THERE’S a big dent in my kitchen wall near the television set. It’s where I hit my head when listening to BBC “correspondents” pontificating. You know: those overpaid pundits who give you not news, but their personal “opinions” based on the establishment nonsense they imbibed at Oxford or Cambridge.

The dent in the wall got bigger last week after I listened to the palpable rubbish being spouted by the Beeb’s “global trade correspondent” – one Dharshini David – telling us

about the Tory Government’s ballooning deficit.

Ms David was deeply concerned that we did not understand the implications of news that Chancellor Sunak borrowed a hefty £62 billion in April, as a result of the Covid-19 emergency. Ostensibly, this sum is larger than the deficit originally forecast for the whole of 2020.

A smiley Ms David was quick to inform us that the total virus-related borrowing for 2020-21 could run to £300 billion, or “the equivalent of the biggest slice of our income since the Second World War”. And just in case we didn’t get the message, she explained this was “a hole that needs plugging” through spending cuts and higher taxes. Otherwise, investors will get worried the Government can’t meet its debts, and stop lending.

Ms David knows all about investors. Before working for the BBC, she worked for HSBC Investment Bank in London. And yes, she went to Cambridge University after attending a private school – James Allen’s Girls’ School in London’s Dulwich (termly fees £6267). I don’t want to be unfair

to Ms David. I’m not impugning her integrity. I’m merely saying that she has the identikit, privileged social background of a BBC correspondent talking down to the rest of us. And she talks predictable nonsense.

Let’s start with those hackneyed comparisons with the Second World War. The Covid-19 crisis is a financial pipsqueak compared to fighting a six-year world war against the Nazis and their friends. In 1945, total UK debt was the equivalent of 250% of national output (GDP). That was a whack. But to put it into perspective, most folk these days have a mortgage three to five times their annual income.

With the economy in lockdown, it is difficult to give a realistic estimate of what Covid-19 will do to the national debt, but none of the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts have suggested a final debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 100%. Which is still modest compared to the Scond World War outrun. So Ms David’s over-dramatisation can be safely ignored. We are rich enough to deal with Covid-19.

Actually, the Chancellor’s coronavirus spending and borrowing is modest even by comparison with the 2008 bank crash. According to the National Audit Office, the official watchdog over public spending, UK Treasury support for our profligate banks peaked at £1.2 trillion.

Currently, the maximum estimated extra borrowing and spending on the Covid-19 emergency is £450bn, around a third of what went to the City. Even if the health crisis goes on longer than forecast, it is hard to see it costing more than the bill for bankers’ greed.

Let’s go back to Ms David’s worries that we won’t be able to pay back the borrowing. Spoiler alert! Where is Chancellor Sunak getting the extra cash? According to Ms David, it is from City investors. But it is not. At the start of April, the Bank of England announced it was granting the Chancellor an unlimited overdraft facility to fund the crisis.

Translated, the Bank of England is printing (electronically) as much cash as the Government needs. This will go on the Government’s books as increased debt, but as we own the Bank of England, this is just an accounting dodge.

At the same time, the new Governor of the Bank of England, the pliable Andrew Bailey, announced a fresh, £200bn package of Quantitative Easing (QE). This is jargon for even more electronic money being magicked out of thin air. Bailey intends to use this for buying back existing Government IOUs. In other words, the Government is printing cash to buy back its existing debt obligations. We will end up owning our own debt!

THIS is a very far cry from the situation at the end of the Second World War when we owed real money to the Americans, who demanded their financial pound of flesh. The UK had to pay interest to Wall Street and the US Government in dollars or gold. Some of that we stole from India – Indian independence in 1947 was contingent on the Indians being made to keep the pound as a trading currency, and thus “gift” the British Government their dollar and gold reserves. The rest of the debt interest to America was funded by exports. This necessitated even more rationing in the UK than during the war, ie starving Britons so we could sell more abroad to earn dollars.

But let’s accept that at some point Chancellor Sunak decides to fund his extra spending by actually borrowing in the conventional manner – selling interest-bearing IOUs (called bonds) to anyone who wants them.

Actually, apart from the government itself, the biggest owners of the national debt are pension and savings funds. In other words, you and me putting by for our retirement or a rainy day. Actually, owning government bonds is the safest way of saving long-term. So if the government did not borrow, we would have nowhere to put our money except into risky assets such as company shares. Ms David tells us that the national debt is a burden on future generations. In reality, it is their pension pot.

For this reason, I could never understand why Tory Chancellors of the Exchequer are so wedded to reducing borrowing to zero. This was never on in practice – there’s too much economic uncertainty about. But if the Tories had succeeded in “balancing the books”, footloose private savings would have been forced to buy company shares instead.

Could that have been the game plan all along? In which case, Tory austerity wasn’t an exercise in bogus financial rectitude, but rather a ploy to force us to invest in capitalism – while discipling the labour force by threatening them with national economic chaos if they didn’t agree to a wage freeze.

Last December, the Tories accused Labour of having a £374bn black hole in their election manifesto. Chancellor Sunak spent that in one afternoon in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The lesson being that the City trusts a Tory Chancellor to look after its interests. Would they trust an SNP finance minister in similar circumstances? More importantly, would ministers in an independent Scotland become so frightened of the nonsense spouted by the BBC’s circus of pro-Establishment correspondents that they capitulated to the agenda set by Pacific Quay?

Last week, the SNP Government did itself a lot of damage by offering financial support to landlords but seeming to reject similar aid for distressed tenants. The lacklustre argument put forward by Kevin Stewart, the Housing Minister, against forgiving rent arrears was that it would encourage all tenants to stop paying. This is the sort of kindergarten economics proselytised by former banker Dharshini David: capitalists good, workers bad. Indy Scotland must do better than that.