British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation?

 

             I was intrigued to see criticism of the BBC for running endless stories of cuts in public spending. However, I also recollect that last summer and autumn I was a very lonely voice pointing out that the government plans to increase current public spending in cash terms every year for five years. The government itself was briefing of big cuts to come, bandying around 20% cuts figures based on a five year real terms assessment of the most squeezed programmes. It is hardly surprising that the BBC picked up all the public sector lobby stories, when the government itself was implying big reductions in many departmental budgets.

            It reveals a common weakness of much media journalism. They do not usually  ask what is the truth, what are the facts? They ask what are the various  important people and groups saying?  These are often very different things, as I know to my cost, trying to stick to the facts and to making realistic forecasts about what might happen next. You get marginalised by the media if you have read the documents and know the truth. You get airtime if you speak for the fashionable consensus, or if you attack the fashionable consensus in a way which they can sensationalise and use against you.

              If the government is now serious about wishing to get across the true position, Ministers need to change their own rhetoric. They need to start by stressing in every interview that they are making more money available for the public sector as a whole. They should say they wish to see this money well spent, and wish to use it to protect all important services which they on behalf of the public value.

                There will be cuts for three main reasons. Firstly, the government has priorities for increased spending. Few will disgaree with the priority for health and schools. The decision to increase spending on the EU and overseas aid is more contentious, so Ministers need to explain why these are the most deserving causes. Priority areas mean less of the increase is left over for other areas.

                 Secondly, inflation is high and could  absorb the cash increases. However, the good news is that if the government sticks to its plans to keep public sector wages down other than for the low paid, and does succeed in buying things more cheaply, inflation need not eat up much of the cash increase. That leaves more scope for better services.

                Thirdly, there are some in public sector management who seem to think it their task to propose damaging and clumsy cuts in the hope that will force the government to find more money. Ministers have to find a way of countering this conduct. They need to show that parts of the public sector can deliver more for less, so there is no need for draconian cuts in valued services. This is the most difficult challenge of all, which has defeated many past Ministers. They have to implement better ways of doing things and then get airtime for them. They need to change public sector management where they can, to promote people who do want to do more for less.

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62 Comments

  1. les
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    But the BBCC are going too far IMO – every day is groundhog day it seems with their cuts agenda, unless of course there are a few revolutions, even then they always manage to squeeze something in! – even this morning they seem to be playing down the SAS report but are showing the government saying “sorry” over different things including Cameron, they will be assessing whether it is a sign of strength or weakness! can’t wait to see what they come up with!
    I think ministers do have to be quicker because no sooner has something been said by either Labour, the Unions , lobby groups/the Guardian it is out there and up and running in the 24 hour news cycle and ministers seem to be playing catch up all the time.
    The BBCC just cannot let a news programme run without at least one negative report on the government along the lines of “could” “might” “possibly” we are all doomed – the so called “presenters” haven’t got a clue and just don’t know what to ask or are not allowed to, they let Labour ministers and the others ramble on and on and at the end say “thank you very much” !!!!!

    • James
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Now I know why you’re not in the Cabinet, John.
      You are too smart for those amateurs residing in Downing Street.

      Just as Margaret Thatcher failed over the good idea, Poll Tax, the new boys also fail to communicate to the people.
      Is it so difficult to tell us ordinary folk “Why, Where , How”?

      • rose
        Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        The Poll Tax wasn’t why she was got rid of: it was her 3-fold opposition to further EU integration.

        The Poll Tax was resisted by her for years, as environment ministers came and went – because they failed to come up with convincingly safe alternatives to the hated rates. She only caved in when the five-yearly Scottish revaluation of property lost the Conservatives a lot of seats in the property boom, and they were warned it would happen too in England if there were a revaluation there. The fury and resentment could have been even worse, as there hadn’t been a revaluation in England and Wales for 17 years.

        The poll tax could have been accepted if it had been phased in over 3 years as originally planned, and if it had been pegged at the level of the BBC licence fee to begin with. The BBC was at that time charging a widow in a council flat the same flat fee they charged the Ritz Hotel. It might have been a bit more awkward for them then, to lead the daily onslaught on the poll tax which resulted in a very nasty riot.

        But it was not that tax which failed the country: it was the shadowing of the D mark, followed by entry into the ERM.

