DeAnne Julius:

From 'CRUEL BRITANNIA' - ‘Reports on the SINISTER & the Preposterous’
Published by Verso. ©Nick Cohen  1999 & 2000.
ISBN 1-85984-288-7

In 1970 DeAnne Julius, a young and by several accounts bright American, left the University of California in Santa Barbara and joined the CIA during one of the ugliest periods in its history.
Her career choice would not have disturbed far-right Americans with no qualms about the CIA-inspired massacres in Vietnam and their country's decision to create the conditions for Pol Pot's victory by bombing Cambodia 'back to the Stone Age'. What is surprising is that it has not prevented a Labour Government from putting a former agent of a foreign power on the Bank of England's monetary committee.

Deanne Julius was, just 2 days after New Labour's 1997 landslide victory, handed the reigns of power by Gordon Brown for setting Interest rates at the Bank of England.
Her alleged grip on interest rates set in motion the craze for spiralling house prices, 'self-assessment' mortgage credations & unrestrained 'secured-policy' credit card loans followed by a Nationwide pandemic of enslavement to the servicing of a £1.3-Trillion debt plus the luxury of a 'sub-culture' devoted entirely to 'voluntary bankruptcy'!

Then Home Secretary David Blunkett remarked at Julius' appointment at the Bank of England:
"This defeated my plans to reduce interest rates and control unemployment".
This move effectively privatised the Bank of England.

Gordon Brown's decision to end democratic control over the setting of interest rates gave Julius her entrée into British Politics. Ever since their elevation, Julius and her colleagues have decided what home-owners and businesses should pay for their mortgages and loans and, indirectly, set the rate of the pound for exporters.**
Julius ...[will now be 57 years old but] was 48 when appointed by Brown and is described by her friends as an open women. She closes up when asked about her past. She confirms she did work for the CIA as an analyst based in the Unites States.
"It was just a civil service job," she said. "I was looking at the economics of Ceylon as it was then called."
'Why? What was the CIA's interest?'
"I'm not prepared to discuss it."

A CIA spokeswoman was equally vague. She described Julius' labours as 'classified academic research'. This meant, she explained, that Julius would have provided financial commentaries based on secret information. She was pleased to hear that her former colleague was at the heart of British economic policy. Her job was 'a logical progression.' she told the Scotsman: a good assignment'. There is a faint possibility that Julius did mention her life as a spook before Brown appointed her. The Chancellor's aides say they knew nothing and there is no mention of her time with the CIA in the potted biography issued by the Bank of England. But now Brown knows, he says her covert past does not trouble him. 'She was just a number cruncher,' explained an insouciant Treasury official. ‘It’s very hard to find American economists who have not worked for the CIA. We wanted her because she’s very good. She gives the bank credibility.’

The treasury’s justification was feeble to the point of infirmity. Our civil servant does not explain why an American is running monetary policy. Nor does he recognize that thousands of American economists would not work for the CIA. ‘Credible' was not an adjective many would have used to describe the agency in the early Seventies, when its role in inciting the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s elected Government in Chile – and in the mass murder and torture that followed - was exposed along with its involvement in the Vietnam atrocities and the grotesque betrayal of the Kurds of northern Iraq. (They were encouraged to rise against Saddam Hussein and then abandoned to his tender mercies when he did what the US wanted and stopped troubling the Shah of Iran, America’s client.) Even US legislators were troubled and ordered the first and only robust inquiry into CIA outrages. But Julius does not appear to have been bothered.

She moved from the CIA to the World Bank and by 1989 had a British husband, a home in London and a job at Shell. She was with the multi-national at the moment when the staggeringly corrupt Nigerian government was suppressing Ogoni protesting against Shell’s pollution of their homeland. The company and its friends in the army received international condemnation when the Nigerian military executed the Ogoni writer and leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa. His death does not appear to have bothered Julius. Nor, as far as I can see, did the record of chief strategist at British Airways. When she arrived, the scandal about BA’s tactics in its battle against Virgin was at its height. The names ‘Mission Atlantic’ and ‘Operation Covent Garden’ – BA’s alternately sinister and ludicrous ‘operations’ to stop Virgin competing on trans-Atlantic routes – peppered the papers. To persuade Virgin passengers to switch to BA, the company hassled them at airports and called them at home. Computer hackers found the addresses of Virgin customers. BA’s managers assumed their opponents were equally creepy.
They recruited a force of private detectives to run counter-surveillance operations against Virgin. A BA executive was wired for sound when he went to meet a ‘friend’ he suspected of being a Virgin spy. He wasn't’t. A journalist’s bins were searched. Nothing was discovered. BA’s employees were assumed to include Virgin moles. They were secretly monitored. No traitors were unmasked. Staff had a loyalty their company would not reciprocate.

