Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lakeland 100: the easy bit

That's the easy bit done. This summer I entered the Lakeland 50, which was by some measure the toughest run I've ever done. Today I put my name down for the Lakeland 100, which is actually 103 miles and reckoned to be more than twice as hard. I now have over nine months to prepare/regret my decision. Last year's winner, Stuart Mills, reckons that 'the key to performance is simple, remain positive, do not let any negative thoughts develop'. He clearly hasn't been watching the Conservative Party conference.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Sharing the pain

Next time you’re asked what savings you would make to reduce the budget deficit – for which read what services you would cut – be bold. Answer: none. We don’t need to make any cuts, not a penny.

Even if you accept the dubious premise that we have to take action to reduce the budget deficit now, before the economy’s safely out of recession, there’s more than enough money around to make the draconian adjustments announced in George Osborne’s June budget. And we can make them without a single penny being taken away from public spending or a single person being any less well off than they were last year.

Fanciful? Only if you believe that the ever-accumulating wealth of the few hundred people who have most in our society must forever remain untouchable, even as the modest incomes and spending of the many millions who have least are pared to the bone.

In fact, we can balance the books of Britain’s public finances in a way that would affect no more than 1,000 or so people at most – and even they could be left massively better off than they were in 2009. Just do the sums.

George Osborne’s avowed objective is to reduce the budget deficit from £149 billion in 2010/11 to £116 billion in 2011/12. That’s a lot of money taken from you and me. But £33 billion is barely two fifths of the increase in personal wealth enjoyed by the 1,000 richest people in the UK last year.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2010, the top 1,000 saw their fortunes rise by £77 billion on 2009. Half of that would pay for all of Osborne’s budget measures, with a few billion to spare – and it would still leave the super-rich £38.5 million apiece better off on average than in 2009.

If we’re really ‘all in this together’, as David Cameron likes to insist, that’s the sort of pain I’ll be prepared to share.