Yesterday on Radio 4 Today programme we were treated to a long piece about a prediction from the well respected Institute of Fiscal Studies who had just released some arguments to suggest that leaving the EU could add 2 years to the austerity programme that this Government is embarked upon. Their prediction is based on the argument that the UK would lose more than it gains financially from leaving the EU, at least in the short term. The programme then interviewed John Redwood whose only argument appeared to be that he simply disagreed with the analysis, but he could not articulate any reasons why. He completely failed to address any of the elements in the prediction. Then the programme interviewed Paul Johnson of the IFS who naturally was in support of their prediction, and because John Redwood had not managed to identify any areas of weakness in the data, Paul had relatively little to say apart from emphasising the work. Later on in the day the Vote Leave folk had begun to come up with a range of areas where they questioned the IFS arguments, and also pointed out that the IFS received some funding by the EU. However in the morning the debate could have been covered in a 2 minute piece, but because the BBC is under pressure to avoid any idea that they are biased in favour of remain or leave, they have to give as much airtime to both sides of the argument and they had assumed that Redwood would have a case to lay out. This is a problem where one of the sides of this campaign has nothing of substance to say, a complete waste of broadcast time.
Ironically it is the Leave side of the argument for the referendum that argues that it is the EU which is providing unecessary red tape in our nation. My own view is that if one side of the debate has nothing constructive to say, that they are not entitled to speak, and the red tape that justifies John Redwoods airtime has nothing to do with the EU. However perhaps the problem is not so much that we have people with nothing to say, but rather that we are simply listening to the same people trying to rehash their arguments over and over again. Is it possible for the BBC and other broadcasters to spread their net a bit wider. What about asking for the leaders of charities or business leaders who could be tempted to fill the space that is currently leased to the rather vacuous views of people like John Redwood and the many politicians on both sides of the debate. After all as Daniel Hannan pointed out a month or so ago, the point of the referendum is not the opinions of people like him, but the views of people like us!