Who can cut the hardest? The narrative firms up

Anyone listening to the Today programme this morning, as discussion began of the Conservatives’ plan to raise the retirement age, could be in no doubt as to how much the media consensus has firmed up behind a virility contest among politicians over who will cut ‘hardest’.

The BBC’s news-media team were clearly delighted to be able to start talking not just about where the ‘inevitable’ cuts had to fall, but about what things that people like (such as pensions, as opposed to bureaucracy or waste) politicians would now promise to cut, as reported earlier on Left Foot Forward.

Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror has described this as “macho politics”; and who can afford not to look macho? The agenda has been set: there must be massive public service cuts, and some at least of those cuts will cause real pain.

But, outside of the consensus that the mainstream news media are now operating within, a very different view still has strong currency. One can still find some of the most intelligent voices of this country’s commentariat and think-tanks suggesting that investment needs to continue to trump cuts, for the sake of economic stability. A powerful such voice is Will Hutton. Another is the Green New Deal group.

These voices are now barely being heard at all in the news; only in comment and opinion. News reporters are viewing them now as peripheral, non-‘mainstream’. And yet their ‘green Keynesianism’ remains, in the view of many observers, the most likely way that Britain and the world can escape another recession or even Depression.

What is disturbing about the acquiescence of the nation’s main news media, symbolised by the BBC this morning, to the ‘cuts-competition’ narrative, is that, if it persists for the next several months, it will heavily bias the General Election in favour of the Conservative Party. If the issue is who can cut hardest, the country will inevitably vote for the traditional Party of cuts. Only if the issue is cuts vs. investment do left and green voices have any chance of prevailing.

Our guest writer is Cllr Rupert Read, Green, Norwich City Council

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5 Responses to “Who can cut the hardest? The narrative firms up”

  1. RupertRead

    http://bit.ly/p3Ipj My first piece on new LEFT FOOT FORWARD group-blog 🙂

  2. Luke

    I don’t wish to draw comparisons but the way debate has been stifled is almost as bad as in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War. I remember opposition voices being characterised by the mainstream media as being right on the fringes of common sense and logic. The same is happening over ‘cuts’. Rupert is perfectly correct to say that the ‘cuts competition’ is only going to be to the benefit of the Tories. If the issue was about the NHS then voters would drift to the traditional party of the NHS…Labour. But instead it is an ugly competition over who is going to cut what, where they will cut it and when they will put the axe to it.

  3. WLB

    Particularly galling during this morning’s Today (Oct 7) interview with Osborne was that he was allowed to link his cuts with the reduction of unemployment over and over again without once being challenged on this economic illiteracy.

  4. Lynda Edwards

    I missed the Today interview but I wonder how on earth any government can hope to reduce unemployment by cutting jobs? People, who have previously been good workers, were made redundant and now are faced with a bleak future of constantly being badgered to “get work” by the Jobcentre – yet all jobs have many applicants. I heard of one job having around 1,000 applicants! (I also applied for that one).

    For those of us who have worked hard all their lives it is demoralising to hear, alongside news of job cutbacks and thousands being made redundant, various political leaders threatening to raise the retirement age and cut Jobseekers’ Allowance.

    Any harassment should be made to the “Fat Cat” corporate chiefs who should be made to submit a Business Case to parliament before making staff redundant to further boost the ever increasing profits of the corporations.

    I am not thinking of the small, struggling, business who has to shed staff in order to survive but we can all think of a large, successful, employer who has a bad record of shedding staff.

  5. Left Foot Forward welcomes Rupert Read | Left Foot Forward

    […] has already written once for Left Foot Forward. His post “Who can cut the hardest? The narrative firms up” […]

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