John Pugh attacks BBC for talking down economy

BBC criticised for ‘talking down economy’

BBC criticised for ‘talking down economy’

By Alex Stevenson

Politicians are not usually supposed to attack the media – but that hasn’t stopped a Liberal Democrat MP accusing the BBC of talking down the economy.

An early day motion tabled by Southport MP John Pugh criticises the “readiness of the BBC. to further dramatise accentuate and underline economic woes”.

Explaining his logic to shortly before BBC business editor Robert Peston appears before the Treasury committee on recession reporting, Dr Pugh said he was “absolutely frustrated” by the constant stream of negative headlines appearing on the Beeb.

“We haven’t got the soup kitchens back,” he said. “There is a sense that the media elite move in the same circles as the financial elite. They know more about the views of the City, not the factory owner in Rotheram.”

Dr Pugh has used his EDM to call for the commissioning of academic research on the influence of media reporting on what he describes as the “fragile psychology of the City”.

He compared the subject to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle which states that particles cannot be studied without affecting them. “I genuinely would like to see some research showing how great an impact it has,” he added.

The run on Northern Rock is a telling recent example of mass psychology, where depositors rushed to withdraw their money from the bank in the face of a barrage of media coverage.

“You can only watch so many TV programmes,” Dr Pugh explained, before the government’s assurances begin to run cold.

His early day motion has attracted limited support – only six other MPs have added their names to it – but this has not bothered Dr Pugh, who believes many are worried by the thought of criticising the media.

Dr Pugh warned politicians had to be careful not to fall into the same trap, on a day when Gordon Brown accused David Cameron of “talking down the pound” across the despatch box.

He warned they should “avoid succumbing to temptations to harm the economy to gain political advantage”.

“There is a balance to be struck. Politicians have got to have a concern about this,” he finished.

“Whatever happens, the prominent politicians will not go without – but some real people will face genuine adversity.”