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Why 2021 will be a false dawn Champagne may flow again, but Britain's divisions will only deepen


January 4, 2021   6 mins

These are the dark days of a truly bleak winter, where the country has more than enough to worry about. So it may be surprising when I say that I’m worried about an excess of optimism in Britain in 2021.

Even amid rising case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19, it’s possible if you look closely to see the first chapters of a new story about Britain and its prospects in 2021 being written. It’s a story of a new Roaring Twenties, a time of national cheer, celebration and even indulgence.

It’s also a story that I find more than a little unnerving.

Ever since the first effective vaccine to the virus was confirmed, optimism about 2021 and beyond has been rising, with financial markets the epicentre of the outbreak. In the last couple of months, I’ve noticed that the closer a person is to the City and financial services, the more likely they are to be looking forward to 2021 as a year when the champagne starts to flow again and the fun resumes.

That’s a generalisation based on anecdotes, but it’s also borne out by wider evidence from the markets and their related industries. Depending on how you measure it, share prices are now as high as they’ve ever been and the gap between those prices and the actual earnings of the companies concerned as wide as at any point in history.

A lot of that comes down to the most important public policy that almost no politician talks about these days: central banks pouring cheap money into economies to keep businesses and households afloat. All that money has to go somewhere, which means higher share prices, more mergers and takeovers (private equity deals are now at their highest levels since 2007 ). A lot of City types will tell you, in terms, that There Really Is No Alternative to putting money into things like companies and property.

All this will inevitably mean more pay and bonuses for the people involved, money that will, in part and unevenly, cascade out through the economy: UK house prices are up almost 10% in 2020, and London estate agents are full of excitement about next year.

Economic exuberance isn’t wholly irrational. After all, as long as mass vaccination programmes go OK, there’s every chance of a return to some sort of normal economic life starting in the second or third quarter of 2021. Companies that have survived the long winter and make it to Easter may find a good number of optimistic customers with cash on hand and a desire to spend it.

Household finances are another thread in the story of optimism and hedonism in 2021. For some people, 2020 has been annoying and inconvenient but also quite financially advantageous: if you have the sort of job that involves sitting at a keyboard and talking to people on Zoom and you’ve kept that job through the pandemic, you’re probably better off than you were a year ago, because your costs have fallen. No more commuting, no more Pret sandwiches, no more drinks after work.

Andy Haldane at the Bank of England reckons that adds up to ÂŁ100 billion in extra savings piled up, money that could start to flow in 2021 as the Zooming class starts to spend at least some of their week back in the office and start feeling confident enough to go out to dinner, buy a new car, take a holiday.

That’s the economics. The politics of the New Roaring Twenties are more obvious still, and start at the very top.

Boris Johnson is a booster. The Prime Minister thrives on, trades on, optimism. His life and career have been built on telling people — voters, colleagues, friends — stories of how things will be better, if they only just let him have his way. Throughout the pandemic, he has been visibly desperate to tell another story of the sunlit uplands that await us when the darkness finally passes.

So it is no insight to say that the PM will want to tell a story of a new “golden age” for Britain, with Brexit “done” and the pandemic fading in the rear-view mirror. His legacy, his possible re-election and his personality — a war between depression and exuberance — demand that 2021 is a year of celebration that buries the memory of 2020.

My suspicion is that a lot of voters will want to buy what Johnson will be selling next year. As I wrote here before Christmas, a fair chunk of the electorate has given him and his Government the benefit of the doubt during a bad year for Britain. Imagine what his ratings could look like in the summer if growth is rebounding, consumer spending is booking and the sun is indeed shining again.

The other significant players in the narrative of national happiness are found in the media. Fleet Street isn’t what it used to be, but it still matters, and some of its players are itching to tell their readers a tale about a new era of jubilation and consumer spending on stuff their advertisers sell.

So what am I worried about? What’s the problem with a national mood of optimism and good cheer? Well, to be very clear, I’m not making a political point here: I’m a tiresome, equivocating centrist who really doesn’t take sides in contests between parties. I have no view on whether the sun should shine on Boris Johnson rather than Keir Starmer. Nor am I a professional doom-monger, though I accept it’s rarely difficult to distinguish between me and a ray of sunshine.

No, what worries me is that the national story of the New Roaring Twenties won’t actually be a national story. It will exclude and overlook a significant number of people, and in so doing store up more trouble to come.

Simply, the fact that people who read upmarket newspapers, write for newspapers and get written about in newspapers will spend the second half of 2021 going out to dinner in restaurants again isn’t the same thing as a roaring recovery from an economic shock. Yes, it will make those people happy and make them feel like things are getting back to normal. Yes, it will be good for some people who lost their low-wage jobs in hospitality this year, who will find some of those jobs come back into existence. It is in no way a bad thing. But it will be far from enough to address the economic and social harms done by the pandemic and its consequences.

Those harms include unemployment, some of it structural, thus requiring people to move sectors and places to work again. That means scarring: the older someone is, the greater the lasting damage done to them by unemployment. Women who worked part-time in retail and hospitality, sometimes because they’d secured shift patterns that fitted around children and caring, may face some of the biggest challenges in the new UK labour market.

Low-income households won’t be adding to the release of “pent up demand” next year either. National aggregates for saving conceal big variations: the Zoom classes may have piled up cash, but people at the bottom of the wage ladder ate into their modest savings just to get by.

Poor children won’t see 2021 as a golden year either, even if ministers do the sensible thing and maintain the £20 a week uplift in their parents Universal Credit. Those kids’ educational prospects took a heavy blow during the first lockdown, meaning some will fall further behind better-off peers and never catch up. Some children took physical blows and worse too: some social workers and child protection officials fear abuse and neglect rose largely undetected during 2020.

The importance of place will only grow in an uneven return to “normal”. The experience of previous economic shocks is that bigger, more prosperous places tend to bounce back more quickly than smaller ones with fewer connections and fewer high-skill, high-wage jobs. It’s a statement of the obvious that the pandemic makes those nice-sounding promises to “level up” Britain’s lop-sided economic geography all the more relevant. That also means the cost of failing to deliver on those promises will be all the higher.

Sadly, there is little confidence among officials and expert veterans of regional and industrial policy that this Government has a plan to deliver the rebalancing that has eluded previous administrations. And while it’s perfectly possible that this expert establishment view is wrong, even the PM’s most optimistic fans should concede that his plans are unlikely to smooth out decades of uneven development in a few months, let alone months that fall immediately after the biggest economic shock in peacetime history.

