The daily drumbeat of grim economic news continues unabated. There was one glimmer of light: retail sales rose by 0.3% between October and November, but that's partly seasonal and probably also the result of the massive discounts peppered across every High Street window.
Every other statistic is gloomy: this morning we learned that net mortgage lending will be negative during 2009 and that around 75,000 people will have their homes repossessed, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. That should extinguish what life there is left in retail sales.
The poisonous effects of the banking crisis are now fully infiltrating the so-called "real" economy: UK car production slumped by a third last month as the motor industry was increasingly hit by the economic downturn. The number of cars built in factories in the UK was 97,604, down by 33% on November last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. In America the carnage is even worse: US Motor giant Chrysler is closing all 30 of its factories for a month.
From banks to car-makers, everybody is looking to the government for a bail out. So it's hardly surprising Business Secretary Peter Mandelson confirmed last night he's been in talks with Jaguar Landrover, famous British names whose new Indian owners are seeking help with their cash flow -- perhaps upwards of £1 billion of taxpayers' money over two years -- because of "the unprecedented cash climate".
If you're heading for Europe for Christmas, don't expect much cheer when the bills arrive. News that the Bank of England is likely to cut interest rates yet again (they're already only 2%) sent sterling spiraling down even lower against the euro: though they have not yet officially reached parity, in some transactions you will find a pound already buys you LESS than one Euro.
All that and 2m unemployed, which some think might soon be closer to 3m. So we make no excuses for turning to the economy again today: I'll be taking stock of the economic year today with former Business Minister Digby Jones and Doug Richard, former Dragon from the Den and also Chairman of the Tory Task force on small business.
Also today the prime minister is this morning telling the Commons about how British Troops will effectively be gone from Iraq by July of next year. The armed forces, of course, can leave with their heads held high; not everyone says the same about those who sent them there almost six years ago -- or set their rules of engagement and deployment once the invasion was over.
The blunt truth might well be that nobody on the ground will much notice the British withdrawal. After all, our troops have spent most of the past 15 months hunkered down at Basra's airport, well outside the city. Most effort has gone into to defending that base -- and until they retreated, the Basra Palace base -- rather than enforcing law and order in Basra and the surrounding southern provinces.
Basra is now relatively safe and normal, though still without enough clean water or 24-hour electricity. But it is a stretch for the British to claim that as their own success. Indeed many locals had come to hate the British not because we were occupiers but because they believed we had turned their city over to foreign-backed extremists intent on imposing hardline Iranian-style Islamist doctrines. It was during this time that I received a number of reports from people on the ground of women being murdered for wearing western dress and barbers being killed for shaving beards, while the British stayed holed up in their airport base and much of the British media looked the other way.
Andrew Gilligan tells what happened next in this morning's Evening Standard: "The turning-point, this spring, was a military offensive, Charge of the Knights, in which we took no part. The troops who expelled the militias and criminals tormenting the people of Basra were Iraqi and American. To the intense frustration of British troops - no cowards they - Britain stayed in its secure base in the outskirts, looking on.
"Still not fully appreciated by the [British] public, Charge of the Knights marked one of the lowest moments in the proud history of the British Army. What prompted the operation was the Iraqi government's horrified realisation that we [The British] had secretly signed what was effectively a surrender agreement with the Mahdi Army to turn Basra over to them, in return for a promise that they would stop attacking us. Part of the agreement was that British troops would no longer enter the city.
"So Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, ordered in his own troops (deliberately keeping the British in the dark until the last minute) to take Basra back. At first, it was a rout but then Iraq's crack 1st Division, American-trained, was sent in from Baghdad, backed by 800 US soldiers and marines also from the centre of the country, and they prevailed. Britain, held back by London and constrained by its surrender agreement, barely lifted a finger to help."
British officials would challenge Gilligan's version of events but it is backed up, privately at least, by American and Iraqi officers and by other independent commentators. So we'll be assessing the real record of Britain's Iraq adventure with General Sir Mike Jackson, the former Chief of General Staff who was in Iraq during the war.
And - as you all know - politics is never without it's comic moments -- so Comedian Andy Zaltzman will be serving up his very own 2008 annual of political stories he thinks tops the list for sheer giggle factor.
Don't forget we want your views on all the stories that are making the news: How are you being affected by the economic downturn? What are your comic moments from the year? Email us at email@example.com, then take your seat for the Daily Politics show at Noon on BBC-2.