Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary … June: Back to Business as Usual

After last month’s political MELTDOWN over MPs’ Expensives, and the resulting RADIOACTIVE DEBACLE of two British Nasty Party members being elected to represent us in the Euro Parliament, we were promised “a new politics”.

What we GOT was a row about spending cuts that’s SO “old politics” it is practically carbon-dated! Both Conservatories and Hard Labour were reduced to calling each other lying liars while coverage of the Liberal Democrats went from “grudging” to “invisible” faster than Mr Nick Robinson can read out a Conservatory Party Press release on the Ten O’clock News.

Welcome to the Brave New World, folks!

There’s two things going on here.

Firstly, the first, URGENT phase of the recession is PROBABLY OVER. That is a long, LONG way from saying that the RECESSION is over, or even nearly over, but the part where the news can draw exciting, sexy graphs of the economy driving off a cliff is over, and we are into the long, messy, boring tail of rising unemployment, bankruptcies, repossessions and general hardship-induced misery.

The month may have started with news of the final death of the very last remnants of British Leyland, as bankruptcy claimed the van makers LDV (or Leyland Daff Vans), but in spite of this people were actually talking about that most toxic of economic phrases: “green shoots”. This is the financial equivalent of “It’ll all be over by Christmas!” And indeed, several of the commentators have not caught themselves short of saying almost that: the implication that the British economy might be back into growth, if not already then by the fourth quarter this year, has had many thinking that that about wraps it up for the recession.

This seems like good news for Hard Labour, as it allows them to say “ah ha! we Saved the Country from recession! We DO know what we’re doing!” But it also plays well for Mr Balloon, because it puts a stop to Mr Frown’s “no time for a novice” soundbite, and allows his Conservatories to run with their “fresh start” agenda.

But HOLD ON! Both sides are now thinking about the post-recession but we’re NOT OUT OF THE HOLE YET!

The CBI have warned people not to get all premature on these signs of recovery, and do not expect unemployment to peak until well into NEXT year.

Meanwhile, the Office of National Statistics have released figures showing that the recession started EARLIER and decline had been DEEPER than previously believed. Basically, we’ve been in recession for a whole year, and in that time we have lost a TWENTIETH of the British economy.

Obviously now is NOT the time to take our eyes off the economic ball… and yet that is EXACTLY what we have done.

Never mind the boring old economy, someone famous has died and anyway the sun is shining and Wimbledon is on… what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Well, under cover of the MPs’ Expensives scandal, the wunch of bankers in the City have quietly slipped back to their old ways: the catchphrase of the year is “bonuses are back” (like they ever went away, apparently), while the newly appointed boss of the Royal Bank-that-WE-own of Scotland is to be paid a nine-point-six MILLION pound salary. Nice work, as they say, if you can get it.

This is, frankly, the sort of behaviour that leaves people fuming and thinking that maybe we SHOULD have let a major bank FAIL. Cuddly Cthulhu knows what damage THAT would have done to the economy…

[Cuddly Cthulhu says: yum yum!]

…though it does present us with a PARADOX: if we let the banks fall we’d all be bombed back to a Green-Party-economy trying to barter beads for chickens, but by saving the banks we have encouraged them to do MORE OF THE SAME. Doing the right thing seems to have made matters WORSE!

Hilariously, Chancellor Sooty prefigured his annual jolly at the Mansion House with an announcement that banking regulation was “not to blame” for the near-belly-upping of the banking sector.

Well, TECHNICALLY this is TRUE. Just as, for example, if you see a Porsche wrapped around a lamppost at ninety miles an hour it is fault of the driver for speeding and not the police… though it might have helped a BIT if they had pulled him over rather than waving him on by.

But surely you would have to be a TOTAL LUNATIC to suggest that: “everything was fine, we had a week or so of Armageddon but everything’s fine again, now.”

And yet the Government’s approach seems to be one of “we did nothing wrong, so we’ll carry on just the same”; while the bankers’ approach seems to be “we got our conkers pulled out of the fire once, and wahey more money! so we’ll carry on just the same!”

Because it seems to me that we’ve bought the driver a brand new Porsche, and are ignoring the innocent pedestrians left dead on the pavement by his passage towards that lamppost.