There are all sorts of economic worries that will persist next year and beyond, including some I haven’t even mentioned yet: epic public debt; corporate debt that holds back investment; dismal and uneven underlying productivity; the ongoing search for a post-EU economic model.

But in the end, my fears about the new Roaring Twenties are social and political, about the way we talk and feel as a nation.

A 2021 where champagne flows in the more expensive bits of London and the PM talks about a new golden age will be a bitter year for a lot of people who feel far, far away from the exuberance of the better-off and better-connected.

In the past few years, such feelings of distance and disenchantment delivered economic and political disruption and outright rupture: Brexit; Corbyn; Trump. Those things, blended with the poison of social media, have created divided and divisive conversations, where both media and political voices take sides and damn those on the other side of the line.

Even from this distance, I find it all too easy to see a post-pandemic Britain where one side cheers and orders another round while scorning the gloomsters who talk Britain down. And between the two imposters of outright triumph and utter disaster, a country that feels less and less like one nation.


James Kirkup is Director of the London-based Social Market Foundation

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Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

I am by nature an optimist having had many ups and downs in life but I cannot be optimistic about this year. I estimate the rural economy in tourist areas will not survive as we have known it. A redundancy rate of between a third and one half is looking possible as soon as the furloughs end and I know of many already taking place. . Mid and North Wales and the West and I suppose Scotland in particular. Then the QE just has to stop. It has been a giant ponzi scheme of central bank origin. Not just this year but from 2008 onwards. Look at how bitcoin is surging as a store of value and soon gold and silver as well. All it will take is a loss of confidence in a single central bank and the whole lot will collapse .
The small business sector in the West ( the US and Europe ) has been thrown to the wolves. Some if well capitalised or with a unique product and low costs will survive but the majority cannot. The big corporate have taken their markets and getting them back is impossible now. The Middle class not in state or corporate jobs has been reduced to future poverty and low wage jobs.
Add to that the mental health crisis which is very real and as yet not understood ( on Saturday i spent much time with a middle aged family man in near despair at what he sees as a government actively hostile to his family). He regarded that hostility as malign and deliberate and said that his friends are of similar mind now. Shutting down their way of life and trades is just beyond bearing for many of them . .If this becomes common then the future stability of the country is in peril. I tried to make him feel better but what arguments have i got really ?
It will be a hard year and we need to try to forget fantasies and above all we need real leaders not anything like those in power now. . I fear that they will arise from unexpected places and not to our liking perhaps. In times of turmoil and great change those who in the end shape the future are never there at the start.,
Who had heard of Cromwell in 1642 ? Or of Bonaparte in 1791?

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I think you may be spot on, Dave. One of the (many) surreal things is that the problems you raise do not seem to be part of the national discussion, despite them hardly being obscure or hard to understand. In such circumstances, things like what you have written are invaluable for maintaining general sanity.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

‘i spent much time with a middle aged family man in near despair at what he sees as a government actively hostile to his family). He regarded that hostility as malign and deliberate and said that his friends are of similar mind now. Shutting down their way of life and trades is just beyond bearing for many of them.’

All governments, and the state in general, have been hostile to the middle classes and anybody involved in trade for some decades. Covid has simply made the fact nakedly apparent.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

An interesting comment. Who do you think the government favours?

Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I suspect the government favors itself. I lack the sophistication to trace out the intricacies of government dealing vis a vis the governed, but I believe it is the ultimate beneficiary of its policies. Who in government has ever lost a job?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Well I wouldn’t say it was a particularly interesting comment, merely a statement of the obvious. The government favours itself and those who work for the state, and large corporations. (See Dave Smith’s comment above).

spayne6466
spayne6466
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

There is a carousel of corporate sinecures for politicians ‘friendly’ to large corporations. It’s a disgusting feature of the crony-capitalism which rules our societies in the West. Once again, just like 2008/09, taxpayers bear the burden of the ludicrous debt being printed by governments and those with assets benefit.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Good post. The truly worrying thing IMO is that so many people have so readily embraced the ‘new normal’ of absolute government control of all aspects of our lives. This gleeful condemnation of ‘covidiots’ and demands to shut down more schools, shops etc is reminiscent of East Germany. Reading the other day that we now need a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the house sent chills down my spine.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Only 22 days to the centenary of the Abermule train crash, not a good omen.

Paul D
Paul D
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Who had heard of Nigel Farage!!

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

‘Who had heard of Cromwell in 1642 ? Or of Bonaparte in 1791?’

Or of Hitler in 1921?

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Thank you for expressing exactly what I feel but, am unable to find your eloquence. I’m a 74 year old female who feels utter despondency at the manner in which this government have behaved in the last 10 months. All I see is the uncaring and lack of understanding displayed by the likes of Hancock, Johnson and their so called experts towards the people who do work hard to bring in the fruits of their labour to give their families the best they can afford and pay their taxes. Meanwhile those who are financially able profit from the misery to others caused by this so called government and their pretend experts.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I am sure you are entirely right; and on the subject of the coming collapse – ‘All it will take is a loss of confidence in a single central bank and the whole lot will collapse’. It does not even need to be a central bank; just a big one anywhere.

The world sits on $600 Trillion of debt, an unrepayable, unliquidatable sum.

The late American economist Rudi Dornbusch was famous for a very true remark: ‘In economics things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could’.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

And as Ernest Hemingway answered when asked how he’d gone bankrupt: two ways; first slowly, then quickly.

spayne6466
spayne6466
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Enter, ‘The Great Reset’.
It wasn’t us that broke the World, it woz Covid guv’nor.
We’re here to save you from the bad and corrupt system (which we ran for decades). We are your ‘new’ rulers.
You won’t own anything, there’ll be no privacy, you’ll be happy.

What could possibly go wrong!

