Well you certainly did not hear it here first. The Royal family has an new heir. The media coverage was and presumably continues to be… well, rather daft. Our “news” channels seem unable to deliver much to us these days other than speculation and anecdotal opinion from.. well pretty much anyone that wants to be on the airwaves.
So I was intrigued to see an estimate from the Centre for Retail Research based in Nottingham that suggested the new baby would generate “around” (seems like a fairly precise number to me) £243m for the UK economy. This is money spent on “stuff” that ultimately gets counted. Now, perhaps I’m out of touch on this, but I hadn’t noticed a whole lot of “festivities” which account for £87m. This is on extra food, drink and parties to celebrate the birth…I think I must be short of an invite or two, but really? An estimated 3m bottles of sparkling wine or champagne opened to celebrate this specific event…(where?) I suppose I’m not disputing the numbers, perhaps they are right, but 3m of a 60m population about 5% of people will actually go and buy an extra bottle of bubbly to celebrate, that’s one in twenty (aged 0 to 100+). Sound right to you? This is not bubbly that they already bought, or due to an anniversary (quite a lot of people marry in the summer)..or finish school or Uni…this is extra bubbly.
The CRR also allocate £80m for souvenirs and toys. Well this is plausible, have you seen the price of London trinkets lately? Add to this a further £76m for books, DVDs and “other media”. They even suggest that pram sales will rise 13%, which I find rather incredulous, do people really decide to have children as a result of a member of the Royal family having a baby? well apparently so.
As you may have gathered, I have some reservations about the accuracy of such forecasts and predictions. If they are correct, then perhaps we should request that the Royals reproduce every year! We would soon be out of our economic doldrums…or at least somewhat overcome by the festive hats and DVDs.
I’m not in anyway knocking the Royal family. Of course the birth of a baby is, in this instance, delightful news to his parents. What I get rather concerned about is the way our national governance and economic well-being is reduced to unproven figures, be it inflation, royal birth, benefit cheats, illegal immigration, crime, cost of the Olympic games or a BBC inquiry. I am of course mindful that the figures may well be right, but they certainly don’t sound remotely accurate.
Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA