Sajid Javid is giving a speech today that doesn’t seem to have a great deal to do with his brief as Culture Secretary. He’s also a pretty good Tory attack dog, and his address to the Centre for Policy Studies will focus on Labour’s ‘basic instinct’ to spend and a warning that this instinct would leave Britain £500bn worse off.
It’s not so much the speech itself from the Culture Secretary that’s interesting, but the reaction from the Labour Party. Chris Leslie has said:
‘These numbers have been totally made up. Labour has not set out any plans for extra capital spending after the election, so this is just another example of the Tory lie machine in action.’
Leslie then criticises the Coalition’s ability to stick to its own fiscal rules, and repeats Labour’s own commitments. He is of course executing a sleight of hand while accusing the Conservatives of operating a ‘lie machine’: saying ‘Labour has not set any out any plans for extra capital spending’ is not the same as saying ‘we can now definitively rule out extra capital spending’. That’s because the Labour line is that it will not borrow a penny more for day-to-day spending, which sounds disciplined until you realise that this is simply ruling out borrowing for revenue spending and leaving a capital spending spree open.
Anyway, these Labour tricks have been running for a while. But what’s new is that the party now wants to talk about Tory lying a lot. They talked about Tory lying when David Cameron attacked Harriet Harman over middle class people paying more tax. Yet again, this is the Opposition trying to use pot shots at their weak spot as an opportunity to talk about the Tories’ honesty. They think decency and sincerity are an area where they, and particularly their leader, can trump David Cameron’s party. And so we’ll hear a lot more about that ‘Tory lie machine’ in the next few months.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.