It is often said that in politics, personal attacks surface when the party or politician in question has nothing new to bring to the table - that they have neither coherent policies nor any remaining means of defending their position. How true this is of Gordon Brown and his beleaguered Government. Today we saw, yet again, the now rather tedious spectacle of the Prime Minister evading questions by personally insulting the Leader of the Opposition, this time on the somewhat trivial subject of whether or not his election poster had been airbrushed.
Putting aside the fact that it is very difficult to find any photographic close-up these days that is not touched-up, or indeed of the desirability of such a course of action when your face is being enlarged to around a hundred times its size; the Prime Minister's statements have a double-edged irony. The first is that these trivial side-tracks are coming from a man who we have all seen dismiss attacks by David Cameron over the cohesion the Government by claiming that he is not concentrating on the 'big issues'. The second of course is that in doing so, and so visibly displaying the Government's complete poverty of direction and ideas, he is exposing himself to that insult which he so often levies at David Cameron - that he has no policies and is simply unfit to govern.
But where, I believe I am right in saying, the Prime Minister distinguishes himself from all previous Governments is that this poverty of ideas has led to the increasingly frequent spouting of clear, obvious and really rather large lies from the Cabinet benches in a frenzied attempt to cling to power. I believe I am also right in saying that this is a most disgraceful and rotten way to conduct Government, one that does however have a precedent with the Prime Minister's predecessor surrounding the motives for entry into the Iraq War.
One of the largest and, to my mind, most baffling of Labour lies being peddled at the moment concerns the Conservatives' plans to abolish inheritance tax below £1 million. I would very much like to write at length on this particular point, were it not so self-explanatory. Kicking off the Labour election campaign early in the year, Ed Balls claimed that "They [the Conservatives] want to have an inheritance tax cut which goes to millionaires" - an impossibility surely, given that the qualification for this particular tax cut is that one is not a millionaire. However, it appears that this claim is so radically departed from reality that it has caused a collective silence on the minds of those who hear it. The lie is simply so huge that nobody dares to challenge it.
Another example was the bizarre spectacle this afternoon of watching the Leader of the Opposition attack the massive budget deficit Labour had incurred between 1997 and 2007 - the largest in the industrial world he said, and the reason why Britain was so hard hit by the financial meltdown - only for the Prime Minister to reply by claiming the exact opposite. The United Kingdom entered the recession with the lowest public debt of any industrial nation he said, and that is why the Government has been able to help so many families and business get through the recession.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is very deliberate. Call me an insane conspiracy theorist if you wish, but the New Labour machine has been characterised by, if nothing else, its extensive use of spin to get away with saying that black is indeed white. It does not take a massive stretch of the imagination to construe that this army of spin doctors may use psychological methods of deception - such as those championed by Derren Brown - to mislead voters. Indeed, they would not be doing their job properly (one I do not believe ought to exist) if they did not.
One example of this deliberate misleading of the electorate is the bizarre contention that the recent expenses scandal warrants changes to the constitution of this country. There is simply no connection between the two. It is an out-and-out lie as much as that which attempted (and succeeded) in forming an imaginary link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Both the US Government then and the UK Government now have exploited a catastrophe to further an entirely separate end.
It was The Times that yesterday claimed "The fall-out from the expenses scandal has shaken Parliament and called into question the way the Commons works." Why? How has it done this? The expenses scandal was committed by individual MPs abusing a system of financial renumeration for their own ends. Those to blame are the MPs themselves and those members of the Fees Office who thought it pertinent to authorise such blatant abuses of that system. Even if one were to argue that the system was to blame, there is still no link here to the constitution of this United Kingdom. Furthermore, as the Commons have now voted on a new expenses system, the matter ought surely to be laid to rest.
However, this Government clearly has too much to lose from leaving the matter there. They are perfectly aware that, facing electoral armageddon, a change in the voting system of this country would allow them to cling to power, most likely in coalition with the Liberals who have supported ailing and unpopular Labour Governments so many times in the past. It is a proposal that has, as far as I am aware, no popular clamour and would be pushed through Parliament in the most disgraceful of circumstances for the most perverse of intentions.
Yet, Brown knows now as much as Bush knew then (or at least their advisors) that a lie which so obviously contradicts the available evidence and is so departed from reality, repeated enough times becomes accepted wisdom. Perhaps millions of Americans still believe that the United States invaded Iraq to fight terrorism, despite in doing so toppling a dictator who loathed jihadists and creating Islamic terrorism where it had not hitherto existed. There is no difference in the principle of these two deceptions.
The supreme irony of course, is that our Prime Minister was no. 2 in a government which not only pledged to abolish boom and bust (thereby creating one of the most dramatic "busts" in living memory), but which was also elected in 1997 on the ticket of a new, open and transparent politics. They have either failed spectacularly on both counts or have built the last 12 years of administration on two twin pillars of treachery. Whichever it is, they are continuing to do so with more vigour each passing day. A general election is required now to remove this discredited Prime Minister of a discredited Government - voters would do well to do so, if only to assert their authority and righteous wrath. Let us all pray however, that a Conservative Government lives up to its promises where Labour's has not.
"A lie told often enough becomes the truth"
- Vladimir Lenin
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”
- Adolf Hitler