The national debt and the budget overspend

Shirley Conran

Thank Heaven it’s over. After the most boring election within living memory, life can now begin again.

The Guardian recently asked me what I would do if I were Prime Minister for the day. In the morning I would probably redesign the out-dated British political system, because Democracy worked in Ancient Greece but it doesn’t work in modern Greece – or here.

In the afternoon, I would immediately bring back hanging, but only for selected politicians. The aim would be humiliation. The guilty would be hung for the day in that contraption in which Boris was suspended, and they would all wear bathing suits two sizes too small.

Hanging offenses would be:

1. Underestimating public intelligence and mathematical ability, especially when costing a proposal.

2. Answering questions with a pat, party proclamation that had nothing to do with the question (step forward, Yvette Cooper).

3. Using vague, woolly, feel-good phrases that amount to zilch. Examples of woolliness from the Lib Dem Manifesto that also might be useful for a
Miss World speech were: “Prosperity for all… quality care for all… and protecting Nature.” (Source: BBC TV news 28 April 2015).

4. Appealing to unaffordable, impractical sentimentality (stand up, Nicola Sturgeon, whose policy is not-turning-my-back-on-all-African-immigrants-on-all-boats).

5. Suggesting any policy to be funded by hazy scapegoats such as “banks”, “rich people”, “rich foreign bankers”.

6. Using any words that openly encourage class hatred (Ed Miliband, you might lay off “the rich”, by which I suppose you mean only people with three kitchens).

7. Being a political coward, such as those who continue to ban recreational drugs, rather than try to test-sell them – like tobacco, ferociously taxed. (Own up, Dave, have you never passed around a joint at a weekend dinner party?)

8. Suggesting any policy that doesn’t fit within the current Budget (yes, you, Mrs Green who wants to employ a million more public servants).

9. Using Financial SmokeScreenSpeak. There are only two possibilities, as I’ve said before: either a politician is too stupid to tell the difference between the National Debt (currently around £1.3 Trillion) and the Current Budget Overspend – or they don’t want us to understand the difference because they don’t want to be caught out when increasing both.

The National Debt is the total amount of money that Britain owes its lenders and that needs to be repaid; this sum increases every time the Government currently spends more than it receives, which is Current budget overspend.

Sadly, the new Conservative Government we’ve got may well do what it tells us not to do: it will overspend with no clear, logical date-pegged plan for repayment, and it will try to conceal this with Financial SmokeScreenSpeak. They’d never get a mortgage.

Copyright © Shirley Conran 2015

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