Debts up, taxes up, unemployment up, welcome back Old Labour
Now it's serious. Not since Hitler parked his tanks on our neighbours' lawns have Britain's public finances deteriorated at such an alarming rate.
By Jeff Randall
Government's annual borrowing will hit 8pc of national output next year. The state's unprecedented debt binge is slated to go on until it reaches £1 trillion in 2012. These are Treasury numbers, so the crisis is almost certainly worse than that. Its forecasting record could not be less impressive had it employed a team of gibbons to throw darts at Old Moore's Almanack.
Unemployment is heading for 3m. Bankruptcies are running at record levels and home repossessions soon will be. Net new mortgage lending is on the brink of collapse, destroying prospects for a quick bounce in property prices.
In a stunning display of reverse alchemy, golden rules of fiscal discipline have been transmuted into 24-carat guarantees of higher taxes. The new top rate of 45pc is just an hors d'oeuvre. Why stop there? Under the battlecry "Needs Must", what's to prevent Cabinet's class warriors pushing for 50pc, or even 60pc? Hazel Blears and Harriet Harman would love it.
The scale of damage done by the Blair-Brown project is only beginning to emerge. The bills, mounting daily, will bear down on our collective finances for decades. The Government and its pathetic apologists can no longer pretend that our problems are someone else's fault. The game is up. It has not just presided over a fiasco, it has orchestrated one, promoting a credit-card culture in which greedy lenders and reckless borrowers ran amok. [and today they have the nerve to try to make credit card companies give credit more cheaply and threatening them with penalties?unless they start giving customers a better deal,? -cs]
The upshot was the death of saving, public and private: crashes to crashes, bust to bust. The state's coffers are empty because taxpayers' resources were squandered by a leader in shameless pursuit of votes.
Personal debt has ballooned to £1.4 trillion, four fifths of which is underpinned by an unstable housing market. An occupational pension system, once the envy of Britain's competitors, is in pieces, broken in part by Labour's spiteful tax raid.
Unbridled immigration, which provided a short-term answer to skill shortages, is about to backfire. As the labour market tightens, those with transferable skills ? Polish plumbers ? will move on to greener pastures. Those without will stay. Resentment over foreign benefit claimants will rise.
Gordon Brown mistook a glut of cheap money and a global bull market for his own administrative genius. In so doing, he wrecked the economy. Had the Prime Minister been running a company, instead of a country, he would be facing an inquiry into allegations of criminal negligence.
The pre-Budget report is a 232-page charge sheet, replete with details of past misdemeanours and those still to come. It was constructed by a chancellor [or by the prtime minister ? -cs] who is either a psychopathic self-delusionist or an ecstasy addict.
His assumptions about the likelihood of recovery next year make Mr Brown's ludicrous boast that Britain is "better placed than rivals to withstand a downturn" seem almost balanced. Even Will Hutton of the Work Foundation, for so long an admirer of New Labour, laughs at the "absurdity" of this claim.
Aiding and abetting Alistair Darling's assault on our intelligence are Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Lord Myners, the latest in a long-line of Mr Fixits hired by Downing Street to provide a veneer of commercial nous to a Government that has no understanding of business.
Youthful Miss Cooper looks and sounds like a deputy head girl who is thrilled to parrot the latest script handed out by Sir. Her greatest achievement is to have enjoyed a world-class education ? Oxford, Harvard and the London School of Economics ? without losing faith in destructive welfarism.
She specialises in offensive platitudes, each of which is followed by the condescending assertion, "because it's the right thing to do". She repeats this over and over, as if hoping that the force of incantation will convert mindless propaganda into effective action. It is wishful thinking dressed up as policy.
Lord Myners is very different. Unencumbered by modesty, he has been a teacher, journalist, fund manager and board member of several important companies, including Bank of New York, Coutts and Orange. Unlike most government ministers, he does have real-world experience.
But hearing him talk about efficiency, I recall his "finest hour" in business when, as chairman of Marks & Spencer, he led the resistance to Sir Philip Green's putative 400p-a-share bid for the company. That was in the summer of 2004. At the time, M&S stock market worth was about £9bn.
Today, the company's shares are 220p and the business is capitalised at £3.5bn. One sees how Lord Myners fits effortlessly into Mr Brown's idea of delivering value for money.
Bizarrely, the Prime Minister has never looked happier. His dream is coming true. More than 900,000 public sector jobs have been created under his regime, banks have been nationalised and taxes are rising. Britain is not yet a command economy, but we're on the way. Welcome back Old Labour.