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How can we deal with the financial crisis at a time of low growth?

What is happening is the withdrawal of democracy. Mario Monti, new prime minister of Italy, is appointed, not elected: he is not a member of Parliament. Lucas Papademos is a former banker and academic, also unelected, whose rise to be father of the people began with Mr Papandreou’s suggestion of a referendum, which could not be allowed. Could it happen in this democracy? Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1903. That is recent enough. Yes it could.

The Spectator had some suggestions: cut taxes on the wealthiest, cut welfare benefits, cut the minimum wage, get rid of the right to contest unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The Government has only been talking of limiting it. Well, what do you expect of the Spectator? I am far more concerned by people I expected to be bleeding heart liberals. I quoted from the test for “Employment and Support Allowance”, which is the benefit one must apply for if unfit for work. I think that lots of people who are unfit for work will be refused that benefit, because the test is far too restrictive, and in support of this quoted

Because of a specific mental illness or disablement, frequently cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions (which means planning, organisation, problem solving, prioritising or switching tasks).

I thought that made anyone unfit for work by itself, but it only scores six points, and you need fifteen points to get the benefit. And my friend asked, who decides? His concern is that points will be awarded incorrectly. I said that to get points, you need medical evidence that you cannot control such behaviour, because of a medical condition. He was unmoved.

I met a survivalist at a shotgun club (shooting at targets, not birds) in Aberdeen in the 1980s, and thought him an idiot, but recently I have come across two men with such concerns. First the global economy, then society, will break down, they think.

I remain sceptical of all the 2012 as a Spiritual Watershed hype. It will happen if we human beings make it happen. And so I recommend the Golden Light Project starting on 19 December.

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