If you needed evidence of the futility of politics, this is it. The Tories have come out with research showing that British people are worse off than inflation figures might suggest. I wholeheartedly agree. Staples are increasing in price far faster than CPI might lead you to believe, but luckily iPods and luxury goods are falling, creating a totally false impression of the cost of living - unless, as I've suggested before, you eat iPods for breakfast instead of cereal.
I'm not really complaining, either, about the way the mid-market shitsheets have tried to portray these data, although the Mail says it's £1,400 a year and the Express says it's £260 - from the same set of figures. That just goes to show how these newspapers happily manipulate figures - but we knew that already. It simply makes them, not the Tories, look like the buffoons in all this.
No, what I'm really puzzled by is where the Tories point the finger. At rising world food prices? No. At Labour tax. *sigh* Just when they come up with something genuinely interesting and perceptive, they have to go and spoil it all by ham-fistedly linking it to 'Robber McBroon' and his chums. Jesus wept. In the Mail, Dave Cameron says:
Mr Cameron said: "I think all governments lose touch and this government really has lost touch. It keeps talking about how low inflation is. I drove back from York last night and filled up the car and I think it cost me £12 to £15 more than the last time.
You should've tried taking a train, pal. Then you'd know about real pain.
"The family shop is costing more and I think the government just doesn't understand that. They don't seem to be showing any sympathy and understanding to people and through their Budget, they're actually making it worse."
So what's the solution - increase public-sector pay settlements to reflect this real-terms gap between the cost of living and 'inflation' figures? That would seem to be sensible, wouldn't it?
The Tories promise, however, to end the 'couple penalty' in the tax credit system, giving 1.8 million families an extra £2,000 a year; give local people the power to block excessive council tax rises and abolish stamp duty on properties of £250,000 or less.
Oh, I see. No. Let's make it easier for the rich to buy second homes. Let's cut local amenities. Great.
They start from the right place: yes, food and other goods are increasing. Yes, the inflation figures don't tell the real story. I completely agree.
But do they try and make the poorest people better off? No, they attempt some Daily Mail posturing over marriage, for no sensible reason whatsoever. They bring back the idea of rate-capping to shove the blame onto councils rather than central government. They pretend they're helping first-time buyers by scrapping stamp duty up to a certain level, but at the same time they simply make it easier for the rich to buy second homes for buy-to-let, thereby keeping property prices at the lower end of the market artificially high. It's a pity. It's annoying. But that's party politics.