Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Money, money, money

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.


  1. The trouble, as I see it anyway, is the assumption that conservatives and liberals are fighting each other. The problem that they want to address -- the economy, domestic spending, aid, and so on -- is their actual opponent. If the two "sides" realised that they were standing together, that their opponent was simply the problem to be solved, they could expend much less energy vilifying each other and put it into working together to find common ground.

  2. Colby - fabulous comment. I am agreeing so much that my ears are practically on fire. How I long for the common good.

  3. I also long for the common good which seems to have been lost. People want to blame others for the problem and shout about that rather than rolling up their sleeves and addressing it in a thought out and well planned manner. I want it to be about people not ideology but I see that those things do get rather jumbled.

    Thanks for the lovely winter photos. It soothed me and made me less worried about my personal future as a result of all that jazz.

  4. Oh, the first snowfall is so magical, isn't it? I'm still waiting for it in my particular Swiss alpine valley, and no doubt by the time March comes around it will have lost its sparkle and I'll be moaning and longing for it to b*gger off (I always do).

    But the first dusting; it thrills me anew, every year.

  5. Oh how I agree with so much of what you say. And of how unworthy my puny efforts to say anything similar seems.

    If, as Colby has so eloquently said, there could be a new politics, really. One where what is needed is the starting point for debate, and where the first rule of opposition was to question but not of necessity oppose - how much further forward we might be.

    And forward is where all should be looking. Finger pointing has only one benefit - and that's if they are auditioning for ET Pt II.

    I do so hope that the strategy works - and that some form of 'Big Society' closes around and upholds those who are hit hardest.

    ps. Hope you are fully better.

  6. I was cursing being in a conference all day and away from rolling news. Unfortunately as a civil servant this stuff is rather too close to home even though my zone is relatively shielded from job cuts. Generally I would also agree with Colby (although emotionally I do have trouble with being told to tighten my belt by someone with a whopping trust fund to fall back on).

  7. Oh, if only some of the magic that abounds on your walks could be cast over the current political and economic milieu of Blighty.

  8. I was up in Westminster today at around 5.30 and, early for an appointment, sat in College Gardens watching the telly and radio people getting ready for their 6.00 News interviews. I saw Nick Robinson in the FLESH! it was soooo exciting! I felt like I was in the 'West Wing'. I'd even forgotten the pain of the cuts in my excitement.

  9. I wont comment on the first part of your post as I know nothing on the subject but the images and the snow looked magical!


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