Margareta Pagano: Who's more tuned in, Vince Cable or George Osborne?

In the City: If the Chancellor is to keep the Business Secretary out of the charts, he has to change his tune

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has always had a taste for the limelight as his dancing skills have shown, right. Now he's heading for the music charts. His new band, Vince and the Supermarkets, more heavy metal than his usual swing, has a new single: "We're Not Out of Rehab." As lead singer, Cable hit the first notes of the tune on the Warwick University stage last Wednesday. His anthem was that while the economy is recovering, there is no room for complacency. More tartly, he also took a swipe at George Osborne for trying to take credit for the recovery rather than the hard-work of the British people.

Vince's singing was backed by a strong downbeat bass line from Dalton Philips, the boss of WM Morrison, after his supermarkets group, the UK's fourth biggest, reported falling sales as customers fled to discount stores. Worse still, Philips says the economic outlook remains tough for customers as inflation outstrips wages and warned that a third of them are "one pay cheque away from bankruptcy". Morrisons has 10 million customers each week so that's a scary number of people on the bread-line.

Lifting the pace was Terry Duddy on lead guitar. The chief executive of Home Retail, owners of Homebase and Argos, stunned the audience with a great set of results – particularly good at Homebase because of soaring barbecue and garden furniture sales. But Duddy upset the tempo by admitting higher sales were only due to the heat-wave and nothing to do with economic policy: "Cameron didn't do it. Those big macro-economic factors haven't fed through to consumers yet – if anything, disposable income is less than it was last month."

Picking up Duddy's sombre beat was Asda's boss, Andy Clarke on drums. His beat was loud and clear; he says the nation remains gripped in austerity. Clarke warns worse is to come; a report commissioned for Asda by the Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts spending will rise by £4,000 a year on essentials like food, petrol, rent and utility bills in five years time. With inflation rising faster than wages, and wages already being squeezed, disposable income will fall for most people for years to come; worst-off will be the under-thirties.

The Chancellor knows the melody; indeed, he admits that rising living costs are a problem and that something must be done. Yet there is no evidence to show that either he or the coalition – or Labour for that matter – understand how they should be getting to grips with roaring energy prices, unlocking an uncompetitive banking sector, rocketing train fares, stamp duty, fuel prices, controlling a housing bubble, and of course rising food prices. In many cases, the coalition's policies have made living costs higher with hikes in house-buying taxes, green subsidies to the energy companies which have pushed up utility prices and subsidising parents for child-care, to name a few.

If Osborne wants to keep Vince's song out of the charts, he must change his tune and come up with a better rhythm; take the poorest out of National Insurance, push through banking portability, more personal tax cuts, reconsider tightening the second part of the Help to Buy scheme, build more homes and encourage business to invest more in infrastructure and stop QE. He must get a new song to go with the new haircut; "It's Never Too Late" could yet be a hit.

Lehman's anniversary

If you landed back on earth today after a five-year space trip and were told you'd missed the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the world's biggest corporate bankruptcy which triggered the world's greatest financial crash, you would be forgiven for asking what's changed. Banks are bigger than ever, the shadow banking system is ballooning, the politicians and regulators are still in thrall to bankers and the banks can still take deposits alongside their investment activities.

Our space-travellers would be right in asking one question. Why is it that supposedly bright people turn dangerous when running big banking institutions? Are they narcissists? Is it the financial rewards?

Who knows, but it's worth watching The Banking Brain, a film by Suzanne Smith, a former World Bank economist, to find out more about bankers' extraordinary behaviour. If there is another banking collapse, it will be the taxpayer who stumps up, again. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project