Tuesday, January 16, 2007

BBC backtracks - but continues to spin for Labour

I noticed on the 10 o'clock news - or the brief glimpse I had of it - that the BBC - and Even Davies in particular - were keen to rectify their errors from the lunchtime news. This time they did mention that the RPI is higher than the 3% headline rate and made some effort to explain this.

However, for an economics correspondent, Mr Davies seems remarkably relaxed about it all. I realise that his jokey, cheerful demeanour is all part of his "style", but the way he tried to sweep it under the carpet as a "nothing to worry about, nothing to see here" piece of news displayed a remarkable lack of understanding about the current economic situation.

Davies referred back to the last time the interest was this high - under the Tories, of course - and mentioned that interest rates back then were some 10% or so. Much better now isn't it?

No - it isn't.Davies seems to forget that Britain has a collective debt of some £1 trillion. That's £1,000,000,000,000 I think. Personal bankruptcy is already running at record levels - even though interest rates are half what they were a decade and a half ago. Davies doesn't seem to realise that people are more stretched financially than they ever were. Although the interest rate might seem modest - when you have a large mortgage (as many people do these days) and little disposable income then that interest rate bites deep.

Add on to that the fact that much of the debt is on credit cards and it becomes even worse. The interest rates on credit cards does not tend to reflect the rate set by the Bank Of England. Rates of 10, 12,15 and even 18% are not uncommon - and when the amount you owe on these cards runs into thousands, then a quarter point rise is not something to be dismissed.

At best, it is sloppy and ill-informed journalism from Davies. At worst - it is a deliberate policy to play down the problems created by Gordon Brown and New Labour.

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