        • rose
          Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          PS the BBC led the clamour for entry into the ERM too.

        • James
          Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          I think you have missed my point. Nothing to do with the reasons for Maggies departure but the lack of communication to the electorate. The Poll Tax idea was hijacked by the Left, turned on its head and caused rioting in the streets. Had she or a minister explained in detail how it would work, why it was needed and where it would be applied, things would have been different.
          Sharing the cost of council services across all earners would have been a much better and fairer way of paying this tax.

          Why should a 90 year old lady, on her own, pay 75% of the tax charged next door where there are 5 working people in the household? Her income just £150 per week, theirs £1500. Is that fair?

          Reply: The Poll Tax came in at too high a level thanks to Treasury withdrawal of grants, well above original forecast, which made it unacceptable.

          • rose
            Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, James, I didn’t make myself clear: I did get your point, and agreed with it. On the back of it I wanted to put the record straight on a matter which has been more misrepresented by the BBC – certainly not by you – than any other.

            Scots still complain they were used as guinea pigs for the poll tax to this day, when at the time the English were complaining it was unfair they should have to wait three years while the Scots got it straight away. That is why the original three year phase-in was dropped, at a party conference on the spur of the moment. It was a misjudgement, as was the withdrawal of Treasury support, pointed out by our cyber tutor here.

            All through that period it was almost impossible for ministers to explain complex things clearly to the electorate, as they always had to do it heavily censored, through the prism of the BBC and others who were doing their damnedest to make sure the electorate got a different message. It is marginally better now with the Parliament programme and the internet, but we still aren’t allowed to have an honest public discussion when the liberal-left dominated media don’t want it.

            When Mrs Thatcher and Mr Tebbit did succeed in appealing over the heads of the media direct to the public, it was through very simple messages which had to be reiterated over and over again, like “We must live within our means,” etc. Mr Ridley had a devil of a time trying to explain to the public that purified and treated water didn’t drop straight from heaven but reached us through an expensive paid sector employing many men and women. People thought and still do that tap water should be free, like air, because the BBC wouldn’t allow the message through.

    • Johnny Norfolk
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone from the BBC read this as you must respond. Does Chris Patten read this as he needs to take action. We all know that what you say John is so true. Yet nothing is done. You can understand it from certain daily newspapers , but not the BBC as they are as bad or worse than the tabloids.

      The BBC is not keeping to its charter by a long way and is letting us all down with their slavish following of the left.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      If I want to read the “Manchester” Guardian/BBC, I should be able to buy it, not be forced to pay for it.

  2. FatBigot
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The other point that should be made is that the vast debt built up by the previous government requires money to spent on the payment of interest. No one knows the exact figure, but it will be somewhere between 25 and 40 billion pounds for 2011.

    The present government is noticeably taciturn about this aspect of their budget. I cannot help but think that many people believe government borrowing operates in such a distant world from their own that it can have no impact on them. They should be told that every pound the government borrows commands interest and every pound of interest comes out of the fund that also has to pay for five-a-day counsellors, arts diversity outreach workers, carbon footprint assessors and other vital components of the public sector before a single penny can be made available for useful public services.

    • Euan
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      A lot of people think that all government spending is good. They have neither the ability nor desire to face the reality that government spending makes us poorer. It diverts resources from private to public sector where efficiency is an unknown concept. Every pound stolen from us in taxes is put through HMRC and Treasury then through 3 or 4 other layers before it gets to where it should be. I would privatise or do away with 90% of what government now tells us is essential. Sadly the Cameroons do not have the stomach for anything like a real revolution so we all get progressively poorer every year.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        You say ” Every pound stolen from us in taxes is put through HMRC and Treasury then through 3 or 4 other layers before it gets to where it should be.”

        It rarely if ever actually gets to where it should be, even after all the layers. It is usually wasted on daft pointless projects, the green religion, Millenium domes, the Olympics, HS2, or PR indoctrination in the big green state religion.

    • Johnnydub
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      FB – We should be so lucky that it’s 25-40 Bill… I think it’s over £50bn and rising – remeber the visible nation debt (like the visibile bit of the iceberg) is now officially over £1Ttn

  3. Bill
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Dear John,

    Please explain why the EU is a deserving case.