Richard Kenward
Richard Kenward
3 years ago

This country is losing its identity, it’s values, it’s history and it’s culture. Just as Brexit is a strike for an independent strong Britain, delivered by the silent majority, the social context of this country now is a strike for liberal left forces determined to destroy nationhood and patriotism.
We are now living in a divided, divisive and diverse Britain, in that being British is becoming meaningless. That is exactly what the left wants a country that is no longer a country because it wants to weaken, the individual conservative with a small c, nature of this country. If you’re no longer proud of you’re country then you won’t any longer be bothered to defend it.
Multiculturalism is an evil ideology that has succeeded in diminishing the dominant British culture and given space to a hundred other cultures often at odds with this country’s culture. This has weakened the majority view in favour of hundreds of minority views. It has increased tribalism while at the same time muting the silent majority with accusations of hate and racism for protesting that their identity, culture and history is being hijacked by lefties and Brit haters.
2021 we’re at a crossroads either we recover our country, our national pride, our history and identity or we submit to the evil liberal forces and let our country slide into the abyss.
Unfortunately both main political parties are aiding and abetting the destruction of our identity, so cannot be trusted with the silent majority vote. Only a radical new party based on traditional common sense and majority values can politically save us from the nadir if we carry on the woke path. Let’s hope one emerges.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

BBC showed the movie ‘Grease’ over the holidays, the musical from the 70s and social media was inundated by crys of it being racist (all white) misogynist, homophobic and on and on and called for it to be banned.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

“…other cultures at odds with this country’s culture.” I prefer Napier: ” my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them,…”

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

You win the internet for me today Mr Kenward. In all sincerity, if you do happen along a movement / party that addresses the concerns of the Englishman can I respectfully request you keep my name in mind. I am referring specifically to the Englishman. The welsh, irish and scots have their own splinter groups, free to abuse and openly hostile to the English, I have no desire, other than brotherhood to any nation who stands for its own. I write to friends in Scotland and Ireland. The only things we have in common are our love for our countries, NOT at the cost of anyone elses country. Do not assume extreme right wing politics or crude xenophobes are my kind of thing – they are not. I want an English party for Englishmen who want the customs and culture of our England restored. Multiculturalism has failed miserably, but succeeded in making the Englishman feel like a stranger in his own land. I am a white Anglo Saxon, law abiding, hard working father, brother and son of others who are exactly the same. A racist, bigoted, xenophobic, gammon faced little Englander I am not. Just a man who loves his own country wishing to share it with others of a like mind. I fear I will never see my Nirvana as my taxes seem to go to those who found their Nirvana in my country. used to think Labour was the biggest political enemy of my country and Conservatism its only hope. Now I see that Liberalism is the greatest enemy, it has just shifted shape to become what was Labour and Conservative. Liberalism, as I see it, consists of only 2 groups. Those who can afford to be liberal with others wealth and those who want what you have worked hard for. It is more akin to Communism than any altruistic cause. Socialism sits right alongside it.

J J
J J
3 years ago

The only Party that can ever achieve the aims you state is the Conservative Party. The secret ingredient of the British conservative movement has always been it’s loyalty to one Party. Whilst the Left constantly divides itself among numerous factions and Parties (although in the aggregate frequently having the majority of the popular vote).

By advocating a ‘new party’ you will simply split the Conservative vote and hand power to the Left, probably for a very long time. Proportional representation would also hand power to the Left.

I’m afraid a powerful Conservative Party under a FPTP system is the only hope we have.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
3 years ago

I’m sure the Reform UK party has a part to play in all this. Either as a way of putting pressure on the Conservative Party to promote British culture/identity, or by gradually growing in confidence, wisdom and stature to present a viable government.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago

When people who provide real goods and services are going bust, yet those who play fantasy games with fiat currency – or even funnier money – are ordering the champagne something bad is going to happen.
As I heard recently on a slightly different topic: “You know when the tinder is there. You might not be able to tell what what will spark it or when, but you can tell it’s there.”

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Yes, it’s disgusting and has been for some decades now. I see the FTSE is up 2% today so many people will be happy. I confess to being one of those people as, reluctantly and due to zero interest rates, I have a substantial share portfolio. However, i am very aware that it’s all based on QE and various forms of fraud and I am also someone who provides a service. Above all, I feel desperately sorry for all those whose livelihoods are being destroyed for no good reason.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’d think about cashing in some of your share portfolio and transferring to gold if I were you.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Poor performing students almost never recover from lost school, they get further and further from the pack till failing. Not having starter jobs causes the youth to sit unemployed at family home years getting further and further behind their age group. The closing of schools is creating a class of unemployable in the new market. This is a crime beyond all others. Society suffers horribly from this, in every way.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

The sad thing is some people out there still seriously believe that they live their lives in a vacuum.

The serially deluded, endlessly tiresome, ‘meh, inequality will always exist, I’m only paid what the market decides I’m worth, I’m alright Jack’ brigade cheerfully zooming away in the comfort of their own homes as their bank balances rise, their expenditures fall with nowhere to spend their money in anything like the previous volumes, and all whilst they wax lyrical about how they’re rediscovering what’s really important in life ie leisurely walking the Labrador three times a day rather than a brisk, hurried ten minutes at the beginning and end of each day in the hope of an on demand poo and a pee.

Economies are hugely complex, finely balanced, fragile ecosystems and we are all, much as there are some out there dumb and arrogant enough to believe otherwise, much more interdependent than they would like to think.

There is an underlying real economy that props all this debt based hoopla that keeps many of them in clover up, both directly and indirectly, and yet the past year has seen that bedrock, that very foundation being systematically and wilfully destroyed by Draconian covid measures on a previously unimaginable scale and yet to be fully realised social and economic cost.

The coming year will reveal who the real ‘cov-idiots’ are and more of what what ‘informed’ their madness, but unfortunately they are still the ones destined to least likely to bear and experience the full, brutal consequences of their folly.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Poor performing students almost never recover from missed school but fall further behind till failing. Not having starter jobs cripples less achieving youth beginning on the ladder. Expect the unemployable class created by this mismanaged crime against the people (lockdown) to leave a mess of anti social and self destructive people who will make society much worse than they would believe! Those in the ‘Gated Community’ kind of housing will not care, the normal will suffer greatly.

Best use a lot of the coming stimulus money to build prisons for the upcoming decade!

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

I hear what you’re saying, but there is very little that one can do outside of ‘the walls’ I’m afraid, no matter how visible they might be to you and how invisible they might appear to the majority of people out there.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

Reading this article and the comments, I feel like one of the best things the government could do in 2021 is to subsidise the purchase of Viktor E. Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It offers some brilliant insights into what makes some people resilient in the face of suffering while others break down – and was written by someone who’d been through the worst that humans can throw at their fellow men.

Lots of people are in a bad place now, economically and mentally – and even a highly competent government can only do so much to relieve that. Hard times are on the way and I think the tone of public discourse should aim for “upbeat realism” rather than glossing over the serious problems. However, individuals can also do their part, working on themselves and finding some sort of purpose to provide new psychological buoyancy.

