Louise Mensch MP is thick as two short planks. That should be obvious to anyone who has heard her talk about her life with Charlie and her thoughts on drug use that resulted from it; or about how falling petrol prices were down to Tory rule or indeed to anyone who has investigated quite how truly dreadful her books are. I promised that I would have just one more look at the sheer inadequacy of what passes for her thought process and so we turn to her suggestion made on April 25th this year that the grateful taxpayer needs to subsidise local papers.
Where do you start with such utter cobblers?
The Mensch thesis is that local papers closing is a “threat to democracy.” Er… please go on. This is because only local rags will cover expense fiddling by back bench MPs and scandals in the local town hall. And so Mensch seems to think that without the local rag, the electorate will not get to hear what a bunch of crooks we have representing us? It appears so. I offer an alternative suggestion: that any MP/Councillor caught fiddling his/her expenses is automatically a) prosecuted b) forced to resign from public office without compensation. That would be a bit more of a deterrent than a front page splash in the local rag which is probably only relevant for MPs in marginal seats, rather than safe seats. Maybe we only need the subsidy for local rags in marginal seats then?
Mensch continues that it is wrong for local TV stations to get a subsidy when the local rags do not. Well she is half right. Neither should.
The MP for Corby attributes her win at the last election to her coverage in the local press. Do not be too hard on yourself love. The National swing from Labour to Conservative was 5%. The swing in Corby was 3.4%. That you did less well than your party nationally could have been down to the local press revealing the merits of the respective candidates. Or it could just have been that some diehard Tories had read one of your books and so felt a compelling need to vote Labour. We shall never know. As ever with a Mensch claim this one is just so obviously spurious you almost have to laugh.
But there are rather more obvious issues I have with the Mensch view. Does the silly woman not realise that the UK Government is going bust? We will soon lose our AAA rating. Government debt to GDP is anywhere between 65% and 200% depending on how you calculate it and it is increasing sharply. There is no money. To use imagery she might understand: it is like when you are at University and have spent up to your overdraft limit on Charlie and you ask your parents for more cash. At some stage your parents/ the bank providing the overdraft will say no. Britain is at that point now. What does Mensch not understand about this?
Secondly, if the state borrows money to subsidise any industry, knowing it will not be repaid, those borrowings must be serviced and repaid by taxing productive industries and individuals more. You will thus put other folks out of work. And in misallocating capital in this way you ensure an acceleration of the long term decline on the UK. The Government should be spending less so that there is less burden on the taxpaying base so that the private sector and individuals can spend more of their own cash and capital can be allocated more efficiently.
And last but not least. The State should never subsidise the press. If it does it either means that flatulent organisations produce content no-one cares about which is not necessarily of the highest quality. Yes I am talking about the BBC. Or it will inevitably restrict the freedom of the press to attack the state and its rulers since the press knows that what can be given can easily be taken away. Mensch would, no doubt, say that we should trust our leaders not to behave in such a manner or that safeguards would be put in place. But whilst our current bunch of expense fiddling MPS might be considered honourable enough to win trust in some quarters (not by me) there is no guarantee that a future intake could be trusted. And they could over-rule those (no doubt costly) safeguards Mensch put in place to start with.
If local rags are closing because they have a falling ( and generally old) readership I am afraid that is life. There is even less reason for taxpayers to keep them afloat than there was for taxpayers to subsidise coal mines with no coal or British Leyland.
Okay, that is it for now on Mensch. Until she says something else which is beyond stupid. I do not expect we will have that long to wait.