Does no one else see anything WRONG with this scenario?

Certainly not the Government. And certainly not the Loyal Opposition.

Because the SECOND thing that is going on is that, in the absence of a GENERAL ELECTION, both sides have decided that they are going to have one anyway.

As part of this “war footing”, the Hard Labour Government has LOST its BOTTLE over just about EVERYTHING else: from I.D.iot cards (they’ll be “voluntary”); to the Post Office privatisation (full steam aheador maybe not!), to Schools literacy and numeracy (policy will be “amended”), to the PANTOMIME of the Iraq inquiry (it’s a secretoh no it isn’t!), to sacking the Prime Monster … er…

Anything REMOTELY controversial, or likely to promote dissent on the back benches, or that might play badly with the “core” has been dropped like a hot potato (with the obvious exception of Mr Frown himself).

This means that NEITHER Hard Labour NOR the Conservatories have ANY policies at all to deal with the desperately worrying debt crisis that looms like, well far be it for me to say “the ELEPHANT in the room”, and anyway it’s a much, MUCH bigger crisis than that… more like a DIPLODOCUS in the room!

Both sides recognise this, which is why they have started, in time-honoured World-War-Part-One-style, pounding away at each other with the “heavy guns” until the entire battlefield is reduced to a muddy quagmire where no one has any idea where the lines are really drawn any more.

They don’t want people to THINK about the causes of our problems or the possible solutions, because the problems are endemic to the way both THATCHERITE parties do business and the solutions are going to be PAINFUL. So instead they are reduced to caricaturing their opposite numbers as “the baddies”. For the Conservatories this means attacking Hard Labour for “wasteful spending”; for the Hard Labour, this means accusing the Conservatories of “savage cuts”. Both sides then say that the other is LYING (and probably that they SMELL too!)

This all began when Conservatory Not-So-Healthy Spokesperson Mr Andrew Lansley perhaps-unwisely quoted from Chancellor Sooty’s budget on the The Today Programme programme. Mr Frown immediately seized upon this misspeaking as a stick with which to beat Mr Balloon around the head at Prime Monster’s Questionable Time. The Conservatories retaliated by calling it “juvenile”
(i.e. we haven’t thought of a response yet so we’ll call you names). Mr Frown kept up the attack, while Master Gideon Oboe walked into fresh elephant traps by accusing the Government of denying him access to the spending figures, which earned him a savaging from Lord Mandlemort (now promoted to the new rank of FIRST Prince of Darkness).

In spite of this sustained assault, Mr Balloon seems keen to remain on this territory, and you can see why. After twelve years in power and all their broken promises, Hard Labour are simply on a hiding to NOTHING trying to portray themselves as the HONEST ones. So Mr Balloon can pose as being honest about “hard choices” while never admitting to what choice he would really make. And he calculates, probably correctly, that the number of people who FEAR Conservatory cuts is balanced by the number of people who WELCOME cuts because they agree that Hard Labour have WASTED a lot of money.

And anyway, as “sustained assaults” go, it’s pretty THIN; Hard Labour are essentially attacking the Conservatories for following the Hard Labour budget. But, for the moment and until and unless the economy comes right, it’s all they’ve got.

My recommendation for the month: this whole PHONEY CAMPAIGN is designed to create a SMOKESCREEN that OBSCURES the real issues. Try to get people ASKING QUESTIONS:

• What happened about banking regulation? Who’s in charge of the banks that we rescued?
• What happened about reform of Parliament? Whose interests does YOUR MP represent?
• What happened about planning for the recovery? Who’s going to invest in the green economy?
• What happened about paying off all this debt? Who’s really telling you what the hard choices are?

The Government and the Opposition are COLLUDING in this campaign to deny you any real choice. Only by THINKING and QUESTIONING can we all avoid this TRAP!

Don’t let the chance for real reform slip from your fluffy grip!

Luv from Millennium
(Now read my diary!)

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2 Comments

  • Rachel Smith 8th Jul '09 - 10:20pm

    I was trying to put something together on exactly the same lines but couldn’t pull it all together! Agree with what you say and am getting fed up of the free party political broadcasts that are PMQs whilst everything that the country is angry about gets swept back off the carpet. Grr.

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