In praise of good experts

When I criticised so called economic and business experts on the BBC someone wrote in here to say if I were ill I would want an expert doctor to help. Yes, of course. I am all in favour of genuine expertise. I have spent a lot of my life reading and listening to people with expertise to widen my understanding. I admire learned people who improve our knowledge  and  make accurate predictions and diagnosis.

Were I ill I would of course turn to well educated qualified doctors who know far more than me about illness and treatment. I would however want an expert who was likely to get both diagnosis and treatment right. The first instruction for any expert must be, do no harm. The second must be to know the limits of your knowledge and craft, and learn each day from experience. I do not  usually write here with critical comments about modern medicine as I am not qualified to do so.

I am qualified in matters financial, and have studied economies and public policy for many years. That is why I feel confident enough to criticise and disagree with so called experts in these areas  who lack basic knowledge and with experts whose judgement is faulty. In the recent Today programme case both so called experts were commenting on the simple question of what the Bank of England was going to do on interest rates. Both wrongly stated the current interest rate, thinking it was one third lower than it is. Why should we then value their opinion?

An apologist for the BBC said it was just a simple mistake. I of course accept we can all make mistakes. I go to considerable lengths to check facts and figures for this blog, but agree I could make a mistake. If I did I would move rapidly to amend it. I have not heard Today amend this mistake. Whilst I could accept one of them could make a mistake I find it difficult to believe two genuinely independent experts could  both make such an elementary mistake on the same occasion. Surely the outside expert is used by theBBC to avoid just that sort of error or lack of knowledge by the in house expert? The outside expert did correct the BBC man when she thought he was wrong to say the Bank was forecasting a recession on a WTO exit from the EU. She quoted  the wrong interest rate as well as the BBC man.

I am returning to this because the Today Business correspondent regularly turns one of the few decent business slots on the mainstram media into an anti Brexit story. Following the interest rate howler he rushed on to try to explore how and why a no deal Brexit might cause a recession.His guest helped him, by agreeing that there were unnamed forecasters who hold this view though she did not think that included the Bank of England.

He asked her why these nameless forecasters thought that. It was surely a factual question which you could only answer as an expert if you had read these forecasts and could name them. If you answer speculatively and in general terms, as she seemed to do, you should as an expert  balance the answer with why others presumably in her view  including the Bank of England do not think there will be a recession just from a no deal exit.

The following morning a different BBC person introduced the business slot. This time we were told – with support from another “expert” interview” – that the pound had risen owing to rumours of a financial services deal between the UK and the EU. They made heavy weather of explaining this would be a one sided affair with the EU in the driving seat, without mentioning that the EU wants access to London and has more passports into London than London has into the continent. The government had denied there was any such agreement, and there is no official draft or agreed  text allowing an expert to tell us what they have in mind. More importantly during this section of the business slot there was no mention of the fact that the Governor of the Bank of England had added another possible two interest rate rises to his forecast, which most people think was the main reason the pound went up! They got around to mentioning this as an also ran possibility after this story about Brexit.

This is not serious journalism based on texts, statements and sources. Most days this section of the Today programme is just used as a way of attacking WTO Brexit.

 

 

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76 Comments

  1. Peter Wood
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Good Morning Dr. Redwood.

    Your ire is well founded. If I may also offer a criticism; Owen Paterson was interviewed on the Today programme, yesterday, concerning the Irish backstop. The counter argument was being put by an Irish MP. Mr. Paterson explained the CURRENT import/export arrangements tolerably well, and made clear that with good will such arrangements could continue. The Irish gentleman made the point that if there is no deal, ie move to WTO terms, then such arrangements would not apply, and of course Armageddon would ensue.
    Mr. Patterson, SHOULD have countered with his knowledge of the differences between current arrangements and those required by WTO. He did not, presumably because he did not know what those differences are.
    My criticism is that ALL Brexit MP’s should have a working knowledge of WTO terms of trade, and how that may differ from current practice, and how such differences are so small or can be overcome.
    Mr. Patterson came off looking ill informed, at best. From a senior member of the Tory Party this is not good enough.

    Reply Owen Paterson does know how WTO trade works and has sensible views on the Irish border

    • Adam
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Peter Wood:

      The Irish person you describe as predicting WTO rules becoming Armageddon presents the spectre of a biblical fantasist instead of a balanced gentleman.

      Brexit shall maintain trade, not cause the End of the World.

