There's an old joke that the word "lies" is banned in the House of Commons because it would be used so often that you'd get no business done. The actual reason is that MPs (hilariously) judge themselves above telling untruths. Yet we do hear rather shameless porkies at PMQs. And Tiberius makes a point: why don't Team Cameron object more about Brown misleading the House like Boris Johnson did today?
One of Brown's main tactics is using misinformation, repeated with such force that no one objects to it (such as "Tory cuts" in the last election where the Tories, alas, would have raised spending and the tax burden with it). So why not take issue with it? The answer, not just from the Tories but most in Westminster, is that a) political claims are somehow exempt from the test of being truthful b) numbers go over the head of the public anyway and c) it will seem like semantics to say "actually inflation was 8% not 10%" or "recorded violent crime is up, not down as the PM suggests".
But BoJo did it well by pegging it to a proper offence: the PM misleading MPs. I think he as set a new template. Why not have backbench MPs, from all parties, lining up on points of order after every PMQs the same way he did - putting on record untruths told by during PMQs? This should, of course, apply to every time an MP misleads the House on any subject. And it includes mendaciously misrepresenting the policies of the other party. There should be zero tolerance to lies, no matter how white or how small.
I've always thought it wrong that the ASA does not allow lies in billboards, with the exception being party politcial adverts which can say what they like. Why should our political class be exempt from the duty to tell the truth? The blogosphere excels at picking up porkies, so I'm sure we will do our bit. But it would be nice to see MPs follow Boris' example and do their bit too.