It certainly has been an interesting few weeks in the UK when it comes to money.
Firstly, we had our Spending Review, which announced a number of packages aimed at reducing the national debt. Then, suspiciously some might say, we had the news that Prince William had gotten engaged to Catherine Middleton… something that will distract the news channels for a while, and generate up to £1Bn for the country through tourism and souvenir shopping.
This week, the UK government then announces that it’s going to supply up to £7Bn to the government of the Republic of Ireland in IMF funds, EU funds and a Bi-Lateral loan… at a time when the UK is facing its own huge deficit (we’re trying to cut £6Bn from the cost of running the country in the next 12 months by the way). So far, the only reference I’ve seen to the conditions of the loan is that we’re lending at 1.5% and charging 5% – good work as long as they pay it back!! – but I don’t have a publishable reference for that I’m afraid.
And finally, the government announce that we’re going to have an extra ‘public’ holiday in 2011 to commemorate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which Channel Four News reckons might cost the country up to £2.9Bn in lost productivity. The up side is two four day weekends in a row as the wedding fits nicely in between Easter and the May Day bank holiday.
So, when it’s all said & done, both the Strategic Review and the Royal Wedding might actually cost us more in the short term… perhaps not good business moves you might argue.
Yet they’re both the right things to do.
The Rep. of Ireland is still one of the United Kingdom’s biggest trading partners. The Northern Ireland market is linked in a massive way and the impacts may well already felt north of the border, whether that is in decreased sales, impacted banks or indeed immigration from the south. Ireland going under would also hurt GB business, whether it’s Food & Drink exports or UK banks. Letting the Rep. of Ireland go under would also damage the chances of the UK getting back the money that the Rep. of Ireland ALREADY owes the UK too… so a little now, for a long term return, and stability in our neighbour? Yes please.
As for the Royal Wedding, whilst the (now) suspended Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres might disagree, every now and then a little bit of time with the hair let down will do us all no harm. Yes, it might have a degree of distracting the masses, but surely a Royal Wedding distracting us from the ‘doom and gloom’ and even ‘I’m a Celebrity’ or ‘X Factor’ is a good thing. It might cost us more than it makes us (well, based on Channel Four’s numbers today), but in the grand scheme of things, a little party every now & then never hurt. The social capital from it might bond us a country again with street parties & events across the four countries of our nation, and it might offer us a bit of hope… which unless you watch Northern Ireland, is never a bad thing.