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Sense on the BBC

After a televised pre-election debate between UK opposition party leaders, I watched a political magazine programme called This Week on BBC One. I was pleased to hear former Conservative minister Michael Portillo repeat and reinforce to BBC viewers what might have been the only sense to come from the debate:

The other thing that struck me about the debate was the unreality of it all. The first question was from a young person who said, “you’re passing this enormous burden of debt to the next generation”, and Nigel Farage, in his own way, addressed that question. The others just kind of ignored it and started promising how much more money they were going to spend.

And this idea that we’re living under austerity — it was Nigel Farage, actually, who made the point — that the national debt has doubled during this government. Each year the government spends on us £90 billion more than it raises from us and the rest is passed to the next generations to pay back.

And I think the reason Nigel Farage reacted in the way that he did to the audience, whether he was wise to do so or not, was that every time somebody talked about spending more money there were great cheers, and every time someone tried to talk about reality there was stony silence.

Yes, people seem very keen to vote themselves other people’s money.

21 comments to Sense on the BBC

  • Patrick Crozier

    The Campaign Against Reality has many supporters.

  • Veryretired

    Why do we endlessly argue for a minimalist, tightly circumscribed state firmly limited by a set of constitutional restrictions on state power?

    Because “here’s some free stuff from your beneficent state” gets cheers, while “we aren’t going to give you more, and cut back what’s already being given” gets silence, or jeers, or worse.

    The reason the state must be kept small and limited is that the more it does, the more the avaricious benefit seeker demands, and breaking that cycle is enormously difficult to sell as more and more beneficiaries are created.

    The tiger of the state must be strangled as a cub, and never allowed to grow to a man-eating maturity.

  • Nick (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    That’s pre-emptive action, that is! Better to tame the tiger, and use it to fight off the other monsters.
    Better yet to be the tiger.

  • Where’s my jetpack then?

  • Regional

    Consider this article by the NSW Finance Minister.

  • lucklucky

    That vis why Democracy without much stronger limits is enemy of Freedom.

  • Laird

    Regional, that’s a great speech. Thanks for the link.

  • Barry Sheridan

    It is remarkable the traction that Britain has lived under some sort of imposed austerity over the past few years has had. Clearly reality is not this nations strong suite.

  • Mr Ed

    Barry, it was a deliberate policy of Messrs Osborne and Cameron to talk of cuts when not msking any, it is their own self-delusion in action.

  • TDK

    people seem very keen to vote themselves other people’s money

    The odd thing is the audience of the BBC is overwhelmingly middle class. They certainly imagine they are voting themselves other people’s money but I suspect, students aside, they will suffer more than they realise.

  • Mr Ed

    TDK: The State is a great middle-class job provision scheme. Local government, the NHS, quangos, HR advisers, lawyers, fake charity staff, outreach workers, social workers, time-wasting shitbags all would be likely to suffer should regulation and government spending be reduced.

    Whereas a tyre fitter might find the abolition of VAT and a cut in petrol duty a great boon.

  • Jim

    What Mr Ed said. The middle classes have the most to lose from the reduction in the State, it’s only by the forcible extraction of taxes that their comfortable State and Third sector salaries and pensions can be paid. Their actual production of anything anyone would voluntarily part with cash for is very low. Whereas the working man tends to produce things and provide services that people do pay for voluntarily, and if they weren’t taxed so much would be able to buy much more of, to his benefit.

  • Regional

    As regular viewer of Bargain Hunt for the history, it’s amazing how many contestants have Clayton’s jobs paid by the Gubbmint.

  • Also worth reading is one of the articles referenced in the piece that Regional links to. Excerpt:

    But as happens so often in Greece, the bureaucrats had other plans. In a country where you are viewed favorably when you spend money but are considered a criminal when you make it, starting a business is a nightmare. The demands are outrageous, and include a requirement that the business pay taxes in advance equal to 50 percent of estimated profit in the first two years. And the taxes are collected even if the business suffers a loss.

    I needed only 20 square meters for my baking business, but inspectors told me they could not give me permission for less than 150 square meters. I was obliged to have a separate toilet for customers even though I would not have any customers visit. The fire department wanted a security exit in the same place where the municipality demanded a wall be built.

    I, like thousands of others trying to start businesses, learned that I would be at the mercy of public employees who interpreted the laws so they could profit themselves.

    And so in the winter of 2013, my business was finished before it had a chance to take off.

    There are simply not enough lengths of rope and lampposts.

  • Paul Marks

    The left really believe such tosh as “the NHS has been cut”.

    They think Britain has had five years of terrible “austerity” with government spending cut to the bone.

    The Welsh and Scots Nats, the Labour Party, the Greens, the Lib Dems (who were not at this debate) all believe it – and all promise more spending.

    The Prime Minister?

    Well Mr Cameron has promised to reduce government spending by 1% (by “one Pound in every hundred Pounds”) how, specifically, he plans to do this he has not mentioned – but there we go.

    Mr Farage has presented various ideas for reducing government spending.

    I do not think they go far enough, not nearly far enough (for example why does Britain have a “foreign aid” budget at all – Peter Bauer proved decades ago that government aid is actually harmful).

    But at least Mr Farage has made some suggestions for cutting government spending (cut foreign aid, get out of the E.U., end HS2, and so on) – although he has no chance of becoming Prime Minister (none) and his party is splitting the vote and allowing the demented (utterly demented) Labour party into power.

  • R Richard Schweitzer

    Refer back to Bastiat’s description of the public understanding of the “State.”

  • Runcie Balspune

    The last debate, in which Farage revealed the scale to which we subsidise African HIV suffers, in lieu of British taxpayers, was staggering in it’s response. I don’t think Nige actually contemplated there’d be such a backlash, or even the audacity of one of his co-debaters, a non-taxpayer herself, claiming it was a moral thing to spend vast amounts of other peoples money on it (not her own mind), a comment actually deemed to be acceptable despite the massive amount of chutzpah it was loaded with.

    His previous outing giving that oily oik Brand a dressing down got him the audience’s delight, in spite of the SWP plants yelling from the back row seats like little schoolchildren, probably gave him false hope, the Beeboid lefties must have seen him coming.

    As the business success of companies like Wonga have learned, and the numerous reality TV series based on benefits and bailiffs attest to, the cult of the magic money tree is growing.

  • Alex

    […] although he has no chance of becoming Prime Minister (none) and his party is splitting the vote and allowing the demented (utterly demented) Labour party into power.

    I agree that he has no chance of becoming Prime Minister yet UKIP will never have a chance unless it shows it can win seats. That means fighting to win seats. Plenty of people held their nose and voted Conservative in 2010 but look at what we’ve had in response: a Conservative government only marginally less insane than New Labour’s second and third terms. It is time to stop being concerned about “letting Labour in” or “getting Labour out”.

  • Jake Haye

    Unfortunately my UKIP parliamentary candidate made the mistake of distributing leaflets in my area.

    All the bullet points on the leaflet are indistinguishable from Labour (i.e. more free money for everyone and everything) with a couple about the EU and immigration unconvincingly tacked on the end.

    But the real turd on the cake is the guy’s bio where he boasts of being a Labour councillor for 4 years.

    If I do vote for him it will be with nose firmly held.

  • John Mann

    Unfortunately my UKIP parliamentary candidate made the mistake of distributing leaflets in my area.”

    I’ve not seen a UKIP leaflet yet (we seem to be getting nothing but LibDem leaflets, as they desperately try to hold off the SNP tide) – but in the European elections, the UKIP leaflet was so bad that I almost didn’t vote UKIP.