My favourite newspaper, the Daily Mail, is being more than usually playful this week. Yesterday there was an article lambasting Labour for giving the government a hard time about their economic policies. The headline was along the lines of ‘Wages up, inflation at an all time low, how can Labour still say things are wrong?’ It was a classic piece of Mail mendacity. Inflation’s at an all time low simply because even the growling powerhouse that is China is slowing down. Hence commodity prices are down because of the reduced demand. In particular oil prices have dropped by the best part of 2/3 in the last couple of months, so there’s a knock-on effect of considerable import. This is due in part to OPEC pumping oil as fast as it can to cripple Russia’s economy (not good news for places such as Brazil and Venezuela who are going down the tubes) and partly due to American and Canadian enthusiasm for causing earthquakes by fracking. None of these things is a direct result of UK government policies.
Neither, as it happens, are plunging food prices. Those are purely the result of the Big Four supermarkets slugging it out in a vain attempt to compete with Aldi and Lidl. In doing so, they’re slashing the prices they pay suppliers, so it’s not all good news, especially if you’re one of the 20,000 or so dairy farmers who have been driven to the wall in the past year or so. They’re not too chuffed, I can tell you. Nor are other suppliers who have suffered unilateral decisions to increase payment periods, but the resultant hardships there don’t feature in the overall performance figures.
There’s a bit of jiggery pokery here, but the Mail continued to crow exultantly. However, a mere two pages further on was another startling revelation. The Joseph Roundtree Foundation, an august and highly respected charity organisation, released figures about the number of children being raised in poverty. You’d expect, wouldn’t you, that this number would be in decline, what with wages being up and inflation being down? You’d be wrong. When the government came to power, not quite five years ago, about 6% of households with children has incomes that were too low to sustain a decent standard of living. Guess what? That has increased by 1/3 to 8%. I think that pretty shocking. I also think it’s odd that the pernicious rag that the Mail is cannot be bothered to get off its complacent fat arse and make a song and dance about it.