Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sucked in by the Ministry of Defence black hole?

On Monday pretty much every news outlet reported that the Ministry of Defence has managed to close a £38 billion black hole.

Strangely, what they didn't do was report anything about how this blackhole was worked out and how the MoD had got it down.

Of course in short news bulletins there is only so much space. But it came as a surprise to see papers not getting to grips with it, and instead accepting it as a given.

The problem is that when the MoD started bandying about this £38 billion figure they couldn't be too specific about where it came from.

Neither Full Fact nor Channel 4 Factcheck were able to get to the bottom of it - indeed they uncovered estimates from the National Audit Office which conflicted with them.

Liam Fox while he was defence secretary claimed hat the £38 billion hole would open up if defence spending remained level in real terms. The NAO said this would only happen is spending was maintained in cash terms over the same period. Quite a divergence.

Even Chair of the Defence Select Committee said that the Minister of Defence had "been using this figure of £38 billion without there being any great degree of clarity.”

This is not to say it is bogus, It just bugs me that questions were asked about the figure when it was first trotted out. these questions were not answered, and now everyone is using it, like there's nothing to worry about.

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