    Reply: I voted against its budget

  4. lifelogic
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    The government has it the wrong way round, endless talk cuts but few actual ones. The BBC almost always has it wrong. It is the voice of the state sector and an endlessly bigger sate. It regards lower taxes and lower public spending a “taking money out of the economy and risking a double dip”. Start the cuts at the BBC where wages and pensions are absurdly high for such ordinary “Guardian think” people.

    • Bill Holling
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Dead right, axe the tele tax and make the Beeb work for it’s money like most people have to. After all if they go on strike- so what?

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Have I got this right?

      Chris Huhne (Secretary of state for energy and climate change) is stopping feed in tariffs (huge silly subsidies) for larger over 50KW Photo Voltaic schemes (rightly because they make no sense what so ever in the cloudy and fairly northern UK ).

      But he is to retain them for smaller and uglier domestic roof schemes which make even less commercial sense.

      Is this what a Westminster school and Oxford PPE education does for ones logical faculties?

      Please can some engineer point out to him that the electricity generated by PV will rarely exceed that needed to manufacture, install, maintain and clean the units. What on earth therefore is green about them? It is just tipping tax payers money down the drain.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        Exactly.

        Same could be said of electric cars, with their required neccessary replacement batteries every few years.

        • rose
          Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          Except that electricity is cleaner than petrol and diesel, and quieter. Is that not worth having? Our environment is unnecessarily dirty, smelly, and noisy, wherever you stand on MMGW, and the vehicle population is growing.

          • alan jutson
            Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            Rose

            Toxic waste from batteries ?
            Emissions from power stations ?
            Nuclear waste ?
            Limited range for electric cars so you need a proper one as well when travelling any distance.

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            Electricity is not cleaner it still has to be generated.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Indeed for electric cars there is: energy lost in electricity production, in transmission, in voltage conversion and the charging of the batteries and again in the discharging the batteries and lost even while not it use in the battery!

          Expensive heavy and polluting batteries with limited life too. Basically nonsense all round save for a few special situations. The government are in strongly in favour of it all needless to say but why?

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      I had missed the news that Lord (Chris) Patten of Barnes had been appointed to take over as Chair of the BBC trustees. So we can assume no change to the BBC’s absurd line on Europe, the green religion and the ever bigger state agenda.

      Then again perhaps he has learned something useful while in Hong Kong. I rather doubt it though. I suspect his views are (as is usual in my experience) embedded in his genes and based on his inner “religious beliefs” rather than logic, science and what actually works – who on earth appointed him he should certainly go now?

      • APL
        Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “I had missed the news that Lord (Chris) Patten of Barnes had been appointed to take over as Chair of the BBC trustees.”

        Yes, ‘Vichy’ Patten the collaborator will be in charge of European Union propaganda within the European Union region, formerly known as the United Kingdom.

        Popped in place by that notorious EUrosceptic David Cameron. Quelle suprise!

        Do the ‘powers that be’ think we fall for this charade?

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        The other thing that will come from Lord Patten is an incessant campaign that a Roman Catholic should be allowed to ascend the throne. The RC church could help this process by a few reforms:

        If they got rid of their reactionary (attitude -ed) (“no need for contraception, the Lord will provide”), their belief that the Bible is the Word of God (rather than an arbitrary set of scriptures drawn together in the third or fourth century and given a label), their belief in the doctrinal infallibility of the Pope, their claim to be the “One true church” and the absurdity of the Vatican State, then we might just about allow it.

  5. Ray Steele
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the BBC either – last night on the channel 4 news a reporter described the rescue of 150 people from the Libyan desert as a “publicity stunt” so it seems that the Government are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”

  6. OldRightie
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The BBC is but one of many state organisations where Labour placed high ranking staff in readiness to “oppose” any new Government. Until these parasites are weeded out we will continue to have the mantra pushed by senior police officers, teachers, NHS managers and so forth. A sad abuse of power but very much out of the socialist text books.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    There also seems to be a belief that most people are weak on numbers, and so for example they won’t immediately think that even if there were 50,000 jobs lost in the NHS then that would only be a small fraction of those employed.

    (About 3%, in fact, and spread over four years well below natural wastage.)

    Unfortunately I’m afraid that belief may be correct in many cases; so the question for politicians, trade union leaders, journalists etc is whether they want to unscrupulously exploit that weakness, or they would prefer to enlighten the public rather than misleading them.

