Aunt Austerity is coming to visit

Do you know all about austerity? You may have heard the term used in the media. But do you know what it means? Let’s use a Downton Abbey analogy to explain it.

Like an embarrassing but infectiously addictive maiden aunt, Aunt Austerity (much beloved of BBC costume dramas), can be described as dangerous, necessary and welcome all in equal measures. You may know she just completed a weekend visit to Public Service Hall.

She seems to have left the place looking a little messy and the staff and householders a little shaken. The upcoming election will likely mention Aunt Austerity more than once. So she will return. “See you in the summer” was her cry as she headed down your gravel drive. (You still have a gravel drive don’t you?) You waved. You smiled that scared smile you do. And you thought “next year is a long time away”. Maybe you will be on holiday. Or away for the month. And there was that sabbatical you had promised yourself.

So what can you expect Aunt A to bring when she next visits? Well first, her constitution could be even more robust (if a single party is elected in May) so she will be even more of a tour de force. If so, expect closure of your East Wing, less housekeepers and discount shopping rather than using a boutique butcher.

Or maybe Aunt A will still need the support of her quirky cousin (a coalition results). That will likely mean the same thing with more fuss, more talking and added soul searching. In whatever form she appears, by the Summer of this year Aunt A will have gathered her thoughts, built a plan around what she saw on that weekend and be more determined to change your household.

And it doesn’t matter if you asked her or not.

It’s the thing about families / democracies. When you are part of a family / public sector, you often have little real say in decision making about the way your house is run. But you have to live with the consequences anyway. Make up that bed – Aunt Austerity has booked her ticket and is heading your way.

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