Good News Blues





One BBC correspondent tells us that ‘The Office of National Statistics (ONS) released two important sets of data today. The headlines have been grabbed by the better-than-expected GDP numbers and I have no doubt that growth will feature heavily in the political battle of the next few weeks.’

The rising GDP figures did make the headlines….here’s the Telegraph’s...‘UK economy grew at fastest rate for nine years in 2014’  and its opening paragraph…

The British economy grew at its fastest pace for nine years in 2014 as GDP figures showed the economy expanded by a stronger than expected 2.8pc last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Quarterly expansion came in at 0.6pc in the last three months of 2014, leading to overall yearly growth reaching the same levels as before the financial crisis in 2006.


The BBC’s headline‘Election 2015: Parties in battle over living standards’……in other words the BBC chose to frame this story from a Labour perspective, on Labour’s chosen field of battle…Living standards….and ignores the GDP figures almost completely.

Here’s the BBC’s opener…

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have heralded pre-election figures showing rising household incomes as proof that their economic strategy is working.

Disposable incomes per head were 0.2% higher at the end of 2014 than when the government came to power in May 2010.

The BBC saying ‘Yep, incomes are up….but oh so minisculely….only 0.2% more than in 2010’. …or as Robert Peston says….‘Now let’s be clear about this. That is basically a sneeze higher. It is trivial. It’s loose change at the bottom of your purse. But it is higher.’  It takes the BBC half the report before they get to the eyecatching GDP figures and then this was the sole comment…‘It came as figures for economic growth in 2014 were revised upwards to 2.8% and separate indicators suggested economic confidence was at a 12-year high.

That’s it, no more to see here, move along says the BBC… mention of the economy growing the fastest it has for over 9 years…might be important when talking about ‘living standards’ perhaps.

It’s interesting the BBC starts the report by saying ‘The Conservatives and Lib Dems have heralded pre-election figures‘ rather than reporting that ‘The Office of National Statistics says…..’...kind of makes it look like the BBC is trying to say the Coalition is hyping the figures.


Peston also says...’It has been a recovery much slower than in any recession since 1945, but it is now reasonable to say that living standards are back to where they were at the time of the last election.’

He does the usual BBC thing as another BBC correspondent does...’taking five years to recover standards of living is a very slow recovery’  missing out the very important context for that…..from the BBC’s favourite economics guru, Paul Johnson of the IFS…..

In fairness we should remind ourselves of the scale of the task the Government took on. The deficit (that is, the amount the Government spends in a year minus the amount it raises) reached £157 billion in 2009/10 as a result of the deepest recession in around 100 years. It is still hovering around £100 billion this year.


Yes…..hard to forget ‘the deepest recession in around 100 years’ surely?  Maybe that’s why it took so much more time to get over it.  Important no?…especially when they quote Balls saying …‘ speaking at a campaign event in Swindon, said Conservatives were “telling people you have never had it so good” despite it being the “slowest recovery for 100 years”.’

Why quote one and not the other?  They are linked.


Peston goes on to say…‘The politically resonant number published today is that real household disposable income per head on 31 December 2014 was 0.19% higher than it was at the end of May 2010.’

So the ‘politically resonant figure’ is…‘household disposable income’.…why then does the BBC continue to quote Labour’s £1600 fall  in income figure rather than the Tory £900 rise in income….it is the Tory figure that is based upon disposable income after all…or as the BBC dismissively puts it‘Mr Osborne’s favourite measure of standards of living: Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI) per capita.’   Labour base their figure on ‘real wages’ that doesn’t take into account how much cash actually ends up in a person’s hand at the end of the week including all income from other sources such as tax credits and welfare and is therefore not a true indicator of people’s income and not an indicator of their living standards.

The BBC trying its best to downplay any ‘good news’ that might make the Government’s economic policies look successful….whilst neglecting to challenge Labour claims in the same ‘ridiculous’ way.








