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.