For the people whose businesses have suffered, the purpose might be to build them back up again. If you’ve lost your job, it may be time to consider setting up a business or retraining. Religion is a source of stability and comfort for many. Having “all is lost, we are doomed and it will never be better” on constant repeat in your head is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Most people are not so strong to use having their life wrecked as a reason to really get to work and rebuild. Most just get crushed by such a disaster. I know you are strong as steel, as most of us on here are, but normal people are not.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

Our leader and his government need to get to grips with the real pandemic that has infected the thinking of so many experts and institutions, advisory groups, universities and schools, the NHS, and particularly the mass media – that is left wing nihilism, borne no doubt out of years of misery at being decimated in elections, and which out of its own sense of hopelessness and resentment (and desperation for power) seeks to re write history and our culture as exclusively the bitter story of oppression, exploitation and cause for grievance -with a victim Olympics as the new test of righteousness, and shame and guilt for everybody else.

This needs to be seriously challenged -not just by centrists and those on the rational right, but also by the left – through Starmer in his role as leader of the Labour party. The problem is that many on the left have too much skin in this divisive, manipulative and destructive game -they’re happy not just to topple statues but also it seems to demolish all values, even indeed the very idea of values as things worth fighting for – in their desperate and febrile attack on ‘the west and all it stands for’ (a ridiculous piece of reductionist thinking).

Starmer foolishly took the knee for BLM when he should have been giving it to them. We need a government which remains wedded to values, by which I don’t mean the moral sermonising (and deeply insipid) absurdities of Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ or similar rather desperate Conservative appeals to something resembling national belief. What might work better is something more akin to general Socratic values. Johnson seemed to have some idea of this before he became PM (modeled on his hero Churchill) but somewhere in the midst of Covid and his new partner relationship he seems to have lost it. Oddly enough I think if Johnson is to succeed he has to give the moderate left some plausible reason to continue existing, otherwise the crazies will take over again.

Stuart McCullough
Stuart McCullough
3 years ago

The “moderate” left are now campaigning through the media and public bodies like the NHS. They have found that this approach is more effective than direct politics and so much harder for a Tory government to get a grip of.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

NHS has always been more of a ‘Social Engineering’ thing and secondly a medical thing. They were the driver of multiculturalism, this was their purpose.

J J
J J
3 years ago

You are correct. But these people are not, for the most part, the moderate left. They are the hard woke left.

When judging BJ and his government, we should take into account that almost every public, quasi public and governmental institution is actively trying to undermine them, aided and abetted (and reported) by most of the MSM.

Unfortunately too many conservative and centrist voters are falling for the Left’s narrative (including many on this comments thread)

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Great to read such a prescient comment. I have been promoting the fact that leftism has proved incapable of winning elections since about 1974 so is trying to “undermine Parliamentary Democracy by political, industrial or violent means”. The quote is from the MOD and GCHQ vetting procedures used in the 80s and early 90s and defines the people the procedures are trying to stop. I am not sure if the vetting system is still extant, but if so they may as well say “The Labour Party”, or “SNP” or “Common Purpose”. Since BJ has a number of Revolutionary Communist Party veterans in his inner clique we may have to wait some time for the issue to be addressed. Also i expect he is very fed up and would rather return to being a hack than succeed in helping GB PLC. Sadly it may be that the “even more” crazies will need to take power once again before the body politic realises we can use the powers of state to balance, if not completely clean up our schools, universities, hospitals, police and local govt etc etc.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

Google ‘Frankfurt School’, they nihilist Marxist intellectual group from the 1930 Germany which then moved to Columbia University USA in the 1950s and thus infected all the West. google their 11 points. Want the source of these wokisms out to kill society, look no further.

J J
J J
3 years ago

Excellent post. However this type of nihilism is not restricted to the Left. It arguably started there, but has infected the right too. Just read many of the comments on this thread. People forget that socialism exists on the left and right. Left wing socialism is a later day ‘international socialism’ and right wing socialism is a later day ‘national socialism’. Both are highly dysfunctional and dangerous.

I believe Boris is a conservative, of the classical liberal strand, to his core. However the pandemic has thrown him (as it has everyone). Politically he had no choice but to implement mass restrictions. He has tried his best to get around this through mass testing and vaccination. He has achieved both. We now test and vaccinate more per capita than any other major country in the world.

Boris Johnson has found himself in the most acute political crisis since the second world war. His options were and are ‘bad’ and ‘worse’. The fact he is surviving an ‘unsurvivable’ political crisis tells you something about the political skills and unflappable determination of the man.

That’s why I believe in a few months we shall see a rebirth of economic activity and freedom unparalleled in prior decades or even epochs. And it will be Boris Johnson who spearheads this.

Pat N
Pat N
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

I so hope you’re correct.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Some of us are optimistic because we have no choice but to be optimistic. If I gave in to pessimism, then given my personal circumstances I would lie down and die. I’d rather not.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
3 years ago

Having read through this piece, I’m none the wiser about what direction or action the author feels we should take. A classic piece of fence-sitting condemnation of everything, who’s conclusion is that whatever we do will be wrong and however we act we’ll be stuffed. Are we all supposed to just open a vein and get it over with?

Oh, by the way. Happy New Year!!

James Watson
James Watson
3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Carson

Glad I’m not the only one not to see the point of this article. Seems to boil down to a very long way of saying the year of Covid won’t solve any of our preexisting problems.

James Harrison
James Harrison
3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Carson

It’s opening up a discussion – not every article has to propose a solution. And since it has generated over 100 comments so far, I’d say it has done its job!

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

The prevailing fallacy, and frankly one that government never seeks to disabuse people of for their own self serving reasons, is that the stock market (and the housing market) IS somehow an accurate reflection of the economy at large.

It is not in the simplistic sense that most people would likely see it as.

Stock markets, as well as property, apart from being somewhere for already relatively well-off people to stick their ‘spare’ cash in the hope that their money makes more money, hence the reason why QE is highly morally questionable and moreso than ever in a zero interest world where savings don’t earn diddly, it is an average measure of ‘market capitalisation’ of the companies within it.

Hence the reason why, if big companies like Netflix, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google/Alphabet or Amazon, all of which have done rather well out of the covid ‘crisis’ are in that particular stock index in some way then they will effectively heavily distort that average giving the appearance to some that the economy at large can’t be doing so bad, never mind what is happening to other companies within that index, let alone by far the vast majority outside of it.

Further to this, as ‘investors’ see that price forever going up, particularly in an environment where there are comparatively slimmer and far riskier pickings, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what their animal instincts will urge them to do does it, or what will happen to that share price?

