Your guide to making sense of this whole mess.
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Dear lovely reader,

First of all, I hope you are doing alright. This is a really odd time. 

I shall be mercifully brief this week.

The only things to talk about are Covid-19 and the budget. While I hope that I am pretty good at politics stuff, I am neither a medical expert nor an economist. I have a GCSE in biology. Half an A-level in economics. It's not brilliant.

As such, I'll have a look at what's going on around The Budget, but not particularly at the measures themselves. Better that, I think, than giving you my half baked ideas, mostly stolen from Wikipedia and the BBC.

Not really going to touch on the Coronavirus. The measures that have been announced all depends on what happens over the next few weeks and months. No government changes next week, I don't think. You don't need me to tell you to wash your hands.

Finally, the paperback version of my book is out on Thursday. I think the new cover is rather beautiful. Obviously, you read enough of my words to know you wouldn't want to open the thing but imagine how good it will look on your shelf.

Peace and love,


ps - apologies. It isn't all that short after all. I got all carried away with reminiscing for metaphorical purposes.

Broken hearts and shattered dreams

A friend was going to sell me his Amstrad. I think it was going to be a tenner. He only lived around the corner, so (having secured the necessary finances from my mum), I bounced round to his house. I couldn't believe my luck. I was going to spend the afternoon playing Rick Dangerous on my Amstrad. Big plans. 

This all happened about thirty years ago, and yet I remember what happened next with absolute clarity. My friend opened the door, clutching the Amstrad in his arms. Excitement surged. And yet, he didn't look delighted to be receiving his bounteous reward. He looked up and said he wasn't selling. He was going to keep it. 

No afternoon videogames for me. No going to sleep knowing that I owned this wonderful machine. Instead of fun, I had nothing by shattered dreams and a broken heart to look forward to. Oh, and my parent's old pong. Guess I'd better get back to that.

All of which is why I sympathise with Rishi Sunak. An intelligent and able Treasury Minister who suddenly got the opportunity to step up when Sajid Javid stepped down. 

The Budget was coming up pretty soon, but that's just not a problem. As a Treasury guy, he's all over it. He's been writing it. Of course, he would change a couple of bits to make it his budget, but he was effectively going to take the Amstrad from his friend's house to his house.

To make things even better, the economy was doing pretty well. Record levels of employment (if you include zero-hours and gig economy and all that), wages rising, people investing... there is money to spend at the budget, and chancellors love a bit of money to spend.

Everything was going swimmingly. Nothing could go wrong now. 

You know what happens next. The virus is coming.

The whole economy could be badly, badly affected. Sure, digital marketers can work from home and still be paid. Bar staff can't. Uber drivers can't. Carers can't. If people aren't going to work, most will have less money. Rent won't go down, nor will bills. Less money is spent, which means less money for wages, etc etc etc.

Also, the people off sick aren't making the things that other factories need to make their things, so supply lines fall apart and manufacturing has to wait the whole thing out.

The FTSE 100 (which is a big money thing that goes up and down, making or losing money for people who own bits of one of the 100 companies) lost loads of money.  That's often the first sign that bad things are coming.

On Wednesday Rishi Sunak will take to his feet with Conservative MPs cheering him on. The first budget from a brand new Chancellor. Possibly something he has always dreamt of. He's there. He's done it.  Except this won't be the budget he wanted. This will be very far from what he wanted. 

Picture him today, looking up at the window. Watching the rain. Salt tears trickle down his cheek. 

Don't worry Rishi. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

Next week in Parliament (and Chorley)

The big, big day this week isn't the Budget on Wednesday. It's next Saturday (1st) when the family comedy politics show I do, with Tiernan Douieb (from Comedy Club 4 Kids) hits the Little Theatre in Chorley. Click here for details. I would say this, but it's brilliant.

House of Commons:


Monday and Tuesday: Very little

Wednesday: The Budget!  It'll start straight after PMQs. It normally takes roughly an hour but can be much more (or a little less). After, Labour respond. 

It's normally a good debate, with MPs really getting into the spending they'd like to see to create the world they want/

Thursday: The Budget debate continues.

Friday: Private Members Bills Day!  The first PMB sitting Friday of this Parliament. This is when individual MPs start their own laws. It's very, very hard for these to actually complete the journey, but the debates are often interesting. 

Today, though, we start with one that could just make it. Mike Amesbury has some government backing for his bill to demand value for money for school uniforms and stop schools doing deals with single uniform suppliers. 

House of Lords:

Nothing much really. 

Also, it's International Woman's Day on Sunday 8th. 
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