Amid the deluge of knocking copy frightening readers about Labour’s alleged softness on terrorism, it has been hard to find any Tory-supporting media outlet with anything else to contribute to the General Election campaign. But for once, the Telegraph has ridden to the rescue, although in the process has shot itself firmly in the foot.
Bank of England, London
The story being pushed in today’s Sunday Tel is, unsurprisingly for a title now edited by Allister Heath, who forged his editorial career at City AM, on potential market reaction to a Labour victory, and especially the money markets. “The pound is in for ‘a rough ride’ if the Conservatives lose the general election, currency traders and analysts believe, after a number of strong polls for Labour sent the currency into a tumble late last week” tells Tim Wallace’s article. And how rough might this ride be?
“Sterling could fall by another 5pc on a Labour victory, forcing the currency down to $1.20 against the dollar, which would be the lowest level since the 1980s … Against the euro the pound could fall to as low as €1.08 to $1.09, a level not seen since the depths of the financial crisis”. Er, sorry to pour cold water on this, Telegraph people, but Sterling went lower than that against the Euro at the end of 2008 - close to parity, in fact.
But the talking heads kept on coming: “‘Looking at how much we have moved since this election was called, it is pretty clear the response would be negative and if I had to put a figure on it, I would say a kneejerk sell-off of 5pc or a bit more,’ said Adam Cole, head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets … ‘At least for now, if the [poll] numbers keep closing then it suggests the pound is in for a rougher ride,’ said Craig Erlam at Oanda”.
So Sterling falling to $1.20, or to €1.09, would not only be A Very Bad Thing, but it would only happen if we elected a Labour Government. Everyone got that? OK, now let’s look at what the Telegraph - yes, the same paper - said last October, in an article titled “FTSE 100 hits new record high but pound drops below $1.21 as Brexit hard-landing fears rattle City”, one of whose authors was none other than Tim Wallace.
That article concluded with the line “WRAP: Footsie soars but Pound drops below $1.21 against dollar and €1.10 versus pound amid warnings that sterling could fall further”. Last October. Under a Tory Government. Led by Theresa May. The same Theresa May that the Telegraph, and the rest of the Tory-backing press, wants its readers to vote for next month.
And this is how the Tel reported comments from Michael Saunders, one of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee: “‘Given the scale and persistence of the UK’s current account deficit, I would not be surprised if sterling falls further, but I am fairly agnostic as to whether any further depreciation is likely,’ Mr Saunders told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee in a written submission yesterday … The former Citigroup economist added that the drop was not necessarily bad for the UK economy”.
Not necessarily bad for the UK economy. A statement approvingly reported by the Telegraph when a Tory Government under Theresa May is presiding over the fall in Sterling. But if Labour were to be in power, a similar fall would be catastrophic.
We know the Tel wants the Tories to win. And now we know they’re a bunch of hypocrites.