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

The market and financial world in all is basically a money farm for the global elite. They plant their little potatoes out (gov stimulus) in lean times, let the world scramble to grow money through hard work – then trigger a recession whereby they harvest their now grown potatoes in a Recession. In a recession the money does not disappear, it is harvested. Then stimulus is planted again and all of us get back to work in the endless cycle.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Optimists always expect the wind to blow. Pessimists think it never will. Meanwhile, the realists adjust their sails as best they can.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

But it will be far from enough to address the economic and social harms done by the pandemic and its consequences.
The economic and social harms were not caused by the pandemic; they were caused by politicians acting in wholly outsized manner in response to the virus. People have been unemployed and businesses shuttered not due to a bug, but due to govt mandates that arbitrarily shut down one business while leaving another alone. Still, it is nice that some of the fallout from the panic is finally being noticed. I suspect more stories about increases in abuse, overdoses, suicide, and bankruptcy will follow, but unfortunately, too many will overlook how things came to be.

After a year like 2020, some optimism seems natural. Who wants to go through last year again, though it appears that plenty in positions of leadership are just fine with that since their decisions never impact themselves. The US is expecting economic growth though ‘growth’ may well be relative. After months of idleness for many businesses, any activity would equal growth.

John Lamble
John Lamble
3 years ago

What is astounding is that quasi-religious mania such as ‘climate change’ hasn’t hit the buffers even though its insane cost was enough to ruin the country even before covid came along. Almost nothing genuinely good about Britain is unharmed by the pandemic but stupid ways to waste money seems to have got a free pass to continue squandering. I could scarcely believe my ears when Johnson suggested that we recruit more public employees. These will join the unionised layabouts (with honourable exceptions) who have given Britain the worst response to covid in the developed world. Just what we need.

Michael North
Michael North
3 years ago

2021 will be worse than 2020.
Our masters have learned that we will swallow anything – why should they stop now?

Adamsson
Adamsson
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael North

They will never stop

dinoventrali
dinoventrali
3 years ago

Why are we treated to the daily news report of covid ‘cases’? Why should I care how many otherwise totally healthy people have a virus? Here’s the info I’d like to be told:

1. How many people have been hospitalised today, with covid as the cause?
2. How many empty hospital beds are there in the country?
3. How many NHS staff are off work, and what are the reasons?
4. How does the total death rate for the country compare this time last year and the year before that?

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

On the subject of a divided national conversation, can anyone help me?

I find absolutely bizarre (and fear it’s sinister) the Sheer Fact that when I or other people set out chunks of evidence for believing that the U.S. presidential election was massively stolen, a great chorus goes up pooh-poohing such proofs and insisting ‘these are baseless allegations’, ‘there is no evidence’.

It’s like those nightmares where you see friends walking towards a cliff edge, you shout at them to beware, and they don’t hear you.

If the persons telling me to grow up, stop being a conspiracy theorist &c were all trolling, I would not mind a bit.

What worries me is that this universal cry ‘baseless allegations, no evidence’ occurs in almost every publication.

One replies,’But here are big mounds of evidence, structural, through-running’ in the contests in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin’; I provide chapter and verse – and the journalists either do not reply or they remove the blogs in which I have had the temerity to show these things.

In this matter I am not going in to bat for Donald Trump. His is a very flawed character. What worries me is a further descent into totalitarian rule in the Occident. If people are now content to wink at monumentally faked elections in a democracy which is an important ally of ours, this means we have entered politically Anything Goes Territory.

In fact we don’t need to wait for the Communists (Maoist or Stalinist), the Nazis or Fascists to co-opt this business. The totalitarians have already won.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Yes, the election was stolen and yes, the totalitarians have won. In 30 years we have gone from defeating the USSR to becoming, increasingly, a totalitarian society, not least by surrendering to China.

caro
caro
3 years ago

When did “we” last feel like one nation? I’m in my 50’s and I can’t remember a time. I agree it’s getting worse. The elite want the hoi polloi to be divided, all scrambling for the scraps with new groups coming up the bottom rungs to cause panic for those at the bottom creating a population willling to work for less and less for more and more hours. Studies always show that less homogenous societies have greater levels of self interest, disparity in wealth and are less likely to have social (and health) care and benefit schemes.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I said to a client this morning that I was not confident that this year would be any better than last year. And now we learn that 12 people have been fined for playing dominoes. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets worse.

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
3 years ago

I think James is right in thinking that many are too optimistic. I think the optimism should be more tempered thing will improve but it will be a slow burn. The pandemic has slowed recovery far more than many will admit, SMEs have been hit really hard it is difficult for them to borrow their way out banks will throw stupid sums at the big corporates but require blood from the small guy yet they have often grown organically with a very small debt ratio.
The British way of business is not really sustainable with the big corporates living on mountains of debt which seems to get inflated every time there is another buyout and lately this has been born out by the recent High Street failures.
Just don’t expect politicians of either local or central government to get us out of this hole as they rarely have the skills.

simon taylor
simon taylor
3 years ago

“So it is no insight to say that the PM will want to tell a story of a new “golden age” for Britain, with Brexit “done” and the pandemic fading in the rear-view mirror. His legacy, his possible re-election and his personality ” a war between depression and exuberance ” demand that 2021 is a year of celebration that buries the memory of 2020.”

Give the man a break- he has delivered Brexit and a workable trade deal in 12 months, during a pandemic, during which he had a severe life threatening illness!

People, like the author, who claim to be centrists are generally wed to the status quo. This, in my book, generally makes them remainer 5th columnists. Boris is upsetting the status quo on my behalf- and that makes him unique.

Nicholas Ridiculous
Nicholas Ridiculous
3 years ago
Reply to  simon taylor

Remainer 5th columnists, who predicted either a ‘no deal’ or ‘bad deal’ scenario are now seething. Boris’s deal ruined Christmas. Their new favourite topic is one or other scenarios involving the ‘break-up of Britain’ – indeed they see it as a price to be paid, the only price worthy of their indignancy. Expect to see a lot of this over the coming months. I was reading an article in The Times recently predicting (would you believe) ‘invisible chaos’ as a result of Brexit. Are we in such anguished contortions that we have to start talking of ‘invisible chaos’? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply admit that Brexit wasn’t quite as bad as predicted and move on?

