In the middle of an economic slowdown and a huge expansion in spending to reduce households’ winter fuel costs, the new UK government has just announced, in its new “mini-budget” its intention to drastically cut taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations. Not surprisingly, the price of UK bonds has plummeted, and interest rates have risen to their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Guardian quotes international market experts from ING saying this was a “perfect storm” for the UK, as “global markets shun sterling and gilts.” They continue
Price action in UK gilts is going from bad to worse. A daunting list of challenges has arisen for sterling-denominated bond investors, and the Treasury’s mini-budget has done little to shore up confidence.
“Little to shore up confidence” is such an elegant bit of English understatement, so extreme as to amount almost to deception. Like “the expanded hours for flight departures at Heathrow have done little to improve the noise pollution problem for residents near the airport” or “Herr Hitler’s new ‘Nuremberg Laws’ have done little to shore up confidence in fair treatment among Germany’s half million Jewish citizens.”
Following Vladimir Putin’s ambiguously threatening “partial mobilisation” speech, this seems an appropriate time to remind everyone that a single letter transposition turns UNCLEAR threats into NUCLEAR threats.
There’s something that baffles me about the public discussion of ERII’s legacy: Why do so many people feel comfortable lauding the late monarch as the (no longer) living embodiment of the nation when she’s waving to the crowd and dispensing Christmas bromides, but just a befuddled girl when her imperial government is committing crimes against humanity?
The cognitive dissonance is extreme: What kind of monsters would we be were we to be charmed by a person responsible for the murder and torture of thousands? Therefore she was not responsible. Therefore, implicitly — since she was responsible for everything — these crimes did not occur.
And just to be extra clear, I am not doubting the expert claim that Harold Macmillan lied like a rug to keep Her Majesty in the dark on the sordid details of the Empire, or lied to the public to pretend that he did. The living embodiment of the nation embodies its crimes as well as its virtues. She can’t embody the spirit of Paddington Bear, but be free of any taint of Hola. The victims of Her Majesty’s government are her royal victims, whether or not her mortal body participated, whether or not it was indeed aware.
The alternative is, monarchy is just bullshit, just celebrity culture with extra-fancy headgear. That seems to be the genuine belief revealed by the public’s response.
Britain’s presumptive next prime minister has been demonstrating the kind of top-drawer platitudes that the nation will be showered with after her investiture tomorrow:
“I have a bold plan that will grow our economy and deliver higher wages, more security for families and world-class public services,” Truss said in a statement, as the curtain came down on the often bitter race with her 42-year-old rival Sunak.
“If I am elected prime minister, I will never let anyone talk us down and I will do everything in my power to make sure our great nation succeeds.”
Now, this may be one of these Anglo-American language confusions (like the perennial embarrassment over “pants”), but when I hear the phrase “never let anyone talk us down” I think of an image like this: