Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Lies, damned lies and pretend conventions

Last weekend the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed concern that the government's chosen method of tackling recession could cause a collapse in the value of Sterling. The Prime Minister's answer was to tell one of his big fat lies by claiming there was a convention that the opposition should not seek to undermine government economic policy in times of recession for fear that it might make matters worse.

My dim memories of the early 1990s, when the UK was last in recession, are not of a Labour opposition cheering the government to the rafters and pledging loyalty to the then Chancellor and Prime Minister. My recollection is that they said exactly what the Conservatives are saying now, namely that the government had mismanaged the economy for over a decade and needed to change course if the worst effects of recession were to be avoided.

1991 was a long time ago and many a week has passed when FatBigot Towers has witnessed the consumption of more than the recommended number of units of alcohol, so I thought I'd see if I can find what poor Gordon, the serial liar, said at the time. Well well, what a surprise. He opened a debate on the 30th of January 1991 and put forward a motion in the following terms:

"That this House is concerned about the deepening recession which is bringing rising bankruptcies and closures, falling output and investment and fast rising unemployment hitting all regions and all industries ... condemns the Government for the economic mismanagement that has created a recession ... calls for an immediate reduction in interest rates, a Budget for investment in industry, and a modern industrial policy ..."

The debate is recorded in Hansard here. It is interesting to note that, in addition to doing exactly what he says the opposition is not allowed to do in a recession, poor Gordon the serial liar was criticised for not engaging in debate but steamrolling a series of disparate points in what one MP described as a "Gatling gun approach". Another objection was to his refusal to allow others to interrupt him to seek clarification of what he meant. These flaws in his character, so often commented on today, were well established almost two decades ago.

Not content with attacking government policy on the 30th of January 1991, poor Gordon the serial liar did so again at some length in a debate on the Budget on the 25th of March 1991 (here), then again on the 13th of June (here), the 16th of October (here) and with specific interventions in debates on a number of other occasions that year. He cannot claim to have forgotten dedicating a whole year of his parliamentary life to doing exactly that which he now says is contrary to established convention.

There is only one explanation. He is simply dishonest to the core and prepared to tell deliberate contrived lie after deliberate contrived lie to further his tenuous grasp on power. It really is a most extraordinary way for a Prime Minister to behave but then we have never before in my lifetime had a Prime Minister devoid of any of the qualities required for the job.

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