The difference between the two main parties has often been remarked upon. The Tories’ Achilles heel is their Bullingdon Club overweening self-confidence and insufferable arrogance, and Labour’s is its self-effacing humility and timidity. The two party conferences just past illustrate this clearly. The bluster and downright lying by both Osborne and Cameron takes one’s breath away. Osborne boasts of the ‘fastest growing, job creating and deficit cutting recovery’ in modern times. All untrue: growth in the US, and for that matter in Ireland too, is much faster, the jobs created are so miserly that government tax receipts are actually now falling, and the deficit is actually now growing. Cameron has the gall to project a £7bn giveaway backed by no new sources of funding which, if proposed by Labour, Osborne would pounce on as irresponsible profligacy and which Cameron himself denounced in 2008 with the words “You cannot talk about tax reduction unless you can show how it is paid for, the public are not stupid”. Obviously he now thinks they are.
Cameron trotted out the mantra which is going to become wearisome in this 8-month election campaign. ‘Labour was responsible for the economic mess we inherited. It’s been painful dealing with it, but we were all in it together. But we always had a long-term economic plan, and now it’s come good’. From start to finish this is a tissue of lies. Labour actually presided over the longest economic boom since the war, until it was wrecked worldwide by the bankers’ folly and recklessness. We were most certainly not all in it together: the rich caused the financial catastrophe, and the poor have been made to pay for it. The idea that the Tories had a long-term economic plan is laughable: Osborne only just missed a triple downturn by a whisker and was then panicked into generating yet another unsustainable housing bubble when all else had failed.
Yet Cameron still had the insolence to rubbish his opponents as “You were the people who left Britain with the biggest peacetime deficit in history, who gave us the deepest recession since the war, who destroyed our pension system, bust our banking system” – every bit of which is an outrageous lie. Why does Labour let liars get away with it? It is said that Labour was so ensconced in its own leadership election campaign in the 5 months after May 2010 that it allowed the Tories to fix this mendacity in the public’s mind, and now it’s irremoveable. NONSENSE. There was always time, and still is, to take on the Tories as the biggest frauds and deceivers you could find even in today’s disreputable politics. As someone once said: “If you stop telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about you”. The counter-attack needs to be brutal and go for the jugular, and it needs to start urgently.