Jeff Randall, former BBC Economics Editor, and now a columnist in the Daily Telegraph, is usually enjoyable to watch and read. He had a direct and blunt style that he uses to great effect in exposing key issues. This often discomforts politicians who find themselves “naked” despite their attempts to conceal problems by suggesting the problems were too complex to be held accountable for.
Sadly, he played to the gallery last night in true ITV style last night in a documentary on the debt mountain in Britain. A series of cases were reported in which individuals/families had run up huge debts that they now found themselves unable to pay. In one case, a family had their home repossessed. In other, an ageing wannabe model was spending £1,700 more than her monthly income inc £150 per week on hairdressing and considerable sums on clothes shopping, all charged to her credit cards. She had amassed a current unsecured debt of £41k, which came as a shock to her when it was pointed out on the programme.
The culprit for the cases – the banks. It was apparently their fault that these people had overstretched themselves by making credit available to them. These unfortunate people were victims of bank negligence, or so it was alleged. Indeed, one man featured acknowleged living his life to the full and spending on nights-out and clothes but said it was the bank’s fault for lending him the money i.e. they shouldn’t have put temptation in his way.
Personal responsibility seems to be something easily dispensed with today, with blame-shifting an acceptable practice. No matter that these individuals chose to spend without regard for their income or ability to repay.
To be fair to Jeff Randall, for many years he has criticised lax credit conditions because of the problems that were being stored up for the future. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that most people were keen that the economy and prosperity at least gave the appearance of improving. Had the banks tightened credit they would have been castigated for holding back the economy.
The dramatised analogy of the hangover from the great party being caused by the bartender was sadly omitted from the programme.