The Official Inflation Stats:

They bear little relationship

to voters’ real life experience

In some instances it gives little or no pleasure to be ahead of the game. We are now in as sharp and sudden an economic downturn as I can remember but the curious thing is that everyone seems taken by surprise. Yet the signs were there at least six months ago to anyone who cared to see them. Why have we been caught unawares?

I wrote in December 2007 of my sense of déjà vu, to the effect that there was a sudden 1970s flavour to politics as the row over police pay got under way. It will be recalled that, in a quibble over some £30 million, Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith imposed a pay rise of less than 2% on the police apparently in order to set a benchmark for public sector pay. This was, for me, and I suspect many others of my age, a sudden reminder of the struggles over pay, public sector and otherwise, that took place in the 1970s post the 1973 oil crisis and which did so much to bring us to our knees by the time the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher took power in 1979.

I also wrote of the bogus nature of the governments measures of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index and the Retail Prices Index:

Which brings me (stop groaning at the back there) to the point. We have noticed out here in The Sticks in recent months substantial rises in prices in the basics of life, food, fuel (obviously) and all those things which emanate from the supermarkets. The rises have been well above the current levels of either the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) or the Retail Prices Index (RPI) (2.1% and 4.2% respectively in October).

There has been all this year a steady and inexorable rise in this or that commodity at the supermarkets which I (and I appreciate that this may reveal the extent of my economic illiteracy) always think of as being as good a true reflection of inflation as you can get, given the wide variety of goods from all over the world that require an enormous variety of means of production to create them and of transport to get them here. I imagine that your average elector certainly sees the supermarket as a more accurate reflection of inflation than anything the Government puts out. The Police, of course, are, by and large, average electors. For them striking is illegal, but it is lawful for them to talk of it and the fact that they are so doing may reflect the pinch they are feeling, a pinch that may be more universal than the government is letting on.

Now the price rises have gathered pace. I reckon the CPI and RPI figures are fantasy stuff: the true rate of inflation is somewhere between 10 and 15%. Not scientific, I know, but I have got into the habit of disbelieving government statistics, even if they do come from a notionally independent Office of National Statistics.

Now the Main Stream Media and the government are being forced to acknowledge that which we little people have known for months: that price inflation for the necessaries of life – food, petrol & energy and so on – was far above that which was suggested by Official figures. As a family we had already been taken aback by the sudden rise in food prices in part because I can remember the debilitating effects of inflation in the 1970s and what it was like to live in a time of rampant inflation and partly because it was so sudden and unexpected.

So it is without pleasure that one notices that the MSM etc are finally awakening to that which the public has known for months and which to my mind has been one of the principal motors of Gordon Brown’s personal fall from grace.

I think that the carefully contrived spat over the issue of police pay was no mere straw in the wind but born of Gordon Brown’s full knowledge that bad times were on their way. He picked on the group of public employees least able to fight back (the police, who are by law forbidden to strike) knowing that we were about to enter into a period of high inflation which would bring in its wake demands from other public sector employees backed by the Unions for above-inflation pay rises designed to keep ahead of inflation; in other words a return to the endless cycle of galloping inflation and the pay round which so prostrated us in the 1970s.

For what it is worth I reckon that the figure which is now being given out for food price inflation – 10.6% – is months out of date and that that was where we were six months or so ago. I reckon it is nearer to 15% now.

Which all begs the question: what did McStalin know and when did he know it? If, as I believe, he knew months ago that this was the position, then why did he not share it with the people of the country. Then we might have been in a position to make other choices and other preparations in advance, to plan rather than to have to react to the situation now thrust upon us.

Of course he would say that the price of oil has made its major advances in only the last few months. But the inexorable rise in its price was well under way in late 2007 and the scenario which is now unfloding was, I am confident, known then to the Prime Minister. Whay then has he not taken us into his confidence?

Well, we know the answer to that, do we not?

His peers such as John Major cluck disapprovingly about the personal attacks on Brown. Major, it might be thought, having been on the receiving end of some pretty justified criticism of his character and judgement, was no doubt merely reflecting the views of the ex-Prime Minsiters Club.

The rest of us might care to take a more dispassionate view of Brown. The truth of it is that he knew what was coming: at the very least the Treasury is paid in part to foresee such circumstances and its forecasting will have told Brown long ago what was up. Yet he deliberately chose not to warn us of what was coming.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly he could never admit to us that the economy was about to go pear-shaped. The entire McStalin edifice rests on the sands of the economy and the fact that he has been in charge of it since 1997 means that if it goes wrong there is absolutely no on else to blame, no hiding place for Macavity: L’État, c’est moi!”. If it goes wrong, he and only he is going to be held culpable.

Secondly, concealing this from the public has everything to do with the electoral fortunes of the Labour Party.

If we are seen to have returned, albeit for different reasons, some extraneous but mostly self-inflicted, to a situation that we last experienced in the last of the Wilson-Callaghan years, then this provides huge ammunition to those of us who believe that Labour governments always end this way, with inflation through the roof and no money in the bank to tide us over.

That is a potent weapon to be placed in the hand of those of us who aspire to crush socialism out of our national life for ever and a day and as this turns from downturn to recession the size of the weapon grows daily.

For those who would still attribute decent, honourable motives to Gordon Brown, one is inclined to take a tough line. This man is a consummate Labour political operator who cheats, spins and lies his way through his political life and who, for narrow interests of the party whose principal raison d’être is legalised theft, would do or say anything to keep his hands on the levers of power and the buckles of our purses.

There is, then, a delicious irony in having him caught firmly hoisted with his own petard. He has opted to try and con us with the use of the CPI that inflation is only 3.8%. Since this is now a country mile away from the real figure as far as the necessaries of life which all must buy, rich and poor, young and old, and from the real life experience of most voters, he has been found out by his own deceits.

This is only just. But it is a pity that it has taken ten years and more for his true nature to dawn on the British public and that the damage to our economy and the fabric of the nation is already done. Now we must look to Cameron and Osborne to lead us forward, for, like it or not, they will be in the driving seat from 2010 onwars, when Gordon Brown and his Socialists have finally been driven from power, hopefully for the last time.