      • Hope
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        If th BBC employs former Labour ministers and policy heads what do you expect? The BBC has a mandate to be impartial in return for public funds. It has failed. No person with connection to any political party or such strong political beliefs should be employed by the BBC because it is against its charter to be impartial.

        Just like the two named in the civil service report who acted against Rudd. They were senior people, it was no mistake. They should have been sacked not moved elsewhere! It makes the current head of the civil service article appear stupid and May even worse for employing him without a selection procedure!

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      I took from this interview that Mr Paterson thought that with good political will, the same arrangements could continue as now. Perhaps however, out of a sense of politeness to the Irish chap, he didn’t sufficiently emphasis that the EU and Ireland aren’t showing sufficient political will.

    • Len Grinds
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      WTO rules require that members treat every other member in the same way. So in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK can leave the Irish border totally open and unguarded – as long as it does the same at Dover, Felixstowe, Southampton, Hull etc. But if we want checks at Dover, Felixstowe etc – and of course we do, to stop smuggling, illegal migration, terrorists etc – then we have to have the same checks in Ireland. That is how the WTO works. Unfortunately Mr Paterson misunderstands it, and so does Mr Redwood

      Reply Owen and I understand it fully. Try visiting one of our borders and see that there are checks of various kinds away fro m the border, police co-operation, electronic information etc The current NI/R of I border is an anti terrorism border, a VAT border, Excise border etc already!

      • Len Grinds
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Well, I was at Heathrow yesterday, and Gatwick last week. Checks away from the border? I don’t think so, sir.

        • NickC
          Posted November 4, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          Len Grinds, The WTO is concerned with trade, not borders. There is no WTO requirement to make every border crossing the same. Nor to treat every foreigner the same either. Moreover most trade is checked away from borders nowadays anyway.

          Your problem is you are blindsided by the EU. Not only are things done differently outside the EU but – shock, horror – the EU way may not be the best.

        • libertarian
          Posted November 5, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Len Grinds

          Did you have your pockets full of cars you were importing through Heathrow and Gatwick ?

          Blimey you remainers are something to behold. GOODS , thats physical things imported into the country do not queue up at passport control at Heathrow . They are checked away from the main points of entry .

          I love it , day after day Remainers come on here telling us all about trade, imports & exports and single markets. Not one of them has ever imported or exported anything, none of them has run an international business, but no every day they impart their “wisdom” to those of us that do this every day for a living.

          Tell you what mate rather than keep spouting your nonsense propaganda how about checking, listening and researching what actually happens. You will be surprised to find you have been fed a crock by the EU and its government , big corporate supporters

      • libertarian
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Len Grinds

        Why not actually find out what you are talking about by doing some proper research before you post ?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        “WTO rules require that members treat every other member in the same way.”

        “Len Grinds”, I think you yourself have already been told that this is simply not true, and challenged to cite chapter and verse of the WTO rules that you pretend to invoke, and moreover informed of Article 7.4 in the WTO Trade Facilitation Treaty which, for example, could make it permissible for the French customs authorities to subject British lorries to a more intensive inspection regime than Irish lorries, as argued only yesterday:

        http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/11/03/italy-and-the-eu-what-is-the-point-in-euro-countries-debating-economics-in-general-elections/#comment-970700

        And if you have not been told that directly yourself you could certainly have seen it all explained to your fellow trolls, repeatedly; so why do you come on here to insult the intelligence of other people with your lies?

    • rose
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Owen Paterson had plenty more to say. It was just a pity the Irishman was given the last word – but then he would be, wouldn’t he?

  2. sm
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Perhaps one good definition of an expert is someone who gets things right (in his/her field of expertise) far more often than s/he gets things wrong?

    And it was reported in Sept 2017 that Prakash Longani of the IMF analysed the accuracy of economic forecasters. This revealed that economists had failed to predict 148 of the past 150 recessions!

  3. Bob Dixon
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    It would be useful if you named these experts.

    • Peter
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      It seems somewhat excessive to single out Dominic O’Connell in two separate articles. As I have mentioned before, he is not very prominent and I only noticed him after investigating further after the first article. In his favour, he does seem to have broken some big stories when he was a newspaper journalist at The Sunday Times. His appointment was controversial as he was an external candidate and BBC employees expected the jobs to be filled by an internal candidate,

      I must say I find other reporters far more irritating. Evan Davis for example, or Will Gompertz the BBC Arts correspondent.

