Tuesday 23 December 2008

Who's saving your world?

Gordon Brown, superhero of this parish, has marched expectations of an imminent general election up the hill before and then just marched them back down again. Not content with his Grand Old Duke of York impersonation, he's marching those expectations back up the hill again. Personally, I think he'll bottle it, even if he does have Peter Mandelson back by his side.
Why would he duck again? Simple - the economy has been filleted; the pain is just getting started but it will be very evident by the end of February and any Government going into an election with soaring unemployment, a 'living essentials' marketplace which is rolling back from comfort to austerity, and with a whole load of people realising that they can't afford a holiday this summer is going to get beat. Brown will judge that hanging on might take him and his Government through the worst of the economic hard times and give him a fighting chance of staying in Downing Street - even when all the evidence is pointing to that being tosh.
Mandelson's evaluation, I imagine, will be that the election is lost for Labour and that the duty of the incumbents is to minimise the damage. Mandelson will press for an early election, before the true horror of the recession can impinge on the collective consciousness. Labour will lose, but by less than they would at a later date. Who'll win? Brown will win, he's got his finger on the button, and there will be another tiff, Labour's Government will start to unravel and it will be terribly unsightly (he said sniffily).
How can we be so sure that the economy is toast? Well, the pound is almost at parity with the euro and is now under $1.50, the German Finance Minister Peer Steinbr├╝ck has pointed to massive flaws in the Brown/Darling economic salvage plan and his voice of concern has now been joined by Olivier Blanchard, chief economist to the International Monetary Fund. The unemployment rate was already at 6% in October while the inactivity rate (same source) was 20.9% - one in five of the working age population not working and not training or in education. Non-specialised stores (like department stores) saw a fairly substantial 3.8% fall in sales. Food sales and sales from specialised stores increased slightly, but it was the smallest increase that they've seen in four years, while sales of household goods went down 2.1%. There were 111 profit warnings over the summer, and plenty since. Mortgage lending is half of what it was last year, and the number of business start-ups has shrunk markedly.

Saved the world? I think not!


Anonymous said...

More nonsense to divide the British working classes.

Anonymous said...

Salmond looks as tongue-tied and devoid of ideas as Cameron. The SNP needs to be acutely aware of the flickering tendency for this disaster to consolidate - crazily and paradoxically - support for the political shysters who caused it.

I don't think the Scottish Alternative is being sufficiently clearly drawn. Like Cameron, Salmond doesn't seem able to suggest anything different from the Brownian kamikaze mission.

He should remember what the Irish used to say - England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity.

We could be more than simply missing an opportunity here - we could suffer a serious setback if the final judgement is that we had nothing to say about a political course of action which quite predictably caused a great deal of real human misery.

Let me declare an interest: I will be made redundant on 31st January - the first time in a long working life.