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Lies and more lies

November 24, 2016 22:51

Ed Balls' lies - the word is now regularly used to describe the deliberately false statements of Gordon Brown and his acolytes - are begining to backfire.

Daniel Finkelstein rightly refers to the Schools Secretary's performance this morning on Today as a "shameless...piece of political nonsense", and goes on to draw a fascinating conclusion:

Ed Balls's desire to be Chancellor may have been personal, but Gordon Brown's desire to accede to this request wasn't.

He needed Balls as Chancellor if he was to pursue, with any chance of success, his chosen cuts v investment campaign.

As Chancellor Balls would have acted entirely politically. He would
have done anything to provide the figures that could sustain the
campaign. His only financial objective would have been to put pressure
on the Tories. He would have used his authority and Treasury support to
make cuts v investment seem real.

So Brown needed to make this move. When he failed he didn't just disappoint his chum. He badly damaged his campaign.

At least until the PBR in the autumn, if not beyond, Alistair
Darling will try to be a real Chancellor. And a real Chancellor can't
possibly subscribe, at least not without many large caveats, to the
fraudulent campaign Brown is trying to run.

But the story got better still this afternoon. Fraser Nelson posted this demolition of Balls' lies (do read the whole post):

People exaggerate in politics, they interpret and even stretch the
truth until the elastic snaps. But rarely are outright, downright lies
told. That was until now. Team Brown is adopting a new strategy: repeat
a lie, as often as possible, hoping the interviewer will not stop or
correct you. Here is the Balls Lie on the Today programme this morning.

LIE no1: “ We have acted in the downturn, that will mean that the economy is stronger, we’ll have less unemployment, less debt…”
Less debt? No, this was not a mistake. He repeats it here.

LIE no2: “Alistair Darling in the budget set out plans which show the deficit coming down, national debt coming down.”

So today, a new Brownie – no, okay, it’s a downright lie – is born. Labour wants us to believe that debt is coming down.

He has now posted this amazing story, which I am going to copy in full because it goes to the heart of the mendacity of this government:

Ed Balls has just called me up about my post from
this morning , hopping mad. He instructed me to "take that post down
now". I thought he was joking: has there been some change to the
constitution where ministers now have power over the media? But he was
deadly serious. "You should not call me a liar," said Balls. I told him
that if he doesn't want to be called a liar, “he shouldn't tell lies”.
His defence is that his point about debt is a Brownie, not a lie -
okay, he didn't put it quite like that. But when he said "debt" he
referred to the "ratio of national debt to gross domestic product"
which is forecasted in the Budget to start falling in eight to nine
years time. Now the Budget, of course, has a "horizon" running out in
2013/14: there are literally no plans beyond that. It is a lie to
suggest otherwise.

Budget 2009 does come up with illustrative pie-in-the-sky projections
beyond that date - and Balls was referring to one of these. To be
specific, the 2009 Budget refers (1)  to "debt falling as a proportion
of GDP by 2017-18 when the global shocks will have worked their way
through the economy in full." So this is what he was referring to when
he said on the radio "Alistair Darling in the budget set out plans
which show the deficit coming down, national debt coming down."

I told him that he is referring to a debt ratio, not debt, and they are
two fundamentally different things.  One is money, the other is a
ratio. Outside the world of government finance, there is only one
interpretation of "debt falling." There is not a person in this
country, I said, who doesn't understand the difference between their
debt rising, and their debt falling. If Balls goes on the radio and
says "debt will fall" he is giving a false impression to the people who
will be paying off this debt. Balls said that my explanation is
"economically illiterate" and that every public finance geek in the
world thinks of debt as a ratio of gross domestic product. Quite
possibly, I replied, but every voter in Britain - other than those who
work for the Treasury - thinks of debt in very clear terms. It goes up,
or goes down. The government does not have special magic debt, which
makes it exempt from this binary distinction. And to these voters, debt
is far from abstract.

Balls told me if I keep the post up, it will "expose" the sort of
publication that we are - and our "political" bias. A curious point.
McBride used to make pathetic little "threats" like this - now he's
gone, Balls has to do the dirty work himself.  You'd think Balls has
perhaps by now worked out that The Spectator is rather pleased to
consider itself a thorn in the side of this tawdry, mendacious
government. "So you will take the post down?" Balls said. I just
laughed. He hung up. Matt d'Ancona was later surprised to find out that
he had four missed calls from Balls on his mobile.

Balls was deploying the "false proxy" - one of the tools he and Brown
use to mislead the public. The Brown/Balls spin technique is all about
the gap between their verbal and financial positions. Debt is a classic
case in point. Most people understand "reducing the national debt" to
mean, well, reducing the national debt. Brown and Balls would claim to
do this, when in fact they were increasing the national debt - but by
slightly less than the growth of the economy. Orwell would have great
fun with Brown and Balls - they have invented statistical doublethink.
A way of describing 'up' as 'down'.

If you're reading this, Ed (and I suspect you will be) then we have a
serious point to make. Five years ago, you could lie like this on the
radio and get away with it. Space is tight in newspapers, no one would
devote hundreds of words and graphs - as we did - to expose a lie for
what is. But the world has changed now. Blogging has brought new, hyper
scrutiny. Blogs have infinite space, and people with endless energy, to
expose political lying - no matter how small. Your claims can be
instantly counter-checked, by anyone. If you stretch the truth, you can
be exposed - by anyone. And if you plan to base a whole election
campaign on a lie, as you apparently intend to do, then you're in for a
rude awakening.

 

November 24, 2016 22:51

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