It seemed odd to be carrying water to the allotment this morning, rather like taking coals to Newcastle. The sudden thaw has converted snowdrifts into lakes. We always knew this would be the eventual outcome but wait a moment. Phil had his radio on and the weather forecast told us to expect a return to Scott of the Antarctic come tomorrow night. At least it prompted me to go up to te Sales for a pair of boots heavy enough to put Rooney out of action for a month. It has to be admitted that this long period of appalling weather has begun to rattle us.
On Christmas Eve one of our members had a family funeral. It was a bad enough experince for Alec and his clan without the added burden of having to walk behind the coffin for the final stretch to the town centre church. Even there the council has failed to make any effort to clear the pavements or side-roads. The government has threatened the airport authorities with fines for inadequate ice-clearance, perhps they should extend this idea to local authorities!
But the coalition probably has other things on its mind, not least today’s opinion poll which shows that after six months of Conservative/Lib Dem rule the 58% that thought the idea of a coalition a good one has shrunk dramatically. Now only 43% give it their support. Within the coalition the Tory vote has held up well but the Lib Dems have almost vansihed off the public radar. If an election was held tomorrow The Miliband family would take over which I guess tells us just how poorly the Cameron/Clegg set-up is regarded.
Apart from the seemingly endless revelations about the feelings of Lib Dem MPs toward the coalition, its biggest problem is that it resembles a town hall clock. It has various faces and the hands are spinning. Today we hear of a U-turn on free books for children. This followed an attack by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who described the decision to end the £13 million grant which funds a book-gifting programme for disadvantaged children as the behaviour of Scrooge at his worst. Others joined in the barrage over the Christmas break including Ian McEwan, author of Atonement. He said that programmes such as this are our only hope of measuring ourselves as a mature and thoughtful society. A U-turn, he said, would be an honourable choice. No sooner said than done. Michael Gove interrupted his holiday to arrange the latest about-face.
Only three days earlier the government had to backtrack on its decision to end funding for school sports.That was another mean-minded decision made without consultation or regard for the consequences. And every week brings another reversal. One suspects that the tactic is to name every service for termination and then to await reactions. If that is the plan it is a disastrous one politically as shown by the polls. A less charitable explanation is that Gove, Lansley and company haven’t a clue.
Either way the simple fact remains that all these small amounts shrink to total insgnificance when compared to handouts to Ireland and other in-trouble Euro users. How we could afford to suddenly produce up to £10 billion is beyond the mental grasp of mere mortals.
All the signs are that the coalition is in a nosedive. On January 13th we will find out just how steep this is. At the general election the Lib Demmer was within a hundred-odd votes of the subequently banned Woolas. So they should walk it this time around, not least because Cameron has banned all active support of the Tory candiudate. If they don’t win we can expect a revolt by over half of the sitting Lib Dem parliamentarians. And bang goes the coalition.
We shall see and it is posssible to pull out of a nosedive. However if some of the crew bail out that becomes less likely! Perhaps Mrs Cameron should hold back on those expensive deluxe velvet curtains!
RETAILERS UNCERTAIN ABOUT PROSPECTS!
I can never fathom why people are prepared to queue throughout Boxing day night to join the mad stampede when the doors open for the Sales. Yes there are a few tempters that go quickly but most of the cut-price goods have been purchsed as such and stocks usually last out the sale.
Be that as it may it cannot be denied that yesterday’ numbers were encouraging for retailers who failed to do record sales in the lead up to the great day. But we have to remember that businesses ultimately survive or otherwise according to profits related to investments. Items in the sales are not to any significant extent profitable. The big test will come in the new year when shoppers face the VAT increase plus rising unemployment and uncertainty.
Right now some large companies are less than optimistic and the sight of hordes snapping up low-profit bargains will not have shifted their plans for extreme investment caution.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Lewis Casson 2. Alison Uttley
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which year did Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon announce their seperation? 2. Who was elected mayor of New York in 1977?