Reporting Scotland uses discredited right-wing fundamentalist thinktank to try to undermine SNP

article-2369113-1AE0AD88000005DC-38_306x423

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At 15.6.18 at around 6.40pm

‘The Institute of Fiscal Studies believes the new blueprint for the public finances of an independent Scotland would mean a tighter squeeze on public spending than the rest of the UK faces. The thinktank was responding to the SNP’s growth commission which made a new economic case for independence. It’s been criticised for recommending a government spending squeeze lasting up to ten years.’

Did Sally Magnussen look just a bit embarrassed to be making this statement?

There are three problems with the statement. First, what is the source for the last statement? It’s not in the Growth Commission report nor, in those terms, is it in the IFS report. Nowhere does the Growth Commission report ‘recommend a ten-year spending squeeze.’ Second, where is the balance which the BBC prides itself on and which is part of its charter? Even if the IFS is to be completely trusted for its independence, we should have had a comment from the SNP.  RS editors tend to try to use the excuse that the report was too short for more information to be included but the answer to that is simple – if there’s no time to do it properly, don’t do it at all. Third, the IFS is decidedly not to be trusted as either competent or impartial. In 2015, Professor Richard Murphy of City University London wrote:

‘People often wonder why I criticise the Institute for Fiscal Studies for right wing fundamentalism, as I have done on this blog, quite often. The reason is that it is right-wing and fundamentalist, however good its analyses might be when it comes to budgets, spending reviews and so on. In the Royal Economic Society’s annual lecture on Tuesday, Professor Rachel Griffith will argue corporate tax should be charged like VAT.”A preferable way to tax corporate income would be to tax profits at the destination of sales”, she will argue….This proposal….reveals an indifference to the role of tax in redistribution within and between states and ignores economic fundamentals but happens to suit the owners of capital very well. If that is not right-wing fundamentalism I do not know what is. Beware the IFS when it comes to policy issues: it is very far from the neutral think tank it likes to pretend to be but is, instead, a fully paid up advocate of neoliberalism and the flooding up of wealth.’

http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/11/24/the-right-wing-fundamentalism-of-the-institute-for-fiscal-studies-on-display-again/

This is by no means the only evidence that IFS competence and impartiality are so widely contested, from the right too, such that media reports should not use them unchallenged. See these:

The IFS are completely wrong about Brexit http://www.thecommentator.com/article/6389/the_ifs_are_completely_wrong_about_brexit

IFS Wrong On UK Economy – Falling Real Wages Are The Solution To A Recession https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/11/25/ifs-wrong-on-uk-economy-falling-real-wages-are-the-solution-to-a-recession/#5a337e69544e

The IFS forecast should be taken with a pinch of salt https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/11/ifs-forecast-taken-pinch-salt/

Why is the Institute for Fiscal Studies receiving millions from the State? https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2010/12/robert-halfon-mp-why-is-the-institute-for-fiscal-studies-receiving-millions-from-the-state.html

Even the current head of the IFS, Paul Johnson, writing in March 2018 has serious reservations about the use of statistics, including we hope, his own, in a political context:

‘I trade in numbers and am passionate about them. From crime rates to the climate, we need them to describe and make sense of the world around us. But I’ve also learned to be very cautious in their company. They don’t just help us to interpret the world, they can be powerful enough to change it too—and not always for the better. A focus on one number, a shock balance of trade deficit that was published three days before a general election, is said to have done for Harold Wilson’s premiership in 1970. A particular measure of public borrowing caused the British government to bring in the IMF to bail it out in 1976. More recently, a net immigration figure in June 2016 played a role in the EU referendum decision, as of course did the most famous number of recent years: the £350m a week that we supposedly send to Europe. Numbers, then, can and do disrupt the course of political history—that’s real power. With that power comes danger, especially where numbers are arbitrary or misleading, which is—in fact—what all those examples of politically powerful numbers were. That alarming trade deficit, released in the run-up to the 1970 general election, was puffed up by a one-off purchase of two jumbo jets, not by any underlying economic problem.

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/economics-and-finance/confessions-of-a-number-cruncher-this-is-what-we-get-wrong-about-statistics

As both SNP media attention and membership soared, was this inadequate little report inserted into a Reporting Scotland broadcast to satisfy the expectations of the Scottish Conservatives that their older audience/voters be warned not to start liking the SNP? Murdo Fraser and Blair McDougall had been tweeting about the IFS report, in this light, the same day.

