Knowing and partly knowing

I will vote according to prejudice, but this is not entirely my fault.

Andrew this morning was incredulous and sardonic: “The Government say the economy has grown, but what is the value in that when we are all worse off?” He tells me that the GDP growth since 2010 has been smaller than the population growth.

There you have it. A factoid, which I have from Andrew, whom I trust because he is a retired accountant so should understand these things, and a Quaker so should attempt truthfulness.

Conclusion: more Tory lies.

Then my prejudice kicks in: that is before we consider that the benefit of economic growth has gone to the richest- my impression from various sources, which I can’t remember reading or hearing in exactly those terms but believe; and that GDP includes consumer spending, so our economy “grows” if we spend more on imports.

What do I make of this? The UK had either the biggest debt in the world or the lowest debt in the G7, says HuffPo. I had heard of Public Sector Borrowing Requirement- oh gosh, back in the 80s, it may not even be a thing anymore- but not PSNB which is Public Sector Net Borrowing. I look at that word “Net” which I understand, and wonder what the whole phrase might mean. “Total borrowings” says HuffPo, which is different from the budget deficit: 11% rather than 7.7%.

The debt in 1997, when Labour replaced the Tories, was 42% of GDP, and now it is- oops, the article does not say. In 2008 the debt was 35%. The deficit in 1997 was 3.9% of GDP, and 2.1% in 2008.

You know the difference between the debt and the deficit, of course, you have been paying attention over the last seven years.

I am happy to conclude, more Tory lies.

I hear that 25% of the “new jobs” the Tories claim are Zero-hour contracts. What is to stop an employer needing a steady 350 hours’ work a week employing 35 people and giving hours to the ones who give it least trouble? Who cares about the workers? Not the Tories who want to increase benefit sanctions to destroy the safety net and so drive workers into jobs which do not provide a living wage…

That last paragraph is me emoting, but there are facts to be rational about, somewhere, here.

dismal science


For whom should I vote?

Louise Mensch went to New York to live with her husband, so resigned as an MP. A Labour colleague on a committee said he hated her politics but he found her a wonderful committee operator. I think, having been elected, she should have stayed the course. There will be a resentment of Mensch vote on the 15th, as well as a resentment of the Government.

I have been a lifelong Tory, because my father was Tory. He was chairman of the Constituency Association, I was briefly treasurer. I went out canvassing in my 20s. When I was 12, Mrs Thatcher was elected, and that was my first interest in politics: I thought it wonderful.

“If a man is not socialist in his teens, he has no heart. If he is not Conservative in middle age, he has no brain.” Well, I have neither, because I have moved Left, in part because of my toleration of my own idiosyncrasy, which I found vile. Self-hatred produces conservatism, the right-wing desire to control.

I rather liked Andy Sawford, the Labour candidate, when he knocked on my door. He invited email questions, and mine got no answer. I wrote it to be really hard, but that is no excuse: How, during a recession, do we have a trade deficit? That being the case, would not increases in government spending produce a consumer boom, which would appear in the GDP figures, but in reality cause worse problems later?

I understand Keynes advocated borrowing during a recession, to kick-start growth. What would Keynes have thought of Government borrowing during a consumer boom? How do you defend the Government’s record between 2005 and 2008?

Then a canvasser phoned, and said it was because of the Euro crisis, problems in our biggest markets. He sounded about twenty, and he knew Nigel Lawson was chancellor in the 1980s. We conversed for twenty minutes. How should I vote? Not for resentment of Government, because my memory stretches back to 2010 and before. He told me how wonderful Mr Millipede’s speech was at Conference, and how showy but facile Mr Cameron’s, and that did not convince me either, I will judge for myself. He had the rhetoric, but I seek the truth. Every time he answered my arguments and overcame them- he knows more, he cares more- he put me off more: his certainty, or something. And both main parties wish to manage the economy better, rather than to take a radical new direction. The gap between their policies is small. George Osborne borrows, perhaps more than Keynes would counsel.

A big issue in the election is Skew Bridge, an out of town shopping centre near Zhuzhkov. It will be good for shopping, perhaps with a Marks and Spencer! It will be bad for local town centres. The Conservatives say they support it and Labour oppose it, Labour says the opposite, and both use selective quotes. The leaflet pictured repels me. Red is the Labour colour. At first glance, it might be a Labour leaflet, then it calls them liars.

Also standing is Ian Gillman, who hates the EU yet cannot work with even the English Democrats or UKIP, whose leaflet reveals him as a tragic knowall. I could vote Liberal, though with a third the number of votes of the Conservatives or Labour in the General election, she is unlikely to win. I could vote Green- certain not to win, but I could register how beautiful I find windfarms. The trouble with the main candidates is that I want them both to lose.