The BBC have a story today on their website called “Will the public accept the cuts to come?” The first sentence is “Whoever wins the election, more cuts are on their way.” Cuts are inevitable, end of discussion. The article then goes on to list all the areas of public spending that could be under threat, and whether the public will stand for what’s coming. While it’s certainly true that all the main parties agree they need to “balance the budget”, and think they need to cut spending by roughly the same amount in order to do so, the question of whether we actually need to balance the budget or to achieve this through cuts to expenditure is far from a settled question. The BBC can argue it is being impartial by saying that all parties agree cuts are coming, by unquestioningly accepting the need for cuts, it’s not really providing readers with a complete picture.
At the end of the BBC’s article, it says “While the economists and analysts of the Westminster village are aware more austerity lies ahead…”. It could try asking some of those economists what they think about the state of the economic debate in the UK, to see how closely the political discussion mirrors the debate in academia. They might be surprised. It would be pretty easy to find some economists (even rather mainstream ones) who would question the entire premise of the BBC’s reporting here, which in my view would be very healthy indeed.