Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

On Cheryl, Cameron’s kitchen and why Obama rebuffed Osborne’s plans on the deficit

Posted on 26 May 2011 | 8:05am

I am hoping the sound of helicopters above means the President is on his way to France, able to escape Britain before he and the Prime Minister get asked about what Cheryl Cole’s exit from American X Factor says about the special-essential relationship.

Be in no doubt – had the departure of the People’s Panellist been one day earlier, then both Obama and Cameron would have been asked about it at yesterday’s press conference, in between the serious stuff on Libya, Afghanistan and the world economy.

The visit went very well for both leaders, and Obama went a long way towards dispelling the coolness with which his view of the UK has been characterised. His speech to both Houses of Parliament yesterday will not make the Great Speech anthologies but it was a tremendous event and the reception for him was very warm. Meanwhile Tony and Gordon got to be reminded that they are an important part of the fabric of the State, post wedding faux pas, and both President and Mrs Obama got to see the benefits of Labour’s education policies pre the ‘we’re all in this together’ cuts to Building Schools for the Future.

We also got to see the Camerons’ new kitchen, seen in photos today with Samantha and Michelle chatting happily on a yellow sofa. Now I do not begrudge the Camerons a single penny spent on a kitchen. It is such an important part of the home, and they are entitled in my view to have a nice one as they try to raise a family in one of the most pressurised situations imaginable.

But if I may revert to one of my favourite themes – the extraordinary double standards of our media – I cannot resist pointing out the contrast between the serenity with which our papers have accepted a shiny new kitchen in Downing Street, and the screaming headlines which greeted any such attempt to improve the living conditions of TB and Cherie. I can remember a holiday being interrupted with some fake Dacreised ‘scandal’ about a bathroom. And as for the kitchen, it was virtually impossible to get a bin, a toaster or a pot and pan without some rentaquote Tory MP saying what the Mail and Co needed for another cheap thrill headline.

Anyway, Mail lowlifeness and media double standards are not newsworthy so I will pass by saying, sincerely, I hope the Camerons enjoy the new kitchen, and by moving to something that is newsworthy. I refer to the economy, and the failure of George Osborne’s Plan A.

The one part of the Cameron-Osborne strategy that failed re the Obama visit was their attempt to ally him to their deficit reduction plan. I suspect the Americans would have been a little irked by the pre briefing to that effect. Obama’s words were carefully chosen, but they did amount to something of a slapdown, and a definite distancing from the Osborne approach.

I give you a few edited highlights from this morning’s Labour Party media brief that might give you some indicators as to why, and I look forward to a posting from Olli, my Finnish economics adviser who ought to be Osborne’s.

‘Osborne told to think again on pace of spending cuts’ (Ti p49) – ‘OECD rethinks its stance on deficit reduction’ (FT p2) – ‘OECD urges BoE to raise rates’ (Indy p37) – ‘Put interest rates up by end of year, OECD urges’ (Tele b4) – ‘Interest rates must rise, OECD warns’ (Mail p2) – One of the leading advocates of Osborne’s deficit-cutting plans has warned that they may need to be watered down in the face of disappointing growth. The OECD said that the Chancellor shld cut spending more slowly if the muted pace of expansion seen so far this year continues. Padoan: ‘We see merit in slowing the pace of fiscal consolidation if there is not so good news on the growth front … We have seen that [growth numbers] are a bit weaker than expected; shld that continue to be the case, there is scope for slowing the pace … ’ With inflation persistently hovering at 4% or higher, the Bank of England will soon need to start raising interest rates, the OECD warned, which will only add to the growth headwinds. Balls: ‘This is a very significant intervention. Even the OECD, which has traditionally supported govt economic policy and George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan, is now saying the Chancellor shld consider changing course. We need more jobs and strong growth to get the deficit down in a sustainable way. But since the Conservative-led Govt decided to cut further and faster than any other major economy, growth has been much weaker and both unemployment and inflation higher than expected. We know the Govt’s most senior civil servants have drawn up a plan B, which ministers have hastily rejected. But it’s now time Osborne listened to wise advice, looked at what is happening to the economy and thought again about the speed and scale of his cuts.’ (Ti)

