I’m seeing a lot of tweets and Facebook statuses which complain that the spending review is driven by ideology rather than necessity. I’m inclined to agree.

After all, we don’t need to reduce the deficit, at least not in the same way that we need air, water and food. The world won’t end if we just carry on loading it onto future generations. Or even a future government. We could always carry on spending and then leave another note to say that the money has run out after the next election.

So, yes, it’s stretching it a bit to say that the cuts are driven by necessity. The fact is, they’re motivated primarily by ideology.

That is, an ideology which says that it’s a good thing to live within our means.

An ideology which believes that benefits should only be paid to those who need them.

An ideology which doesn’t believe it’s fair to load the next generation with even more debt.

An ideology which says that money spent servicing debt interest would be better spent on schools, roads and hospitals.

An ideology which believes in expecting people to run their own lives instead of letting the state do it.

An ideology which says that it’s pointless to take money from someone on the one hand, pass it through several layers of bureaucracy and then pay it back to them.

An ideology which says that those who can work, should work.

An ideology which believes that, actually, most people are pretty good at managing their own lives.

An ideology which believes that the state should be as big as necessary but as small as possible, rather than the other way around.

An ideology which believes in looking out for society as a whole rather than vested interests.

An ideology which believes in ordinary people like me.

An ideology which I can believe in.

The voice of the People

I got an email last week from a journalist researching a story on motorway services. Nothing hugely unusual about that, since I do run a popular website on the topic, and I’ve previously spoken to a variety of media including The Daily Mirror, Channel 4, The Guardian and BBC 5Live. All of these, so far, have been essentially one-offs, either when they’re researching a story or following up something else that’s already been reported and want some comment.

Last week’s contact was from the Sunday People, and I spoke to the journalist and gave a fairly standard interview about the type of things that people complain about when it comes to motorway services. I don’t actually know what they printed, since I didn’t buy a copy and it’s not on their website.

No sooner had the piece appeared, though, that I got three follow-up emails: one from the Manchester Evening News, one from Wire FM and one from BBC Radio Kent, all wanting to talk about motorway services in their area. For the MEN and Wire FM it was mostly about Bolton West services, which has the distinction both of featuring in the pilot episode of That Peter Kay Thing and being currently the lowest rated MSA in the country. You can read the MEN article on their website, the Wire FM interview was recorded so I have no idea when any of it will go out, and the BBC Kent slot will be tomorrow morning at around 7:45 am – they want to talk about Maidstone and Clacket Lane services, which also get below average ratings.

The thing that intrigues me, though, is that I’ve never before had a follow-up call or email from another media outlet after being quoted in one of them. There seems to me to be one obvious conclusion to be drawn from this:

Most journalists’ own newspaper of choice is the Sunday People.