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  simon taylor

Never should those without power feel grateful or give any thanks to those who wield it. It is a privilege and demands their competence. I give him nothing. He has proved that he is not up to the task of leading this country. He should go and soon.

w.pyesmith
w.pyesmith
3 years ago

Our population growth is the elephant in the room. Quality of life demands land to grow food, develop infrastructure, cope with our waste etc etc clean water, fish stocks, forests all limited and crucial. Adequate waste processing of all kinds needs land. We need ever more fish to feed us. Unfortunately we human beings increase without limit as a consequence a relentless growth in demand for these limited real wealth resources occurs resulting in a reduction in the quality of life. There is a limitless supply of labour. Of course you can print money to pay everyone well but this creats inflation and doesn’t increase the availablilty of those things of limited resource which we need more of as our population grows.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  w.pyesmith

I think you are being too pessimistic, the disaster of population growth has been talked about for ages.
Yet in 2019, we had the largest population the world has ever seen, with large scale reductions in poverty.
If you mean by “our population” the British population, then the growth has been due to immigration.
In Europe the indigenous population is falling and once again any growth is due to immigration.
It appears there is a link between more wealth and a population decline, so maybe there is nothing to worry about.

Angela Frith
Angela Frith
3 years ago

It’s interesting that the people the writer describes as benefitting from the lockdown are not wealthy, they happen to be people who can work from home. I know young people earning £15k a year who nevertheless are able to work from home. ( nearly all young people are computer literate) I also know older people on much higher salaries who have to go into work and deal with the public.
We are splitting the population every which way. Those who are on the property ladder versus those who cannot buy. Those who live in London and have free expensive education and free breakfasts versus those who live in poor northern cities and go to school hungry to underfunded classrooms. Oxbridge undergraduates unaware of their privileges protesting at racial injustice versus the poor white trash who are lucky to get into the local Poly.
Resentment is building, but the very wealthy float above it. In another time it would have led to revolution.

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago

I fear that the embrace, and even the pursuit of lockdown is motivated by very dark forces. It seems to me that the primacy of arguments forwarded in relation to Brexit, for instance, having been beaten at the ballot , are now having revenge extracted by proxy.
The lockdown is based on ‘rising figures’ comparable with March/April….utterly meaningless – there was no meaningful scale of measurement at that time.
It could be LESS for all we know.

It increasing looks like manipulation by ‘betters’ who have had their noses put out of joint for 4 Elections and a plebiscite in a row….and realise the plebs stll dont want to ‘get with the program’, as they see Bunter’s popularity hold up.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

Yes, it looks like a last ditch effort at authoritarianism. Losing control of Brexit and then an additional loss with the EU trade deal have fired the losing side up to attempt to exert control. Reporting covid cases is meaningless.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

What Is A Covid-19 Case?
Dr. Sam Bailey you tube watch?v=g2aR2UInnug

Dr Sam starts from scratch and explains what is a Covid-19 case and unravels the web.

J J
J J
3 years ago

The writer is very wrong. It’s clear there is pent up demand on almost every level. The human spirit to explore, innovate, work, produce, consume and socialise had been artificially held back by a Pandemic and government dictat. Once the pandemic subsumes and the restrictions disappear, we are about to see a resurgence in economic activity like never before.

We are blessed as this period coincides with Brexit. The UK will be hungry for new trade deals and business. Expect the government to introduce the most business friendly policies the UK has seen for 80 years. This will lead to massive job creation and rapid increases in living standards.

And we have a government whose stated key aim, in addition to Brexit, was to ‘level up’. The idea that they will sit back whilst all the proceeds go to the ‘rich’ is absurd. Anyone who thinks that really has yet understood what makes Boris Johnson tick.

We are about to see a resurgence in the British economy the likes of which we have not seen since the post second world war period. But this time we shall not be hampered by ‘public ownership of the means of production’ and notions of socialism. The immediate future is very bright. I actually think the problem may be an overheating economy.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Once the pandemic subsumes and the restrictions disappear,
When will that be? For nearly a year now, we’ve seen a perpetual moving of the goalposts:
–it started with the idea of ‘flattening the curve’ to preserve hospital beds. That worked so well that thousands of medical personnel in the US were furloughed because Covid was treated as the only condition to treat
–then came the shift to testing as the new holy grail and it mostly resulted in ‘asymptomatic’ being the most common result
–lock down mandates and other rules were sprinkled in along the way, some of those stemming from the ‘flatten’ episode that was sold as a 14-day event that is now approaching ten months in some jurisdictions
–currently, vaccines are the end-all, provided people are confident in them, will take them, and so forth. Amid the lockdowns and mask lectures, cases are increasing because that is what respiratory viruses do in colder months.
–there has been talk of making the vaccine mandatory in order to do a number of things and who knows what will follow that, though the smart money suggests something will because that’s how govts act.

Meanwhile, millions are forced into unemployment, thousands of businesses are forced into closing and some will never re-open, a host of predictable problems from a rise in abuse and suicide to increased crime have occurred, and those are just the first-world issues.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes, across the West the response to Covid has been disastrous and counter-productive on every level and every step of the way. I knew the Western mind was in trouble, but it was not until last year that I realised that it had completely collapsed.

In the UK we have now borrowed a billion pounds for every one of the 380 ‘healthy’ people below the age of 60 who have died from Covid witihout. It is madness on a scale that is almost heroic.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Your mistake is to believe there was ever a cost free way out of this. There was always going to be massive economic damage and loss of life whatever we did. Indeed, I would argue if the government did nothing, the cost would of been far greater. Nothing damages economic activity like a collapsing health service and people dying in car parks.

Your reference to 380 people is also erroneous. It excludes anyone with a pre-existing condition, which is about half of the population. Since when do these people not count? If you die in a car crash and you have a ‘pre-existing condition’, do we say it’s not really a death? Same goes for anyone above 60, since when do they not count?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

No one is suggesting a cost free way out of this, or any government doing nothing, certainly not Fraser Bailey. There’s quite a spread between cost free and economic devastation. It’s a mistake to see it as an either or choice.

J J
J J
3 years ago

Yes, and in that spread is mandatory testing and isolation. It has minimal impact on the economy, on personal freedom and will have a substantial impact on reducing infection rates (greater than anything we have done)

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

There is no mandatory testing and no law that would allow it. Testing will, of course, continue to be available. And asymptomatic people will continue in large part not to be tested. Isolation can only be made mandatory if you warehouse people. Some people who should be in isolation will not do so. And there aren’t enough police to catch them all.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

I can only assume you are a very well paid NHS worker, or that you do something or other for our endlessly grasping and eternally incompetent state apparatus. I said 380 ‘healtlhy’ people below the aga of 60. I would imagine more healthy people below the age of 60 have now committed suicide as a consequence of lockdown and the needless economic and social devastation.