Spending          ‘Slump in household spending raises fears for economic recovery’ (Guard online) – ‘Inflation brings recession even nearer’ (FT p2) – ‘Osborne’s squeeze takes its toll on investment and consumer spending’ (Ti p57) – ‘UK growth depressed by household spending slump’ (Indy p37) – ‘Spending falls back as families feel the squeeze’ (Tele b1) – ‘Brits cut back on spending’ (Sun p2) – Britain’s fragile recovery was dealt a severe blow ystr after figures revealed a slump in household spending that cld severely restrict growth and knock the govt’s debt reduction plans off course, write Inamn/Elliott. A shock collapse in business investment in the first three months of the year added to the gloomy picture of a sluggish economy sliding back into recession. Several economists said a downturn in key areas of the economy meant there was unlikely to be an interest rate rise until at least November and possibly next year. Danny Gabay of Fathom Consulting said the UK was already back in recession if exceptional items were stripped out of the ONS’ revised GDP figures. Household spending declined by 0.6% to a two-year low, said the ONS as it confirmed that the economy overall had been flat over the last six months, after a 0.5% contraction in the last quarter of 2010 was offset by a 0.5% rise in the first three months of this year. Business investment fell 7.1%, partly in response to a decline in spending on executive jets, after a rush to buy private aircraft at the end of last year ahead of the VAT rise in January, but also as businesses prepared for a difficult year. Ed Balls: ‘Osborne now faces the prospect of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s growth forecast for 2011 being downgraded a fourth time. Growth of just 1.4% this year compares to the independent OBR’s forecast of 2.6% growth before Osborne decided to cut further and faster.’ However, the OECD, one of the west’s leading economic thinktanks, called on the Bank of England to start raising interest rates this year to prevent inflation – currently at 4.5% – taking hold in the UK. In its twice-yearly report, the Paris-based organisation said Threadneedle Street ought to steadily increase borrowing costs over the next 18 months despite weak economic growth. (Guard) … Inflation is helping to drive the economy perilously close to recession as consumers are squeezed by rising prices, while businesses appear unwilling to pile cash into new investments, writes Pimlott. Revised GDP figures on Wednesday confirmed the economy grew by 0.5 % in the first quarter, after a 0.5 % drop in the fourth quarter partly caused by snow-related stoppages. Output across the economy in March was £11m less than it had been in September, suggesting a tiny contraction, although the ONS said growth was essentially flat over the six-month period. A toxic mix of high inflation, tax rises, slow wage rises and low confidence provoked by the govt cuts is hitting consumers, driving spending down in four out of the past five quarters and leaving consumption 4.3 % below its pre-crisis level. (FT)

‘Cable warns of ‘hydrogen bomb’ risk to economy’ (Mail p6) – ‘Britain faces another crash, warns Cable’ (Tele p6) – ‘Cable crash fear’ (Sun p2) – Cable warned ystr that ‘hydrogen bombs’ in the economy were set to plunge Britain into a new economic disaster.

Therefore it would appear to stand to reason why …  ‘Obama backs GB’s handling of global recession’ (Guard online) – ‘Labour claims victory on deficit’ (FT p3) – ‘Obama fails to endorse Coalition’s spending cuts’ (Indy p4) – ‘US cuts at ‘slower pace’ than in UK’ (Tele p4) – Obama has dashed Cameron’s hopes that he might endorse his deficit reduction strategy, instead praising the way the UK’s chairmanship of the G20 under GB had dragged the world out of recession, write Watt/Wintour. It is understood that the White House had been angered by previous Tory claims that Obama had effectively adopted Conservative policy on deficit reduction. Obama: ‘Obviously the nature and role of the public sector in the United Kingdom is different than it has been in the United States. The pressures that each country are under from world capital markets are different, the nature of the debt and deficits are different and, as a consequence, the sequencing or pace may end up being different.’

  • Jolo13

    you forget the fact that Obama is cutting in one year what Cameron is is four ..….

  • Karen Hinde

    I agree re the speech. It was good but not great. But he cannot be expcted to do it every time. As a whole I felt the visit was excellent though. Michelle has real class too 

  • Kate Maloney

    I had totally forgotten about the Cherie kitchen ‘scandal’. What you call the double standards is so right. There is an establishment, and the media is part of it, and it is very right wing. So Labour prime ministers are deemed unacceptable in a way that Tories are not. It is why Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not at the wedding. A subtle way of not being very subtle.

  • Paul Chrystal

    There is such a difference right now between the real economy and the political/media economy. People are feeling a huge squeeze on living stsnadrds and yet it is not at the centre of the political or media debate

  • Mike

    Osborne – A history graduate who hasn’t learned from history.

  • ambrosian

    When Obama made his first visit, the perception was that he and Gordon Brown got on very well. And why wouldn’t they?………two highly intelligent men who shared similar politics and values.

    Yet the BBC’s Mark Mardell kept popping up during this visit to say that Obama didn’t like Brown. He was not alone. Other BBC correspondents kept contrasting the chemistry between Cameron and Obama with the more “spiky” [quote] relationship with Brown. The Tories hardly need spin doctors when they’ve got BBC correspondents to do it for them.

    Meanwhile, the other significant story yesterday was that John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King’s Fund has shown that the Government’s claim to be delivering real rises in health spending are false.
    By 2014/15 NHS funding in real terms will have gone down by 0.9%.
    This is almost certainly the biggest cut in NHS funding in its history. The consequences for NHS patients (sorry…..should I say ‘customers’?) don’t bear thinking about.

