Andrew’s Marie Antionette moment was expressed thus:
Interestingly on many counts, recession can be good for us. People tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less rich food and spend time at home with their families.
Actually, no. Recession is not good for us. Even when the economy’s doing well, life is very, very difficult for an awful lot of people – people in full-time employment who are managing, somehow, to keep up with mortgage payments and bring up a family. So when those jobs, those homes and those families are threatened, it probably doesn’t come as much comfort that people have less cash for fags, booze and nice food. Does Lansley actually think that unemployment is enjoyable? An opportunity to spend more time with your family? I don’t know if Andrew or anyone close to him has ever experienced real, hopeless unemployment. I doubt it somehow.
But it’s interesting, isn’t it, how those who don’t fear for the security of their own jobs are complacent about recessions. Take George Monbiot. On 9 October 2007 he wrote an article headed “Bring on the recession”, in which he said:
I hope that the recession now being forecast by some economists materialises… I recognise that recession causes hardship. Like everyone I am aware that it would cause some people to lose their jobs and homes. I do not dismiss these impacts or the harm they inflict… A recession in the rich nations might be the only hope we have of buying the time we need to prevent runaway climate change.
I expect a well-paid journalist like George Monbiot will never want for freelance work in these environmentally-aware times. So why should he fret over the fate of a few million people less fortunate than him?
I prefer the reliable sense and wisdom of the incompartable David Aaronovitch, who is one of the few columnists in Britain who can be bothered to grasp the enormity of the personal disaster that unempoloyment is. In today’s column in The Times, he wrote:
Employment is the key question: the need to keep people at work and earning, rather than to allow unemployment, and all its attendant moral, social and fiscal hazards, to soar. The habit of worklessness is one of the most debilitating vices that any people can acquire. Some of us have forgotten this.
I sympathise with Andrew Lansley to a certain extent. He’s not the first politician to have written something on his blog only to regret it later (ahem). But he clearly meant what he said, even though he regretted writing it. And I’m sorry to go on about it, but it is in the same league as Norman Lamont telling the Commons that “unemployment is a price well worth paying”.
It’s not. And if the Tories still don’t get that, they don’t deserve to be in government.