BBC News appears to be getting excuses in early on behalf of hapless, heartless Chancellor Phillip Hammond, by breaching impartiality and indulging in ‘expectation management’ on behalf of the government.
This morning, Assistant Political Editor Norman Smith gave a round-up of Hammond’s budget circumstances. The political summary – that many senior Tories would be happy for Hammond to fail – was reasonably uncontentious. However, in his financial summary Smith simply treated the Tories’ political narrative as fact:
“There is no money’. ‘Fact’, supposedly. But this ignores not only monetary theory but recent historical precedent – on more than one occasion over the last ten years or so, the government has simply created money out of thin air via ‘quantitative easing’.
There can be debate about whether it’s wise at a given moment to create money – but to say there is none is simply false, so a flat statement agreeing that there is none is anything but impartial, especially when many leading economists agree increased spending is the way to improve the economy and austerity has made the recovery far slower than it needed to be.
Not only that, but in Labour the UK now has an opposition – one polling ahead of the government – that states that austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Labour’s narrative has become so popular and compelling that even some Tories are arguing for spending increases.
The SKWAWKBOX pointed out the breach to Mr Smith within a minute or so of him saying it:
.@BBCNormanS small point: when the opposition says 'austerity is a political choice', you saying Hammond has no room for manoeuvre because 'there is no money' is a breach of impartiality. #JustSaying
— The SKWAWKBOX (@skwawkbox) November 22, 2017
Smith may have got the message, as his comments just now were more qualified – however, the rest of the BBC News machine is still pushing similar lines in its Budget segments.
‘Spreadsheet Phil’s Budget is almost certain to be a damp-squib-cum-non-event that contains nothing of substance but more cash for corporations – but the BBC already appears to be doing its best to control the narrative.
If not to protect Hammond personally, then to shore up the Tory economic narrative.
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