  • Olli Issakainen

    I cannot think of better way of spending my 50th birthday than writing about my favourite subject: George Osborne and his ideological cuts.
    I start with evaluation of the right size of state.
    The Tory-led government´s aim is that the state would be 40% of GDP after the cuts. It claims that Labour caused the mess with overspending, and now huge cuts are needed to “balance the books”.
    Is this true?
    Public sector current expenditure was 39.4% of GDP in 2008-09.
    Total managed expediture in 1980-81 was 47% of GDP. 47.7% in 1981-82. And 48.1% in 1983-84.
    1992-3 it was 43.7%. 93-4 43%. 94-5 42.5%. 95-96 41.8% And 1996-97 39.9%.
    So what happened when New Labour was elected to repair health and education. Did New Labour overspend and cause the financial crisis?
    Total managed expenditure between 1997-98 and 2007-08 was: 38.2-37.3-36.4-36.8-38-38.7-39.4-40.6-41.3-40.9 and 41.1% of GDP.
    Remember that the target for the government is now 40%, and draw your own conclusions.
    Remember also that the national debt and deficit were lower before the financial crisis than under John Major. Remember that the crisis started in the US as sub-prime crisis, and the US authorities allowed Lehman Brothers to collapse. Remember that IFS says that the deficit was caused by the bank bailouts and recession – not Labour overspending.
    The reason why Britain ended up with a £158.9bn deficit (11.4% of GDP) in 2009-10 was recession.
    Projected national debt (2012-13) consisted of: 4% benefits, 9% banking rescues, 9% over-reliance on bubble revenues, 16% government failure to fix structural deficit, 25% loss of revenue from recession and 37% from debt that would have existed had there been neither recession or structural deficit.
    47% of debt had nothing to do with Gordon Brown´s spending.
    So we can now safely say that New Labour did not cause the deficit with overspending.
    Everyone agrees that the deficit must come down. But how? It is important to understand that governments can only reduce their own expenditure, not deficits. It is down to how the rest of the economy reacts whether the deficit comes down. Cut too fast and too far, and the deficit can increase.
    NIESR now says that deficit targets will be missed. Weak growth and squeeze on consumer spending will hit tax revenues.
    The performance of the UK has deteriorated markedly since autumn. Economic output will grow only 1.4%, and it will take until 2013 to return to the peak of 2008.
    So public sector net borrowing will fall only to 3.6% of GDP in 2015-16, rather than the 1.5% projected.
    Labour has warned that slower growth will mean lower tax revenues and so make it harder to get the deficit down. George Osborne is already expected to borrow £46bn more than planned because of the slower growth, higher unemployment and higher inflation his policies have delivered.
    A year ago, Labour´s plans to support the recovery saw the economy start to grow strongly, unemployment fall and borrowing over £21bn lower than forecast.
    George Osborne needs to think again and realise that we need STRONG GROWTH and MORE PEOPLE IN WORK, paying taxes rather than claiming benefits.
    Government borrowing last month hit the highest figure ever recorded for the month of April. A fall in tax receipts meant that public sector net borrowing hit £7.7bn compared to £5.3bn.
    The overall figure for UK debt reached £910bn, 60.1% of GDP. It was 53% of GDP at the end of April 2010.
    The government is struggling to rein in its expenditure.
    Labour says that severe cuts stifle demand and limit tax receipts and growth prospects.
    OECD now warns that interest rates must be raised this year to prevent inflation taking hold. This despite the weakness of growth.
    Mr Osborne is relying on loose monetary policy for his plans. Another round of quantitative easing is out of question because inflation is at 4.5%. Higher interest rates would finish Mr Osborne´s plans.
    OECD says that consolidation measures should be implemented in a way that minimises the impact on short-term growth.
    So Mr Osborne´s austerity is not working. Monetary policy is not the right vehicle now. The problem is insufficient demand.
    But the problem with Mr Osborne is that his cuts are IDEOLOGICAL. He will drive them through regardless of economic and social cost.
    Mr Osborne should listen to economists, not credit-raters. 

  • Robert

    President Obama probably had a bigger spring in his step after hearing the NY-26 congressional district by-election result. Seeing the Democrats win in a forever Republican seat.
    Why so when the Republicans swept to power only last November?
    The voters rumbled Republican Medicare cuts that would have Lansley, Osborne and Cameron salivating.

    My sympathies, however, this morning are for newbie Tory Corby MP Louise Bagshawe – poor thing – being dumped on by Eric Pickles. Especially after a Big Society style consultation exercise woke up the voters of Corby to what the Tory Government were planning for the area.

    How does being an expendable Tory MP feel, I wonder?

