Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Here is what no one has mentioned. I had to go and look it up. The British national debt is £780 billion.
Let's look at that another way. It is
Is there a reason no one is talking about that? Is it just one too many zeros? Is it because no one knows what to do about it?
The current economic argument is not about the debt, it is about the deficit. The deficit is about £160 billion. Compared to the debt, nothing. Small change. Pack of fags. Still, the best the parties can do is offer about £20 billion, tops, of reductions in that deficit. No one mentions that gnarly old elephant of the debt. It is like Fawlty Towers: for gawd's sake, don't mention the war.
Gordon Brown says that none of this is his fault. I know I am cross with him because I once believed and I feel betrayed and singed. I know that perhaps I am more angry with him in some ways than natural Tories, because he is giving my party a bad name. But I am attempting, with every fibre of my being, to be fair. It's just that when he tells Jon Snow that it was nothing to do with him, it was the banks, it was the global crisis, and anyway, he was warning the world about lack of regulation and under-capitalisation ten years ago, but no one would listen, I want to throw large objects at the television.
There are economists who will tell you that this level of debt is not quite the disaster all those zeros would suggest. They point to Japan and Italy, who have much worse situations. They remind us of the levels of debt which poor old battered Blighty survived after the second war. Yet, if you look at a graph of the national debt, it goes up to a terrifying peak in the early fifties and then comes down on a stuttering downward line all the way to the noughties, before shooting upward again. This suggests to me, ignorant laywoman that I am, that quite a lot of people of all political stripes thought debt reduction must be a good idea. Otherwise why did all the parties do it? I know that common sense can be deceptive; I know that people who bang on about common sense are quite often crazed right-wingers who think that government should be drowned in a bathtub. On this occasion, I think that spending £30 billion each year on interest payments might be something that common sense suggests is a reckless waste of money, and I think common sense might, for once, be right.
I'm just saying.
In the meantime, here is some more wildlife to cheer you up:
At least we still have the penguins.
(Genius photographer sadly unknown.)