We learned today that the economy has shrunk by 2%. The Chancellor observed that the damage had been done in just a few days of bug chasing, but HMG Titanic has only just glimpsed the iceberg from the bridge. We shouldn’t get too hung up on percentages and the technical definitions of economists. What’s important is the bad medicine that we are going to have to suck up. And lots of it.
The first raft of consequential data is seeping through and it’s already excruciating. Of course, you have to draw the conclusion that either the Government’s economic advisers hadn’t forecast it, or they had, and nobody listened. Flip a coin on that one.
And it didn’t have to be this way, but these monkeys blew it. The Government could have shielded the most vulnerable pending a vaccine and pumped available spondoolies into structured support for these who would need it most. Instead they panicked into spaffing cash that we don’t have into everything that didn’t need it.
So, we’ve borrowed excessively while weakening the sources that would generate repayments. It’s hardly sound economics. We could have funded shielding – early – from existing reserves.
It just needs to stop, now.
Most countries adopting lockdowns are regretting the move. It’s come crashing home that closures and loans are a pause button not a panacea, and a costly one at that. Re-infection would always on the cards after relaxation. With already-shafted economies, any second lockdown would amount to jumping out without a parachute.
That would even eclipse the senselessness of the first. Once the economy has been thoroughly gutted, the subsequent layers of damage and well-being will way surpass anything that this bug had to beget. Its threat to health will surpass mere viral infection. People who would have survived the virus will succumb to the recovery plan.
Yes, the Government is looking for the emergency exit, but their volte-face is going to take time. But as the Chancellor has noted, substantial damage can be measured in days. They’ve got to achieve traction now.
The problem at the forefront of Government minds is how to save face with their back-pedalling without people questioning why they belly-flopped into the shallow end in the first place.
And aye, there’s the rub. The problems of our Government aren’t those of the nation. They ought to be one and the same, but they’re not. They’re worrying about how to extricate themselves from their clusterfudge rather than pulling us out of a societal mire.
How the world has changed. We used to fear nuclear war, and now we are at the mercy of viruses. We used to fear terrorists, and now we’re at the mercy of errorists.
That jam is what’s coming over the hill if they don’t act decisively and responsibly now. It’s gone beyond party politicking and is now the future of the nation. And to think of all the strife we endured debating Brexit over four years? Even the worst post-Brexit predicament pales into insignificance with what is around the very next corner.
That’s a proper cliff edge, my friends. The real No Deal – with no transition period.
But to raise the red flag now, they must acknowledge the mistakes. Painfully ploughing on regardless via our current wide turning-circle will help nobody.
As a wise man once said, ‘Claims made without evidence may be dismissed without evidence’. The same applies to decisions. It really should be that clear-cut.
It will likely mean a change in leadership, but for once, personal ambition needs to take a back seat.
And they need to keep the red flag flying high, no matter how much it hurts.