Twitter is buzzing right now with the news that Paxman has provided us another epic interview to rival his legendary exchanges with Michael Howard. Trying to extract from a Tory minister an explanation for the last-minute U-turn on a fuel tax rise, we got a reminder of why, when he’s at his best, nobody shows less deference in holding the powerful to account and asking bluntly, with cynicism, precisely what we’re wondering.
But he really shouldn’t need to. This ought to be simple: people are feeling their incomes squeezed, raising taxes merely to trim the deficit will depress a dying economy even further, and so delaying the imposition of further damage is necessary for us to stand a chance of quitting this futile spiral of doom.
And yet the coalition has committed itself to deficit reduction at all costs. To concede the economy needs government-led help is to confess that Ed Balls was right. So instead, the story being told isn’t about stimulus. It’s an ad hoc reversal to keep people calm. Which leaves Chloe Smith to explain how a Keynesian measure is not that at all. It’s a bit like a doctor pleading with you not to worry; the last thing he’s doing is attempting to cure you.