Any Dream Will Do.....




At my wedding, my father took great delight in reminding the guests, with the help of a well-preserved tape recording, that I had taken the title role in Theatr Plant Pwllheli's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

As you probably all know, the tale of Joseph revolves around his ability to see the future through his dreams. His life is saved when he is able to predict that Egypt will go through a famine and he is rewarded by the Pharaoh with a post as his most trusted advisor.

If I remember the lyrics properly: "Seven years of bumper crops are on their way, Years of plenty, endless wheat and tons of hay, Your farms will boom, there won't be room to store the surplus food you grow.

"After that, the future doesn't look so bright, Egypt's luck will change completely overnight, and famine's hand will stalk the land with food an all-time low".

There are certainly parallels with the Joseph story with regard to the current economic position in the UK. After a decade of plenty, the last eight months have seen the gathering of the clouds heralding a perfect economic storm. There has been a liquidity crisis in the banking sector, reducing the amount of money available for mortgages and other lending and influencing the prices of houses, which have fallen at the highest rate since the 1991 recession.

We have also seen the price of commodities such as petrol, food and energy rocketing up. Only last week, British Gas increased prices by a record 35% and the price of simple foodstuffs, such as pasta, has doubled in a couple of months.

Most worryingly, consumer confidence has declined to the extent that it is at the lowest level since records began in 1974, with many concerned about their personal financial situation over the coming 12 months. As a result, they are spending less and this is having a knock-on effect on the retail sector.

Of course, cabinet ministers are quick to point out that this is a global crisis and that it is being driven by circumstances beyond their control. Whilst it would be difficult to argue with this, the UK budget deficit has increased to its widest since records began in 1946 and will leave almost no room for manoeuvre for the government, especially after having to compensate low tax payers for the lop tax rate debacle.

As a result, the Prime Minister and his Chancellor are unable to stimulate the economy through any form of tax cuts or incentives. Like the Egyptians, the government had the opportunity to save some of the money generated through growth but, due its policy of unfettered spending, the UK is in a position where, unlike other European countries, it now has no money left in the kitty to do anything that can make a difference to the situation.

It could, and should, be in a position to help businesses and homeowners, but the cupboard is essentially bare. Therefore, whilst the Labour Government may be justified in saying that it can do nothing about the current global conditions, it could, if it had not spent profligately, have had the funds in place to stimulate the economy.

There are rumours that the Prime Minister is no fan of musicals. It is a great shame if this is the case because one trip to the theatre to watch Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical on Joseph could have taught him some vital lessons in dealing with the economic crisis.

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