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Jamie Stone: 2022 is starting to feel like 1982 – in all the worst ways

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Caithness MP Jamie Stone on the bad memories evoked by the current financial situation.

Our first child was born in 1982.

I was working shifts in the Nigg oil fabrication yard.

Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon was £1.99 a bottle – and quite good, particularly if you didn’t tell family and friends what it was…

Oh and great, a pay rise! 10 per cent!

You felt flush – for a month or two, until the electricity and phone went up, until the shop prices went up. Again.

And again.

And again.

By the time of the next annual pay rise it was badly needed to keep pace with inflation.

Over the years, it has become all too easy to forget the growling beast at the door that was inflation – continual price rises, in simple words.

Rises that made household budgeting a perpetual challenge.

Would there be enough money to pay the bills? Or would debt beckon? God forbid.

But recent years had lulled us all into a sense of calm.

For some time, inflation seemed like not a lot higher than zero.

The groceries six months from now would cost roughly the same. Inflation was a thing of the past. Something of a nasty old year, like 1982. Gone away. Not going to happen again.

So, for a man of my age, the recent headlines telling us that inflation and price rises are whizzing back to where they were when my wife and I were first married is a nightmare come back.

And of course, now being of pensionable age, I can see that there are millions of good young British citizens out there who have never experienced this before – who have little idea just what a pernicious and morale-sapping thing inflation is.

It is far from funny.

How on earth has this happened? Does the captain on the bridge of the good ship, the SS United Kingdom, realise how dangerous the high seas are?

And remember this – inflation was a contributory factor to industrial unrest – the wage demands and strikes that led our country to be dubbed “the sick man of Europe” in the 1970s and early 1980s owing to government mismanagement.

It was a hellish time.

Just as I remember the Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon at £1.99 a bottle, I also remember my work and family life being affected by strikes.

2022 feels an awful lot like 1982.

War and economic upheaval dominate our daily thoughts and our lives.

The Thatcher government chose to deal with inflation by raising interest rates and decreasing government spending, leading to a rise in the unemployment rate across the country.

Will this government also add to the British people’s suffering?

n Jamie Stone is the Liberal Demcrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

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