Downing Street complained to the BBC following the 13-minute encounter on Radio 4’s Today programme because of the ‘unacceptably hostile’ tone of the interview.


imagesBBC presenter Evan Davis was under fire following an extraordinary interview with George Osborne in which he repeatedly talked over the Chancellor as he tried to answer questions.

Downing Street complained to the BBC following the 13-minute encounter on Radio 4’s Today programme because of the ‘unacceptably hostile’ tone of the interview.

Mr Davis is said to have been ‘spoken to’ by managers, although the BBC denied he had been reprimanded. Downing Street is thought to have received an apology.

The interview began with the presenter asking the Chancellor if government borrowing would have gone up without income from selling the rights to operate 4G mobile phone services.

EVAN DAVIS: Just to be absolutely clear, if you strip out all of the accounting changes, the Royal Mail, post, the different treatment of banks, the asset purchase facility, all those things, if you take those out and you take out the 4G licence, borrowing would actually go up this year? It’s a simple, simple question, and I am asking you if that’s the case or not.


GEORGE OSBORNE: Well, I just don’t think you can strip out…

DAVIS: It’s extraordinary you can’t answer.

OSBORNE: I am sorry, I am answering your question, it’s not that I am not answering it, it’s like saying if we went ahead with the fuel duty rise in January, which is the same month that the 4G receipts are scored, well what would happen then?

DAVIS: Well that would be a perfectly reasonable question but I didn’t choose to ask it.

OSBORNE: Or, indeed, what happens if we do or don’t go ahead with the big increase in investment allowances.

DAVIS: Another interesting question which I didn’t choose to ask.

OSBORNE: I would say the money we get from the 4G receipts, which is an independent number, that money enables us in the round, with all the other things going on, to help small businesses to help fund capital investment, for example in further education colleges and schools. So it’s all part of a whole… what I am saying is that it’s a pretty desperate attempt…

DAVIS: Well it’s not a desperate attempt.

OSBORNE: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, as you know this is what the Labour Party put out to try and explain the fact that they put out for weeks in advance saying that the deficit was going up when in fact the deficit is coming down.

DAVIS: Mr Osborne, everyone was surprised, the Labour Party was surprised, the Institute for Fiscal Studies was surprised, a lot of people, I was surprised, people covering it on telly were surprised, everyone was surprised. I will ask you another very simple question, is the cut in borrowing, when you strip out the one-off factors, apart from the 4G licence, is the cut in borrowing less than £3.5billion?

OSBORNE: Well it depends on…

DAVIS: We’re wasting our time giving us a non-answer, let’s move on.
OSBORNE: I’m sorry, you can’t just ask these questions and before you even allow me to answer…

DAVIS: Well it’s a factual question, you are clearly unable to answer, so let’s move on. Come on, let’s not waste time.

OSBORNE: Can I just answer your question? Let me answer it like this. There are four different ways you can present our numbers, it’s all been done independently, some of it includes things like selling the Royal Mail pension fund, some of it involves a transfer of the QE coupons, there are lots of different ways [an audible sigh is made in the background] of presenting the numbers, every single different version of presenting those numbers audited independently shows that, yes, we are making progress. The deficit has come down by a quarter, it is continuing to fall, of course it’s still far too high and I want to do more to get it down but we are making progress…  [the interview continues to discuss the deficit and Mr Osborne ends a subsequent point with…] We are being completely transparent.

DAVIS: You were transparent and I was defending your transparency until the first answer of this interview in which you just refused to say the simple thing, which is it would have been going up, borrowing this year. You chose not to answer it.

OSBORNE: Hold on, you cannot pull…

DAVIS: You can, let’s not waste any more time on it.

OSBORNE: That’s simply not how Autumn Statements are put together…

DAVIS: Let’s not waste any more time on it.

Well Chancellor Osborne, it is said if one can’t take the heat then jump out the frying pan as a seasoned Tory toff nose politician one has to put up or answer the questions that the presenter(s) presents to you. Welcome to the real world and stop blaming Labour as it happen on your watch matey.

Hey chancellor don’t forget Unions and Labour hit out at the government’s “callous” and disgraceful announcement that hundreds more Remploy workers may be thrown on the scrapheap this Christmas.

A further 875 employees – including 682 disabled people – have been told they face compulsory redundancy, the Department of Work and Pensions confirmed.

Ministers announced this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, arguing that the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

Since then 34 factories ceased operations and are in the process of closing, while the future of a further 18 sites remains unclear. today it emerged that workers would be facing potential redundancy at 15 Remploy factories.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “From today, Remploy will invite expressions of interest to take over the running of the remaining factories.

“Our priority throughout this process is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.

“We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320 million budget for disability employment services.

“But we are following the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce to use the money more effectively to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs – the same as everyone else.”

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne MP said: “This is a shameful act from a contemptuous government.

“A day after the Autumn Statement in which the claimant count was revised up, David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have thrown out of work almost 1,000 disabled workers.

“Iain Duncan Smith didn’t even have the nerve to come to Parliament to tell MPs face to face. Instead he chose to hide in his office while he was putting disabled workers out of a job. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”

Phil Davies of the GMB union, which represents Remploy workers, called it “devastating news” which “gives the lie to the Chancellor’s claim in his Autumn Statement today that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the government.”

