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Why Would The Government Want You to Panic?

March 28, 2012

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.


25 Comments leave one →
  1. Peachy permalink
    March 28, 2012 3:51 pm

    An alternative scenario: the Government has apred the welfare state right back (from the perspective of a mother with autistic children anyway), yet they say that they will be forced to cut abck a furtehr ten billion if the economy fails to grow (a key element of the recent budget). Now, we know that many Tories are anti welfare state; we have Oliver Letwin wishing away the NHS in quotes, as well. So…… wreck the economy and then let yourself be seen as being forced into abandoning the safety net as we know it, rather than having amde an active choice… makes sense you know! Thsi government could well be messing everything up ON PURPOSE.

  2. March 28, 2012 4:13 pm

    They love a good strike, or threat of a strike. Then can then blame the tanker drivers for causing the economy to flounder. Just like they blame teachers, the unemployed, or binge drinking, or hooded youth. Or the previous Labour government. Or whatever the latest FEAR is. All of which serve as deflections from anything they might be doing…

  3. March 28, 2012 4:49 pm

    I think you are spot on. This is indeed a distraction from the real issues: dismantling the NHS, a disastrous and shameful budget, and further evidence of sleazy, cliquey self-serving and corrupt practices.

    I think it is very telling that they are encouraging everyone to do the selfish thing; to go out and grab whatever they can. So much of this world’s misery is caused by people taking more than they need, but to this lot it is endemic.

    • Esther Nagle permalink
      March 28, 2012 10:40 pm

      I was thinking the exact same thing earlier on, when we need to really be moving towards working cooperatively, the government are pushing us into increasingly selfish behaviour!

  4. March 28, 2012 4:57 pm

    Peachy; indeed. Witness their continuing citing of the ‘record deficit’ as reason for financially disabling the rest of the country through austerity.The deficit may be a record one in terms of pound notes but as a proportion of GDP it’s frankly not that remarkable. We’ve been worse before and we’ve recovered from it without resorting to austerity. It’s got nothing to do therefore with fixing the econmy and as is routinely observed and understood these days, their actions are making the economy worse, not better. The government are clearly a malign force in the land. One hopes that experience of this bunch will finally cure people of voting. If not, I don’t know what will. We stand at a crossroads. Our old system of appointing leaders no longer works in our favour. We need a new one – but what?

  5. AuntieKate permalink
    March 28, 2012 5:00 pm

    This is small change in comparison to Brown’s massive borrowing & spending to avoid a technical recession

    • phljns permalink
      March 28, 2012 6:03 pm



  6. commoncents permalink
    March 28, 2012 5:42 pm

    Because when a stupid person panics they do stupid stuff. Why do you think weathermen say “OMG!!!! we’re getting 2 whole inches of snow”? To control how stupid panicky people run out and spend their money.

  7. DBartlett permalink
    March 28, 2012 5:48 pm

    I don’t know why everyone seems to think there’s any problem with the economy… I mean, I know we’re skirting the shores of Recession; growth is non-existent; businesses are closing at a record rate; youth unemployment is at a record high; unemployment generally is climbing; disabled children, the elderly, the unemployed are being financially punished… But clearly everything’s fine with the Piggy Bank of Tory Govt … They’ve just managed to give away £560,000,000 to the super-rich. What ARE we all complaining about…? They must have a surplus, whoopee! I do hope Messrs Maude, Letbin, Cameron and Osporn will be storing plenty of petrol…. Stacks of it… Improperly sealed, with the fumes wafting towards a Canaletto or Emin or two… Curling delicately around the Inglenook fireplace where another urchin is turning the spit…

    • March 28, 2012 8:06 pm

      Letbin…:) Osporn 🙂 I wish I’d said that!

    • March 28, 2012 10:40 pm

      Oliver Letwin = Oily Vile Nitwit

      (no-one ever checks anagrams)

      • March 30, 2012 10:00 am

        Just found some on Anagram Server ;

        Francis Maud – Fraud Manics
        David Cameron – Random Advice
        Eric Pickles – Slick Creep I
        Baroness Warsi – Worse Brain Ass (For evidence see ‘Today’)
        George Osborne – Gone Borers Ego

  8. paul croft permalink
    March 28, 2012 7:39 pm

    Sad to see you being cynical about ole Dave.


