Of course, I, being a lefty, think that while I am obviously prone too, I am not nearly as prone as most Tories. Still, I need to be vigilant (after all, those Tories think the same about me). So here are two mental habits of mine. How bad are they?
FIRST MENTAL HABIT. Whenever I hear of some new Tory economic policy, my first involuntary question is: 'Cui bono?' - who benefits? And in each case my very strong expectation is that, while the policy might be packaged as egalitarian - as helping the less well-off (e.g. to get on the housing ladder) - it will almost always most significantly benefit billionaires and/or big business.
And Lo! In almost every case, I am able to show that it does!
Examples: (i) tuition fees were packaged as being about 'fairness' (why should a poor postman pay for some Eton boy's university education?) but (pace the claims of some centrist dads) appear to benefit the wealthiest and the financial service industry most, (ii) taking peoples homes (or part of the value thereof on their death) to pay for their care on old age is again packaged as being about 'fairness' but it seems to me that again the very wealthiest will benefit most from this policy (and probably the financial services industry too), (iii) the announced new help for first time buyers will be of most help to big landlords, whose property portfolios will hugely increase in value as a result. Actual first time buyers will benefit hardly if at all (as prices will immediately shoot up).
Is this fair, or am I cherry-picking, massaging, etc. a lot to get the result I want?
IF (I say IF) I am right, surely this is a very important journalistic angle to take re any Tory economic policy announcement. It seems to me to would be a dereliction of ones journalistic duty not to press the 'Cui bono?' question very hard when it comes to any new Tory policy announcement.
But, and here's my SECOND MENTAL HABIT - my expectation is that the media will rarely consistently press this 'cui bono?' line of inquiry. And Lo! It seems to me they don't!
For example, re (i), (ii), and (iii) above, can you point me to examples of our supposedly thrusting, impartial BBC interviewers pushing my 'cui bono?' line of inquiry - and raising the issue of whether it isn't, actually, billionaires and Big Business that will benefit most?
They did pick up on it a bit re (iii) after the OBR said the benefits would not actually go to first time buyers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42095146). But this was simply the BBC reporting on what some other agency had already pointed out. Off the top of my head I don't remember any journalists, let alone the BBC, EVER, on their own initiative, pressing the 'cui bono?' question re (i) or (ii) but again maybe I'm cherry picking and there are actually plenty of examples I have missed or forgotten about.
And so, I conclude, the BBC is indeed VERY politically biased. It's almost as if the BBC consider it would be in bad taste to press the 'cui bono?' question - and to flag the obvious answer - when it comes to Tory economic policy.
POST SCRIPT. Someone asked me on facebook why I suppose the Tory social care proposals (they take from the value of your home to pay for your social care) benefits the most wealthy. Here's my explanation.
"My thought was that if I was a greedy billionaire I would be very keen on the policy. Currently social care is funded largely through progressive taxation. So, as a billionaire, I end up paying a hell of a lot for the social care of others. Fuck 'em. Let them sell their houses to pay for their own care. Then my taxes go down. Their costs rise enormously. The poorest, lacking houses, don't directly lose out but they get no benefit either. True, I have to pay for my own social care but that's capped at what is, for me, a tiny amount compared to the tax I no longer have to pay. Probably, I would lobby the Tory Party to do this. Much the same logic explains why I am also very, very keen on tuition fees."
(Incidentally, being a billionaire, much of my wealth goes into tax havens so that's where a lot of this extra cash I now have will go. Not into the economy, but offshore. So others will suffer twice over. But, like I say, fuck 'em.)