Peter Hoskin

Gimmicky Gordon

Gimmicky Gordon
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In the wake of Coffee House's Brownies campaign, numerous commenters have been imploring the opposition parties to undermine Gordon Brown's little porkies.  Take, for instance, CoffeeHouser Mike O'Callaghan's recent suggestion:

"Each week Brown is allowed to provide statistical lies and seemingly gets away with it although anyone with an ounce of intelligence is not fooled. Can I suggest a tactical ploy for Cameron. Each week analyse the Brown statistical lies and the following week ask him specific questions relating to those figures. When Brown is unable to back the figures up he loses credibility. This tactic would allow the public once and for all to pick up on the lies being told."

On this front, the "Government by gimmick" paper that the Tories released today is a step in the right direction.  It dissects 26 of Brown's policy announcements which have "grabbed the headlines" but "amounted to nothing".  After Jack Straw's interview in the Guardian today, the prisons entry is especially pertinent:

8. Titan prisons

What was announced: In December, Jack Straw promised to build three ‘titan’ prisons holding up to 2,500 prisoners each (Hansard, 5 December 2007, Col. 828).

In fact: when pushed about his proposals on the Today programme, Straw said: ‘We haven’t got planning permission for these places. We are not definitely going ahead with them. That’s the default setting. But we want to wait and see what people say’(Today, 30 January 2008).

And then: a few hours later at Prime Minister’s Questions, Gordon Brown announced: ‘We will go ahead with these prisons following the consultation’ (Hansard, 30 January 2008, Column 312).”

 And here are a couple of other highlights: 

5. New Border Police

What was announced: In his security statement, Gordon Brown announced, after years of Conservative pressure, that he would introduce a new Border Police, which would be ‘implemented very quickly’ (Hansard, 25 July 2007, col. 848).

In fact: the Prime Minister’s plans were not for a new agency, but for new uniforms – and the plan did not even include the police or British Transport Police. When questioned about the cost, staffing and resources of the force, the Government admitted that these details had not even been decided (Press Briefing from Prime Minister’s Spokesman, 25 July 2007)...


13. British jobs for British workers

What was announced: Gordon Brown announced plans for ‘British jobs for British workers’.

In fact: the proposal would be illegal under EU law, and the vast majority of new jobs created in Britain since 1997 have gone to people moving into the UK from other countries (Hansard, 18 July 2007, Col 442W)”

There might be some inspiration there for CoffeeHousers who are yet to have their say.  Then, next week, we'll put together our own catalogue of Brownies...

P.S. All of this blends nicely with Martin Wolf's FT column today, in which he observes that Brown has been "putting political advantage ahead of principles".

P.P.S. There's a controversy brewing about point No. 4 in the Tory document ("Trips to Auschwitz") - see Ben Brogan and the Spectator's own Stephen Pollard.