Yesterday (March 24th 2010) I missed much of the budget speech by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling. Although, you can’t miss such an event these days, as it remains on line and available unexpurgated except in those parts of the World which have fallen foul of Google, and/or been indulging in a bit of web-censorship
As a matter of fact, I caught some of the budget speech while I was driving back to Tudor Towers (which is how a colleague and sometime class warrior refers to the modest Northern HQ of LWD).
Never mind the dangers of using mobile phones while driving. Listening to AD while driving was pretty damn dangerous too. You can be become far too relaxed by the soothing and gentle monotony. Rockaby baby time. Far worse than a dodgy accelerator pedal.
Then the opposition replies. First, dancing Dave, all sound and fury. I pictured him as rosy-cheeked with rage, but later I saw he had gone white with fury. And then, I’m not just a Nice Guy Nick, almost succeeding in attacking in a way that didn’t sound like an echo of Dave’s rant.
More Rottweiler than Dead Sheep
Those in the know say that Alistair is his own man. Won’t be bullied by Gordon. Not like, say, that equally soothing politician of yesteryear, Geoffrey Howe ,who eventually turned and savaged Margaret Thatcher, more a Rottweiler than the dead sheep he had been cruelly called by another tormentor.
I couldn’t help thinking that Darling’s speech had a charm that would have been lost if it had been delivered by Gordon Brown. There were still the careful constructions which, together with the delivery, created a reality in which Government had pretty-much rescued the country from meltdown. Gordon eventually drives you to sleep with an unremitting hail of statistical blows. Alistair is more hypnotherapist than pugilist.
By the end of the day I had overdosed on the speech and its implications. I didn’t need any more explanations of why not one of the main parties had been specific about what’s going to be cut in order to meet what fiscal deficit based on what assumptions.
A starter for ten
Here’s a starter for ten. Back of a car-parking ticket stuff. Everyone has fewer assets than they thought a couple of years ago. Not just in the UK, but let’s stay local geographically. If we tot up what we own and what we owe, the answer is a bit closer to a nasty red debt figure than a nice blue credit one. No politician is saying, but the change in expectations of personal debt is quite a few percentage points. Anyone arguing it’s less than say 30%? No? OK. So we are all quite a bit poorer than we believed a few years ago. That’s a lot of pain, household by household.
All this talk I heard of politicians not being able to say anything more specific until ‘the books are open’, or ‘the figures for 2010 are available’ is just a bit disingenuous. And another reason why even gentle, honest-sounding politicos like Alistair Darling are lumped together with those found guilty of fraud, pimping, or just blatant self-serving behaviours.