Last night John Redwood flummoxed Kirsty Walk on Newsnight (here) when he said that the government was not cutting public expenditure. She didn’t really know where to go with her line of questioning since it was so off her script. The BBC weltanschauung is that we will soon be seeing massive and terrible cuts in government spending which will provide endless material of the grinding down the poor and vulnerable kind for them.
The truth, as Redwood points out, is that the government is still planning on spending rising every year, government debt will continue to rise year-on-year and the deficit will not be closed even in 2015. The unfunded overspending will be restrained in comparison to Gordon Brown, but will continue regardless. This government will continue to spend more than it receives and the budget will not be balanced. There will be no overall cut in spending…
Newsnight’s regular political panel, made up of Cameroon Danny Finkelstein, the LibDem’s Olly Grender and Blairite insider Peter Hyman, has a bit of a problem. Ever since the coalition emerged Grender and the Fink have moved closer and closer to each other, not only on the sofa but in terms of argument. They seem to agree on almost everything now with only some nuanced differences.
It’s essentially two pro-government mouthpieces against one for Hyman who has to fight them both – Labour is bound to start really moaning about this sort of thing…
If you missed last night’s Newsnight, you missed a classic of its kind.
Prezza, Pickles and the Huhney monster trashing each other and squabbling in a manner that would make fish wives embarrassed. Every now and then Prezza would shout “Ashcroft” like he had a politicised version of Tourette’s syndrome. Huhne accused Blair of wanting a Labour government to protect his lobbying interests. Pickles tried to out-gruff Prezza. It was so bad, it was good.
Watch it on iPlayer here.
On Tuesday Guido posted a graph displaying an inverse correlation: every time Gordon showed a whiff of recovery the value of the pound went into free fall. Whenever Labour goes up in the polls the pound goes down on the exchanges.
Well it seems last night the Newsnight economic team not only copied the concept, but Emily Nomates’s graphic too – the start dates and margins are identical to Emily’s original graph.
Nice to know where the BBC’s great and good come for an economics lesson.
When Guido reads articles about how powerful and influential this blog is he laughs because it was set up on a whim and primarily for his own amusement. The insight that perhaps makes this blog successful was that political gossip and tittle-tattle is far more compelling than people will admit. Now bearing in mind that the readership of this blog is heavily concentrated in the media, parliament, political parties, the law and the City, which story do you think was most popular yesterday?
The critical analysis of the political paralysis surrounding the fiscal situation? The report back from the Shadow Chancellor’s benchmark launch? The highlighting of the hypocrisy of a senior political journalist?
No of course not. Kirsty Wark’s Prada skirt wardrobe malfunction topped the lot and was easily the most popular story yesterday, followed up by the Telegraph and the Mail this morning. Which is why this is the blog you love and they hate. Happy 55th Birthday Kirsty!
And you thought Emily Maitliss was the leggy one…
Guido is grateful to Newsnight’s David Grossman for revealing how it passed that Jacqui Smith’s investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and critical report to to the Committee on Standards and Privileges resulted in a mere slap on the wrist.
Guido has, for once, no complaints about Commissioner John Lyon’s report to the Committee. Paul Waugh says that the Commissioner “confided during the course of his inquiry that he has to “keep a keen eye on the blogs”. Government sources feel that Lyon believed he was under heavy pressure to do a tough report…” Good. It is fair to say that John Lyon and the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics were in correspondence from the outset – remember the Commissioner at first rejected Sunlight’s original request for an investigation into Jacqui Smith. Sunlight persisted, citing precedent and the existence of witnesses and he reluctantly began an investigation. (Sunlight’s correspondence was noticeably omitted from the final report.)
The former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alastair Graham, is shocked that despite the findings, which include that the former Home Secretary attempted to mislead the investigation as to where she spent most of her nights, the MPs’ Committee on Standards and Privileges ruled she just had to apologise. Guido has said it before; MPs judging MPs will always give them the benefit of the doubt, it is like selecting jurors from prison. In this case the composition of the Committee was disgraceful. One Tory, Greg Knight, was outnumbered by five Labour MPs, Andrew Dismore, Chris Mullin, Kevin Barron, Paddy Tippin and Dr Alan Whitehead. So despite being found to have wrongly claimed £116,000, to have mislead the investigation and broken the rules, her ‘honourable’ friends ruled she had to merely apologise. She was not ordered to repay a single penny. This is crime without punishment…
Remember Fraser Nelson pleading with the Prime Mentalist to tell the truth?
The tape doesn’t lie. Unlike Gordon.
UPDATE 23.10 : Newsnight’s David Grossman has just run this pooled clip, without the Sky overlays. If you look carefully you can spot Grossman smirking in the front row.
Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale have got quite worked up about the Newsnight line-up for its Politics Pen experiment. Essentially the charge is they had four Labour insider / cronies vetoing public expenditure control policies from wonks (and a comedian).
The political Dragon’s Den / Politics Pen types were Lord Digby Jones (former Labour Minister), Deborah Mattinson (Gordon Brown’s pollster), Matthew Taylor (Blair’s Head of Policy) and Greg Dyke (former Labour donor and luvvie of the nineties).
Not being known as one to miss a chance to bash the BBC you might be surprised to hear Guido thinks the Newsnight editor Peter Rippon has a point. He can balance this panel in another show with a panel of right-of-centre panelists giving the thumbs up or thumbs down to advocates for quangos and big spending departments.
The next panel could listen to those making the case for spending just as the previous panel listened to those making the case for expenditure control… they will do that, right?
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Questioned by police about one of the sex offences allegations he faces, Nigel Evans told them:
“I misread the signals.”