Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Know Things Are Really Bad When Politicians Say Sorry; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Know Things Are Really Bad When Politicians Say Sorry; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Hann

ONE of the few things I remember about school physics lessons is being invited to laugh at the discredited belief in an invisible substance called phlogiston, supposedly released during burning.

It stuck in my mind chiefly because it sounded more plausible than many of the things I was told to believe as undisputed facts.

So I was delighted last week when some apparently reputable scientists came up with data that appears to challenge Einstein's theory of relativity, even though I haven't got the slightest clue what any of it means.

It's just that my spirits instinctively soar at even the faint possibility of experts, who nearly always have a greatly inflated sense of their own importance, being proved wrong.

So I suppose I should be positively ecstatic at seeing the financial geniuses who held such sway in the Thatcher, Major and My spirits at even the faint of experts being wrong Blair/Brown eras being so comprehensively discredited.

And I would, but for the fact that their mishandling of the financial system looks certain to plunge all of us into a decade or two of relative poverty - which is particularly disappointing for those of us who only have a couple of decades left.

There is also the niggling sense that this setback will seem altogether more bearable from the comfort of a private island, luxury yacht, Swiss Alpine lodge or Cotswold mansion bought with the bonuses dished out for brilliance in conjuring up entirely illusory profits.

These people were not mere bankers, they were alchemists. The priestly caste of our age who could perform magic so powerful that no one dared to say "Hang on, this is total cobblers," when they invented supposedly AAA super-safe investments out of the mortgages insanely and aggressively marketed to crazed optimists and congenital liars living on the margins of society.

You know that things are really, really bad when a senior politician pops up in the media and says "Sorry" as Ed Balls did yesterday morning, doubtless hoping that the electorate will react with a friendly slap on the back and a "Don't worry about it, mate. …

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