Knifonomics (part 6): The Guardian provocation test


The Knife can’t help liking the Guardian, even if most of its political, social and economic pet causes are anathema to my way of thinking.  However, it is a handy “negative barometer” in making the right choices.

To explain: when I was in surgical training there was a consultant, whom we will refer to as Mr Wardround, who was the subject of the Wardround Provocation Test. Essentially, you took a range of opinions on a thorny clinical problem, ending up with Wardround himself. You then selected the option most diametrically opposed to his and bingo – the patient gets better.

So it is with the Guardian. Take yesterday’s paper. Miserabilist sage Gary Younge has some choice lines:

The first point is that this situation was not brought about by excessive public sector spending in Britain, but by an almighty binge in the private sector that sparked an international banking crisis. Far from government getting in the way of business, at the point of collapse it was governments – across the world – that rescued business from itself through massive bank bailouts. Indeed, the crisis was made possible not by too much state intervention in capitalism but too little.

Classic stuff from Gary, followed with a curmudgeonly:

The country has a broken leg, and the coalition don’t want to heal it but amputate it. This is elective surgery. The trouble is that the country didn’t choose this. True, Labour lost. But no party won. There is simply no mandate for such an extreme agenda.

Larry Elliot occasionally  flirts with sanity, and The Knife was alarmed to find himself nodding along with this bit:

It will be good for us in the end, because the financial markets will be impressed by the pain that the government is prepared to inflict on voters. Investors will flock to the City of London and buy UK bonds (gilts) as if they are going out of fashion. The stronger the demand for gilts, the lower the interest rate the government has to pay to service its debts. And it is that interest rate that helps determine the cost of overdrafts, long-term mortgages and business loans. Lower interest rates mean stronger growth. Excessive public spending leads to higher interest rates and hence lower growth, so cutting public spending is good for us because it enables interest rates to fall. That, in essence, is the cunning plan.

…but sadly, it turns out he was being “ironic”.

Smug American  lefty Michael Tomasky reports on a new survey of the US electorate, which:

was conducted by the White House’s own pollster for a non-profit group called Third Way, a centrist thinktank. It found that by 48% to 43%, Americans think the administration’s actions have made things worse, not better. By a whopping 54% to 32%, they prefer tax cuts for business over more government spending as a spur to growth. Finally, people were given a choice between two descriptions of corporations. Are they “the backbone of the US economy and we need to help them grow, whether they are large or small”, or do they “have too much power, hurt the middle class, and government needs to keep them in check”. By 55% to 37%, respondents chose the former.

Fools! Do they not realise what’s good for them?

Tomasky’s diagnosis is that Barack has lamentably failed to get the message across, not that in a democracy the  majority might actually be…er….right.

Perhaps Gordon shouldn’t retire to “teach” in America after all.


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