      I am getting a bit fed up with all the paper talk around Brexit. Mrs May threatening to quit if the cabinet do not back her Brexit plans. Then other dramatic revelations that there will be no agreement before December. Newspapers will print anything.

      • Helen Smith
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        May threatening to quit? Music to my ears.

  4. Mick
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Off topic
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1040518/brexit-news-latest-remained-ops-new-party-brexit-deal-european-union
    Yes go for it and take sourbry and Wollaston and all the other remoaners with you, then put it to your constituents in by-elections, a complete wipe out of all remoaners is what is needed in Westminster , then we can be run by true believers in GB and not there beloved Europe, muppets just do it if you dare but you won’t because you know you would loose big time, pity I would love to see the back of sourbry and Wollaston and the other remoaners

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Yes, and I wish our host would discuss these folk, who are actually even more irritating and hypocritical than faux experts.

      These are MPs who stood on a manifesto of leaving the SM, CU and EU 16 months ago. By and large, they voted for a referendum and stood by Cameron when he said the same and that “Out means out”. Unlike Cameron, who slinked off as a failure after the referendum, these MPs continue to pour bile on the referendum result and on people such as our host who state quite rightly that any problems in leaving the EU will be minimal and can be sorted out with a modicum of effort.

      We know who they are. Our host knows who they are.

      Isn’t it time to name, shame and deselect these hypocrites, who still speak for the Tory party?

    • Andy
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      48% of those who voted in the referendum voted the same way as Soubry and Wollaston. And, of course, millions of young people, EU citizens who live here and UK citizens who live there were disenfranchised.

      I appreciate Brexiteers are usually angry people – usually with much to be angry about – but wanting a Parliament only made up of people who agree with you is not a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. Like they have in places like North Korea.

      I think Mr Redwood is wrong on just about every issue I can think of – except maybe transport. I also think Dennis Skinner is wrong on just about every issue. But I understand Parliament is better because it has a range of voices in it.

      And this is where the Brexiteers have got Brexit wrong. They had no coherent idea of what they wanted, no agreed way to achieve, no plan for implementing it and no strategy for bring the rest of the country along with them. And that is why they have failed.

      And by failed I don’t mean there will be no deal – there evidently will be one. It will just be worse than what we have on every count.

      • Hope
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        There are losers in every election. You all lost. Accept it. It is called democracy.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        You really should stop making things up Andy – a typical Remainer trait – UK citizens living in the EU were not disenfranchised, they were able to vote in the referendum. Odd how so many Remainers bleat on about freedom of movement having not themselves ever taken advantage of it to live and work in a EU country. I have and so am well aware of what voting rights UK citizens have in the EU.

      • NickC
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Yes Leave voters did have a coherent idea of what they wanted. It was to leave the EU’s treaties (and, clearly, not sign back up to them). We could have left in 12 months by abrogating the treaties; and without invoking Art50. Trade deals should have come separately, and later.

        Instead the government first put us into the position of a supplicant to the EU. Then the government mixed up the straightforward act of leaving (which is what we voted for) with a complicated, rushed, badly thought through communist-style 10-year-plan to tie us back to the EU that we were supposed to leave.

        It is not Brexiteers who have got this wrong, it is the Remain establishment desperately trying to keep us locked in to the EU

        • Andy
          Posted November 5, 2018 at 12:37 am | Permalink

          Yeah – keep telling yourself that. If you lie often enough I guess in your head it becomes the truth.

          YOUR Brexit is an entirely predictable disaster. So much so that you have turned everyone into the enemy.

          High Court judges. The BBC. Most MPs. The Prime Minister. The Civil Service. Tony Blair. Ireland. The EU. Migrants. The car industry. Airbus. The CBI.

          Because your Brexit is a disaster it has to be everyone else to blame – right? Wrong. Your grandkids and their children will still blame you.

          Come 2030 finding someone who still admits they backed Brexit will be like trying to find Germans in 1950 who still looked back on the war with fondness.

          • libertarian
            Posted November 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            Andy

            The problem here is, is it is YOU who is angry . You’re angry with people who voted Brexit, you are angry with pensioners, you are angry with politicians.

            You are like a little toddler who has had his dummy removed

            You keep predicting disaster but strangely never show any evidence, never tell us what this disaster will be or what it comes from. You just scream and cry and rant and grizzle

            All the people and institutions you name were highly active remain campaigners, they were always “the enemy” thats why we voted to remove their control over our lives you prune.

