Bored with economic ills? Let's use the Samoan solution

Simply scrap 2012 and move to 2013 where things can only get better.

As both Labour and the Tories squabble over the way ahead for Britain in 2012, neither seems to have considered the Samoan solution. This is a once in a lifetime panacea for all economic ills, available, like those sale bargains, for one day only.

Because it straddles the International Date Line, Samoa has the option of looking either east or west for its time. Concerned that it was out of kilter with its main market, Australia, the tiny Pacific island has come up with a unique solution.

To align its time with its main trading partners, Samoa, along with neighbouring Tokelau, has scrapped today -- December 30. When the citizens of Samoa went to bed yesterday it was Thursday, and when they woke up it was Saturday. Geordie drinkers of Newcastle Brown Ale will know the feeling, but this time there is no headache or embarrassing memories (unless of course you are a Geordie in Samoa). But we digress.

The Samoan solution, once applied to world economics, releases us from the pro- and anti-Keynsian debate of now into a new world of simple solutions to present problems.

Ed Miliband and his alter Ed --- the other one -- are ending this year as they began it: in the doo-doo. It is said that apart from leading the nation into a chorus of "Always Look On The Brightside", they have nothing to offer.

But if they seize the Samoan solution, then they have. Simply scrap 2012 and move to 2013 where things can only get better.

Some might argue this is a nonsense approach to economics -- but then, have you read the alternatives?


Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions.


Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.