Here are two things the Tory press won't tell you ahead of today's budget
But the papers’ pre-budget excitement has caused them to leave two claims by the chancellor without qualification, when what they really require is correction.
Here’s the quote:
“Our long-term economic plan is working. But the greatest mistake this country could make would be to think all our problems are solved.
“You only have to look at the crisis unfolding in Greece to realise that if a country is not in control of its borrowing, the borrowing takes control of the country.”
Tip-toeing over the claim that his ‘plan is working’, here are the two false claims, or implications:
1. Britain could have (or still could) suffer a Greek-style crisis
This is false. Greece is part of the Eurozone, and so does not have a central bank which can print money, like, say, the Bank of England. As several economists have pointed out, what happened in Greece could not possibly happen in Britain. Here are some other reasons:
– Britain does not suffer from the level of corruption Greece did.
– Britain’s debt in 2010 was 78.4 percent of GDP, (lower than both France and Germany). Greece’s debt in 2010 was 148.3 percent of GDP. (Source: Eurostat)
– Britain is a much larger economy than Greece. Would anyone compare Germany to Romania? It would make more sense to compare Britain to Germany.
Note: For years up to the general election, Osborne said he had saved Britain from a ‘Greek style crisis’. Now he says we’re still at risk of such a crisis, but he can protect us. This is a shift worth noticing.
2. The Tories have avoided ‘too much’ borrowing
This is false. During Osborne’s first three years in office, he borrowed more than Labour did in 13 years of government, according to Office for National Statistics data. That’s £430.072 billion from 2010 to 2013, versus Labour’s £429.975 billion from 1997 to 2010.
The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts debt will hit 81.1 percent of GDP in 2015/16, (before falling in 2019/20).
This borrowing was higher than Osborne’s predictions for three of his five years, (the last three).
So much for being ‘in control of borrowing’.
The Times and the Telegraph ran Osborne’s quote on their front pages today, without qualification. In doing so they propagate two of his favourite myths, and leave the public with a distorted view of reality.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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