UK: Agent Gideon Goes Rogue

31 May


Nikolai strolled into the stuffy office where the older man stood waiting behind a desk which had stood in the same spot back in Stalin’s day. The older man – Colonel Rakhmetov – gestured him brusquely to a seat in front of him, sat down himself, looked up and said “Sit”.

The Colonel glared at him. “The plan for Agent Gideon began under Brezhnev. Do you have any idea of the resources required to place a mole at the heart of the British establishment, trained from birth to further the cause of Communism? So can you tell me what, precisely, is happening in that miserable backwater right now?”

Nikolai took a deep breath. He was new to this world of hidden communist sleepers, left in place as the KGB became the FSB and knew he had to tread carefully around an officer who had earned his pips back when the letters CCCP still struck such fear into the heart of capitalists that they’d made concessions to the working class.

“Sir, you are familiar with the works of Nikolai Chernyshevsky?”

The wrong thing to say. The Colonel ran nicotine-stained fingers through his hair, glared. “I am. The originator of the doctrine of ‘the worse, the better – that only through a continual worsening of the conditions of the proletariat can they be motivated to throw off their chains. Author of the original “What is to be done?” a work that so inspired Lenin that he named his own book after it. What of it?”

“Well agent Gideon has rather taken the doctrine to heart. Rather than gradually introduce Socialism, as per his original instructions, he’s trying to incite the British working class to revolution. Thus, although government debt interest accounts for only a shade over 3% of UK GDP, he’s inflicted growth-destroying fiscal tightening of more that amount on the country already, with more to come. And to ensure maximum damage, he’s taken the bulk of the money from public sector investment – which he’s halved.It’s killing two birds with one stone sir. You kill economic growth and you also reduce the ability of the country to grow in future.”

The Colonel’s brow wrinkled. He disapproved of initiative, which in his day had meant replacing a long retirement by the Black Sea with an early but short one by the White Sea.

“Yes so I heard. And the riots were surely promising, even if class-consciousness wasn’t entirely obvious in the raiding of sportswear retailers over government ministries and barracks. But now he’s run out of control. But wouldn’t it be more effective to just bankrupt the country by running up debt?”

“Not really sir. All the money in the UK is crying out for a home, so interest rates are extremely low. And the average maturity of the debt is 13 years, so it’s almost impossible to provoke a liquidity crisis – I think our other agents in the banking sector are much more promising in that respect. And without getting completely into the realms of fantasy, it’s quite hard for the government to get rid of a huge amount of extra borrowing without causing some economic growth. But the cuts are excellent for provoking discontent with the public at large.”

“Interesting. Sounds like things are going well. So why did you request this meeting?”

“Well sir, to be frank, it looks like Agent Gideon is going rogue. He’s overreaching, and it can only lead to his downfall. He’s been emphasising the privilege of the ruling plutocracy” – Nikolaj wondered if he should spit, decided against it – “by cutting taxes that only apply to the very elite, insisting on defending the privileges of the bankers who brought the country to its knees. Only someone with his training in Socialist theory would be quite so adept at underlining the injustice and contradictions of capitalism, and it’s only a matter of time before British Intelligence catch on.”

“Yes, I can see why this is an issue, and you were right to come to me-“

“Excuse me sir, but that’s not the worst of it. His latest scheme seems intent on provoking revolution this year, and I fear he’s overreaching. It’s called Help to Buy. Essentially it puts the government balance sheet – which he’s promised can’t be used for even essential infrastructure – to work to boost house prices without really increasing the number of houses being built. So the government can take losses, but all the benefit accrues to the homebuyer.”

“So he pushes up house prices in a country with already expensive prices, increases the risks to the banking sector, pushes more people into loans they can’t afford and spends money without creating any real benefits to society?”

“Yes sir. He did try to get it extended to buy-to-let landlords, but even the Treasury spotted that one. But it will make a nice subsidy for second homes for the rich.”

The Colonel frowned, but paused no more than a second. “We’ll risk it. This is the best chance we have to make England the vanguard of the new socialist revolution. You’re overruled. let Agent Gideon proceed.”

Update: The evidence mounts. Alex Hern of the New Statesman proving in the process that a teenager with Photoshop trumps a middle-aged man with Paint.


