May 1st, 2010

Hard Times Coming

We came back from holiday having overspent, but with a little cash in hand- and I decided I was going to make that remainder- something a little short of £30- last us a week.  And I've succeeded. I've been walking to the shops- so no money went on petrol- and buying only what I absolutely needed at the time.  I like doing this sort of thing once in a while- setting limits and sticking to them; where there's a challenge there's a game. But with the price rises and benefit cuts that are coming (no matter who gets in) it's a game I'll soon be playing out of compulsion not choice.

That last sentence feels a little theatrical, a little attitudinising.  Hard times coming? Surely not. Oh, but they are. Our government has run up a deficit of something like £164 billion- and it's growing.  As the Governor of the Bank of England was reported to have said the other day, the next government is going to make itself so unpopular that the party that forms it will be out of power for a generation.

We sort of know this, but we don't want to think about it, and we don't want to hear about it from our political leaders- who talk as if they could clear off the deficit by rationing supplies to the Civil Service.  This casts a pall of unreality over the election. Does it matter in the end whether it's Brown or Cameron or Clegg wielding the knife? Not really. The election, by these lights, is actually a jolly diversion from the reality of our political and economic situation- an entertainment with clowns.