Don’t panic – incompetence will prevail

don’t-panic-–-incompetence-will-prevail
Russell Quirk

Where our industry is concerned there are several ways of looking at the impending election and the inevitable change of government.

You might be relieved at an opportunity for a fresh approach after 14 years of a Conservative administration. Perhaps you believe that ‘things can only get better’ and that Labour are a welcome bet? Or that they at least deserve a chance?

You may be a dyed in the wool Conservative that is happy to sway with the current crop’s swagger to the left. You may even believe that Rishi, even though part of the government for six years, can pivot, change and improve if re-elected? You might even believe his pledges, even though many of his 2023 promises remain unfulfilled.

Or you’re one of four people nationally that thinks Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrats are our salvation? Bless.

My view is that the Tories have done a pretty poor job on most things and that’s because Cameron, May, Boris, Sunak and crew are not really conservatives at all. Plus, I reckon the Starmer alternative is likely to follow in the footsteps of all Labour governments which usually ends up with a note that laments ‘there’s no money left’. Labour in the 1970’s gave us power cuts, unions on steroids, rubbish bags piled high in the streets, a three day week and Zimbabwe like inflation. The Brown years gave up all our gold and encouraged Britain into a financial crisis that risked making the Great Depression look like just a bad day at the office by comparison.

And so to entrust the country and the economy to Starmer and Reeves is a risk based on poor past form. Reeves herself said last week that because she had some experience working in the Bank of England that this somehow qualified her to single handedly carry the economy on her shoulders and to grow it all by herself. That’s quite some ego there and also rather a misunderstanding as to how an economy works because it’s obvious to me that it is hard working people, consumers and businesses that provide growth and prosperity. Government just gets in the way and messes it up with stupid interventions, mass borrowing, tax rises and barmy policies.

By the way, the Bank of England under Carney and now Bailey seems to get everything wrong – forecasts, the mis-timing of rate rises, money printing… and therefore holding Threadneedle Street up as the bastion of sound financial management is probably not really the look that our Rachel thinks it is. So, an early school girl error by our wannabe Chancellor.

And as for the Tories, whilst inflation is not really their fault given energy cost rises following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine preceded by a buoyant spending recovery out of lockdowns, nor can they take the credit for inflation falling therefore. But fallen it has and this will now facilitate interest rate reductions albeit said Bank can be guaranteed to delay these for way too long, paranoid as they are that they will miss their arbitrary 2% inflation target long-term. However, rates will go lower this year and this will be a very welcome respite for homeowners and businesses alike and will underpin a decent few months of fiscal positivity. That momentum will carry forward into 2025 and will hopefully negate the specter of whatever it is that the incoming politicos will do once newly entrenched in Downing Street.

And to the point of my piece…

Despite all that we have been subjected to in recent years – Brexit, Covid, Russia/Ukraine, Gaza, political clownery, multiple elections, rate hikes and so on, our country has remained incredibly resilient. Britain flirted with recession only briefly. Unemployment has stayed low. And house prices did not crash and in fact have barely moved the needle up or down in the last two years.

On the latter aspect, Osborne, Hammond, Javid, Hunt etc all played against the property sector with stamp duty rises, attacks on landlords, repeated failures on house building output, multiple empty promises and attempts at regulation that mostly all came to nothing.

Yet the sector prevailed and most participants in our space survived despite the rocks that the Treasury and Whitehall threw at us. Shame on them and our politicians that simply got in the way of people doing their thing.

We should realise, no matter who holds the keys to Number 10, that it really doesn’t matter because as incompetence reigns nonetheless, the property market, the industry and the wider economy will survive and thrive regardless of their hindrance. Think Belgium, a country that ran perfectly well without a government for 652 days. Go figure.

ProperPR research suggests that house prices always rise after an election. So whether Starmer gets in or Sunak somehow holds on by his manicured fingernails, don’t worry about it – it won’t make any difference either way.

It seems that Great Britain PLC works in spite of and not because of our elected politicians.

So in the immortal words of a very wise fridge magnet, Just Keep Calm and Carry On.

Russell Quirk is co-founder of ProperPR, the property specialist public relations agency. 

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