Wednesday, January 06, 2010

For Real

Circle of unreality

According to the Major, the crisis has moved way beyond the handling capacity of our dysfunctional democracy.

"Here we are, the country bankrupt, ruled by a Scottish communist, stuck in a war we can't win, overrun by mad mullahs nobody does anything about, and our only alternative is a lightweight PR man. Gah! We need a leader - someone who can get a grip." He fixed me with those bloodshot eyes of his, and tapped the side of his nose meaningfully. "It won't be long now - you just wait."

Well, obviously the Major is a tad right of centre, but he sure ain't the only one casting round for Another Way. And watching PM's Questions today, you can see why.

What exactly is the point of PMQs?

"Will the Prime Minister admit he's crap?"

"I'll tell him who's crap! The party opposite is crap, crap, crap!"

"Once again, the Prime Minister has ducked the question. The IMF says he's crap, the OECD says he's crap, and even his own personal Hoon says he's crap! Why won't he admit he's crap?"

"The only crap round here is the party opposite. It's crap! And if it was left to them, we'd be in the crap!"


I've just read the Treasury Select Committee Report on the preposterous Pre-Budget Report. Here's what it says:
  • The GDP assumptions underpinning the PBR's fiscal projections are ludicrously optimistic
  • The unemployment assumptions are ludicrously optimistic
  • The housing market assumptions are ludicrously optimistic
  • The bank lending assumptions are ludicrously optimistic
  • The projection of the structural fiscal deficit is ludicrously optimistic
The Committee - Labour dominated, remember - also highlights the shameful lack of information on the government's future public expenditure plans:
"There is a sense that the Treasury are using uncertainty to suit themselves. Despite substantial uncertainties they still produce some forecasts out to 2014-15 and illustrative projections out to 2017-18. We can see no good reason for the Treasury failing to produce illustrative figures for future expenditure... We recognise that there will be uncertainty in these figures, but they are produced as part of the Spending Review process so there appears to be no argument of principle against their publication."
To summarise, the Committee is saying the government is not levelling with us over the true magnitude of our fiscal crisis, and the full horror of the medicine we'll have to take.

Why is that?

Well, because they figure if we knew the truth, we'd never re-elect them.

Fine. But couldn't Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition tell us the truth?

Well, no, because if they did, we might associate the nasty medicine with them, and not elect them either.

So we're stuck.

And you know the really worrying bit?

Once Cam is in No 10 - once he's Seen The Books - he'll have to decide whether he can risk telling us the truth without us turning on him. And judging by the evidence to date, you'd have say that's a longshot.

Instead, we'll get an update of the preposterous PBR, slightly tweaked in the direction of reality, and with slightly more information on spending. But it won't be the unvarnished truth. We won't get that until we run into the inevitable sterling/gilt market crisis and the IMF pitches up on the redeye from Washington.

It will be Obamba Part Deux all over again - yes, it's a fresh new start with me, I'll close Gitmo, and everything will be cool... OMG, you mean these are the secret files... OMG... what should we do? ...we haven't closed Gitmo yet, have we?

Is it black-hearted deception, or simple naivety? You know - if we just whistle to ourselves and carry on as if everything is OK, then maybe something will turn up.

Yeah. That must be it.

Remind me, what's the point of our politicos again?

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