Bill Carmichael: Balls the laughable prophet of doom

Readers of a certain vintage may recall Up Pompeii! a TV comedy set in Roman times and starring the late Frankie Howerd as Lurcio the Slave.

At the beginning of each episode Lurcio would attempt to deliver a prologue only to be constantly interrupted, most notably by a wild-haired character called Senna the Soothsayer who would dash onto the set wailing: “Woe, woe and thrice woe! Death, destruction and doooooom!”

If they ever do a modern re-make, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is a shoo-in for the part of Senna following an apocalyptic speech he delivered this week.

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In a bloodcurdling warning ahead of May’s election, Balls listed the dire consequences of a Conservative victory, including the abolition of the Foreign Office, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the Department of Transport, police cut to 1970s levels, the army cut to the smallest size in 350 years and the end of the NHS (I think we’ve heard that one before).

No-one mongers a bit of doom quite like the honourable member for Morley and Outwood.

This sort of hysterical shroud waving has become highly fashionable of late. A few weeks back a Labour MP claimed that people were so poor they couldn’t afford proper funerals and were instead burying their departed loved ones in the back garden.

And Labour’s chums in the BBC made the utterly preposterous claim that levels of penury in the UK are approaching those in the poverty-stricken coalfields of the 1930s.

Is it just me, or is all this sounding just a tiny bit desperate?

In the event even Balls couldn’t keep up the scaremongering. Under questioning from reporters he admitted that he didn’t actually believe that the Conservatives would close down the Foreign Office.

How does he expect us to believe his propaganda when he can’t swallow it himself?

The blunt truth is that the UK is bust. Our total debt is approaching £1.5 trillion and we are adding to this at the rate of about £2 billion a week.

The only reason we are not in the same soup as Greece is because interest rates are at historically low levels, meaning our borrowing is cheaper.

When interest rates rise, as they inevitably will, we are stuffed. The next government, of whatever hue, will be forced to make cuts in state spending or impose tax increases – and most probably both.

For Balls to try to pretend he has a magic formula that will enable us to dodge the economic realities is just silly.

Ed Balls as our next Chancellor? As Frankie Howerd might say: “Titter ye not!”

Don’t go, Jeremy

I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson, not because I particularly enjoy Top Gear but because he has a matchless ability to wind up the assorted bedwetters of the politically-correct Left.

Clarkson has only to deliberately crash into a tree or drive across Argentina for the Twitter mob to descend into spittle-flecked, swivel-eyed meltdown.

The man deserves a medal.

Now Doncaster’s finest is in more hot water with BBC suits following a “fracas” at a Yorkshire hotel and it’s rumoured the plug might be pulled on the show altogether.

I don’t expect Clarkson will be too bothered. He is already fabulously wealthy and Sky and ITV would bite his hand off if he decided to jump ship.

Largely because of Clarkson, Top Gear is the most successful show in BBC history, regularly bringing in ratings of more than five million and earning millions a year for BBC Worldwide.

Top Gear doesn’t actually need the teat of public subsidy through the licence fee. It is genuinely popular with ordinary people – and I suspect that is what upsets BBC bosses more than anything. No single mothers on council estates have to be jailed for Top Gear to be made.

And its fans love it precisely because of the irreverent and politically-incorrect humour of its host.

What will replace it? A writer for the Guardian suggested an “eco-feminist” version of the show featuring electric cars.

Yes sure – a dour, self-righteous, finger wagging lecture on the evils of fossil fuels will really pull the punters in, won’t it?

Save us from this Jeremy – please don’t go!