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September 29, 2017



Our news media's lack of imagination, and our centrists' pride will shackle our near future to current Conservative party decline. Conditional, authoritarian, miserableness (at best) is what increasing numbers can look forward to; because lets be honest, anything left of Nick Clegg sets warning lights flashing, and truncheons twitching. We're in a ridiculous state.

E Hart

Quite right. There is also a sado-masochistic element at play. "We are not worthy..." The British in macro are like Larkin's Mr Bleaney gazing up at an unadorned 60 watt bulb wondering whether they warrant any better. However, unlike Mr B, they aren't going to so sanguine about their circumstances once the penny drops. After the last of the scapegoats (foreigners, the EU, assorted other straw men) have been exonerated, there will be nowhere else to put the blame for out long-standing economic malaise other than at its source - this and previous governments.


"Reto Odermatt and Alois Stutzer show that people adapt to even devastating events such as widowhood and disability; this confirms research by Andrew Clark. And – what is relevant – they fail to see that they will adapt. They expect that changes will hurt more than they in fact do. Psychologists call this the impact bias."

and so to Brexit ...


I was listening to the public radio here in the states shortly after the Brexit referendum, and the posh twits were complaining that-horror of horrors, London real estate prices were falling.

Oh, the horror.

Mark Evens

I don't think that is epic lack of self-awareness by Hammond at all. Rather, a thinly veiled statement that Brexit is as bad (in his mind) as Socialism. Give the man some credit - he may be a Tory politician, but he's more aware than most of them.


«he may be a Tory politician, but he's more aware than most of them»

His supposed nickname of "spreadsheet Phil" to me sounds like praise more than mockery, but then I think good accounting is very important, unlike the Greats ("literae humaniores") trained "leaders" like B Johnson, who seem to behave as if they thought that pandering to and fooling the mob is the main way to power and fame.

mike berry

I think this analysis misses the point.

I'd emphasise two issues.

Firstly, public understanding of the economy is very limited. Most people have no conception of the size or composition of the public spending pie. Most also hugely overestimate the quantity of public spending that goes to areas with high media visibility and underestimate in other areas. They also see the economy as very much like a household and are wary of debt.

Secondly, what people know (or think they know) is heavily dependent on what they read or see in the media. Here, the Conservatives and their allies in the Press have been incredibly successful in creating easily understood narratives that resonate with people. In the 2000s there was a massive and very successful campaign by much of the press and the Conservatives to portray Labour as the party of welfare which was creating a client state of wasters bleeding the public dry. Here's some examples from a brief period in 2009:

If Mr Cameron wants to be remembered as a genuinely courageous public figure rather than merely as a camera-friendly celebrity, then he should devote his attention to slashing our gigantic public sector, with its vast swathes of pen-pushers, time-servers, quangos and leeches (Daily Mail, 28 July 2009)

Every encounter with the bloated monster of Brownian big government - not to mention John Prescott's grotesque legacy at regional and local level - tells us that it is riddled with waste, inefficiency and executive perks (Telegraph, 17 June 2009)

The gravy train is out of control across all tiers of government - national, local and European. Town halls waste millions. The public sector is crying out for reform. Pointless pseudo- government quangos mop up £70BILLION a year and employ 50,000 people hand-picked by the party in power. (Sun, 18 May 2009)

They have also been very successful at using historical events for propaganda purposes. So the complexity of the 1970s is distilled to the three day week, the Winter of Discontent and most importantly the 1976 IMF bailout.

These 'truths' are deployed regularly - see QT last week and Philip Hammond's speech today. They are also staples of press coverage.

Andrew Mangles

Blissex thinks accounting to be a better training than the Greats but B Johnson may be a clown but he's not a fool. Pandering to the masses has worked well for demagogues down the ages as he well knows. Julius Caesar springs to mind as a particularly successful example of the type. Johnson is gambling on the popules behaving the same way as they did 2000 years ago in Rome

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