 

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland uses discredited right-wing fundamentalist thinktank to try to undermine SNP

  1. johnrobertson834 June 17, 2018 / 6:46 am

    The Complaint (word limit)

    Programme title
    Reporting Scotland
    Transmission date
    15/06/2018
    Broadcast type
    Recorded or on demand (e.g. iPlayer)
    How long in to the show

    Complaint category
    Bias
    Contacted us before
    No
    Complaint title
    Bias in coverage of IFS and Scottish economy
    Complaint description
    Broadcast: ‘The Institute of Fiscal Studies believes the new blueprint for the public finances of an independent Scotland would mean a tighter squeeze on public spending than the rest of the UK faces. The thinktank was responding to the SNP’s growth commission which made a new economic case for independence. It’s been criticised for recommending a government spending squeeze lasting up to ten years.’ There are three problems with this. First, what is the source for the last statement? It’s not in the Growth Commission report nor, in those terms, is it in the IFS report. Nowhere does the Growth Commission report ‘recommend a ten-year spending squeeze.’ Second, where is the balance which the BBC prides itself on and which is part of its charter? Even if the IFS is to be completely trusted for its independence, we should have had a comment from the SNP. To use the excuse that the report was too short for more information to be included trigger a simple response– if there’s no time to do it properly, don’t do it at all. Third, the IFS is decidedly not to be trusted as either competent or impartial. In 2015, Professor Richard Murphy of City University London wrote: ‘People often wonder why I criticise the Institute for Fiscal Studies for right wing fundamentalism, as I have done on this blog, quite often. The reason is that it is right-wing and fundamentalist.’ This is by no means the only evidence that IFS competence and impartiality are so widely contested, from the right too, such that media reports should not use them unchallenged. See these (no space for urls but available): The IFS are completely wrong about Brexit – IFS Wrong On UK Economy – Falling Real Wages Are The Solution To A Recession, The IFS forecast should be taken with a pinch of salt, Why is the Institute for Fiscal Studies receiving millions from the State

    Liked by 3 people

  2. John June 17, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Another one notched up John , let’s see what the response is this time , you are becoming a thorn in their side , keep jagging !

    Liked by 2 people

      • tcrosbie20 June 19, 2018 / 1:32 pm

        I so enjoy reading your blogs John, its like a small island of clarity amidst a sea of lies and fake news. Thanks you for your honesty and standing up for integrity.

        Like

  3. Finnmacollie June 17, 2018 / 8:43 am

    Had they reported the GC report in a positive manner it would almost certainly have been followed by a “critics say” piece. I didn’t see it but I assume they never had an equivalent because of time constraints.

    I did hear a wee bit of GMS on the radio this morning and heard Gordon Brewer refer to the “so called power grab”.

    It reminded me of my time in the polis when we used to investigate so called murders, so called housebreakings, so called rapes – in fact all sorts of so called crime.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Alasdair Macdonald June 17, 2018 / 9:39 am

    I think that we should recognise that this mendacious approach is successful with its target audience. There was a fair bit of comment about ‘ten years of austerity’ immediately after the Growth Commission Report was issued. This was echoed in some of the comments made by various dismissive comments by various pro-independence groups on the left of the spectrum.

    The main thrust of ‘Project Fear’, which has continued unabated is to stop or reduce any drift of support to independence.

    It is important as you are doing to point this out on every occasion to counter its malign effects.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Contrary June 18, 2018 / 7:59 pm

      Have to say I’m utterly sick of the media reporting just now, with everything being twisted for their agenda and as you say the continued project fear. I started my own project fear campaign today: a YES campaign leaflet (far too busy and complex maybe?) had been given to a fervent unionist today (probably to get him riled 😀 ) so he’d defaced it with ‘Pish!’ Then a No covering the Yes, before dropping it on my desk – on the back page there was a ‘reserved to Westminster’ list, so I added a post it with ‘soon to be included: Fracking’ and whatever I could fit in about his house being worthless soon and no insurance for when it burnt down due to the ethane seepage. It was grammatically horrible, but I forgive myself because it’s Monday, and I don’t do grammar on Mondays. And it was on a small bit of paper. Anyway, deposited it back on his desk ready for a Tuesday morning fury. Small steps.

      Well, I’m very scared about going back to purely Westminster rule and I think everyone else should be too – this uk government has been slated for human rights abuses, that their NHS had a humanitarian crisis shows deeply uncaring mismanagement, their crime levels have skyrocketed, they encourage hate speech – they do it themselves! – are these the sort of people you want running your country?? And the media makes out everything is hunky dory and business as usual? That makes them complicit.

      John, your BBC complaints are excellent, detailed and challenging. I’m most impressed with the follow ups, not just giving up after their nonsense responses.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Colin Dawson June 19, 2018 / 12:18 pm

    The IFS is significantly funded by the ESRC which is predominantly funded by the UK Government which is controlled by the Tories. He who pays the piper calls the tunes.

    Like

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