We're goin' down!
According to the Fatman, it doesn't matter that Brown can't smile: he's an airline pilot, and all that matters is that he can fly the plane.
Yesterday the ultra-loyalist Treasury Select Committee gave us an emergency update on how well the flying is going. They've taken the novel step (for them) of visiting the flight deck and actually looking out of the front window. And with a buttock-clenching jolt, they've finally realised the pilot has set course for the mountainside:
- The Treasury's GDP growth forecast is wildly optimistic (or in committeespeak: "Whilst it is possible that the Government will meet its growth forecasts, on the available evidence, this is an optimistic assumption."... remembering that it's also possible pigs could fly, if they'd just put their minds to it)
- Government borrowing is out of control (committeespeak: "in 2009–10 public sector net borrowing will be 12.4% of GDP, of which 9.8% of GDP (or 79% of borrowing) is accounted for by structural, rather than cyclical factors. A structural deficit represents borrowing that is not going to disappear when the economy returns to growth" - and see this post)
- The forecast for future tax revenue growth is wholly unrealistic and almost certainly unattainable (committeespeak: "In his Budget, the Chancellor expressed his vision of growth rebalanced towards investment by businesses in low-carbon, advanced manufacturing and communications. But... this is likely to generate “significantly less revenue” than growth driven by financial services, because whilst the financial sector only accounts for 3% of jobs, it accounted for 9% of total household income.")
- There is no coherent plan for returning to fiscal health (committeespeak: "...no information is provided in the Budget as to what consolidation... would mean in policy terms.")
- The government's emergency fiscal framework is a tautological nonsense (committeespeak: "We do not see how the Temporary Operating Rule acts as any kind of constraint at all on the current fiscal decisions made by the Chancellor, and we struggle to imagine any course of action he might have taken in this year’s Budget that would have been inconsistent with it.")
- Gordo's fiscal rules were rubbish and we must have much tougher rules in future (committeespeak: "We believe that the Chancellor should now engage in what we regard as a crucial debate about the future of the UK fiscal framework.")
It's devastating stuff, and coming from LabourtilIdie John MacFall it's doubly devastating.
The plane is flying blind. The pilot is crippled, but he's wedged himself into the captain's seat and is refusing to move over. We're going to hit the gilts strike mountainside long before the relief pilot takes over.
I realise we're a long way up, but where's that emergency exit?
PS Gawd knows how Treasury Committee deputy chairman Michael Fallon puts up with unrelenting Labour apologist MacFall. As you may have noticed, Fallon has taken to appearing alongside Chairman MacFall on Newsnight specifically to put the opposing viewpoint. It's yet another example of just how dysfunctional Westminster has become. With the chairs of key select committees no more than government poodles, the committees become pointless.