No One Expects the Political Inquisition
I don’t want to come over all golden ageist, but I do miss the full-length live political interview. The other day a friend recalled one of Brian Walden’s greats in about 1989, with John Smith, Labour Shadow Chancellor, who accused Nigel Lawson of having a one-club policy of raising interest rates.
Walden asked Smith what he would do instead, and Smith said that he would impose credit controls. Walden asked, Wouldn’t restricting the supply of credit increase its price, namely interest rates? To which Smith had no answer.
Now is surely the time for Ed Miliband to be subjected to a Walden-style examination on his energy freeze policy. What is to stop the energy companies putting the price up before the freeze comes into effect? Or afterwards? Is he saying that the companies’ profits are supernormal and that Ofgem, the regulator, hasn’t noticed? Or that the companies are colluding in concealing their real profit margins? How does he expect the companies to pay for investment in new, lower-carbon generating capacity?
Equally, why have David Cameron and George Osborne not been interviewed at length about their Help to Buy policy? How can it possibly produce more gainers than losers except by pushing house prices up so much that it encourages a little more house building? Should the Government be guaranteeing credit in the housing market? Is it not just a gimmick for recycling money to create a group of grateful beneficiaries and hidden losers?
Instead, since the party conferences, they have all been allowed to get away with short clips or, in Osborne’s case, a slightly longer radio interview. And when they do finally return to Andrew Marr’s sofa, which is usually the longest journalistic engagement they face, it will all be divided up into subject chunks, in which even a central question of economics will be allocated 3 minutes 30 seconds or whatever before moving on to immigration or social security.
Which is a shame for democracy.Tagged in: brian walden, political interviews
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