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

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Teaching Assistant - Shropshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teaching Assistants needed in Shropshi...

Junior/Trainee Buiness Intelligence (BI) Consultant

£30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior/Trainee Business Intelligen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside  

Autumn’s subtle charm is greatly enhanced by this Indian summer

Michael McCarthy
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits