Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More Big Lies

Book now to beat the rush

As that man said, if you're going to tell lies make sure they're big ones. And this morning we've been treated to a further generous helping of whoppers from the Great Helmsman.

Once again he claims he can simultaneously keep the economy growing through more public spending, protect the NHS schools and police, sort out the deficit (which BTW resulted entirely from global forces beyond his control) through taxing the rich and other undeserving elements, and deliver fairness for all.

He presents a slew of going green and scaly false alternatives including:
  • Do we let the progress of recovery be overwhelmed by an ideologically-driven programme to cut the responsibilities of government regardless of economic circumstances - or do we hold firm to our carefully constructed deficit reduction plan?
  • Do we undermine our frontline public services - the NHS, our schools, front-line policing - with arbitrary cuts - or protect those frontline services and instead reduce the deficit by taking tough and fair decisions on tax and spending in other parts of our economy?
  • Do we unleash famine and plague to stalk the land - along with doctrinaire slaughter of the first born - or do we advance onto broad sunlit uplands of peace and prosperity for all?
OK, I made up one of those - but you'll have difficulty spotting which one.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Fitch Ratings warn that they are "uncomfortable with the UK's fiscal adjustment path", and that HMG must "outline more credible fiscal consolidation programmes over the coming year, given the pace of fiscal deterioration and the budgetary challenges they face in stabilising public debt".

Translation - Brown's fiscal plans are the fast track to catastrophe.

True, he's now screwed up the courage to announce a pay freeze for senior civil servants, judges, and NHS staff. But those savings will be shrapnel in the giant scheme of things. They fall miles short of the £12bn pa savings from a 2 year blanket freeze we recommended here - a freeze the Helmsman would never be able to impose without IMF insistence because of Labour's financial dependency on the public sector unions.

And yesterday's trade figures were historically awful. Since the beginning of 2008, manufacturing export volumes are down by 17% against only a 10% decline on the import side.

Monthly trade balance

So much for export led recovery. And so much for the value of sterling (aka our cost of living).

The truth is that Brown has presided over Britain's worst economic and financial meltdown in living memory. Even knowing about the power of Big Lies, it beggars belief that he wants to make the economy and his claim to be our economic saviour the centrepiece of his election campaign. Surely he can't possibly win on that basis.

And yet... and yet...

Yesterday, Tyler lunched with an old City colleague who has now almost completed his preparations to leave the UK on 7th May. He has cleared the documentation and other formailties required for his family to set up in their new country, and has already arranged accommodation. If Brown gets back, they're off.

He asked Tyler not to disclose their destination in case it triggers a stampede. So we'll let you know once they're safely settled... although then again, maybe only after the Tylers have joined them.

Tyler's friend says that the really depressing thing about the election is not that Brown is making ludicrously bogus claims about his record and his competence. It's not even that the BBC reports those claims as if they're gospel (as it did again today on the 8am R4 news). It's the fact that the British electorate look like they may fall for it. As far as he can see, that's the road Greece has already travelled, and he doesn't want to be on it.

We're back to a question we've raised before - are we as an electorate actually ready to face the reality of our predicament, or are we going to fall for another round of spin and lies, and blunder along in a daze until we actually fall over the cliff edge? Do we literally need to see the IMF roll up in their armoured limos before we'll accept the need for serious action on public spending? Do we always need a Dunkirk before we act?

A hung parliament... Brown hanging on in No 10... our future prosperity hanging by a thread. And then one day soon, wham! Sterling collapses, gilt yields double, and the panzer divisions mass just 20 miles across the Channel.

Brown begs the Germans for help. They give him the same two-digit reply they gave Lamont in 1992. Brown curls up in a tight ball under the self-same desk Wislon hid under in 1976. Darling nervously calls Washington. The IMF jet in to demand huge across the board spending cuts - in 1976 they only wanted 4%, but this time it's 20%. Darling takes over as PM and tries to buy time by increasing the standard rate of income tax to 30% - as "a purely temporary measure in these extraordinary times".

Well, good luck.

And please be assured that Tyler and his friend will be following progress closely on CNN.

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