Fraser Nelson

Why Brown will get caught out this time around

Why Brown will get caught out this time around
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Now that Gordon Brown’s central attack line of  ‘Labour investment v Tory cuts’ has been exposed as a lie, what will he do? His claim that he has planned no cuts under Labour has now been comprehensively exposed as false by Fleet Street today. Plus bloggers are producing figures and proofs - Dizzy and Chris Dillow offer very good examples of the kind of new scrutiny brought to bear in the internet age (to my mind, this is the game-changer). Do Labour’s published plans envisage real-terms spending cuts in the three years after Apr11? The answer is ‘yes’, yet ministers have been instructed to lie and say ‘no’. While Brown himself can lie as easily as he can breathe, his ministers struggle to - like Liam Byrne on Today this morning. This poses a quandary for Brown. Should be now abandon his beloved Labour Spending v Tory Cuts strategy?

To understand Brown, it is vital to understand his use of lies. I am told that, in the bunker, he’s forever talking about the need to ‘define your opponent’ – by which me means spreading falsehoods about them. (A statistical version of the smears which McBride was caught spreading). Brown apparently justifies it to himself on the grounds that the ends justify the means. Hence the “Labour will increase spending” lie: it forms one of his precious dividing lines. He argues (correctly) that the Tories are so useless at defending themselves, changing their defence so often, that the Labour line will win any media battle and sink into the voters’ mind if repeated often enough by ministers, when interviewed.

CoffeeHousers will remember the election in 2005 when Brown prepared a pack of lies (read a list of them here), chief amongst them that the Tories “would cut £35 billion from public spending”. The Tories proposed (alas) to increase spending – but at a slower rate than Labour. By no stretch of the English language is this “cut”. And he was directly confronted over this by Nick Robinson who invited himself to the unveiling of the below poster and challenged Tony Blair on it. Fleet St picked it up – The Sun the next day told it straight, just as it has this morning.

But Brown continued with his £35bn lie anyway. He kept pushing it all the way until the general election. There is a limit to how long commentators like myself will keep writing a piece saying “Brown’s lying” – or expect people to keep reading it. But there is no limit to how long Brown and his proxies will repeat the lie. So, in Brown’s strategy, once the lie is over its initial resistance phase it can be repeated without much of a challenge.  And the point when the media is sick of hearing a message is the point when the public just begins to take heed of it.

The difference this time is the blogosphere. It costs us not a penny to produce this post: we have endless space to devote to facts, charts, lists of Brown’s lies, lists of economists saying he is lying. There is the potential for YouTube viral videos exposing the lies. Last night, for example, Faisal Islam on Channel Four produced a powerful three-minite presentation showing why Labour intends to cut. If captured on YouTube it can be played on demand – and ‘published’ online again and again. Whenever lies are used. Newspaper readers may tire of reading the same rebuttals time and time again – but the internet offers infinite capacity to explore lies in the smallest detail.

The internet is the perfect medium for lie-detecting. Channel Four’s Fact Check and our own Brownie series are but two ways to give ample space to scrutinising lies. So Brown’s strategy – bulldoze a lie through the protestations of a few Tories and journalists – may this time fail him.

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.

Topics in this articlePolitics