Why Would The Government Want You to Panic?
This government continues to astound. Today, they have managed the impossible: to cause petrol shortages without any actual strike.
The height of incompetence some might argue – with some confidence. And, naturally, this is perfect diversion from the issue of the NHS, granny-tax and cash-for-access. But here comes another one of my silly questions.
Last quarter’s growth figure has just been downgraded by the Office of Budget Responsibility to -0.3%. The OBR said they “still expect the economy to avoid a technical recession with positive growth in the first quarter of 2012, although another fall cannot be ruled out given the volatility of quarterly output estimates.” Total growth for 2012 is expected to be a shaky 0.8%, so the first quarter’s figure is estimated to be minuscule.
The implications for this Government of having a second consecutive quarter of negative growth are gigantic. It puts the UK into “technical recession”. It, almost inevitably, would herald more weeks of miserable headlines.
So, in the last few days of this quarter, there may be more of an agenda in encouraging people to panic-buy everything from cigarettes, pasties and stamps to £2m properties. There may be a more obscure objective in advising every household to spend all their disposable income (or borrow from pay-day lenders). There may be more than meets the eye to frightening an entire country into filling up every tank of our 31m vehicles – plus a few cans in the garage for good measure.
If it means that growth for this quarter is nudged up into an anaemic positive figure and the broader economic incompetence of this shower of Monty Python characters is disguised, it will have been worth it. So what, if some plebeian is blown up in his garage while trying to heat his jumbo sausage roll with a blow-torch? They will be safely breaking bread in no.10 with their billionaire donors, safe and sound.
UPDATE 29/3; 12:45 GMT
Today the OECD has predicted a possible double dip and estimated negative growth for Q1. The government has responded by saying that OECD have not taken latest data into consideration and that they’re confident OBR will show Q1 just about positive. I await the figures with interest.