  8. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    “Thirdly, there are some in public sector management who seem to think it their task to propose damaging and clumsy cuts …”

    Win win for them, I’m afraid. The worst they’ll get for their troubles are huge pay offs and gold plated pensions. This – along with a leftist state broadcaster – is Nu Lab’s poisoned chalice.

    Tony Soprano would know what to do.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      The BBC should be easy enough to deal with. The licence fee is highly unpopular among Conservative tabloid readers.

    • Johnnydub
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      “Thirdly, there are some in public sector management who seem to think it their task to propose damaging and clumsy cuts …”

      Simply put – change employment law. If a council official is shown to be indulging in politics when making choices where the cuts are to be made, then they should be fired without a payoff. Instant change is attitude from the bloodsuckers.

  9. David Eyles
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    “It reveals a common weakness of much media journalism. They do not usually ask what is the truth, what are the facts? They ask what are the various important people and groups saying?”

    This is one of your more subtle observations which goes to the heart of the news agenda in the UK. It explains why the BBC (for example) was so slow to pick up on immigration (as another example) as a major issue for many ordinary people. What it shows is that the media are still dominated by the patrician classes who feel that the common man is there to be educated and informed and guided into a way of thinking by – the patrician classes (i.e. the BBC). The idea that ordinary people should actually have opinions of their own, untutored by the BBC, is an anathema to them.

    Likewise, your ceaseless campaign to delve into the numbers and find out what the numbers are really saying, falls upon similar stoney ground within the media. There is mortal fear among many of this class that anyone who has the courage and intellectual stamina to examine raw data for themselves and then come up with something that is contrary to “the consensus” has to be a heretic of some sort and should be distanced from the airwaves in case that contrary idea contaminates the unwashed and uncircumcised with new ideas.

    Actually many of us are capable of forming our own opinions and are capable of understanding surprisingly complicated issues without being patronised by the BBC. Those issues do not need to to be trivialised and distorted before dissemination to the masses. Eventually, the huge monolith of the BBC will be broken up by competition from the internet, where information cannot be screened, filtered and moulded into a Liberal-leftist consensus before it is released. So, carry on just as you are. There will always be a market for unvarnished facts.

  10. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    The infantilisation of public debate, and, by extension, the public is a pet hate for me. Mr R tries to debate on the basis of fact and the media do not want to know.

    Last week saw a feeble attempt in the media to define front line services as part of announcements of local authority job losses. The faint light of serious debate flickered and then spluttered out.

    One despairs of a country where Mr Redwood’s intellectual honesty is and will remain singular in its rarity. Three cheers for the blogosphere; at least we know that we are not alone.

  11. Javelin
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I think asking the BBC not to focus on cuts is a sticky plaster. Certainly the liberal social agenda is deeply engrained inthe culture at the BBC. The question is whether the BBC are like nicotine addicts or alcoholics.

    If they are nicotine addicts they can only change if they truly want to. If they are alcoholics they can never be treated. So for me the best case scenario is they are nicotine addicts. So the question is how do you change them in a small a way as possible to get them to want to be more neutral.

    I think the way to do this is to challenge their independence by getting them to explain publically how their narrative is independent. This means explaining their political agenda in detail and then paying independent auditors to publish impartiality on their website. If they fail to prove themselves as independent.

    Just heard Madelson call the murderous acts in Libya as a “performance”. Andrew Marr didn’t pick him up on this. This is a good example of bias. So we need to have some rule to say if a guest tries to neutralise an illegal act and the journalist doesn’t pick him up on it then that should be deemed as bias. We need professional linguists to come up with a new theory of bias and we need to have objective measurers of bias.

  12. norman
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    It always was a baffling strategy to follow. Talking up massive cuts in the hope of riding on the coattails of public opinion that spending needed to be cut whilst at the same time increasing spending by around 20% over this Parliament.

    This managed to annoy both left and right, as with the internet fast becoming a main source of information for people rather than the Daily Telegraph/Guardian and the six o’clock news it didn’t take long for the those on the right to see that spending (and borrowing) are massively increasing year on year. Whilst those on the left are quite happy to listen to the BBC’s non-stop refrain of cuts, cuts, cuts and the ‘worst cuts ever/worse than Thatcher’ line. And nothing wrong with that, each group is naturally going to lend more weight to the narrative that suits them and the government have given plenty of scope for both to be displeased.