Overall, the number of deaths for 2020 is about average for the last 25 years, allowing for population growth. We have destroyed everything for nothing

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

These claims that did the rounds on twitter were debunked months ago. You need to read more and not stop when you get the answer you wanted.

“The mortality rate for January to November 2020 is significantly higher than the same period in each of the last 10 years.”
ONS ‘Monthly mortality analysis, England and Wales: November 2020’

The total number of deaths is higher than at any point since 1985
See fullfact dot org

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

‘Nothing damages economic activity like a collapsing health service and people dying in car parks.’

A hyperbolic non-sequitur.

A first world health service needs a first world economy, no ifs, no ands, no buts.

If you think that this is a collapsing health service, the way things are going, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

“Nothing damages economic activity like a collapsing health service and people dying in car parks”, really what evidence do you have for that preposterous statement?
Italy seems to have survived quite well.

So you also probably believe a verruca is pre- existing condition?

Even 70-100 thousand deaths is not worth destroying the economy and the future of the young!
Moderation in all things as the Ancients would say.

You, on the other hand seem to be in a state of funk. Why?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Spot on. And eventually, the realization will have to come that crashing the economy was unnecessary. Damage to it was probably always in the cards but crashing it was not. Even today, when we know who is at risk of dying from COVID, and who is not, we still have healthy young people locked out of jobs. It is and always was possible to shield the vulnerable, the aged and the infirm while allowing those who can work to do so.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think Homeric might be better than heroic, but either way, what the hell is going on?

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You are overcomplicating the strategy. All we have ever done is to prevent the hospitals being overwhelmed. Arguably we have left an overly conservative margin of error, although that’s not unreasonable. You can’t wait until the hospitals are at 100% capacity then decide to do something. Neither can you know in advance which measures work and which do not, or for how long you need them. Given that, we have done a reasonably good job.

Once the vaccine has been rolled out, all of the restrictions that damage economic activity will be rescinded. Mainly because there is no other alternative option.

Your criticisms are largely unreasonable. This is an unprecedented event and was always going to involve a degree of trial and error. We have ended up in a good place in terms of having mass testing and mass vaccination. More than any other major country in the world, per capita.

You also make the mistake of believing there was ever a cost free way out of this. There was always going to be massive economic damage and loss of life whatever we did.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

I like it.But is is too late now. As in 1992 a whole class of business people mostly in SMEs have been left in the lurch. We will not forgive. Accounts need to be settled. That is the way of the world.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Your mistake is to think the government caused the economic crisis, they did not. The pandemic did. Imagine an alternative universe where the government implemented no restrictions, they said it’s up to individuals what they do. There would be mass hysteria, with the media, the opposition and social media in meltdown. All shouting in unison, people are dropping dead likes flies! Endless stories of hospitals being overrun and people dying in the corridors. Total political and economic chaos.

Do you really think in such a scenario everyone would be out shopping, going down to the pub and out to the restaurant for a nice meal? The high street could be deserted. Even worse, there would be no financial compensation. The government would say, what’s it got to do with us?

Ultimately some will be informed and smart enough to understand this, others I guess will not. Such is life. But the polls suggest it is the former and not the later that will win the day.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Your mistake is to think the government caused the economic crisis, they did not. The pandemic did. Ultimately some will be informed and smart enough to understand this, others I guess will not. Such is life. But the polls suggest the former outnumber the later.

Imagine an alternative universe where the government implemented no restrictions, they said it’s up to individuals what they do. There would be mass hysteria, with the media, the opposition and social media in meltdown. All shouting in unison, people are dropping dead likes flies! Endless stories of hospitals being overrun and people dying in the corridors. Total political and societal chaos.

Do you really think in such a scenario everyone would be out shopping, going down to the pub and out to the restaurant for a nice meal? The high street would be deserted. Even worse, there would be no financial compensation. The government would say, quite rightly, what’s it got to do with us?

The difference between 1992 and now is stark. In 1992 the government let businesses fail with no intervention. In 2020 we have spent hundreds of billions paying people not to work, giving out effectively free loans and grants. Never in the history of government has so much being spent on the business community.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

A good riposte, with as much evidential support as the article.

It will almost certainly be something in the middle as usual …

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

4th January from worldometers

UK …….. 58,784 Cases…. 407 deaths
France … 4,022 Case…….. 378 deaths
Italy ……. 10,800 Cases …..348 deaths
Germany. 8,039 Cases ……527deaths

Strange

over 10 times more cases than France with a similar number of deaths

Germany over 100 more deaths 50,000 fewer cases

worldometers coronavirus/#countries

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Cases are, by definition, meaningless since they do not count asymptomatic cases of people who haven’t been tested. Then again, some people simply remain home if they have mild to moderate symptoms and choose not to be tested. It’s not an entirely unreasonable choice.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Many or most most the ‘cases’ are false positive using the criminally fraudulent PCR tests.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Mark Bridgeford to reply please.

Otherwise it seems the master race have beaten us to the beach again!

David Blake
David Blake
3 years ago

Then number of cases data is meaningless without a lot of qualifying details that we never get – how many people tested, quality control on those tests and accuracy (false positives, repeated tests etc.), how the tests are targeted e.g. only sick people and their contacts verses a random sample etc.

The same is true about how deaths are reported, plus who dies is really significant e.g. age, other underlying conditons etc.
So we are now addicted to daily stats, but it is “junk food”, what I would give for properly qualifed data that we could make good sense examining.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

I don’t see any dawn.

ray.wacks
ray.wacks
3 years ago

“I have no view on whether the sun should shine on Boris Johnson rather than Keir Starmer.”

You mean you are unable to distinguish sinking from swimming?

EDIT: BJ is the swimmer. But only just.

