Fraser Nelson

More lies from Brown

More lies from Brown
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That Gordon Brown is a compulsive, effortless liar is demonstrated yet again by today's feature-length interview in The Guardian. He is hoping that the majority of journalists who interview him will either a) not find the total spending figures, or b) be unable to adjust them for inflation. I'm not saying Katharine Viner was credulous in listening to him repeat the below, but it's an interesting example.

"The Tories have made, for them, a cardinal mistake in that they admitted the truth - that if you take 10% off the health service or schools or policing, you've cut into the jobs, the services, the expectations. The Conservatives' mask has slipped. They cannot be a centre ground party any more, they can't talk about being mainstream. The choice has become a lot clearer." But won't everyone have to cut public spending, as governments are forced to tighten their belts to pay off debt built up during the recession? "No. It's a myth. Public spending will continue to rise. It's in our figures. We've costed it, and you're paying more in top rate tax to pay for it."

This was a supposedly frank interview, where he slips in this lie.  The Wednesday before last, he read out spending totals which, adjusted for inflation, show a cut. It's not a "myth" - it's not even a matter of opinion. Here is what you need to know.

You will not find the total spending figures in the Budget because, staggeringly, Brown made sure they were not included. This is a ruse, designed to stop journalists working out what's happened. But the figures he read out in PMQs for total spending are accurate (you can work them out from the Budget, if you know which sums to add together). Adjust for inflation - again, a fairy easy procedure - and, even before you factor in the IFS figures for debt repayment, it's a cut.

Viner was doing a personality piece, and given her raw material, the result is little short of miraculous. She has produced an interesting and readable interview with Brown, and the annals of British journalism have strikingly few of those. But even in this relaxed mode, Brown lies instinctively about his spending plans. He is far from innumerate, he will know this is a lie. But he will have calculated that he can keep saying it, unchallenged. Viner wouldn't have wanted to waste time getting dragged down in some statistical battle that anyone reading that magazine piece would skip anyway. But I do hope that every time Brown tries to fool journalists, he will be confronted with the above table. It's not a matter of opinion, but a binary divide. Up is up. Down is down. Only someone as brazen as Brown could pretend otherwise.

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.

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