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Unlike bishops, Tory Chancellors have no shame

Osborne does not do shame. The 0.5% growth in the third quarter, which may well be pared down by further revision of the figures as happened in both the previous quarters, is anything but the triumph Osborne hailed it as. At 3 years after the start of the Great Depression in 1930 the UK economy was poised to grow rapidly from -6% below the pre-crash peak to pass that peak again within a year. This time round, the UK economy at the same 3-year point in the cycle is stuck at -4% below the pre-crash peak and any idea of growth within the next year, let alone the next 2-3 years, has vanished. This is not just the slowest ’recovery’ ever from a deep recession, it is also of all the 5 big recessions of the last century the one which at this 3-year point from its start looks likely to slide back again into even deeper recession.

At least at that other impasse just up the road, Chartres had the grace to cast aside his profoundly conservative and Establishment values and confess that he and the St. Paul’s Chapter had badly erred:

  • They were wrong to close the cathedral on obviously specious health and safety grounds.
  • They were wrong to side with the ultra-reactionary Corporation of the City of London in seeking legal expulsion of the protesters.
  • They were wrong not to realise immediately where in this protest Christian ethics lay and to join in a Faustian deal with City greed to remove this embarrassing reminder of their own betrayal of the Church’s real values.

But at least Chartres and the Chapter repented. Not so Osborne.

The contrast between the politicians and the bishops – once they had been shaken down by an exasperated laity – was striking enough. The refusal of the politicians ever to admit they were wrong or to let even a murmur of apology pass their lips is now a central reason for the almost total disconnect between the political class and the electorate as a whole. It was driven home even further this week by Liam Fox’s brazen fantasising about a comeback only a few weeks after his comprehensive disgrace. Even by these standards the smugness and hubris of Osborne takes some beating.

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