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On China, consumer spending, and crime, three big bad straws in the wind for Osborne

Posted on 29 June 2011 | 8:06am

First, a postscript from my last blogpost, on China … yesterday Premier Wen Jiabao presided over the signing of deals with Germany worth almost £10billion (compared with the £1.4bn trade agreements signed with the UK.)

There will be many reasons for this, but one may well be the Germans’ lighter touch on the issue of human rights. As often, still, with the Chinese, one is left wondering ‘who knows?’

Second, the latest figures showing a fall in consumer disposable income are but the latest evidence to suggest economic flatlining that at some point, surely, must get George Osborne a little more active than he seems to be regarding a strategy for growth and jobs.

The problem with making economics and politics all about the deficit is that sensible measures he could and should take risk looking like an alternative strategy when, had he been more measured and rounded in his approach from the start, they could and should have been part of the original plan.

So now we have a diet of cuts, sackings and strikes, and precious little economic improvement to show for them.

Meanwhile, figures from the Met Police show that burglaries, robberies and muggings are on the rise for the first time in years.

Whilst it is true that the closing stages of the last Labour government were dominated by the consequences of the global crash, under TB and GB we saw rising prosperity and significant falls in crime. As The Times puts it this morning, fears are now growing among  ministers that the economic downturn is driving up crime.

The Met say there were more than one thousand more burglaries last month compared with May last year. The Times reports this…  ‘Chief constables and criminologists say that there is usually a gap between the worst of the financial crisis and the impact of austerity on the public before the effects are reflected in crime patterns. They believe that crime will rise more dramatically as sections of the public feel the impact of public spending cuts, unemployment and, perhaps most significantly, cuts in benefit payments.’

This is not therefore a good time to be making cuts in frontline policing either. What is not clear is whether the increased costs of the rise in crime, which ministers now appear to be accepting as inevitable, have been taken into account in Mr Osborne’s calculations.

  • Baz

    Maybe China wants to support the frontline initial countries who will be propping up greece debt in the early stages, China is big enough to give the bird to anyone who critises their policies anyway!  Just protecting their world customers maybe

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Duncan-Phipp-macintyre/525048347 Duncan Phipp-macintyre

    Stark and worrying scenario. Our society is getting poorer, danger and risk is increasing and protection for the vulnerable is diminishing. Greece votes in a few short hours.
    The land is as parched, dry and arid as our future. Storm clouds gathering but no sign of anything to refresh or quench.

  • Watoop

    Let’s give this Government some credit – they said they were going to be the “Greenest Government Ever”.

    And they’ve delivered in spades on that one. Not on any decent environmental policies but in terms of being the most naive, inept and inexperienced shower that has taken office in the last 50 years.

  • MicheleB

    Re what Mr Wen has said in Germany ……

    Wen called for a negotiated settlement to the Libyan crisis. Referring
    to the NATO air campaign against pro-Gadhafi forces, he said, “Foreign
    troops may be able to win war but they can hardly win peace.” 

    ………………………… let’s hope Cameron doesn’t respond with anything akin to his brattish comment to the RAF officers of last week.

    .

  • DAVID BLAKE

    The reason the deal with Germany is much bigger is that Germany makes things that China wants to buy. Germany still has a strong manufacturing industry. We don’t.
    Forty years ago ICI was a big player against Bayer and BASF; now it’s invisible. GEC competed with Siemens; GEC is gone. 

  • Chris lancashire

    “Three bad straws in the wind for Osborne”. You hope.

  • Janete

    Quite a bizarre response from Ken Clarke today. Perfectly OK to stab a burglar! I suppose this is one way of dealing with rising burglaries.  

  • MicheleB

    Which Govt WAS it that ran down our heavy industries, preaching that the future needed softer goods and services? ….. Mmmmmmists are clearing, was it our very own handbagger?

    .
    Oh and just a mo …. which Govt IS it that last year refused a pre-agreed and short-term loan to a Sheffied company that would have been one of only two manufacturers in the world of a vital component for industrial energy?

