Alice Miles deplores Gordon Brown's message for Konnie Huq on her leaving Blue Peter. Ms Miles is right, but for the wrong reasons. Mr Brown shouldn't be thanking Konnie. He should be decrying the adverse effect she's had upon the British economy.
The reason for this is simple. Anything that makes being out of work more pleasant encourages people to linger on benefits. And the sight of Ms Huq on daytime TV has just this effect. Why bother going out to work when you can stay home and look at her? (Of course, you could record her whilst you work - but how will you find time to watch her amid all those episodes of CSI?)
In this sense, Ms Huq's influence upon the economy has been massively pernicious. Let's do some sums. There are 5.2 million people of working age claiming state benefits. Let's assume that Konnie's appearance on Blue Peter caused - at the margin - 5% of these to stay out of work. That's 260,000 people. If we assume these would have earnt £15,000 a year, then the economy lost £3.9bn a year.
This means that, over the 10 years Konnie's presented Blue Peter, we've lost the equivalent of a year's spending on the defence budget.
Her leaving the programme could therefore be a positive supply shock. It'll encourage some people to find work, which in turn will raise output and reduce the inflationary pressures Mervyn King warned about last night. I suspect, however, that this effect will only partially offset the effect Carol Vorderman's boob job has had in curtailing labour supply. Never mind the credit crunch - that's been the biggest economic disaster of recent years.
The point: does this seem absurd? It shouldn't. It's merely the logical consequence of the assumption that people on benefits could work if they want to. Perhaps it's this premise that's wonky.