Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Ah, the intense experience of the Comprehensive Spending Review. I know, my darlings, three words that strike joy into your collective beating heart. Blighty, apparently, can think of nothing else. (It is our entire future, I suppose.) The BBC is all over it; there is rolling coverage on BBC2, Radio Four, News 24. The Twittersphere is tweeting its head off. The duelling economists, no two of whom can agree, are all pistols at dawn.
The absolute bugger of it is that I can see both arguments. You must cut because there is nothing progressive about handing on stupid levels of debt to our children. It is patently absurd to pay SIXTEEN BILLION POUNDS last month alone in interest. That's just the interest; the deficit is not being reduced. When I think of that figure, my head threatens to explode, and that would make a horrid mess. On the other hand, I also understand the fear that to cut too fast will take money out of the economy when we are still teetering on the edge of recession. I understand that real people will lose real jobs. I understand that hoping the private sector will rush into the breach is a gamble, which may not pay off.
So of course I cannot decide who is right.
All I can offer you are general impressions. There is an intemperance of language. Those who oppose the new cuts talk of slashing and burning. Those who will never do anything but hate the Tories accuse them of enjoying themselves as they 'throw half a million people out of their jobs', as if those naughty Bullingdon boys are personally going from office to office, turfing out innocent workers. (This is really stupid, and adds nothing to the argument.) There is also the the proliferation of cliché. Everyone is currently favouring the phrase 'in real terms', as opposed, presumably to unreal terms, or fantasy terms, or fake terms. Then there is 'ring-fenced', in contrast to square or rectangular fences, I assume.
Other favourites among the political classes: 'gap in provision'; 'investing in infrastructure'; the lovely 'distributional analysis'; the snarky 'deficit deniers'; and the jargonese 'modelling the impact'. Word of the day from Ed Balls is 'reckless'. He managed to say it seven times in a four minute interview. Goodness he looked pleased with himself. I wonder if he was doing it for a bet.
There was a lot of shouting in the Commons. Sometimes I am uncertain if the honourable members know what it is they are actually shouting about. Occasionally, even in these Troubled Times, someone makes a really good joke, and the entire House falls about laughing. I can't help but love it, but I do wonder what people watching from abroad make of the curious spectacle.
The moment comes for my cliché now. It is: time will tell. I feel it is a huge experiment. I really hope it will work, because you just can't go on borrowing SIXTEEN BILLION a month. Can you?
Meanwhile, in my small world, there was an unexpected snowfall. (Also, last night, such a crazy moon that it actually woke me up at 4am, shining hard through my bedroom window.) Here is what we saw on our morning walk:
After all that dashing about, there is a pause while the snow is eaten:
And then a little lie-down in the sun:
(Look at the Duchess's cross old face. Do I really have to sit for these infra dig photographs? The Pigeon on the other hand is, as usual, posing like a film star.)
Amazingly, some of the brave little flowers are still blooming:
Now I suppose I must go and see if I can work out the difference between the structural and the cyclical deficit. Happy Days.