Another Week Older and Deeper in Debt May 16, 2010Posted by markswill in Media, Politics, Schmolitics.
To Batley this week where I am ‘project managing’ the spiffing up of my bro-in-law’s late father’s house (keep up at the back) so’s it can be let. This involves ferrying stuff down to their Brixton mansion that he and my sister are emotionally attached to, clearing out the rest, re-decorating and carpeting, and blitzing the garden. Can’t say the prospect of this filled me with joy but after my third visit I can report that the locals are friendly, the fish’n’chips – my primary diet up there – are excellent and cheap and last week I narrowly missed seeing Billy Ocean at Batley Variety Club which, trivia geeks, was the venue for Frank Sinatra’s last ever European gig. Instead and much against my indie cinema-mogul sister’s advice, I went to the massive Showcase multi-plex just up the road. This is the largest fleapit I’ve ever been to with 24 – count ‘em – 24 screens but not one of which was showing anything I yearned to see. Awash with rom-coms, CGI-driven wham-bams and child-friendly furry animal fare, the best I could find being Iron Man 2 which, as the original wasn’t bad, I hoped would be at least tolerable. It wasn’t. And the digital projection was fuzzy, the auditorium chilly and on a wet wednesday night, there were only five of us watching it. So much for the joyous shared cinema experience.
I mention this only as some kind of bland hors d’ouevre for what follows which must of course be the results of the election which my last few digital scrawls have been fixated with, not least because all the Batley-induced driving I’ve done in recent weeks has meant locking into R4’s obsessive coverage of said shenanigans (the cassette player’s broken). But I may be partially responsible for the outcome since along with 209 other wise souls here in Brecon & Radnorshire, I voted for a Monster Raving Loony government, and that is what we’ve now got.
The endless proclamations from slippery Dave and the boy Clegg about “strong and stable government” don’t however wash with yrs. trly. As I gather half the Liberal shadow cabinet – if one can dignify it thus – had to be dragged kicking and squealing into a coalition and only after they realised that if they didn’t go for it they’d be screwed come the next election which, had they sided with No Labour, would’ve been sooner rather than later. And had they sided with neither, they’d be screwed too. Screwed whichever way they looked at it.
And so I fear are we. Reading in the current issue of Prospect on how Britain has changed under No Labour, I learnt that whilst our GDP has increased from £995bn in 1997 to £1,264bn last year, public spending as a percentage of GDP has also more than doubled from £332bn to £671bn, with the consequence that public debt (as a percentage of GDP) is now 62% as opposed to 42.5% in 1997. Our balance of trade payments, roughly equal in 1997 soared to a £39bn deficit last year, £16bn of which readers of my last blog won’t be surprised to learn is with China. Meanwhile at £42bn, the UK’s military spending is the third highest in the world (and second only to Israel’s as a %-age of GDP!), last year our national health service cost us £110.5bn, i.e. almost three times what it did in 1997/8 due in some degree to a 1095% rise in obesity related illnesses which in turn may just be related to Tesco now controlling 31% of the retail food market – up from 15% twelve years ago.
I’m spewing out these figures because they are the telling subtext to the massive budget deficit that we as taxpayers and, yes, voters, are going to have to pay off over the course of the next government and beyond. I gather that this means roughly £6,000 per household which as a single, largely unwaged person living on my own makes me disproportionately accountable. And angry. I didn’t cause this bloody financial debacle, but I am somehow obliged to sort it out. As indeed are most of you – though hopefully in bigger households (with nice Smallbone kitchens and mirrored bedroom ceilings).
So what are you going to do about it? Harangue your local MP when the local primary school, post office, sports centre, library and GP surgery are closed down? Write a strong letter to the Guardian condemning their “Brilliant new gardening columnist” (why are they always “brilliant” and “new”, i.e. code for young and photo- if not telegenic?) for exhorting you to don your by now shagged-out Cathertine Kidston wellies and start planting the turnips that will become our staple diet by 2013 because the Cam-Clegg alliance has imposed 25% VAT on food? Or will you, like me, divest yourself of fripperies like your once beloved Yamaha trailbike and classic moneypit, sorry, classic Lancia and use the money to spend on crack cocaine, 2-litre bottles of Tesco’s vodka and endless afternoons at multiplex sheds watching vacuous 3-D Hollywood opiates? In the words of that other slippery political brinkman, Harold Wilson, you know it makes sense. Or as much sense as putting our trust in the sort of men – and they are all men –who got us into this mess in the first place.
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