“Press regulation” and a new Pope have meant some subjects have not received their due attention this past week, most notably the shocking raid on citizens’ savings in Cyprus and its wider implications, the truly heinous bedroom tax (protests against it received scandalously little coverage), and the real implications of what might happen in the Budget, beyond the internal politics of the Coalition.
Make no mistake, this Budget week is a crucial for many, not just in terms of that wider intangible, confidence, but in the specifics. Ordinary people are struggling with the specifics — and not just that their jobs are hard to find or constantly at risk, nor that their pay-rises are non-existent.
We see the prices charged by the big six energy providers, our transport services, fuel giants and the cost of staples like coffee and pasta soaring. If we try to economise we run the risk of poor quality highlighted by the horsemeat scandal and the obesity epidemic. Regardless of a creaking NHS, people are too scared to get sick, or at least admit it even when they are, and under economic pressure from all sides. Inevitably, they are readier than at other times to start lashing out at the same media and politician-inspired convenient scapegoats as at other such depressed times in history, immigrants.
Many ordinary people, which I expand here to include the middle classes, are really feeling the pain. They are looking to George Osborne this week above all to put people above politics, drop the straitjacket of dogma, remind himself why he became an MP in the first place, and be big enough to admit he has got it wrong and change tack. I would love to believe this is possible, but it is unlikely that too many of you will be holding your breath.