  • Paul M

    This one has long been a favourite with the Tory hang and flog em brigade todeal with a non-existent problem.Clarke says “whatever force necessary” Stupid of him to suggest that old ladies or anyone else should put themselves at risk and stab a burglar. Whether more householders will want to have a go remains to be seen but burglars may make sure they are armed and ready to assault a householder who tries to interfere. Clarke, Tory MPs and right wing Labour home secretarys should stop meddling things they don’t understand.

  • SG

    ‘under TB and GB we saw rising prosperity’
     
    True to some extent, but the only people who have really gained are those who were already wealthy (and of course ‘friends’ of the Labour party), with the gap between rich and poor never wider. The prosperity for the rest was largely bsaed on ridiculous levels of borrowing both at a govenmental and individual level, which is largely why we are now suffering the consequences.

  • Gilliebc

    So crime is on the increase, no real surprise there.  Just a little sooner than expected perhaps.  Tory voters are not going to like that!  I’m tempted to add Ha Ha Ha but that may be seen as gloating.  This ToryLed Government are simply not up to the job of governing. They are incompetent almost beyond belief.

  • MicheleB

    I think all those workers who suddenly received a minimum wage might disagree with your analysis SG, especially as many of them in the ‘new, softer’ trades had lost better-paid jobs along with their previous industries.

    I raise your ‘largely’ :-)

    As Evan Davies (sp?) is showing in his fab series ‘Made in Britain’ we need to stay among those at the front of the race in the soft / innovation areas. 

    However, imhoo we shouldn’t have ever become so reliant on others, especially overseas investors that have seen the wasted potential profit from our older companies (or bought them only to run down in favour of their own factories overseas with much much / impossibly cheaper ‘labour’ to exploit).

    Speaking of Evan Davis (sp?) ….. he was so funny when being driven fantastically fast in the new McLaren road car.

  • Gilliebc

    I have to say I’m quite surprised at what Ken Clarke said on this issue of the householder’s right to defend themselves! as Janete said “quite bizarre”  I’ve always been something of an admirer of KC he is quite left-wing for a Tory and his proposed prison reforms were basically good. A bit of fine-tuning was all that was required, to the percentages mainly.

    However, as you say Paul M the frail and elderly should not put themselves at risk by tackling burglars.  Also, it gives the wrong idea to other people who may use it as an excuse to have a go at people in their own households, saying that they thought they were tackling a burglar!

    Ken Clarke is giving a good impression of a Government Minister not thinking things through properly of late!  Just like the rest of ‘em. 

  • Paul M

    Ken Clarke is giving a good impression of a Government Minister not thinking things through properly of late!

    I’v had a certain respect for Clarke in the past for saying what he thinks however he tends to put his foot in it which is a drawback for him. However his current job shows him trying to balance half baked liberal policies with reactionary ones and ending up with a muddle. His record under Thatcher and Major is mediocre as well especially as Health Secretary with the ambulance drivers strike.

  • Paul M

    Something else I noticed. Clarke’s knife carrying old ladies will presumably get a mandatory prison sentence if they step outside their property while grappling with a burglar. Inside they get a pat on the back from the police.

  • Dave Simons

    OK – so he hopes. Presumably you hope for something different. I just wonder what is the point of your post, and the same goes for so many of your previous posts. I doubt if anyone is persuaded by a single one of your one-line curt remarks, as I’ve pointed out previously, so why do you persist in making them? You’re obviously congenitally incapable of presenting a logical argument backed up by facts – that’s the only message that comes across to me, and I would guess a lot of other people, except perhaps the ’1 person’ who liked this.

  • Ehtch

    I was impressed how Blairs goverment from ’97 quickly had an affect on reducing such crime in the UK, by various ways, with giving people from such families and backgrounds hope and encouragement and some sort of security to get up and goiing to do something more constructive in society. But then the 2008 world capitalist load of rubbish happened, and has sent us back to the dark days of early 1990′s of car twocing and burning. Good grief, it’s enough to make you give up on life, especially when seeing it happen again.

  • Dave Simons

    Touching wood I haven’t yet noticed the return of the burglary epidemic that became a way of life during the 1990s, as you say, until Labour got back after eighteen years out of office. I was burgled twice during that period – 1990 and 1993 -  and I lost things I’ve never been able to afford to replace. The same goes for car-jacking – it used to be so common to see burnt-out cars in fields and by roadsides, but I haven’t yet noticed a return to that subculture. It’ll come, no doubt, when austerity starts really biting.