            Now this is something you might want to think about in your constant rants about old people

            By 2024 ( under 6 years time) more than 54% of the UK population will be 50 years old or older . By 2030 it is estimated to reach 64% . So come 2030 the younger population will have wised up by then having gained some experience and watched what happened in Italy, Greece , Germany and Hungry . You of course will be 57 years old by then and be worrying about the fact that you called to have pensions taken away from pensioners , something you will vehemently deny

            So, lets see if you actually have a brain or youre just a rant machine

            Name one area that will be a disaster and explain why it will be a disaster and why there would be no alternative to it other than being in the EU

  5. oldtimer
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    The BBC is first and foremost a propaganda organisation. It has set views on issues which it pushes forward and suppresses contrary views by denying them airtime. Brexit is one. Other notable examples include causes of climate change, veganism and feminism. Do not expect to hear or see balanced views from the BBC on these issues.

    • Cis
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Sad, but so nearly* true. I gave up ‘Toady’ years ago and now no longer listen to or watch any BBC news. Its website gives me the morning headlines, but at the price of picking through the tabloid trash and ‘woke’ propaganda.

      * I disagree on feminism: we are still short of the target in so many fields, and in so many parts of the world. But I do see the BBC allowing journalists to push their personal views as reportage, and not only on this topic.

    • Kenneth
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Here, the BBC defends the “nanny State” and “big government”, with no attempt at balance:

      Title: “Keywords for Our Time”
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000t40
      00:30 26th October2018, BBC Radio 4 FM

      BBC political statement from the show: “”…the people who complain about the nanny state are the people who had nannies”

    • Bob
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      @oldtimer

      “The BBC is first and foremost a propaganda organisation.”

      Exactly why it’s time to repeal the law that criminalises people for watching TV broadcasts without paying the BBC Licence. UKIP is the only party with a policy to end the BBC Licence Fee.

      The fact that the LibLabCon have never addressed the BBC problem indicates to me that they are part of the conspiracy to heard us into an expansionist superstate.

    • old salt
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      oldtimer
      Agreed – the BBC is a propaganda organisation with a pro-EU agenda and with their financial support (of our money) as with many facets of our life over the decades. Only to be expected as ‘he who pays the piper….’
      The sooner we are out the better but I fear Article 50 being obstructed in some way and another referendum later next year as Lord Adonis alluded to recently. Following ramping up of project fear attacking various Leave organisations etc. by the Remainer establishment in an attempt to change minds. Why should we be any different to the other countries who were asked again until they gave the right answer. Again using our own taxpayers money to bribe ourselves.

  6. Mark B
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Our kind host uses one word to describe a true expert- Qualified.

    The BBC is a pervayor of fake news. If these so called experts cannot be named and both them and their information cannot be properly investigated then this is just plain lying. This must be stopped. The BBC is in receipt of monies obtained through the force of law. It is a public service and not a mouthpiece for the Establishment.

    Time to put an end to this.

  7. Adam
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Having maintained such low quality standards for so long, the Today programme does not deserve to be broadcast, even by the BBC.

  8. Bryan Harris
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    When is the government going to do something about rogue (all) broadcasters telling us lies and creating wrong impressions? I’m not talking about censorship – I’m talking about putting the fear of God into those that spread false news.
    As for experts – hasn’t the world suffered enough from the idea that someone who knows more than the average person about a subject is called an expert, no matter how biased or how lacking in real results they are.
    As a term, ‘EXPERTS’ has been abused beyond recognition – I no longer trust the word, due to failures by alleged experts ranging from doctors to lawyers, not forgetting economists and environmentalists.

  9. Old Albion
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    It’s all a part of ‘project fear’ The BBC (along with most of the media) continuously cheerlead ‘remainerism’
    If and when we finally break free of the EU’s clutches and the country is seen to be thriving, we’ll be able to look back and ridicule all these so called experts.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Rather like the experts who know Aaron Banks’ financial affairs better than he does. They have an agenda.

  10. Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    If you want a real expert who has devoted his life to Brexit matters, Dr Richard North is your man.
    euyreferendum.com

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Prof. Patrick Minford has it right on economics and has an excellent record be being proved so.

      • hefner
        Posted November 7, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        Like when he was praising the community (poll) tax! Fortunately at the time we had a number of people around the Government including JR who convinced Mrs Thatcher that it had to be dropped and replaced by what became the Council Tax.

