The Sketch: Gordon's got the leadership trait - lying

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The Independent Online

Now they're stacking the order paper, in order to make Parliament fit in with the Government's communications grid. Just when you thought they couldn't go lower.

There were a dozen Labour questions in the Order Paper but each was on one of three subjects: 1) state spending on science; 2) the climate change levy; 3) international poverty. These are the elements the Chancellor wants in his brand ("To add texture" as marketing people say, "to reposition him as a dynamic, digital, iPod-wearing colossus bestriding the international moral high ground.").

So the toads oblige by flooding the question box with questions that allow him to implement his rebranding strategy.

As the Chancellor is pitching himself as an Auld Incorruptible it's worth remembering what a terrible liar he is. Paul Goodman was able to lower the tone of the session sufficiently to point that out.

Some weeks ago, the Chancellor told the media his favourite all-time footballing moment had been England's Paul Gascoigne scoring the winning goal against Scotland.

In the taxonomy of falsehoods that was a lie. It wasn't true, he knew it wasn't true, he was saying it with the intention of deceiving. Goodman wasn't allowed to say that, of course, not out loud. He was able to say: "Which claim is more likely, that people welcome the climate change Levy or that he's supporting England in the World Cup?"

It's not the sort of question that belongs in the House. Not unless the Chancellor happens to be in it at the time.

The obvious lies are rare but the talent for mendacity is useful for constructing the larger delusion that he peddles (evil Conservative matriarch who ate the children of England defeated by a transcendentally stable Chancellor).

But it isn't necessary to lie to achieve the effect of lying (a deluded audience).

Had you been there yesterday, you might have joined in a common delusion as he said: "We are going to raise spending on schools to the private school average by 2012!" Ker-rikey! A genuinely astonishing plan! And not without an admirable side.

But after more abuse from Brooks Newmark ("a pipedream designed for next day's headlines") the Chancellor revealed it was "capital spending" in schools he was increasing to private school level. And that is probably made up of funds for building the new academies.

And if you think these medacities don't matter, we should go through the examination results together some time and try to calculate how many lies have blighted how many lives. The fact the Education Secretary has revealed 15 million adults would not get maths GCSE conceals even more (yes, more!) scandalous failures.

But let's not leave this on a sour note. Think of something positive to say. Try this. Whatever else he is, the Chancellor is a marvellous aid for those of us trying to get into bulimia.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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