Cast your minds back to last year - remember Gordon and Alistair reassuring us that the economic crisis would all be over by July? Those newspapers that then supported the Government (ha! Good times, eh Gordon?) made a bit of thing about it all, hinting heavily that since Mr. Brown and Mr. Darling are both economists (Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer prior to becoming PM and so he can be expected to know at least a little on the subject even if he did study history at univeristy, Darling still is) we could all sleep easy in our beds, safe in the knowledge that the two Parliamentary experts couldn't possibly be wrong.
Do Gordon and Alistair need to go back to school for some GCSE Economics classes?
Or are they just a pair of lying scumbags?
But they were - that was a bedtime story and what's more, that great big credit-crunching monster under the bed is just beginning to feel hungry. Here we are, less than 24 hours from July and guess what's happening? Green shoots of economic recovery? Hell no - it's been announced today that the UK economy shrank by 2.4% in the last quarter. That's the biggest decline in over half a century! Just last week we were warned that whereas the rest of the world will soon start seeing improvements, it's likely to get worse here. Unemployment looks set to rise again, so that soon 1 in every 10 people will be scraping by on whatever laughable amount people on the dole get these days. Now the OECD, who say that Britain is in the grips of what it calls a "severe recession," are warning the nation that our economy is going to shrink by around 4.3% over 2009 as a whole. The pound is so weak compared to the Euro that if you decide to nip over to Calais this year you won't even be able to buy the kids some of those weird French sweets, never mind load up the car with cheap fags and wine - assuming your car hasn't been repossessed, that is.
The UK's national debt currently stands at £8.5 billion in May (it was £1.8 billion for the same month in 2008), which has led Standard&Poor's to alter the country's credit rating from "triple-A stable" to "triple-A negative." Any triple-A rating is good, but the new designation means that should the nation need to borrow money, it won't be handed over with quite so much enthusiasm as previously. Think of it as the difference between a friend happily lending you £50 to see you through to the end of the week with no questions asked, because he or she knows you'll pay it back on time with no excuses, compared to having to make grave promises that you'll pay it back when you say you will because they're worried you might start being funny about it - the friend lends you the money either way, but there's a big difference.
This change is an unignorable warning that things are not going well. In addition, any further downgrade could lead to the Treasury finding itself liable for higher interest rates when repaying future borrowing.
So, far from coming out of recession as promised, it seems rather as though we're in a bit of a tight spot and the walls are closing in. Could it be that Gordon and Alistair don't know what they're talking about, or were they just bullshitting us all along?