  • Dave Simons

    Touching wood I haven’t yet noticed the return of the burglary epidemic that became a way of life during the 1990s, as you say, until Labour got back after eighteen years out of office. I was burgled twice during that period – 1990 and 1993 -  and I lost things I’ve never been able to afford to replace. The same goes for car-jacking – it used to be so common to see burnt-out cars in fields and by roadsides, but I haven’t yet noticed a return to that subculture. It’ll come, no doubt, when austerity starts really biting.

  • Ehtch

    JEEZ – how old are you? I am 49 and it was shit what was going on in society in the 1980s and 1990s. Drugs explosion, with needles down every back alley these days, unlike before – the only thing you would have seen before with kiddies is them banging a football against a garage door, not a needle of whatever in their arm.

    Sermon over.

  • Dave Simons

    I’m not sure what you’re saying, Ehtch. I agree entirely about what was going on in the 1980s and 1990s, but I was talking about burglary and car-jacking, as I think you were and AC was in his penultimate paragraph. A lot of burglaries were of course motivated by the expensive habit of drug abuse. What I was saying was that I haven’t yet noticed a return of the burglary-cum-car-jacking phenomenon – I don’t think drug abuse ever went away. However I was also saying it would no doubt come soon.  I don’t think I need to admit my age in public.

  • Ehtch

    oh, jesus, give it a rest, stop harping on for the thatch, look at the simple facts – she was trying to turn us into NYC 1970s Kojak junkies – where is your education?

  • Dave Simons

    Sorry Etch but I’m now totally lost as to what you’re saying! You seem to want to talk about drugs whereas I want to refer to AC’s blog, which is partly about burglary – I don’t see any direct reference to drugs. Also I don’t understand your wounded tone. I’m certainly not playing my Celtic-style harp in hopes of getting my roof thatched, and I’ve never been nicknamed ‘Jesus’, though I suppose there’s a first time for everything.
    If you’re interested in my education I’d say it’s continuous, but it started in state schools, including a boys’ grammar school, and it went on to night school, a polytechnic, the Open University, an Adult Education College and a University. Let me know if you want more details.

  • Ehtch

    Apologies, just re-read your initial post and I mis-read it. You were agreeing with me, and I have made myself look like a right plank. My apologies to you.

    Think what I was trying to say is that the drugs explosion in the UK in the ’80s and ’90s was depressing to experience, as well as all the petty crime going on.

  • Dave Simons

    Sorted!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634622319 William A Richardson

    The Economy has pneumonia, the private sector is very sick and weakened.

    Private households and businesses are paying down large amounts of the large debt they borrowed even though interest rates are on the floor.

    In these circumstances the private sector needs public sector help by increased net deficit spending.If and when that changes, private household and business debt is reduced enough to stop cuts in consumption and investment, the public net deficit can and will reduce naturally on its own.
    http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=OWGDWYB5KZ0

    Even PIMCO’s Bill Gross (sic) says government must take the lead in job creation!   http://fictionalbarking.bl​ogspot.com/2011/06/pimcos-​bill-gross-government-must​-take.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634622319 William A Richardson

    The Economy has pneumonia, the private sector is very sick and weakened.

    Private households and businesses are paying down large amounts of the large debt they borrowed even though interest rates are on the floor.

    In these circumstances the private sector needs public sector help by increased net deficit spending.If and when that changes, private household and business debt is reduced enough to stop cuts in consumption and investment, the public net deficit can and will reduce naturally on its own.
    http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=OWGDWYB5KZ0

    Even PIMCO’s Bill Gross (sic) says government must take the lead in job creation!   http://fictionalbarking.bl​ogspot.com/2011/06/pimcos-​bill-gross-government-must​-take.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634622319 William A Richardson

    The problems in our economy go back to Labour’s capitulation to the IMF starting the failed monetarist experiment, although Hyman Minsky’s financial instability moment was actually a half century beginning in the 1950s.

    This blog is a good starter explanation;

    http://modernmoney.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/the-great-recession-explained/

    And here’s a brief talk on Minsky;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRE-IDYfi8Y