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21 Responses to Good News Blues

  1. #88 says:

    They’ve been at it all day….Radio 5 then echoed by the 6 o’clock News…and Radio 4 where the BBC yet again failed to ask Chris Leslie about the sting which saw him seemingly offer influence for cash.

    The one thing that you missed Alan, was the BBC’s fall back position which was; (never mind) getting back to the level of 2010…’we are still well short of the living standards we had in 2006 ‘. It’s as if the 2008 disaster never happened.

    BTW: Up in the Midlands (where the BBC local news is fixated by the NHS) the BBC is launching a ‘fact check’ initiative so that viewers can get in touch and the BBC will dissect and challenges the claims of (Tory) politicians in the run up the election – ‘to help them make their decision’.

    The prospect of the corrupt and biased BBC appointing itself as the arbiter of political claims is stomach churning.


    • richard D says:

      Just watched a bit of BBC News 24.

      Talk about an attempted hatchet job ? The master of ceremonies in the studio mentioned one piece of good news about the economy after the other, whilst attempting at each step to make it into a negative……then flipped out or referred to some other beeboids to try to get a further negative spin on the data… then had a ‘neutral’ on and proceeded to try to wipe out all the positive comments they were making about the economy, and to ask all sorts of pointed and directional questions to try get them to agree with anything which might be even faintly anti-Conservative instead.

      Utterly shameful and disgustingly biased ‘reporting’. It looks as if the BBC is casting all shame and pretence of neutrality to the winds.


    • manonclaphamomnibus says:

      Why are you so scared of facts and helping people to understand how to vote. I would have thought that to provide this service is not only desirable but encumbent upon a public service provider.
      Would you prefer just to get your views from the post Leverson press run by foreigners and tax exiles? I didnt think you people liked foreigners although I know some of you like tax dodgers.


  2. chrisH says:

    Thankfully those that work for the country are not watching the BBC anymore.
    Only the political elites, their bag men (and ladies)-and teachers on their holidays.
    They of course HAVE to believe their crap-it`s all they know, it`s all they offer-and if they still want to stay friends, then they all swallow the collective lies.
    Have done so since 1979.
    The rest of us have had years watching the BBC and their loaded language, the hysteria very much all that they can do.
    Just vote UKIP or Tory or DUP.


    • manonclaphamomnibus says:

      Nice reasoned argument by someone who obviously knows nothing about anything other than mindless prejudice!
      So anyone who is mindless, chrisH has given you youre marching orders!


  3. john in cheshire says:

    The commies in the labour party, this time, spent thirteen years trashing the economy and social stability of our country and yet it’s as though they’ve never been near the levers of power according to the bbc. Some of us also remember their purposeful efforts to destroy our country in the 1970s and can’t bring ourselves to either forgive or forget. Talk about nasty parties; communists are bred to be nasty. And cruel and dishonest, untrustworthy, without morals or conscience. In my mind to vote for them is an act of treachery.


    • manonclaphamomnibus says:

      What purposeful efforts to destroy our country? Please explain.
      I think you’ll find there to be few communists in the Labour party and it might be a comfort to you to realise the Blair years were very much a continuation of Thatcherite politics.
      When it comes to destroying our country how do you feel about the role of banking and tax avoidence by large (a small) business denuding the treasury from need tax revenues. I assume you do pay your taxes and dont get renumerated through a Panamanian bank account.


  4. Old Goat says:

    …looking forward to the next busmen’s work to rule. Maybe we’ll get some peace, then.


    • manonclaphamomnibus says:

      That it, just the usual ad hom then?


      • Guest Who says:

        That’s an ad hom? I had no idea.

        As opposed to the acceptably unusual ones deployed like confetti by the entire Staffel, presumably?


