The Office for Budget Responsibility was designed to protect the Chancellor from accusations that he is cooking the books. If the forecasts are prepared by an independent body, there can’t be the suggestion – as there often was before the OBR’s creation in 2010 – that they have been politically influenced. But what the OBR cannot do is eliminate uncertainty.
In recent years, the likely trajectory of the financial future changed quite a lot from one month to the next: from interest rates and inflation to the Covid pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The state of Florida recently passed a piece of legislation making it illegal for teachers to hold discussions with pupils under the age of eight about gender orientation. It seemed a very reasonable idea to me and I would guess that a largeish proportion of parents in this country, perhaps even a majority, would concur. I would not wish to indulge in an unrealistically idyllic view of childhood, but my own life was certainly less complicated in the years before I suddenly realised, much in the manner of Henry Miller’s famous epiphany, that (to bowdlerise a little) girls were all in possession of cervixes and might thus be receptive to overtures of a sexual nature – or that there might be boys who for complex reasons would remain unmoved by such a revelation.
It is interesting to watch Ofcom finally remove the broadcasting licence from the Russian propaganda channel Russia Today (RT). I almost managed to do the job myself about 12 years ago.
Back in the 2000s, a number of bad regimes were rushing into the broadcasting space to try to give themselves a better international image. The Chinese Communist party set up a London branch of its state television network called CCTV, apparently unaware of the hilarity this would cause in the English language.
Zakhar Prilepin is a well-known novelist in Russia and an ultra-nationalist warrior in Donbas. Once a member of the National Bolshevik party (yes, the left/right implications of its name are as bad as they sound), he is now a strong Putin supporter. He appeared on Russian state TV last Sunday to emphasise that the Russians should not try to appear nice and humane to the West (not a clear and present danger, one would have thought).
P & O once stood for ‘Peninsular and Oriental’, with pleasant connotations of sailings to Cadiz and Constantinople – but after the furious reaction to P&O Ferries’ sacking of 800 UK workers, to be replaced by cheaper overseas agency staff, you might think it stands for ‘Putin and his Oligarchs’.
With the mad Russian warmonger filling every headline, now is not a good time to turn yourself into a high-profile hate figure.