Leading article: Keep political speech free

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The Independent Online

Lord Young's remarks on the economy were insensitive and politically clumsy. To argue that the public "have never had it so good", when one million people risk losing their jobs because of the Government's over-hasty spending cuts, was foolish. And to label the most severe downturn since the early 1980s a "so-called recession" was bizarre.

But should Lord Young have resigned as an adviser to the Prime Minister, as he did yesterday? We need to be careful here. Lord Young might have been unduly accentuating the positive, but he was not wrong when he pointed out that those with mortgages have benefited considerably from low interest rates over the past two years.

If politicians are to be pressured out of their jobs whenever they step fractionally off-message, they will only ever speak guardedly and the hand of the party managements will be strengthened. We risk creating a stifled political atmosphere in which our representatives speak only in pre-approved sound-bites and telling the truth becomes a gaffe.

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