Peter Hoskin

Has Brown blown it?

Has Brown blown it?
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Gordon just can't help himself, can he?  There can't be a simple dividing line – oh no.  It has to be one built on exaggerations, half-truths and plain lies.  So it has always been with his brand of government, and for much of the time – think cuts vs investment – it has worked in his favour.  But tonight, despite a surprisingly punchy performance from the PM, it seems to have backfired dreadfully.

The Tories are going big on those misleading Labour leaflets – and rightly so.  Brown denied that he authorised them.  But the fact that a Labour party political broadcast made similar claims about the Tories and old-age benefits makes it impossible for the PM to distance himself from this.  And it won't help that the spiciest moment of the TV debate – the bit that's guaranteed to be repeated over the next few days – was David Cameron's denial of Brown's crude attacks.

You might say: "So what?  The PM's a liar – what's new?"  But it's one thing for him to spin his mistruths in PMQs each week, and quite another for him to do it in front of millions on one of the biggest stages in British political history.  Not only are the post-match polls suggesting that Brown didn't go down well with the public, but he now faces the possibility that the next few days' coverage will concentrate on his distortions and serial dissembling.  And in the middle of an election campaign, too. 

Yep, some might call it karma.