  • MicheleB

    In hopes that such a topic really will bring on the mathematicians, economists or whatever it takes to understand something that I can’t …….

    We keep seeing various impersonations of ‘The Scream’ by members who sit on the Speaker’s right, when they reiterate to camera or HoC the mantra about UK spending ‘£120 MILLION IN INTEREST ALONE, EVERY SINGLE DAY’.

    Does ANYone know the origin of the figure and how it is true?
    120,000,000 for 365 days amounts to nearly £44 trillion per year.
    That’s if £43,800,000,000 is about our/UK’s version of trillions.
    So for how many years will we be spending this amount on INTEREST alone, if indeed we are doing so for even one?


  • SG

    ‘There is an establishment, and the media is part of it, and it is very right wing’

    That same old line is trotted out everytime it’s convenient. The majority of the media was very pro Labour for much of it’s 13 years in office. could it be that their opinions have changed due to Labour’s ‘performance’ in the latter years of government ?
    It may also be that this is a reflection on the way Samantha Cameron behaves as the PM’s wife as oppossed to Cherie Blair !

    • MicheleB

      Cherie Blair exposed loopholes in a lot of our laws.

      So she got paid for it, what’s your problem with that?

      Do you have similar feelings about Michael Mansfield or does he put out a different posture that you prefer for some reason?

  • Red_Mace

    And you (Jolo13) forget that the US GDP is approx 7 times that of the UK – its all about proportions

  • MicheleB

    Gawd, I must stop scrolling to ‘Reply’ across the ‘Like’ button ………..

    Obama makes it plain that what he is doing, in his nation with a bigger economy, bigger population and bigger deficit is for real reasons, not ideological ones. 

    Isn’t his budgeting about improving choices for their society (yes, that’s with a little ‘s’), whereas in what remains of ours …………… ?

  • Barry

    I could not agree more in relation to the mindset of the Daily Mail and it’s shrill harrassment of those it chooses to blacken. I would be interested in any comment that Alastair might have about the Irish Daily Mail. In my view it was, after the economic mismangement, the worst legacy of the Celtic Tiger. A paper dedicated to enforcing class divisions, right-wing stereotypes and racisim into every headline.

  • I didn’t know I was a feminist until I saw that kitchen photo! Who decided that Mrs PUSA and Mrs PMUK would sit in the cosy kitchen at No10 for their pretty picture to be taken?

    Is this an image of womanhood to which we are returning? I have no doubt that SamCam is adept in the family catering department as she cares for the children while hubby runs. The country. And along the Thames. etc.

    I cast my mind back to when Maggie was photographed making a late-night drink and also quoted as being able to run up some scrambled eggs in what looked like a galley at No10.

    Times have changed and larger families have moved in, and out.

    Ah, we come to the ‘out’ word…is this kitchen built to last a long Tory tenure? Or is it to be a legacy for the next party incumbent? Is it a sign of total confidence in one’s political staying power beyond the one year guarantee of that posh coffee maker?

    I am not so concerned about who paid for the kitchen because I know DC will be as squeakily clean with his financial disclosures as the cereal bowls coming out of the integral dishwasher (who cares whether it is integral or not?)

    I suppose it possible that SamCam has a new career in product placement and Real Home magazine photospreads…or is this photo just one big subliminal message…get your women back into the kitchen and then all will be well.

    I cannot comment on the fiscal elements of your piece, Alastair as I am a mere women who is about to pop into the kitchen and make lunch for herself. I will feel so In, so right on message.

    • MicheleB

      SamCam has been doing her bit for highly-visible product placement for ages Shirley.

      The actual designer/maker of the bag/print gifts that they gave the Obamas were also highly publicised (and linked to the company she’s ‘DD’ for).

      This was an interesting article about it :

      …… I don’t agree with all of the stuff about the expensiveness, IF things really are handmade by craftspeople and IF they are actually made in UK (as opposed to merely being labelled as such after some flimsy post-Customs enhancement done to a product actually made elsewhere) …… inhale ….. then Smythsons is preserving British crafts.

      But it’s a big IF, now that No10 looks more and more as if ‘Private Ltd’ should be written on envelopes to it.

  • Red_Mace

    Here here

  • MicheleB

    Many happy returns Olli

  • MicheleB

    Something else that was brought up yesterday luchtime, by a BBC commentator (Sophie someone I think) jabbering away due to the delay with the Press Conference, was in the form of a reminder to us of a mis-placed question to Tony Blair during a similar event with Dubbya.

    Pot, kettle etc …. I doubt she’ll be stepped on for being crass.

  • MicheleB

    Ooooh Olli your post reminds me of John Cleese’s Russian episode

    in ‘Fish called Wanda’ and Jamie Lee Curtis’s reaction to it  !!


