Dang, are these people stupid or just confused?

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”.

Yes, quite.

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?

26 thoughts on “Dang, are these people stupid or just confused?”

  1. The absolute irony here is that Osborne has travelled exactly the same path that Balls would have taken.

    Total Government spending has risen in real terms, the debt has massively increased and, intentionally or otherwise, employment has increased.

    You couldn’t put a circumsised gnat’s cock between the two parties here.

    So, yes, it really is a prime example of biased BBC, for we would never imagine such a swathe of similarly themed programmes if the Reds were in power.

  2. Actually, the OBR’s forecasts (if they are to be believed) sees overall spending fall to pre-war levels.
    Table 4.17 shows total managed expenditure – which includes welfare payments, local govt spending etc – falling to 35.2% of GDP in 2019-20:
    http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/economic-fiscal-outlook-december-2014/
    A look at the OBR’s historic data shows that this would be a lower share than in any year since its records began in 1948:
    (the public finances databank here:
    http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/data/)

  3. The BBC is staffed by highly educated middle class idiots with various guilt complexes waging constant imagined war against their parents and their parents’ posh friends.

  4. They’re neither stupid nor confused. They’re malicious.

    And it works. I’ll be hearing this shit from all my friends for weeks.

    > You couldn’t put a circumsised gnat’s cock between the two parties here.

    Well, precisely. On my List Of Things I Say To Socialists is the point that virtually no-one thinks taxation should be anywhere near either 100% or 0%; the big “battleground” of the day is always an argument about whether top-rate income tax should be at 45% or 50% or the allowance should be at £11K or £12K or VAT should be 15% or 17%. In other words, both sides broadly agree and are just quibbling. Yes, those details are important, but there’s hardly enough of a difference there for one side to call the other “evil”.

  5. And that post-war average will include much higher defence expenditure – over 7% of GDP in the mid-50s, vs. not much more than 2% today.

  6. If the Tories had a spine between them, they’d be abolishing the Telly Tax. The BBC is never going to be impartial – a statist bureaucracy is never going to do anything other than sneer at those of us that prefer small government.

    I don’t see why I should be forced by law to pay £150pa for a product I don’t want, and don’t use. Just not paying is not an option, as a criminal record is not that useful on the CV of a contractor.

    Turn the BBC into a subscription service, if they care so much about not being ad-supported. Now that TV broadcasting is entirely digital, the technology is all in place (and won’t need the expensive enforcement regime). And if their product is as popular as they keep telling us, then they won’t have any trouble raising the subs.

  7. You quote Davis saying we have to go back to 1930 to find a comparable crisis.

    He doesn’t say anything in the excerpt you quote about the size of the state or departmental spending versus welfare.

    I love the fact Chris has pointed out the data support the claim the total spending is planned to fall to pre-war levels, and everybody is still piling in calling the Beeb stupid/evil etc.

    The welfare state is mostly pensions isn’t it. I am not sure it’s correct to characterise that as taxing rich to help poor. I shall not ask if you are stupid or confused. It’s probably worth thinking about the demographic shift that’s taken place this century and what that implies must be going on beneath the surface if welfare spending stays flatish.

    Meanwhile I continue to fail to understand why our host is so uninterested in the reality of what this government is doing to the state. Here is the IFS

    [I]t is surely incumbent upon anyone set on taking the size of the state to its smallest in many generations to tell us what that means. How will these cuts be implemented? What will local government, the defence force, the transport system, look like in this world? Is this a fundamental reimagining of the role of the state?

    “One thing is for sure. If we move in anything like this direction, whilst continuing to protect health and pensions, the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition. ”

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/budgets/as2014/as2014_johnson.pdf

  8. bloke (not) in spain

    @Luis Enrique
    “The welfare state is mostly pensions isn’t it. I am not sure it’s correct to characterise that as taxing rich to help poor.”

    But the State pensions are & always have been unfunded. One might accurately describe contributions as another form of taxation. There’s simply no relationship between what’s been paid in & what’s paid out. Couldn’t be because from their inception they’ve been paid out of current income.

  9. BiW,

    “If the Tories had a spine between them, they’d be abolishing the Telly Tax. The BBC is never going to be impartial – a statist bureaucracy is never going to do anything other than sneer at those of us that prefer small government.”

    Bizarrely, it’s not like this is even a particularly difficult policy. 60% of the public now generally favours scrapping the license fee.

    I wouldn’t mind so much being forced to pay for it if there was much worth watching. I find myself turning on the TV and it’s all soap operas, cookery shows, fly on the wall documentaries and chat shows. The BBC has only produced one good comedy in the past 10 years.

  10. > Bizarrely, it’s not like this is even a particularly difficult policy. 60% of the public now generally favours scrapping the license fee.

    Even more bizarrely, investigations into the matter — including the BBC’s own — have concluded that switching from the TV Poll Tax to subscriptions would increase the BBC’s revenues. I leave explaining their determined attachment to the old ways as an exercise for the reader.

  11. Luis Enrique said: “I love the fact Chris has pointed out the data support the claim the total spending is planned to fall to pre-war levels, and everybody is still piling in calling the Beeb stupid/evil etc.”

    I love the fact the BBC and others are not pointing out that the levels of public spending expected to be reached are within spitting distance of what they were in the first few years of Labour’s last time in power.

