RegulationMar 2 2023

'Britain seems to be going nowhere fast'

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'Britain seems to be going nowhere fast'
"I just can’t see Hunt overturning any of his Autumn Statement measures." (FT montage/Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Charlie Bibby)

Where do we go from here? By we, I mean this great country of ours that is slowly stagnating and is in serious danger of getting stuck in a quagmire.

It’s mired in a potent swill of labour shortages, political lethargy, high taxes and untamed inflation. To cut to the chase, I despair. I see no way out.

An early riser, I have always enjoyed running to the railway station (strikes notwithstanding) while listening to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme. But not any more.

All I hear now are depressing tales of pig farmers continuing to lose money on the animals they take to market, or carcasses being transported from the UK to be butchered overseas – and then coming back into this country to be sold in our supermarkets. How does that make sense on so many levels? If I was an eco-warrior, I’d be spitting feathers.

The Budget, creeping up on the horizon like an ogre, will offer no respite from the financial misery most of us find ourselves in.

By the time the Today programme pipes into action I’m already seriously depressed, especially if the first of the two trains I catch into work has been cancelled (50:50). Radio talk about Ukraine, the warmongering Putin, and China’s geopolitical posturing takes my mood down into Dead Sea territory.

Against a backdrop of the UK economy heading to be overtaken by Poland by the end of the decade in GDP per capita terms, I fear we are a country going nowhere.  

British Steel sheds 250 jobs in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire as a result of closing its coking ovens and no one bats an eyelid.

Train strikes now seem part of everyday life (no one seems to bother when Mick Lynch, boss of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, calls another series of strikes).

As for vegetable shortages, they are simply greeted with calls from politicians urging us to eat more turnips (I thought turnips were for donkeys or at the very best used in stews when carrots are unavailable).

The Budget, creeping up on the horizon like an ogre, will offer no respite from the financial misery most of us find ourselves in. Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt may have brought a bit of calm to financial markets last year with his Autumn Statement, but it hasn’t done many of us any favours.

A whole raft of allowances and thresholds have either been frozen until April 2028 or cut, the most wicked of which pertain to income tax.