  • 1 million = 1 thousand thousand = 1 000 000
    1 billion = 1 thousand million = 1 000 000 000
    1 trilliion = 1 million million or 1000 billion etc
    Unfortunately, as you worked out, UK debt interest is over £40 billion pa, about 3% of GDP.  All that is happening at present to the government finances is a planned reduction in the deficit (ie the amount of extra debt being taken on).  To reduce debt interest would require the government to run a consistent surplus which could be used to reduce debt – some economists would argue that in current circumstances this would be neither necessary or even desirable – see Ed Balls’ website.

    • MicheleB

      Thanks for reminding me of the difference between billions and trillions but my real question is whether that figure is true, do those reiterating it ad nauseum not realise it MUST be less today than it was a year ago when the song started ….. :-s


  • Keane Sinead

    At least SamCam has style,unlike some other P.M’s wife’s that come to mind.

  • Carlazi

    I never really understood economics at college but there is one thing that i did grasp and that ‘you spend your out of a recession, whether it is government or household spending’. Labour tried the government method and that worked to a point and household spending was better than expected considering the conditions. Now government and household spending is getting to levels that any sane economist would suggest are far lower than needed to get of recession.

    This next comment disgusts me but a double dip would do the entire political class a favour. It would demonstrate to the flashmen of this world that cutting out government spending does not work. You need real growth in the economy, maybe from outside but also from within. Cutting building contracts, stopping overseas students coming here (lets be honest 95% of them were coughing up huge fees to one of the few things Britain actually is a world leader at, thanks to our wonderful language), cutting council jobs at the worst possible time and not repairing the dam roads! All these would have given a kick to the economy.

    My only issue is that the next time we have a boom we wont mend the roof (like germany) and have more tax cuts for business and individuals when we need to get the economy straightened out. That was the bad part of New Labour, the wasted billions on 2 wars that the british forces are ill equipped to fight (comes to something when the French can put more assets in the field than us). The debt is very real and needs to be solved but even Cable seemed
    confused when he said we would be debt free in 5 years. This debt will
    be there for closer to 10years and needs to be paid down.

  • MicheleB

    FoI problems!

    I doubt it will all cost the nation its actual ‘value’ though – some pieces will have come from companies FoC for publicity reasons or from the similarly-refurbished kitchen in their own house which was funded by the nation anyway via the mortgage interest kind-of scam that the Daily Wail exposed.


  • Anonymous

    I agree absolutely with your general point about double standards for Labour and Tory – but I think you’ve got the wrong example here.  Even the Guardian pointed out that the Camerons paid for their own kitchen refurb.

    LIke you, was delighted to see TB and GB restored to their rightful places.  But would love to know what they talked about for an hour.  Have seen various reports – the Newsnight had GB talking at TB and TB not responding; Times had a picture of Clegg – bloody Clegg who disses TB at every turn – talking animatedly to TB, with Ann Treneman saying that they chatted ‘across John Major’ for ages; and Steve Richards said in his Indy article that Blair and Brown chatted amiably for the best part of an hour.

    Anyone got any more insights?

  • Keane Sinead

    You can’t blame the Irish Daily Mail for the disaster that was the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger.It was the worst Taoiseach in the history of the state Bertie Ahern, who spent and spent and never coped on to the fact we have to pay it back.He then ran away from the disaster he knew he had left.

  • SG

    ‘Cherie Blair exposed loopholes in a lot of our laws.

    So she got paid for it, what’s your problem with that?’ 
    She definately had a talent for exposing loopholes 🙂
    I have no problem with her earnings as a lawyer, her abilities to ‘cash in’ on other opportunties relating to her husband’s position are another matter.

  • MicheleB

    Do you regard everyone in Parliament or whose spouse is as cashing in?  Do you by extension imagine that their colleagues, even their employers might be doing? 
    Should we pass laws to avoid Smythson’s expanding internationally?
    Should we imagine that a ‘director’ of such a company is only such by virtue of family connections?

    Wasn’t Cherie Booth one of the youngest ever to take silk?
    Credit where it’s due SG; hide that envy.
    Every job she did helped develop her pupils.

    BTW …… Michael Mansfield …. got an opinion or not?

    • Keane Sinead

      You do know that Smythson has been in operation since 1887.You really must stop you’re attacks on others, its laughable but slightly worrying.Mansfield was the Q.C. for The Guildford Four,The Price Sisters(you probably don’t know who they are),a radical I don’t think you could say the same about C.B..Also 95% of his work comes from legal aid.

  • MicheleB


    Is your phone-kiosk like avatar meant to convey ‘style’?   Second hand at that.

    • MicheleB

      Ooops, this one /  got on more quickly than usual ….. I was actually looking back in to post apologising for it in advance of its appearance.

      I have a thing about avatars, have to admit it … ever since threads on July 7th ’05 when posters didn’t have the courtesy to even temporarily remove their bling for their posts that day.

