Teresa Hunter: Return of 95% mortgage market is crucial to recovery
Isn't that what politicians are for, to make us laugh? Like Aunt Sallies in old fairgrounds, we set them up to knock them down.
Only recently we all chuckled at Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's boast he'd had "no more than 30 lovers". And you couldn't help but snigger at Harriet Harman in a bullet-proof vest.
Then there was Gordon Brown's classic gaffe about saving the world, on top of single-handedly abolishing boom and bust. Not to mention the Ed Balls interjection of "so what" in the House of Commons, when someone said people were paying more tax than ever.
John Prescott was the ultimate political pantomime dame, with Cherie Blair not far behind: a kind of ugly sister, with her propensity to acquire dodgy friends and flats. Even the saintly Obama crossed the line when he said of Sarah Palin: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig."
But shouldn't we expect something more serious from our politicians? Or is that the point? None of us dare face the truth that they are nothing more than knockabout sallies. Take this week, and all the announcements about the banks. So, the Government's going to guarantee loans. Could you follow the detail? I couldn't. A bad bank is on the table. Do you understand how that works?
We seem to have a lot of clever men rushing around doing clever things. But isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?
My maxim is always "keep it simple". We don't need complicated fixes. All we need is for the banks to begin lending again.
I was talking to a young mum with a new baby who wants to move. She and her husband are in a small flat and need something bigger now junior has arrived.
She's smart enough to know it's a great time to trade up. But she has to find a buyer, who has to get a mortgage. She will also, presumably, want a bigger loan herself.
That's where everything grinds to a halt. Why doesn't the Government break the gridlock by using the banks it owns, either Northern Rock or Royal Bank of Scotland, to start offering 95% mortgages again, at decent rates, say 1% over base.
My young mum's buyer would be able get a mortgage and she could move to something more suitable for a baby. In one easy step we have solved all our problems.
Some building societies are itching to get back into the 90% and 95% market because they know until first-time buyers can enter the market, there's no hope of recovery.
One said to me: "We'd love to do it, but we can't. We'd be swamped. It could break us. But if others were doing it, we would certainly take part. It needs concerted action."
This is the quickest way to kick-start the economy and stop the jobs bloodbath. Mark my words.
The time will come when the Government finally does start lending direct to businesses and homebuyers. But knowing these clowns, they will, true to current form, make the move only once it is far too late to rescue us.
Check your statement
Can I advise all readers, who bought anything from Amazon over Christmas to check their credit and debit card statements. Otherwise they could end up paying nearly 50 unwittingly for a service they never ordered.
I was astonished to find a 47.97 entry on my credit card bill for an organisation called Prime membership. I had no idea what it could be.
It was only when I googled it that I found the link to Amazon, largely from blogger complaints. It is the membership fee for the Prime Delivery service.
Had I signed up for it? Not to my knowledge, although I do remember, every time I ordered copious books and presents, etc, a box popped up saying they could not guarantee delivery before Christmas, which seemed absurd given there were still weeks to go.
But then another box popped up immediately afterwards saying "tick here if you want delivery before Christmas". Well, guess which box I ticked?
I can only conclude that I must have been tricked – and yes tricked is the word as far as I'm concerned – into ticking something which inadvertently signed me up for a service I did not want.
Amazon has apologised graciously and reimbursed me. If you have been similarly caught out the number to call is 0800 4961081, or you can complain online. But what about the thousands who never check their credit card statement, so end up paying nearly 50 for nothing?