Any minute now we’ll be hearing soothing words from the Prime Minister that we’ve never had it so good. Funny, I’ve heard those words before…
With the news this morning that Kevin Rudd has regained the biggest lead of any Opposition Leader over John Howard in 11 years of history, get ready to hear this standard old line from Howard. “We’ve never had it so good.”
I remember hearing that line before. Harold Macmillan, a former Prime Minister of Britain, said in 1957 (the year he lost office) that: “Indeed let us be frank about it – most of our people have never had it so good.” He then proceeded to paint a rosy picture of Britain’s economy while urging wage restraint and warning that inflation was the country’s most important problem of the postwar era.
In 1996 (the year he lost office) we had then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating claiming that people had never had it so good’, as cost of living adjustments disappeared and workers found themselves in the midst of a wage freeze, introduction of individual work contracts and enterprise level bargaining in place of ratcheting collective catch-up agreements.
His successor, John Howard, the current Prime Minister of Australia, is also telling the people that they have never had it so good as the jobless rate falls to a three-decade low in Australia.
All three PMs were characterised by evidence of another emperor about to be removed abruptly from office (Napoleon) “Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight”.
The problem is they all start looking backwards instead of forwards, talking of how good it has been instead of what is to come.
History has a way of repeating itself before it changes direction and throws governments out of office.
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