      Bling bling bling

    • Keane Sinead

      Don’t attack people whom you do not know.The fact is Samantha Cameron is very fashionable,she wears designers you no doubt have never heard of.It is a avatar don’t look so deeply into things.Before you press reply breath and think.Also what is ‘LOL’,if you are trying to make a point don’t abbreviate.

    • Keane Sinead

      I am sure you are a paragon of style.Christopher Kane,Erdem,Philip Lim,Preen,Proenza Schouler,Rodarte?,no I thought not.Reading what you write makes me think of  what my Nana said to people she felt sorry’God help them’

    • Keane Sinead

      By the the way I was not talking about you’re beloved Cherie Blair,I was talking about the late Denis Thatcher

  • MicheleB

    ……………………..claim to be delivering real rises in health spending are false………………..

    I can well believe that spending will rise but it’s not exactly the right criteria anyway.

    If all the spending is in to Big Pharma and other over-priced uber-profitable private institutions just what will the point of it be?

  • MicheleB

    …………………. How does being an expendable Tory MP feel, I wonder?……………………

    Oh if only she’s not around to honk and hoot like an American sports fan every ten seconds (as she did from just behind Georgie on Budget Day).


  • Duncan Phipp-MacIntyre

    My bitterness is my own fault. My fall from grace – Deputy Head in secondary School to just yet another one of those troublesome benefit beneficiaries.Ah, the joy of depression, the delight of Scizo- affective disorder that have enabled such penuiry.
    Actually, yes. It does bother me.
    Primus inter pares.
    Prime Minister.
    Such vacuous terms.
    Were we all in it together – equals – it would pain me less.
    I really struggle financially.
    The cost of their toaster is what my wife, my twin sons and I spend on food in 2 to 3 weeks.
    Sorry, but yes – this does hurt.
    Government wine cellar?
    The cost – per glass could feed us, heat us or offer a modicum of security amidst the gales, storms and maelstrom of worry – only six years until we face tuition fees.
    I’m sorry for the rancour, lack of acceptance.
    The gloom really is very dark.

  • Richard

    ….and when you are making lunch for yourself in the kitchen why not put together a few scraps for the old man and kids  as well, love…..

  • Keane Sinead

    It’s Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey.They were two icon’s of 1960’s London,I don’t think you would find either in a phone box.Answer me this how is it ‘bling’,its a fashion photograph.

  • Richard

    Alan Johnson – A postman with no educational qualifications whatsoever.
    Your point?

  • ambrosian

    I was actually saying that health spending in real terms would fall, as Prof Appleby has explained. The Tories, who think we are all stupid, are talking about annual cash increases. As I’ve said here before, the NHS needs increases well above inflation just to stand still. The reasons for this are well known: ageing population, new, expensive treatments, etc, etc.

    Not all additional spending would be on ‘Big Pharma’. Much of Labour’s increased spending went on more doctors and nurses. At present, doctors and nurses are already being sacked and ‘elective’ surgery and treatments being stopped. Then there’s the chaos of the now ‘paused’ Health and Social Care Bill………but that’s another depressing story.

  • MicheleB

    I hope you and your family get through it all Duncan and hope you believe that most of us don’t regard benefits recipients as troublesome, we’re a society.

  • MicheleB

    Was I posting to you pet?

    when my post is to the forum in general it is not headed by ‘in reply to…..’.
    Just lift your eyes to the band at the top of my post …. got it?

    Of course I  know Smythson’s is old established, do you know their papers and imagine them to be the best available?
    I know their papers and I know they are not.

    Had you taken the trouble to read the thread (which I know is not straightforward when things don’t appear in their true chronological order, as if none of us are capable of working from such a list and quoting post numbers in our replies ……) ….. but I digress, HAD you taken the trouble to read the thread you might (or might not …. durr) have understood the basis of the (attempted) one to one I was attempting with ‘SG’.

    Yes pet, I know MM’s work is mostly legal aid, yes pet I know about the Price sisters, oh pet I doubt you know my surname but then again pet I have already gleaned that you like guessing.

    Sorry about all the heavy use of ‘pet’ pet.


  • MicheleB

    It’s SO annoying when a post of TWO hours ago appears below one of ONE.

    However, Keane, calm down pet.

  • MicheleB

    Mine was critical of the boast by CamSham about increased spending and the claim’s meaninglessness (not a value judgement on your mention of it).

    Re your second para yep, read around 🙂

  • Keane Sinead

    If you are annoyed by that you have little to be annoyed by.You lot are so easy to wind up.Also calm down old dear

  • MicheleB

    Dang, have ‘glided’ across to Reply and once again ‘Liked’ a dumb post.

    Yep, you ‘advised’ me of that yesterday when I asked what it is.
    Yep, I know their history.
    Still guessing about me and my nouse (or assuming lack of any) pet?
    The pic is so small she is not recognisable, nor is his photographic style.

