It’s a curious feature of the BBC that independent thought, creative, original, idiosyncratic reasoning and analysis is often crushed under the weight of the organisation with its overwhelming employment of people who think the same thoughts and cleave to the same values. Those of an independent frame of mind soon find it wise to keep their consensus breaking thoughts to themselves or find themselves marked out as a maverick, tolerated but closely watched and contained, any off message ideas or an attempt to encourage a bit of free association and joined up thinking is discouraged and colleagues of course ignore the inconvenient reports that jar with and contradict their own…and the one shining example that gives a tantalising glimpse of what the BBC could be is extinguished in a tidal wave of group think, group non-think.
For the last 3 or 4 years we have been force fed the idea that austerity is bad, not only bad but completely unnecessary, Ed Ball’s Plan B the credible alternative, the idea that stimulus is good, that the economy is suffering because of the Coalition’s economic policies, that it was ‘Casino Banks’ that destroyed the economy, that Capitalism has failed, that GDP growth should be so much higher, that high employment is a complete riddle…and that consumer spending will save us rather than exports.
None of that is true.
But those, if you have been listening to the BBC, are the messages that have been broadcast to us day in day out for years, variously subtle or blatant Labour press releases.
How do I know those things aren’t true? Ironically because the BBC told me.
Robert Peston and Stephanie Flanders both broke from the Party line and gave us a view of the dark underbelly of the Labour economic ‘miracle’.
What is most notable is that long before the banks went belly up Peston and Flanders knew Gordon Brown’s never ending boom was about to go ‘boom’.
In 2006 Peston, he tells us himself, was in a meeting with the head of the BBC’s Newsroom who asked him ‘So when would the great bust come?’
Peston says he replied, ‘Goodness only knows.’ and explains…‘ And because we could not put a time on it, there was no urgency to get it on the Ten O’clock News.
That was a mistake.’
The BBC knew there was going to be a ‘Great Bust’ but didn’t think it important to raise the matter.
Below are two examples, one from Peston in 2011 and one from Flanders in 2005, that give a more individual, incisive, true analysis of the economic situations of the times than we get from the ‘Institution’ of the BBC.
Peston telling us that the economy was reduced to a basket case and that there is no quick fix, no instant way of growing GDP, and that GDP will only grow slowly for many years…and that getting debt down is crucial….and so far, for all the talk of ‘austerity’ there has been in reality little reduction in spending.
Flanders predicts, in 2005, that Brown’s policies have put the economy into intensive care….caused by borrowing and high government spending…and that there is a high probability of a crash.
As stated such messages have been lost in the wholesale flannel and flattery pushed out to defend and promote Labour by ‘the Corporation‘, the BBC’s refusal to delve into 13 years of Labour’s mismanagement and the pushing of Labour’s latest policies…basically a continuation of Brown’s.
Ironically of course Flanders, though not Peston, has been at the forefront of these attempts to gull the Public, ignoring her own previous predictions and analysis.
Peston brought us The Party’s Over, broadcast on BBC Two at 1900 on 4 and 11 December 2011.
If excessive debt is the disease, what we’ve had since the end of 2008 is analgesic and sticking plaster, rather than cure.
We haven’t as yet found a way to get the debts down so that we can be confident that our economy’s foundations are solid and sound again.
What it means is that we must brace ourselves for many years of relatively low growth, perhaps 1% versus the 3% of the 16 boom years before the crash, because we no longer have the fuel of borrowing more and more every year.
Flanders brought us Testing the Miracle in 2005:
On running the rule over Gordon Brown’s economic record
‘These must be frustrating times for Gordon Brown. Now his foes have decided it is open season on the economy – which even a year ago had seemed beyond reproach.
When we look back, in a few years’ time, at Brown’s economy, will we still see an economic miracle? Or another old-fashioned spending binge that, sooner or later, had to run dry?
Saved by spending
The miracle, if there is one, is that we carried on growing. But looking around the country, you see it is a miracle built not on investing, or exporting, but on a miraculous capacity to spend.
The public spending prop
What is left of the miracle economy, if you strip out the cheap imports and the consumer spending? What is left is a lot of public spending. The only part of the economy that has grown faster than spending by all of us the past few years has been spending by the government.
In the north-east, one recent estimate puts the public sector of the economy at close to 60%.
STEPHANIE FLANDERS: Tony Blair claims Gordon Brown is the best chancellor we’ve ever had. The man who called an end to boom and bust.
GORDON BROWN: There will be no unsustainable dashes for growth, no out of control booms, no risk taking with inflation, no quick fixes.
FLANDERS: But now the critics say Gordon Brown’s luck is about to turn.
Geoff Ford, Chairman, Ford Component Manufacturing Ltd
FLANDERS: He [Ford] worries that high public spending is distorting the labour market, turning the old job for life culture of shipbuilding into the new job for life culture of the town hall. The local council has a workforce of more than 7,000.
