I recently had the joy of hearing some poor, minor minister on the radio explain that the fact that inflation is rising is good news which shows that the prime minister is winning the fight against rising prices.
It seems that inflation never falls in a straight line and that this is a blip. And that it all shows how successful Rishi Sunak has been, how he deserves all the credit and that we should all stick with him.
Heaven alone knows what would have happened if inflation had actually fallen! A national service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s and a new bank holiday, at least. It would have to be something on that scale, surely?
It all goes to show what happens when you set yourself targets by which your success should be judged. Especially when you set yourself targets over which you have no control whatsoever.
It sometimes seems the government has forgotten that inflation is the responsibility of the Bank of England and that this small rise is a sign that it was almost certainly right not to cut interest rates too soon and risk its so far quite successful battle against rising prices. Which, funnily enough, is exactly what the prime minister’s supporters in the Tory Party and the right wing press have been calling for – lower interest rates which they hope will help them politically.
That inflation is stubborn should not be a surprise, the huge and shocking increase in commodity prices caused by the war in Ukraine is bound to make people want higher pay awards, even if they are not affordable. That is what keeps the members of the Monetary Policy Committee awake at night and why they are independent, so they can make the tough decisions that the politicians won’t make.
It is also why Sunak’s claim to somehow be responsible for bringing down inflation is so embarrassing and amusing. It is so much fun to hear his acolytes try to defend increasing inflation as nothing to do with the PM or a blip or the Bank of England’s fault. It’s called cakeism, I believe.
There are many other things the PM does have some influence over, it is just that prices aren’t one of them. He could try to bring down NHS waiting lists, or boost growth, or clear the backlog for the processing of asylum seekers or reduce national debt…
Hang on, he did promise to do all these things and he failed miserably.
It seems the only one of the five tests he set himself that he has managed to hit is to halve inflation. It is, of course, a mere coincidence, that this is the only one he has no control over, the one he could not hit by better management, being competent, improving efficiency, changing policy and running the country well.
Still this month’s higher inflation is surely a blip, St Pauls will still be free next month; so we can thank the PM then for his tireless work and huge successes.