Posts Tagged ‘Plan B’
When Nick Clegg launched his attack on the FTSE chief executives whose salaries have increased by almost 50 per cent this year, he wondered if they live on this planet. The answer of course is that they don’t, but we codgers suspect they are not the only ones. Right now even those who voted Lib Dem are disillusioned, and there is little doubt that if this government goes its full term the Lib Dems will vanish from the face of the earth. Many of us see that as a great pity for, like most people, we are sick and tired of the endless cycle of Conservative and Labour bigwigs neither of whom offer hope for the future. So is there any hope for the Lib Dems?
There could just be. If they should split from their big-brother partners on an issue important to the electorate the impetus that Nick Clegg gained during those TV debates could reignite. Even Baldrick will have worked out that the Osborne plan is a disaster, yet few have confidence in Labour who didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in controlling expenditure sensibly. Now here is the strange thing, Clegg is hanging on in there despite almost every senior Lib Demmer outside of the Cameron embrace protesting that the Party is breaking its own commitments on the economy. And they believe that their plan would turn things round.
Yesterday four members of the Lib Dem federal policy committee (Prof Stephen Haseler, Simon Hebditch, Dr Jo Ingold and Linda Jack) plus six parliamentary candidates and the Leader of the Lib Dem group on Richmond Council, published a letter demanding what they call ‘Compass Plan B’, the proposed policy on which they fought the election. They add that Liberal Democrats who still believe in the manifesto on which they went to the country now demand a recognition that ” the government will miss its deficit target reductiuon and as the economy slows the deficit could well increase”.
The group go on to demand of the party leadership that out of responsibility to the country, they must now tell the Conservatives that they will no longer support policies which are not working. Instead there must be a radical programme of measures including an emergency recovery programme, a fairer tax system and social investment.
As a financial illiterate I cannot pretend to know if they are right. But even I can work out that something different is urgently required, and what they are saying seems to make sense. So why on earth is Clegg refusing to listen? One can only assume that he is besotted with high office for, as he showed at the Lib Dem conference, he is prepared to face down his entire membership to stay at Cameron’s right hand. Yes, we know that the Prime Minister has promised to begin seperation in the year before the next election. By then it will be too late for Clegg’s army, either the Conservatives will be able to claim the credit for turning the economy around or the Lib Dems will be associated with their failure.
Clegg doesn’t come across as particularly unworldly, but clearly many of his most loyal supporters are beginning to wonder if he is up there with the executives and bankers on planet Zog!
TEST YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE WITH THE MIDWEEK QUIZ!!!
1. What are the metal discs in the rim of a tambourine called? 2. Which word can be a pole with a footrest or a wading bird? 3. What annual event is the Cumbrian town of Appleby noted for ? 4. On which island was Princess Margaret when she suffered a stroke? 5. Who was older, Princess Diana’s mother or her stepmother? 6. In which country did the former Edward VIII marry Mrs Simpson? 7. Albert succeeded Baudouin in which country? 8. In which country did Fergie’s mother spend the latter part of her life? 9. What does the Queen’s only nephew do for a living? 10. At which sport did Harry excel in his first few weeks at Eton?
OOOOOO ANSWERS TOMORROW OOOOOO
It was my turn to fetch the corn today. One of the sacks burst on the way back so I can confidently predict that she-who-must-be-obeyed will not be too pleased at sitting in what resembles Farmer Giles barn when we take our next spin. I did consider cleaning the car out but a chat with the man at the depot dissuaded me. We are, he told me, all doomed.
He ferreted under the stack of hay which serves as his chair, and produced a copy of today’;s Guardian. It reports that Britain’s fragile recovery was dealt a severe blow yesterday after figures revealed a slump in household spending. This, it continues, could severely restrict growth and knock the government’s debt reduction plans further off course. Danny Gabay, of Fathom Consulting, says that Britain is already back in recession if exceptional items are stripped out of the Office for National Statistics revised GDP figures.
The only surprising aspect of all this is that Osborne and his zillion advisers had not anticipated that household spending would plummet. By their own figures unemployment is set to rise to almost 9% by the end of this year and one can safely assume that at least another 20% are liivng in fear of it. Throw in the rocketing inflation on the cost of food, the rocketing costs of power, the zero returns on savings plus many other factors and you have the obvious conclusion that people must cut back.
It is hard to find an economist who doesn’t believe that the strategy of eliminating the deficit in one parliament is a potentially disastrous one. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out that if buyers are forced to buy less, producers will produce less and employ fewer people. Hetal Mehta, UK economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, said yesterday that we now face contraction and there are “ significant weaknesses in the UK consumer sector”. Mr Osborne needs to dust off his Plan B and fast!
One gathers that David Cameron was bitterly disappointed that President Obama did not endorse the rate at which the coalition is making cuts. Given the American approach of using growth as the stimulant that was hardly surprising. What is surprising is the preoccupation with the NHS at a time like this. The £20 billion cut in funding will be difficult, but to at the same time launch a massive and contentious reform is madness. It will offset any savings and occupy ministers for months ahead.
It has been apparent from the start that this government has a stubborn streak. It refused to listen to the outcry aginst the sale of the forests, it is effectively refusing to do so over the NHS. And, worst of all, it refuses to listen to economists the world over. There would have been no shame in announcing a fall-back position, and it is still not too late.
I confess to finding it all confusing and depressing in turn. I cannot even work out where the money that the Bank of England lends comes from. All I know is that a lot of reputable economists and thinktanks are saying that we are heading for a financial collapse, the like of which few have ever seen.
