history and politics and i think that's quite healthy actually. >> host: there's a great quote in there from lamont to set politicians don't have the luxury of expressing doubt. but i sense from here you use the word nuanced quite a lot and you do have a nuanced -- were there other things that surprised you, things that change your view? >> guest: yeah they did. if you look at this whole idea of government spending, i mean what i was amazed that was the extent to which we are living
completely on uncharted territory. hundreds of years before 1971 there was a gold standard and it was really the 60s that people challenged britain and america, challenge that we have to balance the budget every year. so this idea where we are running continual deficits and we have to pay them back in currency is quite new. this just wasn't something that happened before 1971. certainly after 1971, you know the extent to which we were spending more money wasn't as pronounced as it is today with these bailouts. >> host: so it's near-normal but it doesn't have to be that way. >> guest: it doesn't have to be that way. more than 10 years ago, i think i first heard it in 2007 that phrase and then it became kind of a received phrase that you would think would have existed since god was a boy but it
didn't. it was news to the extent to which today's situation, today's circumstances are relatively new was something that struck me. >> host: a lot of your political career, i mean the mayor of london, i think you are being floated as a british -- >> guest: every politician of color, black ethnic whatever in britain is touted as the briti british -- which given obama's poll ratings isn't something necessarily one would aspire to be. i'm got to hold my seat. majorities can come and go and it's something that i've got to keep an eye on. see where we are. the whole political career thing, debate in terms of where people are going depends on your
party success. obvious and hoping the conservative party wins resoundingly ended my career will go in a different directi direction. if we are out, who knows what will happen? >> host: now are you writing another book? >> guest: i am toying with it. she is a key figure in the book. i know charles well. he has been working on that for a long time but certainly one of these figures in british life where he immediately became an iconic figure. when she died she knew she would be someone that people argued about for decades to come. there are very few people in my lifetime in britain who have that iconic status. i mention churchill earlier but he died 50 years ago. this was before my time. the thatcher for my generation was a key figure and i'm very
interested in that relationship style, not just that she was a woman but she had a nonconformist methodist background. she had a lot of religious -- which you use. she was almost like a preacher in terms of her style. >> host: she was a big inspiration to you. >> guest: of core she was. she was inspirational. she became prime minister when i was four years old and i remember the day she left. i was probably 15 and a half so that was a very long time where she was this dominant figure in british politics. a whole decade where she was prime minister and i liked her style of politics. i liked traditional politics. i like the fact that she stuck to her goals and she said it. three months before the election she said i'm not a consensus politician. if you can imagine someone saying that three months before the election. i'm not a consensus politician. if you want compromise and all