  9. ColinW permalink
    March 28, 2012 10:39 pm

    Who cares if fuckwit drivers panic buy. I can’t afford a car.

  10. March 28, 2012 10:46 pm

    I put some numbers on how much tax revenue could be generated by the increase in fuel purchasing on Pastebin:

    The summary:

    “…the increase in Q1 2012 tax revenue is likely to be somewhere between £215.5m and £303.1m and could even edge-up further to the sum of the two: £518.6m.

    And if drivers were to run their cars with full tanks, the increase in Q1 2012 revenue could be between £303.1m and £862m, and edge-up to the sum of the two: £1.17Bn.
    Though I’m not an economist; ymmv.”

    And from the Twitters in reply has come this:

    Drunk George Osborne ‏ @OsborneDrunk
    @cjjmccray @Janiete @sturdyalex Good work! My *very* rough maths say that would be between 0.012% and 0.3% of quarterly GDP

    So, say the UK looked like it was going to turn in a Q1 2012 GDP figure in line with Q4 2011 (-0.2% / -0.3%), this “trick” could be sufficient to pull the it into positive territory, allowing the Boy George to declare that we’re not in a double-dip recession.

    • March 29, 2012 1:23 pm

      Another handle on these numbers comes from this from Sky News:

      So Wednesday’s panic buying has increased petrol sales by 81% and diesel by 43% [1] which accounts for £32m extra tax revenue (it’s not clear if Sky’s headline statistics includes Tuesday’s increases of 45% petrol & 20% diesel). If this is kept-up until 31st March, 4 or 5 days in total, could see total revenue boost of £128m-£160m. Less than the lowest of my estimate range, but could still be significant in reversing the OECD’s predicted -0.1% growth [2] forecast and avoid a technical double-dip recession.


    • March 29, 2012 2:48 pm

      Confirmed – though without workings-out – from another source:

  11. March 28, 2012 10:49 pm

    Good conspiracy theory, however you have failed to factor in the Pasty Tax. And also failed to account for sheer incompetence.

  12. Riffler permalink
    March 28, 2012 10:51 pm

    The Tories do love a strike, because Labour have utterly failed to defend the right to strike, or point out that Unions do not strike for the sake of it – it’s very much a last resort. It’s only the most intransigent and unresponsive employers who can push a dispute that far.

  13. Hopefully Discontent permalink
    March 29, 2012 12:45 am

    First of all the New Labour government borrows us into recession and now the ConDem coalition are going to cut us back in. Brilliant. Time to look at the economic system itself?

  14. March 29, 2012 9:01 am

    Not to mention that oil companies sold a hell of a lot of fuel at record prices… I wonder if they’ve had a few dodgy dinners with Dave?

  15. David Topple permalink
    March 29, 2012 9:21 am

    Somebody above said this blog was describing a conspiracy theory. I sympathised with that view, until I heard a government minister on Radio 4 this morning saying that people filling up their tanks would provide some kind of economic resilience. Amazing!

    Nothing in this stupid country surprises me any more.

  16. dave the greenkeeper permalink
    March 29, 2012 4:20 pm

    i would get really angry about this, but
    anger is an energy . so im sure it would be taxed as well

    with apologies to mr lydon

  17. March 30, 2012 9:26 am

    Here was me thinking Francis Maude made comments about ‘Strikes causing disruption..’ because he didn’t realise that was the whole bloody point of losing your income for a period of time ! In reality it was just another wheeze to get the Government out of a hole. Maybe this lot aren’t stupid but incredibly clever…. personally I’ve always been a cock up rather than conspiracy theory follower but it would explain this lot’s breathtaking incompetence.

  18. Louise permalink
    March 30, 2012 11:04 pm

    I think the mail gives the tories too much credit – I don’t think they are astute enough to come up with such a cunning plan. I think Cameron is quite frankly just a prat

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