That came hours after BBC Two’s Newsnight broadcast black and white footage of rioting workers over a commentary by its presenter, Evan Davis, comparing the UK’s prospects to the depression of the 1930s. Mr Davis told viewers: “You have to go back to the depression of the 1930s to find a crisis comparable to the one we are in — it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
A little bit over the top maybe?
Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party chairman, added: “With an election approaching, it is vitally important that the BBC adheres to the highest standard of editorial impartiality.” Conor Burns, a Tory member of the culture, media and sport committee which scrutinises the BBC’s work, said it was “patently absurd” for Newsnight to suggest “either political party will be intent on taking Britain back to a pre-welfare state, pre-health service Britain”.
A BBC spokesman said that it was satisfied that the Today programme’s coverage had been “fair and balanced and we gave the Chancellor plenty of opportunity to respond on the programme”.
The comments on Newsnight were justified because the Office for Budget Responsibility had itself said that nominal government consumption will fall to its lowest level since 1938, the BBC said.
And there’s the point.
Government consumption is different from the welfare state. Government consumption is the things the government spends money on. This includes the NHS and education.
But what it does not include is transfer payments. That taxing the rich to give money to the poor stuff. Or, as we generally call it, the welfare state. That isn’t included in that number for govenment consumption.
For example, if we don’t replace Trident then government consumption will fall from what is planned. But the welfare state will be entirely unaffected: there might even be more money available to spend on it.
Thus shouting that government consumption is going to fall to some low level is not aking to shouting that they’re going to gut the welfare state. Which is what is at least being implied and is wrong.
Whether it’s all a good idea or not is an entirely different matter. and as far as I can recall the aim is to get total government expenditure to 35% of GDP. Which is very definitely a post war style number, not a pre war one. Not far off the post war average I think?