    • norman
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Should proof read before pressing send – borrowing is not increasing year on year (although debt is), the increased spending is being funded by large tax rises.

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The situation is exactly the same as I noted in my comment yesterday about the left’s views on company taxation “Don’t confuse us with facts, we’ve made up our minds”.
    The BBC should be a source of totally impartial facts, particularly in the news programmes, enabling viewers and listeners to make up their own minds; instead it now considers itself to be an “opinion former”, stating the “authoritative” position on a wide range of issues from cuts to global warming, and the EU to the USA.
    These days I seek my news from the internet where I can read a wide diversity of opinion and make up my own mind.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Your description of the prevailing “concensus” appears, as often as not, to be group think by the occupants of the Westminster bubble. In such an environment the facts, or new or emerging facts, are a severe inconvenience to the propagation of the concensus.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This government has failed lamentably in effective communication. They have encouraged the notion that they are making draconian cuts when in fact they are spending more than Labour did and plan to continue in this way. It is no wonder that media organisations such as the BBC take them at face value. One explanation for this courting of criticism and unpopularity (shooting yourself in the foot) is to give the impression to the money markets that they are being tough and dealing with the burgeoning deficit and debt. Surely those people do actually look at the facts and can see through the charade. The deficit is to be reduced by taxation not by spending cuts. However, in the world of government spending anything that isn’t regarded as a “real terms” increase is a “cut” even when most of us would regard it as an increase. Re-distribution of departmental budgets is what is taking place but this government lacks the communication skills to explain that even to those of us who think they should be making real reductions in spending, not just reductions in the rate of increase or share of GDP.

    • zorro
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s called ineptitude..we will become more used to it as time goes by.

      zorro

  16. Anoneumouse
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Is EU commission set to take charge at BBC

    European Union Commission Pensioner the Tory peer Lord Patten is set to be named the next chairman of the BBC Trust.

    The Seige Perilous

    According to article 213 of the EU Treaty Commissioners,

    When entering upon their duties they shall give a solemn undertaking that, both during and after their term of office, they will respect the obligations arising therefrom and in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits. In the event of any breach of these obligations, the Court of Justice may, on application by the Council or the Commission, rule that the Member concerned be, according to the circumstances, either compulsorily retired in accordance with Article 216 or deprived of his right to a pension or other benefits in its stead.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Clearly he shouldn’t be allowed to attain any position of power or influence whatsoever, BBC or anything else, including having a lifelong right to vote on all our laws.

  17. davidb
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Its not just the news. I long ago stopped listening to that dross. The comedy shows are corrosive. I don’t notice the propaganda drip on the other stuff but I notice it on the comedy shows.

    As to your third point. Its easy enough to change the attitude at the top end. Just tell them they are cutting their expenditure or you will get someone else to do their job. And do it. I have noticed over the years that people have a remarkable ability to deliver what is asked of them – and not what is precisely not.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Well said!
      BBC Humour is right off my wavelength – it talks about things which I neither find funny nor recognise as being truthful.
      Wit demands both the above.
      Just talking about potties and putting on a mockney accent will not cut the mustard.

  18. ian wragg
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    There is no justification on earh as to why the Overseas Aid budget shoud be increased.
    It should be halved with immediate effect and the savings used to restore the Ark and Harriers.

    • zorro
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget, we must subsidise the Indian Space Programme, and keep the Commonwealth Development Corporation (Actis Capital) in business (eyes passim).
      After all why do we need Harriers when we can always rely on our trusted allies, the French…..?

      zorro

  19. Pete Chown
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    ‘… There are some in public sector management who seem to think it their task to propose damaging and clumsy cuts in the hope that will force the government to find more money.’

    Perhaps privatisation would be a solution to this? If the government is buying in a service instead of providing it in-house, it’s much harder to play these sorts of games. If the current provider tries it, they just invite their competitors to explain how they can provide a better service for the same money.

    ‘The decision to increase spending on the EU and overseas aid is more contentious, so Ministers need to explain why these are the most deserving causes.’

    That’s going to be interesting—especially for the EU. I’ll look forward to it. 🙂

  20. Yarnesfromhorsham
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    John – very much agree BUT why are the front bench thickos so slow on the uptake?
    If you cant get your point across to them how can we – other than voting with our feet, or have they forgotten?