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
3 years ago
Reply to  ray.wacks

Let’s face which has the navigational skills to cox a lifeboat? They both good at (un)controlled drowning though.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  ray.wacks

We call him BJ as well at work and home, maybe that’s what he learned to do at Eton and Oxford. It would certainly explain his rise to favour, and adds weight to the common belief that he is being blackmailed.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

James writes: “UK house prices are up almost 10% in 2020, and London estate agents are full of excitement about next year.” All the more reason for the UK to do something really great this year: replace the CPI as the target inflation indicator of the Bank of England with a CPIH(NA) measure, the CPI with an owner-occupied housing measure based on the net acquisitions approach. In fact the ONS already calculates such a measure, only it is published with a considerable lag. The most recent update is for September 2020 and shows a 0.4% annual increase, actually lower than the 0.5% increase for the CPI. However, this is due to the 7.6% decrease in stamp duty, not part of the CPI. (The stamp duty component is published by ONS for its CPIH payments series but not for the CPIH(NA) series; however presumably the CPIH(NA) stamp duty component would show about the same decrease.) If the CPIH(NA) series were the target inflation indicator of the Bank of England, presumably Bank officials would look through such a decline, referencing a constant-tax CPIH(NA) series that has yet to be calculated. There is also no reason that the CPIH(NA) series could not be calculated in a more timely way, albeit with some lagging of house price movements. While far from perfect, it would be much the best target inflation indicator of a central bank used anywhere in the world. (I speak as a Canadian, where house price changes are already reflected in our central bank’s target inflation indicator, although not in a particularly good way.) Refinements of the index would be much easier to justify once it was the Bank of England’s target measure. The most obvious would be to go from a net weights approach to gross weights approach since house prices in the current CPIH(NA) are badly underweighted.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

Isn’t it an amazing coincidence that every non-ideological, pragmatic centrist I’ve ever met advocated big-state, coerced redistribution and the removal of freedom of manoeuvre for individuals and companies. They also sound EXACTLY like the cultural marxists who defend the 1990s consensus of supra-nationalism, the destruction of western societies, and the promotion of global institutions

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

“Quo usque tandem abutere, Boris, patientia nostra?”

How long, Boris, will you go on abusing our patience?

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

Well argued.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

One of the guiding principles of so much of Prof Gupta’s work and the Great Barrington Declaration is it address’s low income families who need to physically work as a priority.

If you want to start levelling up poverty the first thing you do is give the vaccine to all low income families so they can go out and work. Giving the vaccine to the economically irrelevant 85 + is more of the same nonsense about making the entire country dance around those who have very little quality of life. The only financial benefactors are those providing ‘health care ‘to them.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

That’s an interesting perspective. You may well be correct.

Teo
Teo
3 years ago

Crisis What Crisis?

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

What Is A Covid-19 Case?
Dr. Sam Bailey https://www.youtube.com/wat

Dr Sam starts from scratch and explains what is a Covid-19 case and unravels the web.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

The Great Reset: Bannon Interviews Archbishop Vigano ““ ‘Biden An Irreparable, China-Complicit Disaster’

thenationalpulse /exclusive/the-great-reset-bannon-vigano-biden/

The exclusive transcript of an interview conducted by War Room show host and former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon with His Excellency Carlo Maria ViganÃÂČ, Archbishop. The National Pulse is publishing the interview ““ which primarily concerns the Catholic Church, the deep state, and the key actors involved ““ without edits

Matt S
Matt S
3 years ago

Share prices as high as they have ever been? Maybe in the US, certainly not in the UK

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Don’t be such a gloomy Gus, James. Properly managed, 2021 could be a year of splendid achievement for Britain. The coalition government of David Cameron set the UK on a dismal path, where the CPIH would become the one index to rule them all and in the darkness bind them, and the UK continued on the same trajectory after Cameron’s resignation. The year 2021 could and should see a return to sanity. After taking the bank rate lower than it has ever been before and juicing the housing market with stamp duty cuts, the UK is in danger of another housing boom and bust. The time has come for the ONS to make its experimental CPIH(NA) series more timely, released at the same time as the CPI itself, and for Rishi Sunak to make it the target inflation indicator of the Bank of England. The problems with the index (the net premiums approach to dwelling insurance instead of a gross premiums approach, the net weight approach to measuring dwelling acquisitions when a gross weight approach would be more appropriate) can be addressed later. Even with its existing defects it would be much the best official macroeconomic measure of consumer price anywhere, and a model to the rest of the world. It’s time to make Britain Great again!

roger white
roger white
3 years ago

Well I really take issue with the comments about share prices. The FTSE at current levels is still very low. Bear in mind the FTSE 100 stood at 5000 in the year 2000 & is now – despite it’s recent sharp rally – only at 6800. It is way undervalued compared to all other major markets – some 10% below the level of a year ago. It was already quite depressed due to the 4-year wrangling over Brexit vs other markets.
The question of debt taken on may not be as serious as suggested. Yes UK debt-GDP is hovering around 100% GDP ( just below last figure)…but it’s only in the middle ofthe range for G7 Countries. With interest rates so low & showing no signs ( yet) of rising, this debt is manageable for now.
But the wider point – alienation of two halves of Britain – rings true.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago

‘Depending on how you measure it, share prices are now as high as they’ve
ever been and the gap between those prices and the actual earnings of
the companies concerned as wide as at any point in history’

.
Isn’t that similar to what happened in 1929? Stocks and share prices rising higher and higher, until the bubble burst. It’s impossible to view a different outcome when it’s already common knowledge that the actual earnings of companies bear little relation to their share price. Someone at some point will lose confidence and the whole pack of cards will collapse..

If the same thing happens again during the 2020s, it will make 1929 and 2008/9 look like a walk in the park.
It’s also wise to listen to Johnson’s speeches with a degree of caution. His most optimistic speeches are usually followed by something dire.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Actually, the FTSE 100 is lower than it was 20 years ago and still about 18% off its all-time peak, which was in late 2019, I think. Other indices, such as the Dow and Nasdaq, are indeed as high as they have ever been.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s the Dow and Nasdaq that really matter. If they crash they will take the FTSE100 with it.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

True – but they will fall to a lesser extent until something like a more traditional PE value is reached.

In that situation, the money doesn’t disappear, it will just get spread around other asset classes (that wealthy people have more access to)

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

My feeling is that your job very much defines your perspective and therefore you have a special interest in perceiving the country does not succeed.

This means you purposely overlook the intended regional investments to meet net zero carbon targets, infrastructural investments like HS2 and expanded regional rail links. The M4 corridor project etc etc. All of which have multiplier effects.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

.It is all just words words from a failing political class that knows it is losing support and has nowhere to hide and nowhere to go except into tyranny. In the end it will rely on the dawn knock on the door and the sudden disappearance of people. For centuries it has fed off us and now it is being found out. It cannot cope and watching that pathetic creature masquerading as a PM is amusing were my country not suffering.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Let’s have less state and lower taxes (reformed tax system). Sack the quangos, civil servants and defund the ngo’s.