The global economic crisis could not have come at a worse time politically.
For it is obvious that both the Labour and Conservative parties, faced with a General Election next year, are not going to take the necessary steps to tackle the problem.
The UK needs to cut its public spending significantly to reduce its budget deficit. A significant increase in taxation right across the board — not just on those earning more than £150,000 — is also required.
These are punitive measures, but the only alternative is to left things drift — as Chancellor Alistair Darling is doing — and forcing people to pick up a much higher bill in future.
Although the Chancellor recognises that there is very little chance of Labour being returned to power after the next General Election, he is trying to retain whatever slight opportunity there is for victory by causing the absolute minimum pain through his measures to keep the economy ticking over.
David Cameron, as probable next Prime Minister, is refusing to spell out what he would do to balance the books and end the recession as quickly as possible.
He will have the ready-made excuse when he goes into No 10 that Labour caused all the problems and that he is blameless.
But both parties are displaying political cowardice. A former chief policy adviser to previous Prime Minister Tony Blair says the UK must slash its public expenditure by 20% in order to control the £175bn budget deficit.
David Halpern points out that this is what Canada had to do when in a similar financial fix in the 1990s.
The Canadian government tried 15 separate initiatives before seizing the moose by the horns and introducing swingeing public expenditure cuts over a period of four years. It was a bitter dose of medicine, but it worked.
Here Mr Darling is postponing any effective action until 2011. It is a last desperate throw of the dice to keep the dwindling band of Labour supporters and voters onside.
Of course, those in the public service will no doubt back his indecision. After all, the public service has grown enormously under Labour during the last decade, and civil servants, just like turkeys, do not vote for a self cull.
We had an example of that in Northern Ireland just last week.
The Department of the Environment is proposing a series of big increases in the cost of applications for building permission or licences to run places of public entertainment.
A senior civil servant speaking on the radio defended the planning increases by saying that since the recession and the slump in housebuilding the income from applications has fallen substantially. It has now reached the stage where it might be necessary to pay off of some officials in the planning office.
The alternative was to charge builders or homeowners or the hospitality industry more.
The attitude, quite simply, was that civil servant jobs must be protected, even if there was less demand for their services.
Compare that attitude to the private sector where people are laid off — sometimes at a moment’s notice — when a company’s income falls. It is the natural reaction to a recession. Falling income means cutting overheads which means, in most cases, job losses.
The country’s finances are in a much worse state than those of the vast majority of private companies yet no-one is prepared to take the harsh decisions needed to tackle the situation properly.
The UK is going down the financial plughole because the only politicians — Labour and Conservative — likely to form the next Government are more concerned about their own futures than they are about the well-being of those who vote them into power.