    • zorro
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      ‘BUT why are the front bench thickos so slow on the uptake?’……You have answered your own question.

      zorro

  21. Steve Cox
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid that I can’t agree with you when you say that, “Few will disagree with the priority for … schools.” Far too much money has been lavished on a horrendously wasteful system that is still largely in thrall to NuLab’s warped values. I know that the Coalition can’t fix 14 years of damage overnight, but chucking yet more of our money at a broken system is no answer at all. If you want a great perspective on this problem, read this intriguing article by Katherine Birbalsingh, the teacher who exposed the failings of the comprehensive school system at the Conservative Party conference this year.

    The Chinese can’t understand why we’d waste £80 billion on a broken education system: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/katharinebirbalsingh/100075969/the-chinese-cant-understand-why-wed-waste-80-billion-on-a-broken-education-system/

  22. Bob
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Have you not read Peter Sissons’ book yet? If you had you would realize how seriously politically entrenched the BBC has become. It’s a threat to truth and justice and should be “reformed”. They don’t earn their money they just take it, and they encourage others to do likewise.

  23. Don
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Re the BBCC: Watch Sky News. As a former journalist I consider them focused, to the point, and asking awkward questions of all sides.
    Re Bill’s pointed question about why are we still paying billions into the EU and cutting, I have just written to our MP, Mr Osborne, about the finest NHS hospital my wife and I have experienced in our 70-odd years: the Cheshire and Merseyside NHS Treatment Centre at Runcorn. It is immaculately clean, MRSA-free. My wife had a knee op there this week, in at 6.50am, full general anaesthetic, and walked out at 11am in sheer joy at the improvement, and no pain whatever. It is jointly run by InterHealthCanada and the NHS; the NHS are now refusing to renew the lease, won’t let the management buy the building, and the place looks to be set for scrapping (MRI scans and all) on May 31 destroying a fabulous team including German surgeons.
    If this government goes on paying into the EU to fund the destruction of excellence like this, and against the interests of our own people, God help us all.
    Politicians and bureaucrats live in cloud cuckoo land, most of them.
    Nevil Shute in his auto biog said in the 50’s: “I regard all politicians and bureaucrats as arrogant fools until they prove themselves otherwise.” How right that man was.

  24. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Believe it or not, I am getting hopeful.
    The wretched Irish – always the fall guys in History – are now under the thrall of the German Empire. Too late they realise that they have betrayed their independence. Too late they now regret that they do not govern themselves. Sooner or later they will do a (peacceful and democratic -ed?) Tripoli as they did on us Brits, but this time on the Germans/EU.
    And will I laugh? No not slightly.

  25. alan jutson
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    As many of us have blogged for many months.

    The government have simply failed to get the true message across, and the media lack either the skill or desire to complete a truthful forensic interview of the facts.

    Shame on both organisations.

  26. Neil Craig
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Alternately the government could consider actually doing the real cuts they have been accused of. I think the people, as opposed to the state funded propaganda arm of the civil service, aka BBC & C4, are prepared for serious cuts if we believe we are being treated honestly & the intent is to get into growth.

    I would also like to see cuts focussed on the most wasteful quangos. If “we are all in it together” then NERC, which gets £450 million to do virtually nothing but propagandise for eco-(authoritarianism-ed) should not be a national priority. There are many other such cases.

  27. Timperley
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    “It reveals a common weakness of much media journalism. They do not usually ask what is the truth, what are the facts? They ask what are the various important people and groups saying?”

    Realised this a few years ago. But it includes newspaper jornalists as well, not just broadcast media. The jounalists that behave in this manner I no longer believe or trust. I wonder if they are too lazy to research or just too narrow minded. To my surprise it has included some jounalists I used to view as being supportive of the right. There are now so may good blogs where facts are expalined in detail. The journalists need to catch up or they will not survive.

  28. wab
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    In a parallel universe where there is no inflation and where there is no attempt to deal with government debt and where the NHS is not an ever growing black hole, then your argument just about makes sense (well, other than the fact that you also seem to be keen on tax cuts, so that is more revenue down the drain). But meanwhile back in the real universe there are real cuts to real services happening (some part of which might be management misbehaving, and if so give some numbers, not a sweeping statement).

