Saturday, 21 February 2009

How the Daily Mail counts the cost

Let me make one thing clear - I do not like New Labour. They are a bunch of witless, clueless, ammoral, power hungy swine-at-the-trough. Their last and current leaders are, to my mind, responsible for war crimes.

That said, here's a piece of arrant dishonesty from the Daily Mail that might make Alastair Campbell blush:

The staggering total of Britain's national debt was laid bare yesterday - at least £2trillion.

That represents £33,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Bank bailouts will send debt 'off the Richter scale' at a staggering 147 per cent of national income, the worst figure since 1954 and one of the highest in the developed world.

The figures came from the independent Office of National Statistics, which said it was adding giant liabilities from two part-nationalised banks - estimated at between £1trillion and £1.5trillion - to existing debts. (1)
All pretty straightforward, you'd think. But buried further down the article is an admission that the journalists propogandists hoped to bury where no-one would bother looking:
Net debt as a proportion of national income, supposed to stay below 40 per cent under the Government's now-abandoned 'golden rules', reached 47.8 per cent last month.

The International Monetary Fund put America's net government debt at 46 per cent of GDP in 2008. Germany's was 56 per cent, France's 55 per cent and Canada's 22.5 per cent.

Those figures do not include the impact of their own bank bailouts, however. (2)

Get that? The claim that Britain's debt is "one of the highest in the developed world" depends on missing out a huge chunk of debt. It is breath-taking in its audacity.

The reason I mention this is because it is so bloody infuriating that the press is so nakedly partisan and cynical. Obviously, all news papers are somewhat biased, one way or another. That is acceptable. But a good journalist will report facts clearly and without trying to conceal information. This story is an example of what the rightwing press in Britain does. It lies, it distorts and it agitates single-mindedly in the interests of the right. And they obviously have so much contempt for their readers that they make little effort to disguise their behaviour, other than shoving the awkward truth half way down the page on the assumption that most readers won't bother reading that far.

1 - "£2trillion - the terrifying total of our national debt... that's £33,000 for every man, woman and child in Britain," by James Chapman and Sam Fleming, published in The Daily Mail, 20th of February, 2009. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1150666/2trillion--terrifying-total-national-debt--thats-33-000-man-woman-child-Britain.html)
2 - ibid.

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