  11. George Brooks
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Following on from SM’s comment the so called ‘expert’ invited on by the BBC attracts the same definition as that of many business consultants.

    ” A person who borrows your watch to tell you what the time is”.

  12. formula57
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Journalists have been replaced typically by infotainment industry operatives so the nonsense offering of the BBC to which you refer likely never aspired to be “… serious journalism based on texts, statements and sources”.

    Now I deny the BBC the oxygen of funding and do not consume its output I find myself much happier and less annoyed by its antics. Why does parliament still insist I should pay the BBC to consume its competitors live broadcasts?

  13. Time Lord
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Doctors in the Norman Conquest were qualified.
    The Normans gave us the name “hospital.”

    Why should we believe doctors NOW. Does Time qualify them? If so, they had better cancel all their appointments until 3018AD

  14. Dave Andrews
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    My distrust of “experts” has existed for some time, with the promotion of the theory of evolution in academia and the media; a theory I know to be utter nonsense.
    I am also sceptical about climate alarmist science. I’m quite comfortable with the idea of global warming, if reliable measurements indicate this has occurred, but the claim that this is due to human activity is just speculation and the opinion of scientists.
    I might claim to have certain expertise in my field of electronics, but here the universe regularly tells me I am wrong and have to try again.
    Perhaps the monetary “experts” would confine themselves to analysis of what has happened, but when it comes to what will happen in the future they should be honest and say they just don’t know.

  15. Lifelogic.
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    BBC “experts” all have to subscribe to BBC group think which is for:- ever bigger government, magic money tree economics, ever higher taxes, be strongly anti-Brexit, want ever more regulation everywhere, pro climate alarmism everywhere, pro “renewable” energy, pro the ECHR, pro bikes, trains and trams and anti cars, trucks and planes. Also pro ever more hate and discrimination “crimes” for all groups (other that perhaps white males). Otherwise they very rarely get on air. The BBC is wrong headed on almost every single issue.

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      May has “BBC think” beliefs to her very core alas.

  16. Glenn Vaugahn
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    The only “expert” I have ever paid attention to via the media was the late Dr Charles Krauthammer who used to appear regularly on Fox News. I cannot think of an “expert” resident in this country of comparable stature.

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Why are the BBC and others in the broadcast media allowed to breach the broadcasting code of accuracy and impartiality on a regular basis with impunity, particularly in regard to Brexit and also President Trump? Ofcom seem to do nothing – perhaps they have similar biases and therefore ignore? I used to be an avid listener and watcher of news but now can hardly bear to listen to the propaganda, because that’s what it is, emanating from these so-called “news” broadcasts.

    • Andy
      Posted November 5, 2018 at 12:40 am | Permalink

      If you think they are breaking impartiality rules you can complain.

      When Ofcom reject your complaint – which they will – you will dismiss Ofcom too.

      Perhaps the problem is you?

      • libertarian
        Posted November 5, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Andy

        Ofcom are run by the BBC they always reject complaints about the BBC

  18. Lifelogic.
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    “Most days this section of the Today programme is just used as a way of attacking WTO Brexit.”

    Most days the whole of the BBC “news” output is used as a way of attacking WTO Brexit, Businesses, Landlords or Trump or for pushing anti-scientific climate alarmism, greencrap higher taxes or more regulation of X , Y or Z.

    The usual BBC agenda of hugely damaging lunacy.

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 5, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      You need to start making a list of actual false news output rather than blanket accusations and then people like Ofcom and Andy above may have to actually investigate and answer your and Brian’s unsubstantiated accusations.

  19. Richard1
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid much of the BBCs business financial and economic ‘news’ is an anti-Brexit tirade these days. You have to do your own reading around to get the real news and sensible balanced commentary. This blog is very helpful so thank you for that.

  20. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The problem is that you have the people on your side, but no comparable mouthpiece to the BBC. LBC does a reasonable job of creating balance in the capital. It stirs up debate. But it’s not a nationwide entity.

    Perhaps you should think about how we could fund a comparable nationwide station to R4 with a more balanced agenda?

  21. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Experts rarely see out of the box, whether doctors or not. The best ones do – the ones with an instinctive “feel” for their subject rather than just a knowledge of it. There’s a subtle difference.

    What we need is a new deal with the Anglosphere (see Hannan’s Telegraph article today), then the Irish will come across and all border problems solved. Play hard ball with the EU and win the Irish over to our terms eventually.

