“What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” (Scrooge to his nephew. ‘A Christmas Carol’; Charles Dickens)
While St. David of Etonia is lecturing the Clergy on Christian morality and George is hoping that the word ‘growth’ will be avoided during his five star Christmas lunch, Middle Britain is playing a Christmas game called ‘Secret Santa.’
Its objective is to hide from the kids the fact that the parents are broke. The family gathers together and all the names are thrown into a hat. Each person draws a piece of paper and buys a present (within a pre-set amount) for the named person. Each individual receives only one present but such is the excitement nobody notices.
Various sources including YouGov/The Samaritans and the Office for Budget responsibility have produced statistics showing that 58% of individuals are worried that they won’t have enough money to live comfortable in 2012, 36% fear job loss and the average personal debt expressed as a percentage of household income is now 175%.
The cost of living is rising at more than twice the pace of underlying inflation. The Nationwide consumer confidence index is at 40 compared to its long run average of 77. Last Saturday, outside the Marks & Spencer car park in Milton Keynes, there were empty parking spaces.
For the older people, (and ten million people alive today will live to be a hundred) the spiralling of the National Health Service (“NHS”) into debt and chaos as a result of the ludicrous decision to give doctors and other medical professionals budget control (“for the good of the patient” you will appreciate), despair is their keynote word.
The Coalition Government has been together (well, vaguely) for twenty months. The early mantras “it’s all Gordon Brown’s fault” and “we’re all in this together” have been replaced by schoolboy theatricals (the vetoing of the Brussels accord) and an Autumn Statement by the Chancellor which must rank as one of the most inept ever heard in the House of Commons.
NOTHING has been done to help Middle Britain. The housing market remains dormant, the banks are simply hoarding cash, the credit card companies are screwing their cardholders with ridiculously high rates of interest, real incomes will fall 2.8% in 2012, unemployment is getting on for three million, public services are being decimated and police numbers are being cut. Oh, and the national debt is…er…increasing? Economic growth is non-existent.
Middle Britain will survive and fight on because they are the key strength of this country. The four million people owning and managing their businesses will fight another day, harried by HM Revenue Officers and Vat inspectors, ignored by banks, faced with ineffective equity markets and burdened with red tape.
Nobody argues that the Coalition inherited a difficult situation.
We never thought that they would make it worse.