Unite leader Len McCluskey said: “The timing is callous so close to Christmas.”

“Ministers had previously said the funding for those sites was secure until August and September next year.

“We call on ministers to stop the closure programme immediately until there is a review and we can see evidence of the much heralded £8m ‘help and support package’ for those disabled workers already sacked.”

So Del boy(Osborne) remember this Labour accused George Osborne of “Del Boy economics” today after the Chancellor was caught fiddling the figures over the official deficit forecasts.

Mr Osborne claimed in his Autumn Statement that the deficit was not rising – but didn’t mention that he included around £3.5 billion revenue expected from the sale of 4G mobile phone spectrum, which hasn’t happened yet.

Shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle said the inclusion of the expected 4G windfall was an attempt by Mr Osborne to “hide his failure.”

The Chancellor was forced to deny he fiddled the figures and played down fears that the UK’s credit rating could be downgraded.

But international credit ratings agency Fitch said Britain risked losing its AAA rating.

And Ms Eagle, a former Treasury minister, told the Commons it was “quite clear that the Chancellor’s economic failure has put his prized triple-A rating at risk.”

She said: “today we found out the full-scale of the government’s economic failure. The Prime Minister promised to balance the books by 2015. He has broken that promise.

“The Chancellor promised to cut borrowing, but borrowing and debt figures have been revised up this year and for future years.

“The government promised to grow the economy but today the OBR said the economy would contract this year.

“The part-time Chancellor might try 4G Del Boy economics to hide his failure but he can’t hide the truth.

“According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, this is the worst economic outlook since the 1920s. This is the consequence of a government that has got all the big decisions wrong.”

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley retorted: “I heard nothing about how the Labour Party would control borrowing. Where would the deficit reduction plan from the Labour Party come from?”

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said Mr Osborne’s “debt supertanker” was as rudderless as ever.

“In the last two years, our economy has grown by 0.6 per cent only, compared with 3.6 per cent in Germany, 4.1 per cent in America.

“He’s choked off the recovery and the borrowing’s going up, the debt’s gone up. He said he’d meet his targets.

“He’s failed,” said Mr Balls.

This gets better by the minute George Osborne can spout all the figures he likes about the wealthy being made to pay their fair share, but no-one can take his words seriously.

According to him, the highest-earning fifth of the population will pay a larger proportion of its income as a result of measures introduced over the past two years than any other fifth of the population.

Osborne is such a slippery character, which dictates caution in accepting his data without further analysis.

He plays fast and loose with the figures, as in deciding to include £3.5 billion from the auction of the 4G mobile spectrum in this year’s figures when the sale is scheduled to take place next year.

The Chancellor ought to explain whether his assertion of a greater responsibility placed on the rich includes the effect of VAT and higher National Insurance contributions.

VAT, which the conservative coalition has increased substantially, is a regressive tax, affecting poorer people more sharply, while graduated National Insurance payments are subject to a cut-off point to prevent the rich from paying what they should.

However, it should be remembered that the richest section of the population does not rely solely on income for its wealth.

One example is the multimillionaire Chancellor who flipped his second home from his London townhouse to his Cheshire farmhouse, increased his mortgage, receiving over £100,000 in parliamentary expenses, and then sold off the London property at a profit of three-quarters of a million pounds.

No wonder he swats aside questions about whether the reduction in the top rate of income tax affects him personally.

In common with the rest of the top 10 per cent of Britain’s wealthy, who collectively own half of all this country’s assets, his property appreciates irrespective of his current salary or income tax liability.

Contrast the impunity to tax tinkering for this opulent minority with the effect of Osborne’s latest assault on the incomes of low-paid workers.

Despite government rhetoric about favouring strivers over skivers and ministerial insistence that their priority is to encourage people to go from benefits to jobs, it is hammering working people whose low incomes make them reliant on in-work benefits.

Imposing a 1 per cent “rise” on these benefits while food, fares, clothes, gas, electricity and water prices go through the roof is a deliberate ploy to squeeze their living standards.

Difficult though it may be to imagine the government sinking lower, its announcement that hundreds more disabled Remploy staff face the chop, even though just 40 of their 1,200 fellow workers thrown out on the cobbles in August have found a job, plumbs new depths.

Disabled charities’ collusion with government privatisation dogma emphasises the need for resolute opposition to neoliberal policies.

While disabled and low-paid workers, with families on benefits, contemplate the hardships that face them, tax-dodger supreme Starbucks announces that it expects to pay corporation tax in Britain of “somewhere in the range of £10 million” in the next two years.

Does it expect a fanfare of congratulation or thanks from a grateful nation?

Its cavalier statement illustrates that in Tory Britain transnational corporations and the rich pay as little tax as they wish and get away with it.

Restructuring the tax system, plugging loopholes and closing down tax avoidance havens is vital, but so is democratic public ownership, especially of banks, utilities and retail monopolies.

Now the question is “Is this management or mismanagement from the toff nose chancellor”?.






2 responses to “Downing Street complained to the BBC following the 13-minute encounter on Radio 4’s Today programme because of the ‘unacceptably hostile’ tone of the interview.

  1. Pingback: London workers sacked for not wasting food | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: “We will support the vulnerable”: Chancellor accused of breaking promises to Britain’s most severely disabled | Atos Victims Group News

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