So I kicked off saying Brown’s claim to always tell the truth was, in fact, a lie. Not a word anyone uses lightly, but he says spending will rise after the general election when in fact it will fall. He is knowingly telling an untruth. It’s a binary distinction. It’s now clear that this is a calamitous strategic miscalculation on his part. James told us a fortnight ago that it was a decision taken against Mandelson’s advice: The Prince knows who easy it is for Cameron to make this into a “Tory truth v Labour lies” debate – and a debate uncomplicated enough to make it on to the breakfast TV sofa.
There wasn’t much Nick and I disagreed about on this topic. You literally can’t find a journalist to say that Brown isn’t lying when he says spending will rise – and Nick has done excellent work teasing the “cuts” line out of Liam Byrne and blogging the results. The “zero percent rise” line was brought up: another incongruous phrase which makes it sound like someone Scottish is telling fibs.
I really do think Brown will now have to admit defeat on this. His Cabinet refuse to repeat his lie, and his back-peddling (sic) yesterday – splitting out so-called capital spending from ‘investment’ spending - is the start of his giving up the “Labour investment v Tory cuts” line altogether. I reckon this will have two more weeks, max, to run – but I’d be happy to be proved wrong. Brown has been well and truly rumbled. “My father told me: always be honest,” he told us at his press conference last month. I suspect that, now, he’ll wish that he’d listened.