  12. bloke (not) in spain

    “…investigations into the matter — including the BBC’s own — have concluded that switching from the TV Poll Tax to subscriptions would increase the BBC’s revenues.”

    Shall we wait until the revealed preference results are in on that one?

  13. “Since records started in 1948”
    So you are starting when the state is subsidising the coal industry, paying to re-equip the railways after war damage (their excuse for nationalising the railway companies), running down armed forces (shortly befdore boosting them again to fight the Korean War and the communist “insurgency” (invasion) in Malaya, running some buses (others were run by local councils), steel, gas and electricity (but not chemicals) – does it surprise anyone that the only world-class industry that we had in the 50s was Chemicals (including pharmaceuticals) whereas before WWII, we were world leaders in railways, coal and steel – so like for like? I think not!
    The current government is spending far more on health, education and welkfare than Attlee did.
    Chris seems to believe that Brown reduced poverty despite the wealth oif the top 1% soaring and that of the bottom half falling by two-thirds (relative to Thatcher) under his watch. Chris’ economic credibility is, therefore, wafer-thin.

  14. @BIW ‘If the Tories had a spine between them, they’d be abolishing the Telly Tax.’

    If they had a majority, maybe.

  15. BNIS,

    We’re not talking about opinion polls here, but proper investigations. It seems clear to everyone — including Sky — that the BBC would do very well out of subscriptions. Mainly because they’ve had decades of having their infrastructure built by the state and the taxpayer, so don’t have to invest in building something from the ground up like what Sky did. As a result, a BBC subscription could be an utter bargain. At least for those people who think they make good shows.

    Hell, I’d pay for BBC Bristol’s output. Just none of the shite they pump out of London. Which raises the big question: should the BBC be privatised as-is or split up as well? And if they were split up, which bits would thrive and which might die?

  16. The only issue with privatising the BBC is FM radio. We have radio 2 on at work – it’s largely rubbish, but fairly tolerable (some of the evening stuff is quite good, on the other hand most of Steve Wright’s interviewees need a swift blow to the back of the head).

    The ad supported alternatives are truly awful, and because of how FM works, there is no possibility of a subscription service. Dab appears to have got nowhere (poor tech and too expensive) so I’d anticipate FM radio being around for a while to come, so a solution is needed.

  17. Squander Two said: “Which raises the big question: should the BBC be privatised as-is or split up as well? ”

    I’d say neither. Licence fee payers have paid in loads of money over the years so just turn them all into shareholders. Let BBC shareholders then decide what they want to do with their shares, decide how it is to be funded and how big it should be.

  18. S2,

    I doubt that they’d raise subscriptions. If I lived on my own and had the option to get rid of it, I would. The 3 or 4 odd programmes that I quite like aren’t enough to get me spending £12/month. I can get a Cineworld card for less than that.

    The last thing I set my recorder for on the BBC was the Neil Brand series about film music. Before that, I honestly can’t recall. I’d put up a bigger fight if you tried to take Amazon Instant Video or Blinkbox away from me now.

  19. Can’t see what the fuss is about: you lot have been talking about rolling back the frontiers of the State since at least Billy Bonehead’s time in 1977. As Tory anarchists you are not merely enemies of the post-war Welfare State ,you are enemies of any state. You have now shot the fox.
    The electors’ choice is between high house price/get out of Europe lunacy from the upper-class yobbo Right and an organised Welfare State.

  20. @ DBC Reed
    The yobbo right is not upper class
    After all, the definition of yobbo excludes the upper class.
    The upper class (apart from the likes of Viscount Stansgate, Bertrand Russell and successive Lords Rothschild) tend to be soft-centred right-of-centre like MacMillan or Sir Alec Douglas-Home (some regard Charles as soft-centred left-of-centre). When income tax was introduced by an aristocrat it was only levied on the investment income of the well-to-do – it took a left-wing government to introduce a tax on earnings.
    All the important components of the welfare state were introduced by the church, private charity and voluntary friendly societies in the millennium or two prior to Lloyd George. Some still are provided *only* by charities.
    What IDS is trying to do is to provide an organised welfare state (for which reason I am bound to forgive him for his past errors) in place of a disorganised welfare state.
    The person advocating “Get out of the EU” – not Europe – is middle-class, not upper-class, married to a German, drinks beer, not lager – you can tell that from the colour of the liquid is his tankard and does not conform to the definition of a yobbo.
    .

  21. John 77
    Yes it would take somebody on here to show the naive petit bourgeois snobbery to fawn all over the yobbo upper class.You may be aware that the three most powerful people in this country are members of Buller thinly disguised as the Bollinger Club by Evelyn Waugh in a couple of his very clever,sometimes very moving, books.Not that people on here read anything much except books on how to make a small fortune out of computers (start out with a large one).
    The Prelude to Decline and Fall is full on Buller yobbery as they vandalise other people’s college rooms if they show any love of art ,smashing a grand piano ,a Matisse etc to the high pitched squeal which is”the sound of the English county families baying for broken glass”.This type of prick has now moved on to vandalising the country’s public institutions ,doted on by lower-middle class twerps with not much experience of life who are shocked to discover that the upper classes (see Andrew Mitchell/David Mellor) despise them. You cite Macmillan but his family was in trade and he spent his last few years warning Thatcher that she was plunging the country into depression by farting about with monetarism which she was not personally equipped to understand.

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