  5. manonclaphamomnibus says:

    This shows Alan , who isnt interested in BBC bias, is more interested in justifying the Tories inaction over the last 5 years in a vain attempt to get more of it for the next 5.
    His comentary includes a few implicit assumptions which I think need to be made explicit.
    The first being the ‘the mess labour left us in’ which appears to be the backdrop behind most of this together with the accompanying narrative of ‘havent the tories done well’.
    Ok to the first Labour werent responsible for the crash. That should be pretty much a consensus and if it isnt then more homework is required or someone should come up with the evidence.
    The second is ‘they didnt stock up for a rainy day’ . If one looks at the relevant data you will see that debt under labour was dropping since 2005. The reality was that Labours fininacial position was better than most other large capitalist countries including Germany and the US. Had the Tories been in charge,particularly with the now evident capacity for ideological thinking and incompentance at the helm (NHS IDS Legal Aid Immigration border control etc) then I suggest we would have, in all probability, seen a banking collapse in this country. Many Tories stood up at the time and encouraged the then Labour Government not to support Northern Rock I seem to remember. Credit to the stewardship of Brown and Darling not only in the UK but in the EU.
    The other issue is whether capitalist economies can or indeed should be designed to withstand wholesale fraud as we saw with the CDO and CDS backed scandle in the US which readily went toxic throught the world via derivative trading. Has anyone done anything about that by the way? Peer to peer exchanges are very much the norm and the shadow banking system thrives. We are good to go for the next crash which will make 2008 look like a walk in the park.
    When looking at the ONS figures it is also important to understand the nature of Tory thinking on the economy. It is safe to say that their ideological thinking follows the teaching of the half moralist/half Economist Milton Freidman. The thrust of his argument is that if you reduce public spending such that Government resembles that of the 1800’s, then the money the government no longer spends is transfered where it is more efficiently used in the private sector.
    Osbourne, following this line of thinking set about ,in his first budget to start reducing the size of the state and has since continued to do so. The logic being less government more growth. Fair enough if you want to take that line but if you do ,you cannot then turn round as Cameroon is doing a promise a better future. In abrogating control the Tories have no legimate claims on where the economy is going. As it happens business didnt react favourably to the cuts in 2010 and in fact the economy remained entrenched for years which is why its been the slowest recovery for decades .Contrast Obama’s,albeit limited, monetary stimulus around the same time which resulted in a rapid rise in employment. Ironically, the UK economy only started growing after credit controls became relaxed causing house prices to rocket in some parts of the country as kids,often with the bank of mum and dad, swigged at the last chance saloon of home ownership. If you anaylse the economy now it is predominently consumerism that is driving it , something that it entirely unsustainable in the long term.
    In terms of Peston’s interview then he is right to minimise the impact of the growth in standards of living. They are for all intents and purposes, minimal. They are also grossly misleading. The per capita figures are an average. I discussed previously how misleading this is given some in our society can earn 6 figure sums and others 3 figures sums. Average growth figures (like average figures generally) can hide exceptional poverty at the lower end (food banks etc) and in all probability hit most of the middle classes. To overplay these figures is a great diservice to the probable reality they are being politically minipulated to describe. In essence we are not recovering.
    The second interesting figure from the ONS was that investment in this country is dropping. So much for the 100 names in todays Telegraph. Investment is currently dropping under the Tories.
    And why shouldnt it! Capital markets in the world abound. If you seriously want to make money then stick it in India not the UK. And Im sure this isnt lost on the great and good and their Tory backers.
    The final thing I heard from Peston was really the nugget and which seems to be missed by those whose focus is entirely on the relative levels of cuts between the party. The nugget was really about how to alter the economy structurally so that it could return a future to this country; things like R and D ,production and manufacturing,science instead of the ultimately limiting and self serving financial industry which has done so much to undermine the true basis on which a country can sustain itself for the benifit of all.This is the real elephant in the room and its lack of attention by all Parties ,except for the Greens maybe, is why May 7 is gonna be the biggest non event in history. But if anyone seriously thinks that a hands off Conservative government in the midst of an economic free for all will take us to the land of milk and honey,then you have been asleep for the last few years. And the fact that a needlessly sluggish economy was left to regenerate itself on the back of a credit card without Government intervention is just testament to that!