  22. Nig l
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    As for experts, the Times is saying May has secured a secret deal to keep NI in a customs union, that of course means the whole of the U.K.

    That needs more comment/suggestions of being biased or uninformed than the BBC or maybe they are correct?

  23. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It is always good to see real experts at work. For example Mr Barnier is an expert negotiator – see today how it is being reported that he has made a “major concession” by agreeing that the whole of the UK can stay in the Customs Union when in fact that has been one of his primary negotiation objectives right from the start – stop the UK signing trade deals with other countries and better competing with the EU, also using access to the UK market (possibly on detrimental terms to the UK) as a lever for the EU in trade agreements with other countries. Brilliant. No doubt Mrs May will thank his for making this “concession”.

  24. agricola
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Witch doctors apart, the difference between medicine and politics is that medicine operates within a pool of factual knowledge. Yes it is always trying to expand that pool of knowledge through scientific research, but does not push beyond the bounds with fanciful speculation. New ideas are subject to research and peer approval.

    Economics is a base from which flights of fancy are numerous. These are rarely tested and become so wrapped in politics as to become tenets of a religion in which proponents believe or do not, irrespective of their efficacy. It is a base of ideas rather than hard fact. What hard fact there may be gets drowned in the desire to see the idea fulfilled. Until it is isolated from politics it only has a limited value. Those who use it within a base of hard knowledge have some credibility.

    • Miss MBJ
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      You are misguided . The knowledge is often individually based and then set in stone by research which in other studies has very different outcomes.I have worked in medicine for 50 years and fanciful speculation happens a lot.
      The truth is many Nurses are far more qualified than Dr’s and because of the grace and favour title given to doctors are lorded and the public accept blindly that they have limitless knowledge.
      Having said this I have been to 2 conferences this weekend where a professor lectured and actually acknowledged that he had separate different opinions than the researched which he was working on and with and I had suspected for a long time.
      You don;t know the half of it.!

  25. hardlymatters
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    We all remember what Michael Gove said about experts..and then when I see fairly youngish experts coming on and giving us their ‘opinion’ on things I say to myself how come these people are such experts, where did their expertise come from? why are they on this discussion panel- and that’s the way I question it.

    When I see IDS, MGove Boris DD and others on..who are political experts..I just wonder how did they all get it so wrong in the way of economics. Then I say to myself just where are these new world trade agreements promised to us by Dr Fox? Just how can politicians and some well known industrial leaders mix things up so much in their minds ie. English Nationalism Vs Good common economic sense, so as to put us all on the road to nowhere?- these people are all great experts as well- that is why the Bavarian car workers are still complaining to the German government and the French wine producers are blocking the roads in France with their tractors? am afraid that M Gove was right about one thing anyway- about the so-called experts

  26. acorn
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    So JR, will you vote to accept Mrs May’s version of, what sounds like, the EU-Turkey customs union? Explained by KCL at http://ukandeu.ac.uk/explainers/eu-turkey-customs-union/

    • NickC
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, I won’t vote for remaining in a customs union with the EU. I voted to Leave – as in leave the EU, and I meant it, and I still mean it. Why do you Remains have such trouble with a primary school level word?

      • acorn
        Posted November 6, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        Nice parallel between the “leavers” and the primary school level educated.

  27. Steve
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Not quite on topic, but….

    In the news today it is reported that Theresa May has done a secret deal behind our backs to keep the entire UK in the Customs Union. Allegedly with the clause that we will leave the Customs Union at some future time, i.e. never.

    We said BINO was her agenda all along. The conservatives sat on their backsides and did nothing to get rid of the treacherous criminal.

    People warned the conservatives time and time again that Theresa May’s sneaky behaviour should have been reason enough to get rid.

    The cat is now out of the bag and there is no reason to believe May’s rebuttals of the reports. she’s a proven liar.

    And now: CAUGHT RED HANDED !

    I certainly will never vote conservative ever again. Shame on the whole bloody lot of ’em!

    Regretfully these are not past times, otherwise they’d be facing the ultimate punishment.

  28. JOHN FINN
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe there is such a thing an economics expert when it comes to forecasting. The big problem with forecasting and in particular with the use of models is the reliance on assumptions or “free” parameters. Even in mathematical modelling where assumptions can be estimated from thousands of data observations uncertainty is still an issue. The mathematician, John Von Neumann, the US mathematician and physicist once said “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk”.

