James Forsyth

A shadow Cabinet member needs to call Brown on his lies

A shadow Cabinet member needs to call Brown on his lies
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One of the urtexts for understanding Conservative campaign strategy is a 2004 Times op-ed by George Osborne on what the Tories could learn from the Bush campaign. One section of it strikes me as being relevant to the question of what the Tories should do about Brown’s lies, I’m instinctively uncomfortable with using the l word but I really don’t see what else I can call them. Osborne wrote:


“Character attacks on his opponent almost never come from the President’s own lips. They come out anonymously in TV ads or by e-mail from the campaign’s HQ in Virginia…. For Mr Bush knows that in politics the message tells you a lot about the messenger.”

If David Cameron was to come out and call Brown a liar, it would lead every TV bulletin and be splashed across every front page. But there would be a serious risk of blow-back. Labour would try and claim that Cameron was behaving like a public school bully. The claim could do reputational damage to Cameron.

But it needs to be put into the public domain. No BBC interviewer, with the possible exception of Evan Davis, is going to feel comfortable accusing the PM or a Cabinet Minister of lying when they start spouting these claims: if the presenter has it wrong in any respect, it would be the end of their careers. So, the Tories need to put it into the bloodstream.

The best way forward is to have a member of the shadow Cabinet, calmly accuse Brown of lying. A clear statement that the Prime Minister should stop lying to the British people would, as the editorials in today’s papers demonstrate, resonate.


Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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