Have confidence that better times lie ahead

‘THIS too shall pass’. I looked up the origin of this phrase when it was used by friends and family to me a few years ago.

King Solomon, seeking to humble an over-mighty Minister, ordered him to bring him a ring with the magic power to make a sad man happy and a happy man sad.

The Minister sought high and low, and in despair at the end of the given timespan asked a jeweller if he knew of such a ring.

The jeweller took a plain gold ring, engraved these words on it, and told the Minister to give it to King Solomon.

He returned to court, where the king was looking forward complacently to the humiliation of his Minister. When he took the ring and read the inscription his face fell, as he understood the message that all his pomp and wealth and majesty was only transitory.

The modern version would be that nothing is ever as bad or as good as it appears. A salutary message for our times - 2011 has been a challenging year. We’ve seen the beginning of the much-needed public austerity, as we start to tackle the massive budget deficit left by the last Government.

We’ve seen economic recovery hit by the Eurozone crisis, essentially caused by other governments failing to tackle their debts and deficit with the rigour and determination shown by our own coalition Government.

And we saw in August riots and looting in some of our great cities as local disorder spiralled into something scary and frightening, even I suspect scary to some of those who found themselves drawn into it.

So what to make of the prospects for 2012? Are the pessimists right, who argue that things can only get worse? Or could things turn out unexpectedly well? Obviously I don’t know the answer, any more than anyone else.

But I do know that many of the economic problems are caused by lack of confidence. I know that there many investment projects ready to move, with financing behind them, needing only a little nudge of extra confidence to trigger some much-needed activity.

I know that there are many employers whose businesses are flourishing and who would love to take on extra staff but are worried about the risk of the work tailing off.

None of this is to say that everything is going to be fine. Simply that things probably aren’t as bad as they’re sometimes made out to be. And that these things too shall pass.

However it turns out, I wish all my readers a happy and fulfilling 2012.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham