Alistair Darling has launched a scathing attack on Mervyn King's governorship of the Bank of England during the financial crisis - and warned the coalition government's decision to hand more power to the institution is a mistake.
The former Labour chancellor said King failed to grasp the 2007 crisis, took the wrong policy action and undermined the Bank's independence by endorsing Conservative plans to break up the banks, according to the Financial Times.
Darling said this track record was a warning not to hand the Bank its new role of supervising banks and spotting asset bubbles, which would put more power in the hands of the governor.
Instead King and his successors should be "first among equals" with a proper board of directors, he said.
"I don't think the Bank had an adequate or anywhere near adequate understanding of what was going on in the banking system, despite the fact it had responsibility for the financial stability of the system since 1997," Darling told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.
In his soon-to-be published memoirs, Darling attacks King as "stubborn", saying he refused for months to launch quantitative easing into the banking system.
"I was so desperate that I asked the Treasury to advise me as to whether we could order the Bank to take action," Darling wrote in his book. The advice was that while it was possible, it would undermine the Bank's independence.
He said the disagreement led to the mis-handling of the Northern Rock crisis.
The chaos behind closed doors...
Mervyn King is not the only target of Darling's ire over failings during the financial crisis. Extracts from his memoirs in the Sunday Times paint then Prime Minister Gordon Brown as deaf to warnings of an impending crunch, and divorced from the reality of its fallout.
Gordon Brown was convinced the recession would be over in just six months
Darling and Brown would frequently clash over finance and he alleges he was forced to produce a budget that lacked credibility
The ex-chancellor said he correctly predicted the downturn was the worst in 60 years, and that it would be deeper and longer-lasting than people thought, but his comments were dismissed by the government
Brown refused to listen to the then-chancellor's warnings and did not trust his advice
"No-one wanted to acknowledge that we were heading for an extremely serious downturn... I was condemned for having said no more than was true."
Darling and the PM argued repeatedly about the April 2009 budget and the Treasury growth forecasts, which Brown thought were far too negative
Brown believed the Treasury was putting forward negative figures as part of a plot to unseat him
"The message the treasury conveyed on the economic outlook was consistently rejected by Gordon as being too conservative."
He and Brown were so at odds over economic policy it damaged the party going into the 2010 general election
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