Were you bovvered?

Did you feel like heading for the hills or did you just shrug? A Times poll taken even before yesterday’s mega rescue plan suggests that “on the brink ” panic was held at bay. “56 per cent in Britain, and 51 per cent in America, say they are not worried. Women are a bit more worried about the safety of their savings than men, 41 to 33 per cent.” Judging from the near-zero response to the crisis from Sluggerites, I guess many people were feeling fatalistic. After all, they’ve a lot more to worry about than mere money.. like …ah… The tabloids have decided to look on the bright side, the Sun stressing cheaper mortgages and the benign effects of tumbling house prices as a result of “Thunderbird’s look-alike Alisitair Darling’s international rescue effort.” The Mail warns about the effect of a sluggish stock market on pensions but their columnist Stephen Glover has his own view of the bright side: fewer immigrants competing for British jobs, cheaper football, maybe and “The recession should be good for Great Britain. The Scots, a naturally cautious race, may ignore the blandishments of Alex Salmond and the Scottish Nationalists, and consider the perilous fate of small countries such as Iceland and even Ireland during a global slowdown. Better be part of a large country weathering the storms than a vulnerable tiny nation buffeted about by them.” Meanwhile…In the eye of the storm, amazingly the good cheer was even infecting gloomy Gordon who was having his best day for years. You could see he was happy inside his own skin. Will it last? Peter Riddell in the Times intones: “ The rescue is about saving capitalism, not replacing it with socialism….. This muddies the ideological divide and, as yesterday showed, makes it easier for Gordon Brown, at his most commanding, to handle than for David Cameron. But a recession will be much harder for Mr Brown”. As I would expect, Will Hutton approves the deal; it was even bigger than he’d recommended. “Incredibly, it may have fallen to Gordon Brown to show the world how to avert a slump”.

Never mind Gordon, even the serious stuff that affects you and me has a sliver lining. The heavy commentaries are in broad agreement. We can feel just a little easier.. It’s still too early to work out the repercussions in much detail but again, there’s quite a lot of agreement. The Guardian says the £500bn of support for the banking sector may have surprisingly little impact on the public borrowing figures. Its the recession that follows what means taxes will rise and spending cut. The FT agrees. “The government can afford this plan. National debt is relatively low and the UK can borrow more. The price will, in all likelihood, be eclipsed by the cost of any significant downturn.”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London