Don't worry, I'm not an economist and I'm not going to bore you with economics despite what it looks like at the beginning.
I didn't catch too much of the autumn statement yesterday when it was broadcast live. I didn't really need to. Governments announcing news to Parliament has become something of a farce (then again what hasn't become a farce where Parliament's concerned?) as we typically get it "leaked" around 10-11pm the evening before. Much of what I was supposed to learn on Wednesday became news on Tuesday evening.
We're skint and we were going to be skint for the foreseeable future. Even me as a bear of small brain knew that before George announced it. Where I (and too many others to consider it any sort of achievement) are smarter than George is that we know if he carries on doing what he's been doing, we will be skint for a damn sight longer than her predicts.
I came to watch the debate just as Ed Balls was having his own little Chernobyl moment as he went into meltdown as he tried to get across the notion that the Government had failed. I watched that and then I watch Georgie come back at him and it was at that point the really worrying bit hit me.
I watched as Ed Balls criticised our performance as a nation and used the claim that it was less than 1/10th of that of the G20. For some reason that set off a little alarm bell in my head. I had a quick look and although it's not certain which precise set of figure he is using, the set I found suggested that was broadly right. But it wasn't whether such a claim was accurate that made me wonder. It was the question of what made him pick the G20. Why not the G7 say. Of course it doesn't take a lot to work that out. Once you use the G20 as opposed to the G7 you include the BRICS nations in your stats. Take a quick look at the chart on this OECD release and you'll see what it does. It puts a different scale on it that wouldn't be there if the G7 was your comparison.
It was that which tells you all you need to know and it's not about the economic argument. In fact what this shows is that yesterday in Parliament was about anything but the economic argument and it wasn't just Balls. The reality was that all Balls was interested along with his cohorts was about sticking it to the Government by making them look bad and making them look as bad as it was possible to do by using stats that paint the bleakest possible picture. He let Osborne have it both barrels and Osborne responded in kind. The press made as much of the exchanges in the house as the statement itself.
"So what?" you might ask. Westminster is always a pantomime such as this and I would agree. The problem is the press continued to suggest that this was a serious debate about the economy and the state of the country. My point is I believe it was anything but. The economy just happened to be the tool at hand. Arguing with the other was what it was all about. Solving the issue of our dire financial straits, played no part in that debate because they're simply not interested in it. If they were there would have been a proper debate, but there wasn't. The Tories, took a leaf out of the elusive Gordon Brown's playbook and throw endless confusing statistics out their to hide what was going wrong and Labour went with their "out of touch toffs" line backed up by numbers specifically to frame the position as failure on the largest possible scale.
Our economy is in a truly perilous state and it needed a debate that reflected that. It needed a government to say that and an opposition to say where they thought better strategies lay and where they would cooperate with the government. But no, we had none of that. What we really got was a wrestling match driven by nothing more than a lust for power. There is some effort to look like they're doing something, but the reality is none of them are serious about this problem. If they were they would look really hard at what really is working and what really isn't and sell it to the British people. But we don't get that. We get a power struggle masquerading as a debate by those who only want their hands on the reins because they get to sit on the slightly more comfortable seats in an already luxurious ride compared to what the rest of us have to put up with. It wasn't a debate about what's going to stop 60 million people crashing onto the rocks. It was a bun fight in which the only people being considered were those in the two chambers.
We're in a mess. A real big stinking mess. One that needs serious men and women to bring some real gravity to public life who can tell it like it is and sell the much needed hard work to the nation. We need leaders who can tell the lobbyists that the party is over.
We got none of that yesterday. We got posturing by effetes and dilettantes yesterday. 60 million people got sold down the river in something that was nothing more than a disgrace.