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Why Cameron must never say "deficit".

19 March 2010

6:26 PM

19 March 2010

6:26 PM

Listening to BBC news, it’s striking how they are still using Labour’s politically-charged vocabulary. When the universities are kicking off about their budgets being cut, the BBC newsreaders are told to talk about "investment" in higher education, rather than spending. Why, though? An "investment" would be to put £1 billion of taxpayers’ money into an Emerging Markets fund, and hope it grows. Giving it to universities – many of which serve neither students nor society – is not an investment. But using the word "investment" is Labour code for "good spending".

There is one particularly frequent example if this: the BBC regularly confuse the words "deficit" and "debt" – a bugbear of mine, and something James Forsyth deals with in his column in this week’s magazine.


Even when I blog about it, some CoffeeHousers say they don’t know the difference. So Cameron should ban the word "deficit" and simply say "overspend" instead – for that is what it is. The public can instantly distinguish between reducing the annual overspend, and reducing the debt burden.

To win the argument, one must first break free from the terms of debate set by Gordon Brown. This means making clear the extent of Britain’s fiscal peril. It should also mean never saying "deficit" again and, instead, calling government overspend by its name. This would be one small step to winning the massive argument Cameron will soon need to make on restoring fiscal sanity to Britain.


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