David Blackburn

You’ve never had it so good

You’ve never had it so good
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As Michael Gove said at the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto: “Britain in 2010 is a great place to live in many ways” (4:12 in on this video). Lord Young, The Spectator’s Peer of the Year, agrees: for many of us, we’ve never had it so good. He told the Telegraph:

‘For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession - this so-called recession - started…Most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month, suddenly started paying very little each month. That could make three, four, five, six hundred pounds a month difference, free of tax. That is why the retail sales have kept very good all the way through.’

All of that is true – this is a happy time, a very happy time, if you’re employed and borrowing. What Young neglected to mention was that it’s pretty grim for everyone else, especially savers whose prudence continues to fund cheap money.

It is odd that a Tory grandee should be contemptuous the spending habits of the party’s core vote. But that is not nearly as damaging as the perception that the government is staffed by arrogant, doddery millionaires – a gift to Labour and a threat to the stability of the coalition. He compounded his error by extending his curt generalisations to cuts, unemployment and welfare dependency. Again, he is right that public sector job losses should be largely consumed by private sector expansion; but not all will. He’s right that many have a sense of entitlement; but not all do. These issues have incendiary potential; they require dextrousness and sensitivity, otherwise a politician’s stereotyping will come back to haunt him.