12 Responses to “UK: Agent Gideon Goes Rogue”

  1. nestor makhno May 31, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Nice article, but the conversation would probably have happened in the offices of the SVR not the FSB.

  2. Lionel Joseph May 31, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Great article, sums things up perfectly. I’m sure Tim Price will love it!

  3. Philip Ammerman May 31, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Excellent! Really well done.

  4. Carl Marshall-Davies May 31, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I hear you on this, and agree that he might be overdoing it.

    However, if your income goes down, it is prudent to cut your spending. We can argue about where these cuts should be made, and maybe the public sector investment isn’t the best choice, but cuts still need to be made.

    Remember that this is also politics that people understand. Sometimes you’ve just got to keep it simple. Explaining the fiscal multiplier to the common man isn’t always that easy.

    With regards to the Help to Buy programme: “…with already expensive prices…” Are they really that high? It is easy to be blended by London’s soaring prices, but the average UK house price hasn’t moved up that much over the last few years. See

    The holy grail for this whole exercise is to increase employment. Is transferring value from the government to the people through the property market the best way? I don’t know, but believe it is worth a try. Somehow we must get people to feel richer, so that they will start up the marginal projects, and therein employ more people.

    • paulonbooks May 31, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      ” Is transferring value from the government to the people through the property market the best way?” Well, it’s never worked yet. And do remember that the money comes from some of us, not ‘the government’.

      To the author: excellent skit.

    • Lionel Joseph May 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      ‘However, if your income goes down, it is prudent to cut your spending. We can argue about where these cuts should be made, and maybe the public sector investment isn’t the best choice, but cuts still need to be made.’

      I don’t agree that house prices are cheap in the rest of the country. House prices may not have risen but neither have wages in many cases, and if you look at them historically, house prices are still way, way higher than they historically have been.
      Almost everyone agrees that cuts need to be made but to government has only just started to invest in infrastructure in any meaningful way (contradicting their ‘Plan A’). The Chancellor has dogmatically stuck to austerity, despite the evidence that is only making matters worse.

      • pawelmorski May 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

        If your income goes down, it’s not prudent to work less…

      • Wolf Baginski May 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

        “If your income goes down” is easy to associate with the family budget meme, which isn’t itself a bad thing. But the question can arise: do you buy a good suit for a job interview? That’s the flip side of family which the politicians chose to ignore.

    • SK May 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Who is this program transferring value to? To people who already have enough wealth?

      HTS (its for sellers not for buyers) is an absolute travesty for FTB. It does not support us but it only puts us in a catch 22 situation where we have to select between high rents (government does not intervene in a “free market” even though it has constrained supply) and high house prices (government intervenes with our tax money in order to support BTL/Banks with FLS/HTS)..

      So if u are a tenant/FTB/Family the government does not care but if you are a BTL landlord hey, here is your subsidised prices and your low mortgage rates and your FLS/forebereance etc..

      What a mess from a truly fine replacement of GB,, Perhaps he is GB v2.

    • Gary Goodman May 31, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      if your income goes down, it is prudent to cut your spending

      yes, for a household, or for any govt like a US municipality or province or any entity that’s not a sovereign issuer of currency … like the entire Eurozone.

      false, for a sovereign currency issuer which neither HAS nor DOESN’T have money … because it creates money or destroys money. Households don’t create money, they USE money that is accounting units-credits, trading with other currency users to acquiring some from the Issuer.

      Only one institution issues British Pounds these days, and only one institution issues US Dollars. None of these institutions are constrained by a Bond Market, only by political will and intent.

  5. Wolf Baginski May 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    This so fits with the story I am writing. And there are several tens of billions gone missing from the budgeting for the 2014 Winter Olympics. That’s not the sort of money laundering you do with Bitcoin, it needs a pretty big, lightly regulated, untaxed, financial centre.

    Now I just have to figure out how a character in the style of Modesty Blaise or Simon Templar can get around modern forensic science while they smite the ungodly. Especially when the said ungodly have the resources to buy the government from pocket change.

  6. barnejek May 31, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Boguslaw Woloszanski would be proud to have written something like that! Sensacje XXI Wieku

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