Perhaps we should all have a Plan B? Head off to a tropical paradise such as Fiji. I loved it when I visited. The good news was that there is no nincompoop like Osborne in charge. The bad news? No allotments, no cricket!
THE ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Zulus 2. Phyllis Nelson 3. Jose Maria Olazabal 4. Aldeburgh 5. Tracy-Ann Oberman 6. Varicella 7. Stereophonics 8. Robbie Coltrane 9. National Theatre 10. Alan Alda (of M*A*S*H fame).
DO PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU MANAGED 7 OR MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It seems odd to describe a large group of old blokes as a gang but that is how it feels. On the face of it we have little in common bar a discovered passion for self-sufficiency but on one point everyone on the allotment seems agreed, the coalition has proved a disaster for the Lib Dems. Of course hindsight is a great gift for when Nick Clegg stormed ahead in those TV debates most of us saw the chance of a fresh start for the discredited Britsh political scene. He would, we thought, provide the perfect middle view between powerful unions on the one hand and patronising and bigotted right wimgers on the other. Sadly he has confused partnership with obsequeous absorption and the right wing is free to pursue the very policies that the nation failed to endorse overwhelmingly.
The general recation to this is that Clegg has proved to be a lightweight and the Lib Dems are facing extinction. But there is one voice that suggests that maybe, just maybe, all is not lost. Chris Hulme was beaten by Clegg in the leadership contest but has lost none of his sense of independence. He is a highly respected economist and when he speaks others listen. And today he has spoken forcibly about the perils facing the coalition, not least the risk of cutting too fast and thus triggerring another serious depression. He believes that the present severe approach has a chance, but unlike the double act of Cameron and Clegg, warns that the government “must not be lashed to the mast with a particular set of numbers”. He suggests that there may have to be a “plan B” for it is “not sensible for governments to make speculations about what is going to happen”. Mr Hulme is the first cabinet member to insist that the Chancellor may have to rethink his cuts agenda for global growth “could be either higher than lower than we forecast”. Contrast that with Clegg’s view that the Osborne agenda of £83 billion of cuts is “the only choice”!
Chris Hulme’s chief criticism is reserved for Cameron’s suggestion, made after the child benefit row, that tax breaks for married couples should be introduced by 2015 and extended to higher earners. “I am very sceptical” he warns, “I think we need to be sure that what we do has real value for money and is not flag waving. If it is just flag waving then frankly it is not something that this government should be doing”.
Even on the vexed subject of Trident, which Cameron and Clegg have gone to some lengths to kick ito the long grass, Chris Hulme insists that the Lib Dems must hold out for what they believe in, a cheaper nuclear deterrent. And as for Clegg’s statement that working with Labour would be unthinkable, there can be no doubt about the rift opening up between the two men. Speaking of the next election Hulme demands that the Lib Dems must remain a truly independent party and then look at the result. If Labour were to emerge as a big player he sees working in coalition with Miliband and his team as ”entirely appropriate”.
I realise I am at risk of being accused of playing a tune on a broken harp, but it is at least encouraging to believe that someone amongst the Lib Dem heirarchy sees the coalition as a partnership in which they draw a clear line of this far and no farther around their principles. In a way it reminds me of the inspiration provided by J B Priestly during World War 2. He used to draw a huge audience at 9.00 pm each Sunday evening. He left the war rhetoric to Churchill and focussed instead on the post-war needs and aspirations of ‘ordinary folk’.
He talked, in that homely way of his, of a society in which the needs of all be considered ahead of selfish, individualistic concerns corrupted by money and property. In order for a new dawn to break after the war, all ordinary individuals had to come together to and stand up to the bureaucrats and vested interests. The people must not, after the crisis, “let the old hands , the so called experts, the smooth gentry, trick them into believing that ordinary citizens could not grasp the problems of the day or do anything about them”.
The great man could easily have been talking about our present situation and it is not difficult to imagine Conservatives and Labour reverting to the old ways that have brought us to this painful place. I admit that I have never voted for the Lib Dems but many did at the recent election. They were seeking a new way free of Priestley’s old hands and smooth gentry.
Thanks to the naive, dishonest even, behaviour of Nick Clegg the dream of an honest middle ground is almost dead. Is it just possible that Chris Hume could even now rescue it to the benefit of people of all persuasions and none?
THE MADMEN OF HEALTH AND SAFETY!
A few days ago we read of a Council ordering the felling of conkers for fear of their harming children when they fell. That was fairly barmy but today we have final proof that our local authorities have becom infested with the sort of loopy parrots for whom imaginary health and safety dangers lurk around every corner.
In Manchester, council workmen have been advised not to move flower tubs standing on pavements in Gorton as part of the Britain in Bloom competition. They were planted and placed there in the Spring by volunteers.
The contractor, Coolas, confirmed that their men had been advised not to move the pots for health and safety reasons and instructed them to tar around them when repairing pavements. Now the tubs have to be dug out!
It is only a matter of time before the mad ones object to cricket being played with a hard ball. The best advice we can give to the barmy army of health and safety officials is to take a very long walk off a very short pier!
JUDGE NOT THAT YOU BE NOT JUDGED!
Michael Caine has revealed, after a fifty year silence that he persuaded a doctor to adminster a lethal dose to his father who was suffering an agonising death from liver cancer. At the time his father was expected to live just a few days more.
Predictably anti-euthenasia campaigners have been quick to climb upon their soap-boxes. Alistair Thompson has described such action as cruel and unnecessary. Presumably he has never watched someone he loved suffering physical and mental torture!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Evening Standard (London) 2. Queen
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which country did the Janata Party win a landslide election victory in 1977? 2. In which year did Jeremy Thorpe resign as leader of the Liberal Party?