Around 11.00 this morning, I was in Newtown when my mobile sounded. It was the Conservative's Media Director asking me if I'd appear on Radio Cymru's Taro Post to talk about Gordon Brown's expected admission that Labour would cut public spending after the next election. Since I was around 50 yards from the studio at the time, I readily agreed. But when Taro Post rang me to confirm the interview, I was told that the studio was not acceptable. It would have to be a land line. This surprised me enough to prompt an inquiry as to why. It seems that because the other guests in a four party discussion were on landlines, being in a studio would give me an unfair advantage. Never happened to me before. I wonder whether this is a new policy by our all of our broadcasters, or is it just limited to Taro Post, limited to Radio Cymru, limited to Conservatives, or whether it was a one-off. The next time I'm on a land line when someone else is in the studio, I'll have some more questions to ask.
The discussion itself was a bit disappointing. Since the basis of the conversation was that Gordon Brown was going to say there would have to be cuts in public spending, I'd expected a measure of agreement about the way ahead. Didn't work out like that. There was much talk that reversing Conservative commitment to increase Inheritance Tax thresholds would help resolve the financial crisis - despite it being funded by a specific tax on non-doms, being programmed 'sometime in the first Conservative Parliament', and amounting to what is a comparative drop in the ocean of the debt we face. There was also talk of the 50p income tax rate for those earning over £150,00 pa, as if it would make a difference. There may be reasons to approve of this proposed rate (though I don't agree with them), but they are nothing to do with raising extra revenue. Past experience informs us that the new rate will raise virtually nothing at all. The approach of the Lib Dem spokesman was the oddest. All he seemed to care about was cutting the defence budget. National security has always been the first responsibility of government in my view. I was not at all surprised to learn later in the afternoon that Vince Cable has announced that the Lib Dems want to scrap the St Athan training academy project.
Still, its a start. At least reduction in spending was under discussion. Over the next few months there will be a lot more about where the now agreed cuts are going to fall. Could be lots of busy landlines, and a few redundant studios.