    The county council where I live is run by the Tories (and has been forever) and they have announced huge cuts to services. (Including to libraries. Did you not get the Big Society memo from Number 10? Apparently we don’t need librarians any more, we can all do it ourselves in our spare time.) I think the Tory politicians who run the county council would be both bemused and insulted by your arguments. You might want to perpetually deal with overall “cash terms”, they have to deal with actual real cash. And similarly with central government (even in the NHS, allegedly not a target for cuts).

    And bashing the BBC is silly, although obviously a reflex action for most Tories. I think you’ll find that the rest of the media are pretty much in sync with the BBC on this one, even the Torygraph (except for the leader writers, of course, who also live in an alternative universe). Indeed, it was Cameron and Osborne who pushed the line that there were spending cuts (including the arbitrary 80/20 rule for dealing with the deficit), so you can hardly blame the media for writing about it.

    Reply: I pointed out that the cuts story in part came from the government, and agree there are some cuts. It is also the case that this year is meant to see a wage freeze for all but the lower paid public sector employees, and cheaper purchasing following renegtiation with suppliers, so small cash increases should not entail real cuts if the thing is well managed.

  29. Javelin
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Watching breakfast TV. The subject was Ed Miilibands squeezed middle – and how low and middle incomes have remained flat. They mentioned for 5 years. But they said it was Ed Millibands concern. Theyvdid not mention that Labour was in power for the past 5 years. In was not just biased, it was absolute Labour propaganda. The Torys didn’t get their point put across. I think Cameron needs to start picking on individual stories and complain day after day. If he doesn’t get this bias removed he needs to have the editor removed from their job.

  30. Javelin
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Readin Allister Heath in City AM. He points out on policies of interest, VAT and fuel duty the parties remain identical. That Labours slightly lower cuts would have caused a fiscal crisis – but also implicit in this is that Tory cuts have only just avoided a crisis. So why do the BBC not make this point. There is he says virtually no blue sky between the parties.

    So … They are left to battle it out on spin and the BBC. It appears the Torys are losing this battle. Cameron needs to get a grip on the BBC. He owes this to the country. The negotiations for 2012 with the BBC have not yet been signed off. Anything agreed so far needs to be torn up and a much tougher regime placed on the BBC News. For a start it needs to be separated and put under more neutral controls.

    Mr Cameron, unless you come up with radically better policies to compete with Labour you owe it to the country to bring the BBC back to a neutral line.

  31. Mike Wilson
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    A question for Mr. Redwood.

    It appears that councils around the country are cutting front line services – rather than cutting some of the million or so jobs created in the public sector during Labour’s rule of error.

    We have all read with disbelief the job titles, job descriptions and outrageously high salaries offered to ‘Pathway Development Managers”, “Diversity Co-ordination Officers” and other such non-jobs.

    Have Wokingham Borough Council indulged in this madness over the last 13 years? Is it possible to find an easy to understand list of employees (job titles, not names) and salaries paid?

    Reply Wokingham tell me they are currently embarked on a transformsation programme to cut back office costs. Their website contains some of the details you seek.

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Another question for Mr. Redwood

    I often find myself wondering why facts are so hard to come by – why some things that happen seem to be shrouded in fog.

    So …

    One the one hand all we hear about is cuts, cuts, cuts – front line services decimated.

    On the other hand you say that government spending in real terms will go up every year during this parliament.

    So, where does the truth lie?

    Are there cuts? Or not?

    If government spending is going up, in real terms, each year but is not going to go up by as much as inflation – and a spending freeze is imposed on the public sector – then there would be no need for cuts – indeed some extra money would be available for capital spending.

    So which is it? Are there cuts or not? And, if not, why are councils acting as if there are saying that their budgets have been slashed?

    Reply: Total spending is going up. There are also cuts. Cuts arise owing to priorities and to bad management.

  33. Kenneth
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I think John has a point about how the government has communicated its message and about the level of overall spending.

    However this does not let the BBC off of the hook.

    We have been conditioned into believing that public spending cuts are bad news.

    I believe this is because the BBC has reported cuts through the prism of those who have the most to suffer from those cuts (in the short term).

    If the coverage was neutral many people on low incomes and many people who are jobless may see targeted reductions in government spending as their way towards an improved life.

    • Bazman
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      ‘If the coverage was neutral many people on low incomes and many people who are jobless may see targeted reductions in government spending as their way towards an improved life’
      Is this some sort of joke or are you really that out of touch?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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