Editor-At-Large: Wake up Gordon and Nick, you've no idea about the cost of living

As families struggle to make ends meet in our failing economy, do our politicians need a reality check about ordinary lives?
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This bank holiday my backside has been like our economy – going nowhere. Latest figures reveal that the British economy (once Gordon's pride and joy) has ground to a complete halt. After 15 years of expansion, we've hit the buffers with exactly 0 per cent growth recorded from April to June this year. A Treasury spokesman talked of "challenging times". The challenge for you and me is to understand the mindset of the people running the country. Not for the first time, I have reached the end of a week and thought, "what bloody planet are they on?" Judging by opinion polls which give the Tories a 24 per cent lead, many of you agree.

A combination of lousy weather and expensive petrol means that more than half of us will spend this weekend in the low-cost zone of the living room, glued to the Olympics. You get more of a buzz seeing fit twenty-somethings sailing, swimming and cycling than any politician ... and winners just go berserk with happiness, a welcome lift for the nouveau poor back home in Blighty.

A politician with little understanding of the real world is John McCain, the American presidential candidate. Last week, when asked how many homes he owned, he referred the answer to a member of staff, as he wasn't quite sure! In fact, his seven houses are valued at $33m (£17.8m). The Democrats issued a press release crowing "seven months of job losses for Americans and seven houses for McCain" – they have a point.

Closer to home, I understand why, when David Cameron was asked if he knew a joke, he replied "Nick Clegg". Clegg-over has been anxious to enhance his image since the disastrous interview with a men's magazine when he said he had slept with "no more than 30 women". Now he claims that he is going through the same "pain" as everyone with a mortgage.

Nick reveals that his wife is "gravitating towards Sainsbury's from Ocado" in order to save money. WAKE UP LOVE! Haven't the Cleggs heard that Netto, Aldi and Lidl are the shopping destinations of thousands of voters who can't even afford Sainsbury's, let alone Waitrose? Clegg and his wife (a full-time lawyer) live in a nice street in Putney, south London, where many houses are valued at £1.3m. Nevertheless, Nick wants us to be aware that he knows about the recession – that he hardly drives a car any more and has turned down the central heating. Foreign holidays consist of trips to the in-laws in Spain. So that's all right then.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister deals with recession by morphing into a speaking robot. After the worst local election results for Labour for 40 years in early May, he announced: "Going round the country there is a sense that people are worried... I understand this and I feel the hurt they feel..." At weekly intervals, he's been repeating robotically that he "understands" our pain, as if that makes it better.

As he was leaving for the Olympics, he declared: "What the people of Britain are concerned about is... their mortgages, their gas and electricity bills..." Gordon, love, there's no way you comprehend ordinary people's problems.

You don't fill your car with petrol. You don't go shopping at all, let alone slum it like the Cleggs do at Sainsbury's. You (and your family) are at the Olympics today in a swanky hotel. You have huge expenses and a mortgage-free pad in London. We are sitting at home, getting through the wettest August on record without turning the heating on. Time for a reality check.

Jacqui's caught red-handed managing the news

What a busy week for the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, with hardly a day out of the headlines. On balance, her performance rates like the England football team – pretty unconvincing. First, she acted tough, announcing new legislation to remove convicted sex offenders' passports. Of course, there's the small matter of human rights. And do we need to know that she personally loathes Gary Glitter? Next, Jacqui announced that she was recruiting 6,000 extra special constables – unpaid helpers who receive expenses, who have the same powers of arrest as full-time police. What Jacqui didn't say was that the Home Office has decided to drop the recruitment of the much-derided community support officers. Either way, it's policing on the cheap. What we need are more real police freed from paperwork and stupid government-imposed targets. By Thursday, the reason for her activity became clear – Jacqui's department had lost the details of 130,000 of our worst criminals, contained on a memory stick sent to a private contractor. Jacqui was told on Tuesday – and spent the next two days announcing diversionary "initiatives". The public was told at the start of a bank holiday – what great news management.

Kerry's not an ad for family living

The reason why I don't eat frozen food is I don't fancy anything promoted by Kerry Katona, right, whose life erupts around her like a disaster movie. She's smoked through all her pregnancies, is hazy about when she stopped taking drugs and says her first memories are of her mum – who abused drink and drugs – trying to commit suicide. Now Kerry is suffering the indignity of having her bank accounts frozen and her credit cards removed as she has been declared bankrupt, owing the taxman £82,000. Meanwhile, a new TV series shows that, in spite of the antics of Kerry and co, family life is still going strong. More than 90 per cent of families questioned still eat dinner together, and the vast majority of teenagers thought their family was really important. Pretty heartening stuff.

Why we've all gone wheelie mad

In the future, when historians are reconstructing life in 21st- century Britain, they will surely decide that most citizens didn't attend church on a regular basis, but worshipped a large green plastic container with wheels that lived outside their front door. Every day, the press unearths another crime perpetrated by local councils and evil binmen, such is our national fixation with refuse collection. We care more about the emptying of our wheelie bins than our pets, our aged relatives, or what our children might get up to. Now, some binmen in Essex are refusing to drive up cul-de-sacs because they need to reduce the time spent reversing. Centralising collection points means that residents have to drag their own wheelie bins up to 50 yards! I predict there'll soon be a Wheelie Bin newsletter.

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