Friday, November 19, 2010

The Ghost of Harold Macmillan Has Never Had It So Good

Conservative politics was rocked to its core today when Lord Old of Gaffeham was sacked as the Government's enterprise adviser after he stated that the world was round, and that in his experience, Popes, more often than not, turned out to be Catholics. Labour Treasury spokeswoman Angela Eagleeyed said the Prime Minister has under-reacted. "It's no good the PM dilly-dallying. He should have sacked Lord Old before he made his comments. Alastair Campbell would have."

Lord Young is 94.

But seriously, folks... what an unbelieveable storm in a teacup. OK, the use of the phrase "never had it so good" was always going to have been a little incendiary, but what part of this paragraph isn't true...

"For the vast majority of people in the country today they have never had it so
good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started, because
anybody, most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month,
suddenly started paying very little each month. That could make three, four,
five, six hundred pounds a month difference, free of tax. That is why the retail
sales have kept very good all the way through."

The fact is, that for the vast majority of people in this country life is more prosperous than it has ever been. But of course, for some it isn't. The mistake Lord Young made was not to then add a paragraph pointing out the hardships being suffered by others. At worst this is political naivety on his part, but the reaction to this has been way, way over the top. Angela Eagle's comments are laughable, but then so is Lord Young's mea culpa. One day a politician will actually stand by their words in this situation and say, you know what, I said it, I meant it and if Number Ten wants to sack me, then here's my phone number.

Guess that's the peerage out of the window then...

UPDATE: The Daily Mash gets it spot on.


Simon Lewis said...

Surely at odds with what the PM and deputy PM have had to say. In addition, if Lord Young believes what he said it makes a mockery of the election result. Makes me wonder why these people are given these positions. A sop to the Thatcherites.
Of course if it had been a Labour adviser..we all know the reaction..

Unknown said...

Slagella said...

I think you're forgetting the appalling dislocation ZIRP will bring in its wake; the consequences of which will not be pretty.

Anonymous said...

It shows how important phraseology is important.

The point of low interest rates is to encourage people to borrow (and thus spend;) it is to create lower mortgage rates and thus encourage people to spend their windfall.
low interest rates make overdrafts cheaper and encourages businesses to invest.

The deputy governor of the BoE said a few weeks ago that people should go out and spend more. Not much doom and gloom about a recession there.

So there is not much doubt that people in jobs benefit from low interest rates and from retailers offering discounts.

Low rates are not much help to people on fixed incomes though. And there is also a lot of pressure on wages as well. The other worry is that inflation is still relatively high.

So there is a point to Young's remarks but present circumstances are a bit different and the resonance with boom times under McMillan is a bit daft.

Alan said...

You seem to think that just because YOU work and (I assume) have a mortgage, then MOST people work and have a mortgage.

Increasingly, the government is voted in by people who are no longer working as much as they were, and are more reliant on a reasonable return on investments.

We don't have that right now.


This is proof that the Tories are still the Nasty Party,and proves George Osborne mislead the country on the deficit we were never any where near being bankrupt.
Andrew Edinburgh

Anonymous said...

I think it was right for him to resign as I said on my blog

There was no "so-called recession" there has been an enormous one. The worst since the 1930's and I know lots of people badly hurt by it.

He has done enormous damage to the Tory party.

bryhers said...

Lord Graffham`s comment was indeed a storm in a teacup.It was not what he said,rather that he said it at all.

This kind of upfront comment is reminescent of Norman Tebbit at his polecat best,but not as vicious.

The dying embers of the Thatcher revolution? It was insensitive in reviving folk memories of that time,particularly the notion of "Our people" which excluded all the poor wretches who were not.

Unknown said...

While I agree that this is a storm in a teacup, I think there's a flaw in both your and George Young's analysis, which relfects a lack of understanding of the current mortgage and property market. To say that the vast majority of people in this country have been better off suggests that those people who either don't own their own home, have paid off their mortgage and are living off savings and investments, have a fixed-rate mortgage, or took out a mortgage after the collapse of Lehman Brothers are a small minority. Simply put, they are not.

Goodwin said...

The serially indolent, the serial breeder, the illegal immigrant and the Polish plumber probably never have had it so good. It's about time life was made a lot tougher for them.

Alex said...

Sorry, Ian but you just have this plain wrong. There are a lot of young people who have gone straight from university to the dole queue and they are mightly pissed off about the whole thing. Life isn't great for these young people (I know many of them) although it is clearly the fault of the last government not this one.

Torontory said...

The other point that no-one seems to be mentioning is the Telegraph journalist during these comments interrupted to say 'yes I agree'. Any ideas who it was?

Simon Lewis said...

Worst thing is is that DC never sacked him, he waited for him to resign.

Simon Lewis said...

Worst thing is is that DC never sacked him, he waited for him to resign.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was around in the SuperMac era, may I point out that Mac said "some people have never had it so good" after meeting some pensioners whose pensions (thanks to Mac) were higher than their wages had been when they were working.
It was the poor who were better off, rather than middle-class workers/civil servants with outsize mortgages.

Brian said...

Lord Young can say that because he's already got his carol concert invitation. For many others life is terrible. ;-)