    However, the need to decorate your posts with visuals symbolises BLING to me.
    You’ll have to excuse me saying so, just as I suppose I will have to excuse you USING them (to claim some of their style?) no matter the topic or the post’s words.
    I daresay you will do so when the topic is more serious.

    Bye for now Bling-y

  • Ehtch

    Excellent article Alastair, top drawer. But it would be given an X rating, if it was a movie. Frightening times ahead it looks with these monkeys in government at the moment. People, start pooping it, our economy is going out of control, and the ground is coming up fast.

  • MicheleB

    Alan Johnson was at intelligent and wise enough to know he was mis-cast and step down.

    I’m sure his reservations about himself are qualities that come from his modest background; the opposite of Osborne’s own.

    AJ has been magnificent in other roles.



  • Keane Sinead

    Old dear I believe that people are allowed to reply at there on free will.Old dear take a couple of deep breaths it could help.Old dear,I understand you don’t like to be challenged or for an opinion to differ from you.Old dear I don’t go around calling women whom I do not know prostitutes.Old dear,what has you’re surname to do with you’re rather badly put point.Old dear go to bed and have a rest I think you need one.The use of ‘pet’ is to be expected  in a person with a limited vocabulary.Night,Night,old dear.

  • Keane Sinead

    You obviously don’t know Smythson’s products.They do more than stationary.Actually I have two of there bags,and a case for a laptop and yes I do like them

  • Keane Sinead

    I think you reading far,far to much into an avatar.How may I ask would I be stealing a persons style by using a 40 year old photograph.Old dear,who uses the word ‘bling’ in 2011.Old dear get some sleep

  • Keane Sinead

    Methinks you’re idea of stylish is what we in Ireland call Penny’s you call Primark?Am I right

  • MicheleB

    I don’t know how long you’ve been posting here Bling.  The first of your posts that Ive seen (being a newbie myself) was your pathetic little swipe at AC.
    It struck me as opportunistic and cheap in two ways; the first was in its being akin to visiting someone and spitting on their carpet, the second was in you USING young volunteers and the deaths of some of them for your ‘swipe’ ….. and ALL of that decorated with your bling.
    ALL of that attempted slapping USING those very youg people you were accusing other/s of exploiting.

    Do you find my thinking hard to understand?  I don’t really mind if so, perhaps you don’t know much about exploitation, subtle or not.
    Re my surname; the post was replying point by point to yours.  You acciused me (after your lickel google about Smythson) of not knowing about certain aspects of NI’s history.  THAT is the relevance of my surname and how I do know about it, your pathetic assumption (a.k.a. guess) that I would not exposes you as full of waffle and with a need to enhance that impression with your avatar (something akin to a designer label innit?).

    Last point …… yep, Smythson has expanded its merchandise range to be about more than papers but in doing so it has had to fess up that it has no in-house talent with which to do so …… 

    It’s now simply a name, it has gone through so many ownerships in just the last two decades it might as well be in hedge fund management.


  • MicheleB

    Nope Bling; you really must give up on your baseless guessing games.

    Your guessing about what AC/TB’s words/thoughts were in Cabinet (guessed at in the first of your posts that I saw), and your guessing about  in whom you’d rather place your faith (that being the odious hack Gilligan) shows your judgement level. 

    Your use of ‘image’ to doll your’self’ up with, no matter the topic, is about some need to impress.  Your words must be less important to you than your postcard and that’s entirely understandable.

  • Keane Sinead

    Old dear a two-year old would not find you’re thinking hard to understand.I was not commenting on the history of the North,it was about Michael Mansfield’s legal cases.You should read more careful before you jump.You must of found wikipedia re- smythson.You read far too much into things old dear i.e. a avatar.You old dear, don’t get a little concept called sarcasm or for that matter independent thought.I suggest a holiday for you old dear.As I have said who uses the word ‘bling’ in 2011.Also its a blog just a blog .Calm down old dear,go to beddy bye byes.Slán

  • Keane Sinead

    ‘Oiche mhaith dhuit cioch’,its Irish I will give time to look it up old dear

  • Keane Sinead

    Her is a better one,’teigh transa ort fein’

  • Keane Sinead

    Old dear, have you ever tried yoga, or some deep breathing exercises.The majority of the population when purchasing something don’t look at it from a philosophical standpoint old dear.Smythson don’t have in house designers,but they do collaborate with designers.You really need to calm yourself don’t look at everything so literally,old dear.Old dear the world has changed,expect it.Just because some people get to have more than you expect it old dear.Now go down to Pennys in the morning and buy yourself at two euro shirt.Find a bookshop,there a book called,’The Politics of Envy:Statism as Theology.I was going to close with words in Irish but me thinks you would not like it.Old dear Nighty,Night

  • Keane Sinead

    Also what is Sinead the Irish for?I am from the south,my late father from the north.But I think old dear, we might be from the different side of the fence.

