A lot has been said and written in the last few days about the culpability of local authorities for deciding to invest in Icelandic banks. Indeed, much of it has been said by publicity-friendly LibDem Peer Lord Oakeshott. As I reported yesterday, he monstered the chief executive of the LGA on the Today Programme on the subject. But he did seem to be rather partisan in his analysis, blaming only Conservative controlled authorities for this error of judgement. He mentioned Winchester in particular. But of course, Labour controlled authorities are affected too, and, whisper it LibDem ones. Indeed, several LibDem council leaders have been on to Lord Oakeshott telling him to zip it.
LibDem controlled Sutton Council, in particular are not impressed by His Lordship's media appearances, which is hardly surprising as they invested far more than Tory controlled Winchester - and at a later date. Conservative Group leader on the council Paul Scully has blogged about the situation HERE and HERE.
The FT Westminster Blog reckons it is wrong of councils to blame Treasury advice for these ill thought out investments and says local authorities need to take responsibility for their own decisions. They have a point.
In Sutton's case they were taking advice from a company called Sector, which is part of the Capita Group. They held a meeting with Sector as recently as 7 October and no indication was given of what was to happen the next day. Councils, just like the rest of us, have to rely on so-called expert advice and it seems that just like for the rest of us, the expert advice was duff.
Whatever the rights and wrongs here, it is clear that councils of all political colours have made bad investments in Icelandic banks. Of course we need to know on what basis these decisions were made, but for any one political party to kick dirt at the others reeks of hypocrisy. Let's just accept that everyone has some explaining to do.