Porkies for Breakfast on Today


George Osborne told Justin Webb on the Today Programme this morning: “… what have we got, a country where the debt is falling”. This is just not true, the national debt is still rising and the day when Osborne promises it will start falling is, after the budget, a year further away than it was before, which in itself was two years later than he originally promised in 2010. Interviewers who let the Chancellor deliberately conflate the debt and deficit are doing their audience a disservice. The Today Programme is almost part of the unwritten constitution of Britain, given we are likely to have an opposition that is introspective and irrelevant it is essential that they hold the government to account – at the very least challenging political spin and lying. Justin allowed this to go unchallenged. Guido is sure that Evan Davis would not have let him off the hook so easily, Andrew Neil would have wrenched the Chancellor’s testicles off…

balancing the books

Osborne and his allies don’t repeat this slip of the tongue by accident, it is deliberate and repeated time after time. It is dishonest. It is designed to give the public the impression that Osborne is successfully dealing with the deficit. He is dealing it with very slowly and he is lucky in that he can print more pounds so the Bank of England can buy up UK government bonds and avoid going the way of Greece. That is despite have a higher deficit as a proportion of GDP – his preferred measure – than those crazy left-wingers in Athens.

This was not a tax cutting budget, it was full of tax cutting rhetoric and actual tax rises. Osborne has increased planned spending compared to what he promised in the March budget and in the Tory manifesto. Tax rises of £47 billion mean that “the tax increases are roughly twice the size of the tax cuts in aggregate” according to the OBR’s Robert Chote. Taxing and spending are rising after this budget…

There were some other minor fibs that also went unchallenged, such as Osborne claiming that the Resolution Foundation think-tank is “left-of-centre”. It is chaired by his former Cabinet colleague David Willetts. Willetts started his career in the policy unit of 10 Downing Street working for Margaret Thatcher…

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Quote of the Day

Scruton reflects on Twitter’s vigilantes…

“We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes. We are being cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of official doctrines and told to adopt a world view that we cannot examine for fear of being publicly humiliated by the censors. This world view might lead to a new and liberated social order; or it might lead to the social and spiritual destruction of our country. How shall we know, if we are too afraid to discuss it?”


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