Murdoch’s ‘balanced’ Times is more right-wing than the Tories

From regressive tax to shrinking the state, the Times outflanks George Osborne on the right


Two examples in today’s Times belie the common impression of it being among the more balanced UK papers.

The first, on page 2, warns that ‘high earners face big hit’ if chancellor Osborne merges income tax and national insurance.

It quotes an investment firm saying those earning more than £47,500 (£21,000 more than the national average) would pay an extra £230 in tax every year.

However, the story notes that

“…those earning less than this amount would benefit. Someone earning £20,000 a year would be more than £500 better off.

Thus the Times has chosen to criticise a government proposal from the perspective of it being too progressive (in tax terms).

The second example is the paper’s editorial column, headlined ‘A Streamlined State’. It argues George Osborne is too timid about cuts to government departments and calls for an explicit and ideological commitment to slim the size of the state:

“Mr Osborne calls his protected spending choices a matter of political priorities. That is bloodless language. It would be good to know that these cuts reflected a broader political philosophy as well, with the goal of a more efficient, more responsive state that consumes less of the nation’s income.

To achieve this the chancellor will ultimately have to target waste inside his ringfences, not just outside. He would find plenty of fat to cut.”

More efficient government would be welcome, but in business-speak (a language in which the Times is fluent) ‘efficiency’ is code for cuts to resources and sacking staff.

The Times is urging government cuts to departments even the slash-happy chancellor has ‘ring-fenced’, and wants public justifications of this in the name of a ‘streamlined’ (more business-speak) state.

In both these pieces, the supposedly balanced Times – formerly the newspaper of record – puts itself to the right of the Conservative government.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

French ferry workers lose their jobs… but the Times revels in French property market

The Times’s Melanie Phillips says calling gender pay gap a ‘scandal’ is sexist

Sign up for our weekly email by clicking here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.