I do wish the media and journalists would sharpen their questions for 2012. I am getting fed up with the old spin that seems to have been hanging in the air for so many years.
Wouldn’t it be good, for example, to put behind us the old lie that we have to accept everything the EU dishes up because 3 million jobs are at risk. Why don’t the interviewers who are given that tired old line ask:
Do you think Germany would stop selling us BMWs and France stop selling us wine if we demanded a change of relationship with the EU?
Wouldn’t WTO rules protect our export jobs to the EU?
How come China and the USA can export to the EU successfully when they are not members?
If more than half our goods exports and a bigger proportion of our service trade is with non EU countries, isn’t that a plus as the rest of the world is growing?
In response to the line that the UK only has influence in the EU and the wider world if it is a full and keen member, they could ask:
Does that mean that the UK by opting out of the Euro has ceased to have any influence in the world?
Has the US stopped asking the UK to help it out in its wars and diplomacy, now that we have opted out of the Euro?
What influence within the EU have we wielded? Why is the CAP still unreformed? Why is there no deregulation at EU level? Why does the EU budget still keep going up? I thought the UK wanted less regulation, a lower budget and a market friendly CAP from the EU.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if instead of always demanding more public spending and spreading stories about cuts, we heard some of the following questions:
Why has current public spending gone up by £29 billion a year in the first year of the Coalition, and by an additional £23 billion a year in the second year? Where did all the extra cash go?
Individual public service providers should be asked where they think the waste and inefficiencies lie in their service, and pressed if they decline to answer. They should be asked how come productivity in making planes or cars keeps on going up, but has not risen overall in many public services.
Senior public sector managers should be asked about numbers and levels of remuneration of managers in their service or area, and put on the spot about it as commercial CEOs are regularly by the media.
Public sector managers should be asked how come Hammersmith and Fulham have been able to cut the Council Tax every year for six years without cutting main services.
How about the lie that the Credit Crunch was simply caused by the Bankers? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask:
Why did the Competition regulators allow mega mergers, when some commentators and City experts were warning that these banks would be too large to run well or to control?
Why did the Bank of England allow easy money until the middle of 2007, creating a bubble,and then tight money, causing a crash?
How can people claim that the problem was deregulation, when the 1990s and 2000s saw an explosion of additonal financial regulation, and the creation of new regulators by the Labour government on assuming office in 1997? Why was the regulation unfit for purpose?
Finally, to all those who argue the Coalition government is cutting too hard and too fast, it would be good to hear the following:
How does borrowing more get you out of a crisis brought on by borrowing too much?
How much more would you like the state to borrow, given that the Coalition is planning to borrow an extra £563 billion over five years (Public sector net borrowing)?
Why should we have things today and make our children pay for them tomorrow when they have to pay back the borrowing?
It would make understanding the problems and finding solutions for them so much easier if we call current public spending spending and not investment, if we call extra cash spending an increase and not a cut, and if we remind people that far from cutting the debt the government has only made a small dent in the extra debt or deficit.