FORD: Because the public sector and local government are able to offer such attractive packages, they are creaming off the best of the talent, and that therefore deprives the rest of the labour market, and I do believe that the significant growth in public sector employment actually stifles the entrepreneurial spirit because of it’s different focus, there’s no risk, there’s no real risk, and there is a disincentive to stick your neck out.
Peston used his 2011 article and research as the basis for his recent book ‘How Do We Fix This Mess?’ in which he looks at the causes of the crash and the possible fixes.
First here is Robert Peston’s cap doffing to his bosses in the book:
I would like to thank the BBC just for being the BBC: more than ever, it is a privilege to work for a news organisation which is sincerely and wholly committed to trying to understand and explain the world in an unbiased way.
However everything he writes here contradicts that statement for the BBC presented a very different perspective on the financial crisis and its causes to that which he recalls.
I’ll let you read and apply his analysis to events and the future…just ask yourself who is to blame, was it just the banks, or was it even the banks…and should we be getting the growth that Labour and the BBC insist we should, and would be having under the miraculous Plan B?:
How do we fix this mess? I don’t know. But don’t stop reading now. Perhaps if we have a clearer understanding of what went wrong, we’ll have a better idea of what needs to be done.
We will be right in the middle of the jungle, observing how bankers, regulators, politicians – and, oh yes, most of us – were by turns greedy, gullible lazy and short-sighted, and how we wilfully refused to see how our improving living standards were not being earned in a sustainable way.
We failed to rise to the challenge of globalisation.
We did not work harder and smarter.
Instead we borrowed.
And now as a nation, we have to pay back much of the debt, which inevitably makes us feel poorer, and will continue to do so for years to come.
The clean up will take years. And there is no quick fix.
We have allowed others, our governments and the so-called authorities, to take us from boom to bust.
I confess, during much of the journey, I had little idea we had taken a wrong turning….but as we headed for the swamp I succeeded in spotting the looming disaster and shouted out a warning: I was largely ignored and was even asked to shut up.
I am not going to pretend there is a road to Shangri-La, where we will suddenly find ourselves becoming richer and richer again.
We tried that road in the late 1990’s and early years of this century, and it was the road to ruin.
Boom and bust will be with us forever.
It was our foolish conviction that the smooth road to sunny uplands would go on forever which got us into such trouble.
The Future’s Overdrawn
Whether we own up to it or not, we can’t go on forever living on China’s credit.
What became clear in 2008 is that we will have to find a way of paying much of that debt back.
That will take at least a decade.
And when we repay debt, we’re spending less. Which means economic activity slows down, growth grinds to a halt.
It is reasonable to assume that growth will be as little as 1% in the coming 10 years….which wouldn’t look so bad after a contraction of 6.3% in output during the 2008-09 recession.
Cuts in public spending, including in benefits and tax credits, were almost certainly inevitable and have indeed followed.
Since 2008, the UK’s aggregate debt has been shuffled, not repaid.
The government kept spending to prevent recession turning into an extreme slump while tax revenues were shrinking.
When essential public services start to be financed through borrowing rather than tax, it is immensely difficult to cut the borrowing.
Peston also looks at Osborne’s cut in the tax rate for high earners…cynically raised as a last gasp piece of politicking by Gordon Brown…from 50p in the pound to 45p.
Peston tells us the cut was done at the instigation of business leaders who said they couldn’t recruit and retain talent because of competition from abroad.
In other words globalisation, the free movement of workers, has meant that tax rates have to be competitive globally….in a similar way that corporation tax is competitively ‘priced’ to attract businesses to invest in concerned countries.
Ironic really that’ open borders’ and the end of the nation state, that Nirvana for the Left, has led to the very things it claims to hate……an über rich highly mobile class, and businesses that can upsticks and move factories and jobs to anywhere in the world….dumping too expensive British workers onto the scrap heap….compounded by the mass immigration of cheap labour into Britain that pushed down wages and made life on benefits more attractive than working for a minimum wage.
Effectively not much of what Peston says in his article and expanded upon in the book is accepted by the BBC……Peston blames Labour as much as the banks, after all Canada, Gernmany and Australia all rode out the crash…becaue they didn’t spend, spend spend before it, and Peston tells us that growth will be slow and low for years…not what the BBC leads us to expect.
The BBC’s narrative is entirely differnet with Labour almost unmentioned, untouchable, whilst the banks take the full blame…the economy is dragging along the bottom with growth stagnating…if only we had a plan to stimulate the economy with massive government spending all would be well.
The truth is out there somewhere….just not on the BBC…unless you’re quick and spot the maverick free thinkers before they are ‘whipped’ into line again.