No Happy New Year, the only silver lining is the probable election of Caroline Lucas

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right: the last decade was gruelling. If we look back to the optimism at the start of the new millennium we have seen, amongst other things, the election of George W Bush, 9/11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the London bombings, swine flu, and, most recently, the Recession.

So can we look towards the next decade with any greater optimism? I fear not. The legacy of Tony Blair’s obsession with war has resulted in both Britain and the world becoming more unsafe. The gap between rich and poor nations has grown, and between the rich and poor in Britain likewise.

The Recession will afflict us for years to come, with house prices well beyond the reach of ordinary people, the value of pensions for most being eroded, and the decline in job security will mean that we, our children and their children will be paying the cost of the recession and of Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come.

One of the greatest negative legacies on the domestic front is the institutionalisation of debt. Where previous generations avoided debt, through the introduction of student loans Blair and New Labour have allowed debt to become an accepted part of ordinary life, something encouraged and nurtured by government.

Of equal concern is the central role that alcohol is now playing in most social activities. In a report issued today the NHS Confederation has said that alcohol is placing an “unsustainable burden” on the NHS. Blair’s obsession with deregulation and allowing the market to set limits is not only hurting the economic health of the nation, it is hurting the physical health of ordinary individuals.

These are the legacy of Tony Blair. Gordon Brown had an opportunity to make a clean break from one of the most disastrous prime ministers in British history, but he failed to do so, demonstrating a lack of political acumen and personal courage. Labour should hang its head in shame as it enters an election year.

I would like to wish you a happy New Year, but the outlook is too grim. I would like to say that a heavy defeat in the General Election would be a just reward for New Labour, but the alternative, a Conservative victory and David Cameron becoming Prime Minister, is too frightening to contemplate.

The only silver lining is the probable election in Brighton Pavilion of Caroline Lucas at the General Election.

We are at the beginning of the beginning of the Recession

Good news and bad news on the high street in Brighton and Hove. The threat hanging over Sussex Stationers has been lifted, at least for now. Unfortunatelythere will be a large number of job losses. Already 30 redundancies have been made by private equity firm Endless who bought the chain from Easons earlier this year.

Already the high street has lost Woolworths and Zavvi. There is another large high street chain, with an large outlet in Churchill Square, that is on a knife edge. Telephones have been cut off, staff have not been paid and the bailiffs have called. I give this chain no more than 2 weeks. Its loss to Churchill Square will be serious.

We are all in a state of denial. The recession has yet to bite. Two things have held back the real impact. Firstly, the impending general election has ensured that the extent of cuts has yet to be revealed. The public sector has been protected, but all will change after the election.

The second is the determination of governments across the world to ensure that there is a supply of cash. This has allowed limited liquidity to be sustained, but governments are running out of money and national economies will, in the next 12 to 24 months really hit the buffers.

The future isn’t Orange, the future is grim and getting grimmer. We are not seeing the green shoots of recovery.  We are seeing the beginning of the beginning of the recession.