It is rather ironic that Harriet Harman, the Equality Minister, has chosen Joan Bakewell as the official voice of old people, thus, I presume, distancing herself from what her mouthpiece might say. Joan is advocating a sort of selective euthanasia, but is a bit vague as to who is going to do the selecting, while urging in the face of all the pros and cons, set out in the website, euthanasia.com, and ignoring the fact that the medical profession has recently voted against euthanasia. This credit crunch seems to be causing a lot of rashness, and statements that are not properly thought through, and can only be construed as money-saving, and moneymaking in some cases. What is increasingly noticeable is that not only the government, but commerce is using well loved and highly respected TV personalities to put across unpalatable messages on TV. At the time when the hard-pressed, and particularly those with debts, are fearful of the current fiscal situation, I find it highly improper, and contrary to the advice of the Citizens Advice Bureau, that these people are promoting debt gathering agencies, when they themselves are not recognized as knowledgeable in that field.
I wish to quote commercial behaviour by those most of us might consider top shops, as being totally contrary to the Prime Minister’s aim, and worse still borrowing, to get us out of the credit crunch by spending on the high street. I see it as ‘Pull up the ladder Jack, I’m all right’. The other day Sophie and I had a sort of virus and our daughter kindly offered to pay our bill at Marks & Spencer’s. Unfortunately she had picked the day when M&S had decided to offer 20% off everything in the shop. As a result she found it impossible to park, and worse still having to queue to get into the shop. The bill was not paid. It has been suggested that Marks & Spencer’s reduction extravaganza, was a reply to Debenham’s offer of 25% off for three days. About 40 years ago I knew a man who ran a number of shops selling high-quality ladies clothing, and suitable accessories. About a month before sale time he would go to the wholesalers and purchase a large quantity of articles that were below the quality of his normal stock, and sell this off as loss leaders. I just cynically mentioned this in passing. Shopkeepers of course, have the freedom to do as they like, without let or hindrance, providing it is lawful. I remember as a child, with little or no pocket money, at Christmastime, breathing on copious toyshop windows, wanting without hope. The sudden, short-lived sale policy, I believe is cynical. At a time when people are considering reducing spending for fear of the future, taking such a large cut across the board, is giving a level of temptation that many would find irresistible, and a high percentage of those will be people whose credit cards should be left at home. There is no shadow of doubt that most of the shops, large or small, are going to have to offload stock to improve their cash-flow, and so before and after Christmas we will see offers and sales, but I hope not to the level of these two referred to above. In their case, some people who were forced to be at work will feel aggrieved, because in particular, by the speed with which it was promoted, and in the M&S’s case because it was only for a one-day, it has been selective of those who could take advantage, midweek.