Mark Steel: It's like being endorsed by Gary Glitter

Share
Related Topics

Isn't this excellent news? The International Monetary Fund say the Government's strategy for sorting us out is going to work. Every time they've been asked to comment on a country's economy they've insisted it must cut wages, restrict the unions, and privatise everything, so the Government must have been really nervous as to whether they'd approve of the strategy of cutting wages, restricting unions and privatising everything. It must have felt like waiting for your A-level results.

If the IMF got a job as an agony aunt, and someone wrote "Dear IMF, I am happily married with two adorable children, but lately have felt frustrated at being tied to the house, and wish I could escape. What should I do?," they'd reply "Dear Frustrated, your children yield no returns and must be sold to Balfour Beatty. You must move out of your house and use it to grow kidney beans for sale to Tesco, and if your husband complains, cut off his access to water." Yet they're portrayed as kindly souls, cheerily travelling round the world trying to rescue stranded economies, like a monetarist RAC. But their method is to turn up with a few million dollars to bail you out, and in return ask only to run the economy the way they fancy.

For example, after the Haiti earthquake the IMF extended $100m in loans for the disaster, but according to The Nation magazine, "These loans came with conditions, including refusing pay increases to all public employees, and raising prices for electricity." Because who among us can honestly say when we saw the footage we didn't shed a tear and think "The worst thing is if the price of electricity stays the same. EDF shares have suffered enough already and now this."

Or there was Tanzania, which was told its IMF loan would be paid only if it privatised its water supply. This didn't seem popular, so £430,000 of its government's money was spent on a campaign promoting private water, including a pop song that went "Young plants need rain, business needs investment. Our old industries are like dry crops and privatisation brings the rain." Maybe a similar thing will happen here, and Take That's next single will go "Thank God Vince Cable says no money's on the table or we never would be able to make our fiscal cycle stable."

There's Bolivia, where a loan of $138m came in return for an agreement to sell off its oil and water. And on the list goes, but these IMF demands aren't the result of economic expertise, they're political decisions. They might as well say "You can have the money if you sell off the libraries, sack half your doctors, and your football team's got to play 4-4-2. We are NOT bailing you out if you've no wingers."

So the main question to be asked as the Government boasts of its pat on the back by the IMF, is why it's considered a good thing to be approved of by them in the first place. Surely the last thing we need is to be following a course admired by people who can't pop out for a pint of milk without sacking half the people they meet on the way.

It's as ridiculous as George Osborne bragging, "We are delighted to announce our economic plans have been endorsed by Gary Glitter. In a thorough review of our figures he commended our tight fiscal boundaries, and careful plans for growth." Then Ed Balls would appear to complain, "Of course Mister Glitter doesn't wish to undermine confidence in the Government, but this was only a cautious recommendation from the perverted ex-glam star and nothing to be complacent about."

Because when the IMF say a policy will "work", they mean work for their sort, the bankers, the chief executives, the men who own the oil and the water or will own it soon if they get their way. Someone might as well tell you they're about to torture you, but the excellent news is the Libyan military police have studied the electrodes and are satisfied they're going to work.



React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz