“Who are they trying to kid?” it says all down the side of the Daily Mail battle bus this morning. This vehicle from the Middle England coach-builders is fully fuelled and conflict ready, with immigrant-dispersing bars fitted to the front as an extra. The seats are sofa-comfy and the view from the windows is always blinkered.
The Guardian tandem, meanwhile, is trailing a gloomier banner proclaiming: “Pay squeeze will be longest in 70 years.” The view from the tandem is bracing and unimpeded on the way down, but the hills are a bugger. Sometimes that tandem never seems to reach the top.
The difference of opinion has been caused by analysis of Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the independent economic think-tank.
The institute, having picked over the steaming entrails of Hammond’s budget, concluded that by 2021, “real wages in the UK – pay adjusted for inflation – will still not have recovered to their 2008 level before the global financial crisis hit” reports the Guardian.
The paper adds that young people have been worst affected by a squeeze on wages since the crisis and now the effects of the Brexit vote look set to prolong that pain. Pensioners, meanwhile, would be largely protected thanks to projected rising inflation on the back of a weaker pound.
Over on the Mail coach outing, the “top economists” are accused of “Brexit doom-mongering” by the driver/editor for declaring that families faced the biggest squeeze on living standard since the 1920s. The paper accuses the institute of having its “Brexit doom glasses” on and of Remain-backing economic forecasters being involved in a “race to the bottom”.
A “race to the bottom”? Hold on there, Daily Mail man – that sounds rather suggestive. Ah, that sort of bottom. Rock bottom not bottom-bottom. Glad we cleared that up.
Who is right? Let’s ask former Chancellor George Osborne, who put so much energy into all that pre-referendum gloom-mongering. What’s that, George? Ah, too busy earning a fortune talking to American bankers to have an opinion. And when you told us that Brexit would put Britain up shit-creek minus the paddle, you forgot to mention you had a rocket-powered life-jacket anyway.
More than £320,000 in a month – that’s what Osborne earned talking to American financiers. So much for austerity, eh, George.
So are we in fact in Shit Creek Avenue or are there roses round the door at Mail Cottage (nice village, but we don’t what none of that sort round here, not that we’re racist or anything, but you’ve got to look after your own).
But who is right? Well, I worry that the driver of the Mail coach can’t see a thing sometimes as his glasses do become awfully steamy, what with keeping up all that indignation.
The view from a bicycle is always better, so I might just stop and help push the Guardian tandem up that big hill. With luck, it might wobble to the top.
What worries me about the Mail’s charabanc is that the old thing is batting down the road nicely, and everyone is saying how smooth everything is. “What’s all the doom-mongering about,” everyone says, tucking into their sandwiches.
Yes, the reason it’s smooth running is that we are heading for a cliff and we haven’t gone over yet. Only once we have shot over the edge will we even begin to know what sort of a landing there will be. Or if, to mix transport metaphors, anyone has bothered to pack a parachute.