'The truth is that both the UK and the US have to cut living standards. People and governments have spent too much and borrowed to do so. Now the world's markets are saying enough is enough. Living standards in both the public and private sector have to be brought down. The private sector has to sell more abroad and consume less at home. The government sector has to get closer to just spending what it can collect in taxes.'
I can see that emblazoned on the next Tory manifesto cover: 'Vote Conservative - bring your living standards down!' And before anyone suggests he has a point. I agree that consumerism has got out of hand, and that consumption will inevitably fall during a recession (which is a good thing on several fronts, including environmentally), but that doesn't necessarily mean that living standards have to fall. Decent living standards and mass consumption are not the same thing, at all.