    • richard D says:

      If one looks at the relevant data you will see that debt under labour was dropping since 2005.

      If one looks at the relevant data, UK government debt grew every year from about 2001, right through the remaining period of the last Labour government. It had been going down prior to that, but that’s because the Labour government were initially following the previous Conservative government’s economic policies.

      And, in addition to that, PFI initiatives suddenly took off under Gordon Brown, and declared by him to be ‘off the books’ – i.e. 30 years worth of billions of pounds of debt never appeared in the National Debt figures – so the figures were much worse than even in the statistics available.

      The rest of your nonsense is based on a whole bunch of nonsensical theories by you (or whatever political source you are using) – light on evidence and very heavy on supposition.


  6. 60022Mallard says:

    “If one looks at the relevant data you will see that debt under labour was dropping since 2005.”

    Link please to your evidence.

    By continuing Tory spending plans for the first two or three years of the Labour administration we got to a situation where income exceeded outgoings so some of the “debt” was paid off.

    Then master economics expert Brown decided that a rising wave of income was insufficient for his spending plans so decided to borrow every year thereafter. If you are borrowing to spend more than your income I believe that means you are increasing the debt does it not?

    To avoid borrowing even more lots of Labour schemes, like shiny new hospitals, were built on the never never, which because Gordon had abolished boom and bust, the mortgage payments would be met from the ever rising tide of tax receipts in the future.

    Except bust happened and our recession was like falling off a cliff compared with many others’ in Europe who had a slightly better grasp on economics and recovered their pre dip GDP level rather more quickly than us.

    It was nice of the outgoing Labour finance minister to wish his coalition successor good luck as “the cupboard is bare”.


    • Manonaclaphamomnibus says:

      Nope you can and governments do borrow against inflation and growth all the time. It is a behaviour that seriously Kicked off after the first world war. Given the best growth out of the G6 for the period 1997 – 2010 Brown invested in spending.
      As for data you can get it from the ons website.
      I would add that where brown failed and where everyone followed is not investing in areas where we can sustain a balanced economy capable of taking us forward. While you are at the Ons site you can also check our deplorable productivity,the worst in Europe I believe. It’s only cos of even more deplorable wages that anyone is making money at the mo.


      • richard D says:

        Of course you can borrow and use it wisely – what we are talking about here is NOT the current government stopping borrowing – what we are talking about is the irresponsibility of Labour governments in general when they borrow excessively – and that is precisely what they have always done – Brown, Miliband and Balls were in that game up to their necks the last time they were at the helm, and that’s why they can’t be trusted this time around.


        • Manonaclaphamomnibus says:

          Try looking at the data.


          • richard D says:

            I did – you clearly don’t bother – probably explains why I have had to do your research at least twice for you today. Try googling National Debt since 2000. Simples. You are wrong.


            • Guardian’s best social worker says:

              I strongly suspect The Bus Driver is one (or possibly two) of the following:
              • A BBC drone, who relies on the Telly Tax for his non job.
              • A low to middle ranking union drone who relies on tax payer subsidies for his non job.
              • A South (or North) London pseudo-intellectual who relies on the E.U. mass immigration policies to blur national identities and provide him with endless supplies of cheap Eastern European au pairs and humus.
              • A commie bus driver.


  7. Maturecheese says:

    When we look at overall GDP and then take in the population numbers it really doesn’t look so good. Yes we may be producing a little more but it is shared out amongst a lot more people so that in fact GDP per head is actually lower. The correct way to express it I believe, is productivity is lower. Funny how that isn’t mentioned


  8. Wild says:

    “The BBC chose to frame this story from a Labour perspective”

    The BBC! Surely not. After all the Labour Party supporting (keep the workers dependent and public sector pensions high) Manonaclaphamomnibus tells us that the public sector BBC is politically impartial.