Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brown's line on cuts collapses

The headline on Evening Standard kiosks this evening was 'Labour's secret plan for cuts'. This, and the associated coverage marks the end of Gordon Brown's attempt to define the economic debate as 'Labour investment versus Tory cuts'. Everyone has known for months that public spending is going to have to come down in order to pay back the incredible debts Labour has run up for tha nation. This is true regardless of whoever wins next year's general election, but Gordon Brown refused to admit it, sticking to his line like a speak your weight machine despite his own colleagues reluctance to back him up. They didn't want to parrot the boss for one very good reason: he was lying. Not only was he lying, he was lying in a way that was easily disprovable and so had no credibility at all. So, instead of helping Labour's rough position in the polls the fiction dragged them down further.

Yesterday, Gordon Brown at least came clean, sort of, in his speech to the TUC conference. Now there has been a leak from HM Treasury that shows the government has been considering cuts of around 9.3% for months. Some Mandarin there clearly had had enough. The leak doesn't really show that Gordon Brown was lying, because we know that, but it is documentary proof that he misled parliament, and just about every other audience in the land.

The thing is mum was right, lying is bad. Human interactions require a degree of integrity in serious matters, and in politics lying nearly always the wrong thing to do. People tend to respect the truth, even if it is an unpalatable truth. Lies, on the other hand, tend to get found out, and do not command respect. There is also the small problem of a loss of credibility. If people start to distrust you then it doesn't matter what you say, because you won't be believed. In fact the Prime Minister's behaviour is jaw-droppingly silly. I have seen Parish Council issues run with more political sophistication. You have to ask what sort of man he is and what sort of people are giving him advice?

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