While Brown was deciding Julius was a ‘credible’ director of economic policy, the BA management was trying to break its unions. Cabin crew threatened to strike against a new pay structure they believed would lose each of them £4,000 a year. BA took industrial relations to a post-war low by warning it would ruin strikers. They would not only lose their jobs, redundancy rights and cheap travel, but also their homes and savings in court claims for damages brought by the company. Once again, surveillance was used against the BA workforce. Employees on picket lines were caught by video cameras.
None of this appears to have bothered Julius, but it does not appear to have bothered New Labour either. Tony Blair and Jack Straw remained close friends of Bob Ayling, BA’s chief executive.

As you would expect, Julius is a very conservative economist. Kenneth Clarke rejected Bank of England demands to raise interest rates because he wanted to protect manufacturers. As a Midlands MP, close to industry, he was well aware of the danger of an overvalued pound. It seems unlikely that Julius will show a similar concern for the needs of the Britain beyond the Home Counties. In an essay that won first prize in an economics competition sponsored by the American Express Bank, Julius and her co-author wrote that manufacturing industry was nothing special and should not be protected. Companies would have to shift factories from Britain and exploit the cheap labour of the Third World if they wanted to survive. [This has come true].
‘It would be a critical mistake ‘ for Western governments to try to stop factory closures. They should make the flight of capital easier by encouraging free trade.
‘We are asking politicians,’ the authors condescendingly concluded, ‘to do what they find most difficult: Nothing!’ Oh well, there goes the industrial base. Julius has hinted she finds the idea of democratically accountable economic policy ridiculous.
‘Even well-intentioned politicians are less able to make fine judgments about complex economic forecasts than professional economists,‘ she ruled.

Julius has chosen to remain an American citizen. Her salary at the Bank of England (1997) is £130,000. She has worked for a brutal espionage bureaucracy and two pariah corporations. Ken Livingstone was the only Labour MP to raise doubts about and appointment he describes as ‘incredible’. As soon as the leadership said it was going to pass the power to set interest rates to the Bank of England, he asked Brown if there would be a consultation about the merits of candidates. Brown dusked the question, and the most powerful un-elected jobs in British government were filled in secret. Livingstone asks what will happen when her loyalties clash and British and American economic interests conflict. Most Labour backbenchers have spent their time since the general election drooling over ministers. Is there a chance that MP’s from industrial constituencies, for example, will start asking Brown hard questions?

Or can’t they be bothered? [Observer, October 1997]

** Between June 1997 and the autumn of 1998, the Bank of England ignored a global recession and regarded the non-existent threat of inflation as an ever-present danger in an era of collapsing commodity prices. Interest rates were raised continuously and manufacturing industry was crucified by the high pound and dear money.


PS. Update

In June 1998 Brian Sedgemore, a left-wing Labour MP, embarrassed his colleagues by presuming to cross-examine Deanne Julius when she came before the Commons Treasury committee.
“I see from looking at your CV that in 1970-71 you worked for the CIA. Am I right in thinking once a member of the CIA, always a member of the CIA?”
‘No, I’m afraid you are not.’
“The time you were there coincided with the undermining of Allende. Did you know about this?”
“Did you subsequently feel any shame at working for an agency when it was undermining a democratic government?”
‘I had nothing to be ashamed of.’
“You worked for Shell between 1989 and 1993 when the Nigerian government, allegedly with the collusion of Shell, was attacking the Ogoni people. Have you any worries about your occupation with Shell in relation to what you now know has happened in the Ogoni region?”
‘None at all.’
“Between 1993 and 1997 you worked for British Airways when it was running its dirty tricks campaign against Virgin. Did you know about that?”
“Would you describe yourself as an observant person . . .?”

You learn all you need to know about the Bank of England when you discover that the shameless Julius is considered a liberal softie. The other Brown appointees are far more extreme.

Reproduced from 'CRUEL BRITANNIA', by Nick Cohen. 2000. ISBN 1-85984-288-7.

Nick Cohen:

At the time of writing of this article produced word for word here, Nick Cohen was a columnist for the Observer newspaper and wrote regularly for the New Statesman. His articles have appeared in a wide range of publications including the Independent on Sunday, London Review of Books, Modern Review and Jewish Quarterly.
From the rear cover sleeve notes of the book.
"Cruel Britannia" - 'Reports on the sinister and the preposterous'.
Any addenda or comments by submitter are in blue.

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