  • Richard

    ….AJ was the star choice of Red Leader Ed, however, who with his first degree in PPE and Masters in Economics,  selected the postie over Ed Balls! Some judgement that!
    The judgements and hatred for Osborne, and the desperate hopes for the economic failure of the Country aired here daily, fly in the face of the results of the local elections.
    The public has not bought “Too Big, Too Fast”, particularly as there are no policies forthcoming from Labour.

  • MicheleB

    The valuation of AJ’s judgement was about AJ’s judgement, not about EM’s mis-casting of him.
    Want a convo about EM?  There’s not enough to go on yet imhoo so you’ll need to post to the forum in general for someone else that might.

    I haven’t seen a single post here that has displayed ‘hopes for the economic failure of the country’.

    If you have you must be reading using your own inflections.

    I think most of us are just ****-scared of what could happen again, remembering  mortgage interest rates at up to 18%, repossesssions at 90,000 per month, the infrastructure of the country falling in to disrepair and the beginnings of what has come to be the mis-selling pension-pot scam (coming to light in this century but having been designed in the mid-80s).


    Membership of the Bullingdon has always (and mainly, boastfully) signified to all those poor proprietors in whose premises they arrive that whatever damage is caused while there can at least be afforded to be repaired by them.

    Unfortunately they are not rich enough to put right what they are wreaking on the whole nation.

    Why should Labour disclose any policies at this stage?
    Do they know what the heck they will left to play with?

    Stop imagining that ANYbody wants the worst to happen, it would be stupid so to do.

  • Chris lancashire

    How strange that you feel Obama distanced himself from Osborne’s plans as the Obama Administration is actually cutting further and faster than Osborne is.

  • MicheleB

    I do wish the ‘Like’ button was the further one (or that I could take accidental scrolls back).

    However, isn’t the ‘Obama Administration’ rather shackled by its Opposition, USA’s greedy selfish ‘right’ ?

  • Louis Cilia

    It’s high time that truth comes out.  The coalition government has, so far, ridden on the myth that Labour made a veritable mess out of the economy and they (the Tories) were intent on righting the situation.  They forget that for almost ten years under Labour Britain had undisputed prosperity.  During that time Brown, as Chancellor, could have had the IMF high job at any time on a golden plate. His fiscal policy was indisputably the best ever and exactly right for the times.   Britain, as any other country, faced unprecedented difficulties after the collapse of the Banking System (remember that this crisis originated in America).  Thus Obama’s praise for Gordon Brown was fully justified. Brown’s handling of the crisis at home and his world role have yet to be put in proper perspective after the cobwebs of Tory anti-propaganda are removed.  Cameron’s and Osborne’s mean treatment of Brown in his pursuit of the top IMF job has shown how tribal and unpatriotic they really are.   The problem with Brown is that he lacks charisma, and this works against him in people’s perception. Moreover, he comes out as clumsy and sour.  All this  makes it very easy for his opponents to  take effective shots against him in the form of character assassination. However, time has a way of healing things and as the coalition continues to falter and accumulate mistakes the electorate will realize the truth.  The Tories and, especially, the Lib-Dems are hoping that by election the economy will improve (if so, most probably, not as a result of their own fiscal policies but as a result of general world progress and prosperity). So far this is only a far away dream hardly visible on the  political horizon of this shaky government.  A dream which even Vince Cable is starting to doubt if it will ever be realized as he reflects what has happened to Japan after its own economic crisis of 1990 from which it has never effectively emerged.             

  • MicheleB

    I would be very impressed if once, just once, any LibDem (bur preferably one/s that have gained materially from their promiscuous behaviour re ‘any coalition’) would say, publicly, that they were damned irresponsible 12+ months ago – right back till many years before it.

    Cable and so many others who’ve been forced to say that their broken pre-election promises were easy to make from the other benches, have not had the grace to follow that up with any regret about their juvenile behaviour during those years towards those who already knew what they’re still learning.

    It makes me heave to think that someone like Cable, so often so irresponsible for the sake of a larf, will be doubling/tripling his eventual pension (if the HoC scheme is a final-salary one).

  • Dave Simons

    I’ve mixed with a lot of people who do have educational qualifications and they’re as stupid as you. And postmen do a damned good job – I know because I’ve been one, you snobbish little *****!

  • discountkitchen

     I cannot think of better way of spending my 50th birthday than writing
    about my favourite subject: George Osborne and his ideological cuts.
    I start with evaluation of the right size of state.So Labour prime ministers are deemed unacceptable in a way that Tories
    are not. It is why Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not at the wedding. A
    subtle way of not being very subtle.