John Humphrys interviewing four BBC Editors: Mark Easton (home), Kamal Ahmed (economics), Katya Adler (Europe), Simon Jack (business) and asking them to explain why two facts presented by each side of the campaign were contested.
The question Mark Easton was asked to tackle was George Osborne’s claim that ‘Britain would be permanently poorer if we left the European Union, to the tune of £4,300 for every household in the county. That’s a fact everyone should think about as they consider how to vote.’
Easton’s response was near identical to a Spectator blog by Fraser Nelson on 18 April in which Nelson explained why Osborne’s statement was based on three deceptions as summarised in outline below:
Deception 1. Osborne falsely claims that people would be ‘permanently poorer’ when he’s talking about the difference between 29pc GDP growth and 37pc GDP growth. The most he can claim is that they won’t be as much better off as they would otherwise be.
Deception 2. Osborne then translates this reduction in potential GDP to household income. But they are two fundamentally different things. The Treasury and the OBR discuss GDP all of the time: never do they convert it into a per-household cash figure because (unlike debt, tax etc.) it’s meaningless. GDP contains measures like the operating surplus of corporations and all manner of other measurements. GDP per household bears no relation to household income. If GDP is divided by households it’s £68,000: nothing like the average disposable UK income of £18,600 per head, or £45,400 per household.
Deception 3. To arrive at the £4,300 figure, the Treasury divided GDP in 2030 by the number of households today. Arguably the most dishonest trick of the lot because, with all that immigration, there’ll be plenty more households by 2030.
This begs the question of why Osborne was not interrogated more forcefully on these misleading claims by the BBC when first interviewed in April. It was shameful of the BBC to fail to do their homework, and for it to take more than a month to cotton on to this deception.

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