The Sketch: Chancellor clowns around in the circus of boom and bust

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The Independent Online

'Boom and bust' is back on the Chancellor's rhetorical schedule. After five years of bellowing it at the end of every answer, he dropped it quite abruptly, leading us to a suspicion that the current boom was about to bust and the Sketch should sell everything in advance of the market collapse. But no, there it was again yesterday as the market slumped to a five-year low.

"Boom and bust" is back on the Chancellor's rhetorical schedule. After five years of bellowing it at the end of every answer, he dropped it quite abruptly, leading us to a suspicion that the current boom was about to bust and the Sketch should sell everything in advance of the market collapse. But no, there it was again yesterday as the market slumped to a five-year low.

Tory boom and bust. Greeted with a cheer, as if an old friend had returned from the colonies.

Perhaps the Chancellor might avoid the term "fiscal stability". Only a politician could boast of fiscal stability while committing the Government to the largest, fastest increase in public spending in the history of public spending. A minister once said: "If you can't ride two horses you shouldn't be in the circus." I thought it was too cynical. I was very young.

Let us remember that at just over 6 per cent of GDP, Mr Brown's spending boom is almost exactly equal to the spending boom that caused New Zealand's bust in the second half of the 1990s. Will it be worth the monstrous misery of mass unemployment and the collapse of Britain's place in the world, just to see Gordon Brown's certainties undermined by experience?

Paul Boateng looks up to the task of matching his predecessor Andrew Smith's bruising stupidity. The Tory Chris Grayling suggested that the increase in fatuous regulations (4,642 new ones last year) was hampering British productivity growth.

Boris Johnson (he's on the committee examining building regulations) has noted that if your window is knocked out you will be legally required to use a registered member of a national window-inserters' association to put it back.

Mr Boateng asserted: "We have cut the burden of regulation." That mysterious anagram Jon Djanogly had productivity figures for our competitors. The US was 55 per cent more productive than us, France was 32 per cent more productive and Germany 29 per cent more productive. Mr Boateng said productivity was growing faster than at any time in the past three years. He was a man once; he is lost to us now.

Government MPs who believe they can increase the productivity of the economy should learn this joke. The mouse is attending to the elephant, sexually. A tree falls on the elephant's head. The elephant trumpets in pain. The mouse say: "Am I hurting you, darling?" Ghastly joke, I'm sorry to have brought it up. Filthy business, politics.

Dennis Skinner, long a champion of unpopular causes, is now standing up for Margaret Thatcher. Referring to overseas aid, he declared with the zeal of a new convert: "You've got to 'ave the money to 'and it out!" It was Baroness Thatcher's famous dictum, was it not, that the Good Samaritan not only had the good intentions but also the money to help?

People do swing to the right later in life. But Mr Skinner should not be too hasty in urging miners onto their bikes to find work as salad tossers, market researchers and cosmetic salespersons. Though he has less time than most MPs, festina lente must be the watchword for Bolsover's best.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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