Just how speculative is speculation?

We all enjoy a good bit of confrontational radio, particularly at quarter to eight in the morning, but this morning’s all-out fight between business secretary Peter Mandelson and Today programme presenter Evan Davis had a note of vehemence in it the likes of which even professional angry man Jeremy Paxman fails to summon on a regular basis.

The fight, which took place on this morning’s edition of Today, was over public spending reviews. According to Mandelson, one can’t take place until ‘after the general election’. “It will be based on entirely speculative projections of what economic growth will be,” he added by way of explanation.

After that comment, Davis could barely contain himself. ‘But they always were!’ he cried. Smarta is inclined to agree: surely all reviews of that sort are conducted speculatively? The last comprehensive public spending review, usually held once every two years, was held in 2007. We think we smell a rat.

Mandelson’s comments provided further fuel for criticism started over the weekend, when Tory shadow chief secretary Philip Hammond told Sky News the lack of review ‘suggests [the government] has got something to hide’.

We think it’s now time for the government to be transparent. Hiding facts will achieve nothing: as Simon Nixon, founder of MoneySupermarket told us during our interview with him last week, being as transparent as possible is one of the best ways to shore up customer loyalty, even if the business isn’t doing well. Customers forgive weakness, but they don’t forgive lies: perhaps it’s time the government thought of that.

Image: Flickr

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