Fraser Nelson

Balls lies

Balls lies
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Ed Balls has been sounding increasingly desperate since his thwarted attempt to become Chancellor. He has started to hijack radio interviews, splurging out concocted claims about the Tories no matter what he is asked. But this morning, he used outright lies. 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. Let’s look at the Budget 2009 plans for debt.


Balls is lucky Evan Davis wasn’t the one interviewing him this morning or he’d be sent out of the studio for lying. The complete version of Balls first lie, he said:-

“We have acted in the downturn, that will mean that the economy is stronger, we’ll have less unemployment, less debt. Therefore we will be able to spend more on schools and hospitals. The Conservatives have opposed these plans, the national debt will be higher with the Conservatives.”

Exactly how will Balls be able to spend more in schools and hospitals? The Budget plans show departmental spending falling, as per the following table that Brown wanted to conceal by cancelling the Spending Review

Mandelson, of course, would say these are speculative projections. He’s right. The Treasury has laughably optimistic forecasts. Just compare the forecasts made in the Budget (Table C1 ) with the independent forecasts HM Treasury itself compiles (June '09 version here).

No one is as optimistic as the Treasury. Those spending figures, as Balls knows, are the highest we’re likely to see.

CoffeeHousers might ask: why does Balls risk it? Why use lies? Doesn’t he think it will rebound on him? Balls and Brown believe they are using a specific form of propaganda which will work because it is so rarely deployed in Britain – a country so polite that the word “lie” is not spoken in public. So if they lie, then no one will point it out in terms. It’s a glitch in the system. And as the lie, the falsehood is spread to millions of people, who may think it is true.


There was a line in the Sunday Times piece this weekend (they’ve taken it offline but Dizzy has  the quote) which sums up the new Brown/Balls ‘lies’ strategy. 

“We don't care if the commentators or the economists turn against us. This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heartlands, which we lost in the European elections. We don't want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.”

So I suspect the lies have only just started. If Brown is calculating correctly, the media will soon grow bored of challenging him when he claims spending is rising. In which case, this summer will define whether his lies strategy will succeed. 

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Topics in this articlePolitics