    I know from first hand experience that tweaking parameters using what appears to be perfectly reasonable values can yield widely differing results.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      John Finn

      You are totally correct, mathematical forecast modelling is worse than useless in the real world. It has no way of incorporating what are known as “black Swan” events, it can’t predict innovation or new entrants to the scene, it can’t predict natural extreme events . Economics and economic modelling and risk analysis are all totally useless and pointless. They are ALWAYS invariably wrong and pure guesses based on nothing but opinion or astrology are more likely to be correct

  29. Original Richard
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Mrs. May and our majority remain Parliament are using the BBC to frighten us into accepting a bad deal rather than no (WTO) deal by pretending that the country’s economy would collapse, planes will stop flying, patients will die from the lack of medicines, the roads of Kent and beyond will be gridlocked, violence will erupt at the Irish border etc. etc..

    They don’t believe in democracy and will be quite happy for us to remain in the EU’s institutions without any votes, vetoes or representation and are expecting the leave voters to still vote for them at the next GE.

  30. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Its the same with climate change ‘experts’. There is so sound scientific evidence to support the claim that climate change is man made. Solar activity plays a big part in the climate and always has. In other words, nature.

    The BBC should be ashamed of their reporting on mist things. People need to make informed decisions in their lives and fake news does not help any one.

  31. Den
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    It is time the BBC was made accountable to their public for the errors and biased opinions that flow through their corridors of power, seemingly each day. When are we, the funders of the BBC, going to have a Minister, even a Prime Minister seriously address this continual problem? Instead of providing a balanced view on the subjects discussed, they present their own opinions, sometimes via proxy “experts” but always laced with their personal left-wing favourtism
    Where is the Media Watchdog in all of this? Why are they afraid to act? And why are the people bound by Law to contribute to their propaganda?
    This most certainly is NOT OUR British Broadcasting Corporation it is the Biased British Conspiracy.

  32. Anonymous
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The basis of scientific expertise is the Uncertainty Principle. That pretty well sums up all of our decisions – even the best choices can lead to chaos. Our course is still determined by intuition when faced with a probability cloud of information and possible outcomes and this is what the expert should explain to us without agenda and bias.

    Then we make our democratic choices.

  33. Shieldsman
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Experts – do we actually have any in the Media and in Parliament/Whitehall?

    The Environment is dictated by the ‘Greens’ and the Politically correct. The technical experts, the Engineers advice is ignored in wishful thinking that an unknown breakthrough will occur.

    The Climate Change Act is already demanding the discontinuance of natural gas usage in the Home. This requires new unknown Electricity generating plants, not even in the planning stage. Hinkley Point output is already committed to replacing fossil fuel and aging nuclear generating plants.

    The political elite then have the crazy idea they can reduce pollution by banning the sale of Petrol/Diesel vehicles. The Government’s declared intention that by 2040 we must abandon conventional petrol and diesel cars completely, to drive nothing but electric vehicles (EVs). To cover the country with a proper network of hundreds of thousands of charging points for these EV’s would cost billions and take years.

    The National Grid calculates that by 2040 we shall need an extra eight to 10 gigawatts of reliable, low-carbon electricity that could only be supplied by three or four new nuclear power stations, which as yet there are no practical signs we shall have.

    Much of this woolly thinking is driven by our membership of the EU, let us return to SANITY.

  34. Edwardm
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Again, from what JR writes above (as I rarely watch TV), more evidence that the BBC is little more than a propaganda machine for remoaners and leftists.
    All TV channels should at least be made to correct factual errors and give warnings about one-sided speculations.

  35. Jiminyjim
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    When I ran international companies, our Group CEO (FTSE company) required all his Managing Directors to have the key information about their businesses in their heads. This way he could be sure that they understood their businesses. A failure to be able to answer a question such as ‘What was your Return on Capital Employed last year’ or ‘How much cash are you generating each month’ would be used as a guide to your competence. It is appalling and unacceptable that Economists and economic commentators such as the BBC cannot answer basic factual questions about the economy. It underlines the appallingly shabby standards of the BBC.

  36. acorn
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I think it was Terry Smith who said, “if you want to know how a business is doing, follow the cash”. (His book: Accounting for Growth.)

    Exactly the same process should be followed with government accounts; but, governments make it extremely difficult by pretending that the government’s accounts are the same as a household or a business. You won’t find a media financial reporter / presenter; that has the first idea how to do that. For a start, all these experts still believe that a sovereign currency issuing government, has to issue bonds to get some spending money. A government only has to do that if it uses some other countries currency; like the Eurozone member countries.

