Fiddling around with Murdoch while Rome burns, along with Athens, Dublin, Lisbon...
The airtime being devoted by the BBC to ‘Hackgate’, the closure of the News of the World, and every movement and breath of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch, is indeed ‘overkill’. You’d think there was nothing else happening in the world. No drought in Africa; no royal visit to LA – the sorts of stories the BBC would certainly ordinarily include in its news bulletins if the Corporation did not have a vested interest in blackening the reputation of Rupert Murdoch and frustrating his planned takeover of BskyB.
And what about the on-going euro crisis? Does that not merit a little mention; a touch of investigation; a Robert Peston searing analysis of the political and economic implications?
Judging by the unrelenting BBC focus on David Cameron’s relationship with Coulson, Brooks, and Murdoch, you would think Labour had never sullied its hands with any such association and that the Prime Minister’s judgement were about to bring down the Government or cause a crisis which might deal a fatal blow to his own premiership.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing more pressing in the Prime Minister’s in-tray than the contagion spreading around the Eurozone. Forget the U-turns; forget phone hacking; forget the failure of the ‘Big Society’: the euro crisis really could end the Coalition Government and terminate David Cameron’s premiership. And the BBC is mute. The story doesn’t even appear on the front page of its website. It doesn’t even appear on the page dedicated to politics and economics.
Our leader, President Herman Van Rompuy, has summoned an urgent meeting in Brussels today as it looks increasingly likely that Italy is about to join Greece, Portugal and Ireland (just as His Grace prophesied more than a year ago) in seeking a bailout to solve its own debt crisis. This will not be the end: Spain will follow, and there no possibility that the remaining members of the eurozone could afford to sustain these large economies. The Greek national debt last year was around 143 per cent of its GDP. That of Ireland was 96 per cent, and Portugal 93 per cent (source: Wikipedia).
Italy’s debt was 119 per cent of its GDP, and its credit rating has been downgraded. All of these countries need to devalue their currencies but are locked into the single currency and so fiscally constrained. Unable to set their own interest rates, they have no choice but to raise taxes and cut public spending. Greece is clearly insolvent, and the ECB/IMF strategy is simply to inject liquidity. The strategy is economically unsustainable. But it is not the end of the euro. Oh, no.
In an interview in this week’s Spectator (£), David Cameron said: ‘No one in Britain, however sceptical they are about the euro — and they don’t come much more sceptical than me — should have any doubt about the immense commitment there will be from other European countries to make the euro work. We would be kidding ourselves if we thought somehow they’re sitting around thinking, gosh it’s not going very well, how are we going to get out of this one? That’s not what they’re doing. To them the euro is absolutely central to their vision of their membership of Europe — and they will, I think, do pretty much anything to make that work.’
Pretty much anything?
Greece, Ireland and Portugal have already cost the British taxpayer £12.5bn, at a time of frugal domestic economy and austerity designed to eradicate the fiscal deficit and pay down the national debt. This is, we were told, the raison d’être of the Coalition.
The UK cannot afford to continue throwing money at the problem in the hope (or prayer) that growth and time will bring economic salvation. If the Government’s economic policy has been abandoned, sidelined or subsumed to ‘events’ in Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain, we really ought to be told. If not, perhaps the Prime Minister might care to explain why he is pouring our money into a bottomless pit in order to ‘make the euro work’ when our own public services are being cut, wages frozen and taxes increased.
And perhaps the BBC might care to do a little analysis of the issues.
Rupert Murdoch would.