    • NickC
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, The government’s accounts are like a business’s accounts. The limits of money creation may not be machine rigid, but they are there all the same. Trust must be earned; once squandered by your MMT fad it will be gone forever.

  37. Geoffrey Berg
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Experts know (or should know) a lot of what is currently going on in their field, frequently mainly from working in it for many years
    Yet unfortunately generally they are very influenced by current fashions in their field and fail to see the wider picture, let alone logical sense. Experts are seldom great intellects.
    When I was young I was briefly a Conservative Councillor when the Conservatives ‘controlled’ the Council.
    I discovered the greatest challenge politicians in supposed control face (or rather should face as few Councillors were willing to do it) as non-experts is spotting and challenging the fallacies ‘experts’ present to politicians in power.
    There is indeed a tension in democracy here as politicians are supposed in a democracy to be ordinary people representing ordinary people but it does take very clever people to fulfil the role of politicians well.

  38. davies
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Economists from what little I know are nearly always drawn to their core beliefs so ignore the inputs that dont go fit their agendas, one of the worst examples being the treasury propaganda booklet sent out ignoring any upsides of BREXIT whilst overplaying the downsides before the referendum knowing full well that EU Membership alone carries a huge economic burden before you start factoring maunfacturing losses, farming, fishing, membership fees, import tarrif costs, tax revenue loss etc etc.

    Little wonder so many like me now ignore news programs and resort to other areas of media like this blog or other trusted sources.

    My bet is had this type of media access been around in the 60s the public would have uncovered what the political classes were up to in paving the way for EEC membership in the 60s and the well publicsed FCO 30/1048 document would have been leaked out before Heath was able to lock it away.

  39. rose
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Dominic whateverhisnameis is insufferable. They used to have a genial fellow called Justin Urquhart Stewart. I don’t know how expert he is but he was a lot less obnoxious.

  40. Iain Gill
    Posted November 5, 2018 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Ah experts, Was it not Jordan Peterson on BBC Hardtalk (it will be on YouTube) who was forced to reply to the interviewer who was saying “I am not an expert on” … “but” … with “But I am an expert”… you see Jordan has spent his whole life studying psychology and has to tolerate Stephen Sackur (anyone know what he studied at uni? Probably PPE or some social science nonsense?) trotting out the same old lame ill-informed politically correct pseudo-science. And so mostly the rest of us feel, when presented by supposedly inalienably truths by the political/journalistic establishment which conflicts so badly with our real-world experiences, thank goodness for people like Jordan who can quote chapter and verse on all the relevant literature and demolish such obvious nonsense, we should have more people like him given air time in public life.

  41. Ron Olden
    Posted November 5, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Conflating the ‘expertise’ of a doctor with that of someone who makes political decisions for us, is the root cause of most of our problems.

    Some people seem to a have servile blind faith in ‘experts’ (or more precisely, in the ‘experts’ who appear to agree with their own prejudices).

    If they want to be ruled by ‘experts’ why do they vote at all?

    But how about the 365 ‘expert’ economists who wrote to the papers to tell us that Mrs Thatcher’s anti inflation policies wouldn’t work and that the economy would never recover from her policies in 1981?

    By the time the letter was printed the economic growth which continued till 1990 had started, and inflation was plummeting.

    Then there were the ‘experts’ who told us we had to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and the ‘experts’ who told us we had to join the Euro.

    Then there were the ‘experts’ who told us that if we held Referendum on the EU there’d be a recession both in the run up (due to ‘uncertainty’, and, if we voted Leave immediately following it.

    In fact growth accelerated.

    Then there were the ‘experts’ whom in 1980, were telling us that the world would run out of oil and even ‘energy’ (!!) by 2000. Any of us who told them they were talking rubbish were laughed at.

    Then there were the ‘experts’ who were running RBS.

    Milton Friedman won a Nobel Prize for Economics by stating a blindingly obviously correct theory, that other ‘expert’ economists said was rubbish.

    As for doctors, I don’t want one of the ‘experts’, who in previous generations thought that the best way to cure you, was to bleed you to death or until relatively recently were going on TV telling us that certain cigarettes were ‘good for the throat’.

    So if John Redwood’s critic is placing his blind faith in any and every doctor he happens to consult, that’s his problem.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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