We may raise an exasperated smile to watch Donald Trump and his acolytes playing absurd fast and loose with ‘alternative facts’ across the water, but it’s painful to watch one of our major parties sinking to such demeaning depths.
The lies flagrantly delivered by a succession of Tory spokesmen in recent days issue from panic, but that’s no excuse. They have lowered the tone of this election in a way reminiscent of those Brexiteers – ah, but of course, Boris Johnson appears in both camps – with their promises of a bonanza for the NHS once we escape the surly bonds of Europe.
The prime minister herself, sweating nervously before the BBC Question Time audience, twice asserted that Diane Abbott had threatened to wipe the records of criminals, so endangering national security. The truth? Abbott wants to wipe the records of people found innocent of any crime, not those who have been found guilty.
Next up, the ‘garden tax’. What is it? Goodness knows, but Tory placemen have kept referring to it as something Labour plans to introduce. It’s pure invention.
How about the large increase in tax for ordinary ‘hard working families’ which voters were suddenly frightened with? Again, completely fictitious: Labour has a fully costed manifesto (which you may or may not agree with) and there is no such tax hike in it.
The personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn have been similarly meretricious. A video which has ‘gone viral’ has been edited to suggest that the Labour leader condones IRA violence. Another attempts to persuade a gullible public that he is opposed to the police defending us against terrorists. And, of course – Treeza May again – Corbyn ‘dislikes Britain’ and (the most absurd statement of the lot) is ‘trying to sneak his way into 10 Downing Street’.
All of this speaks of desperation, with the right-wing press raising an infantile, but no doubt persuasive, supporting chorus. The aim is to frighten.
If, as seems likely, the Tories form the next government they won’t feel the slightest shame about the dirty tricks that have propelled them back into power, but they will have poisoned the wells of what we might laughingly call public debate.
In fact, as everyone must be well aware, there has been no real debate at all. Labour have put forward policies while the Tories have mouthed uncosted platitudes and May herself – a limp dishrag of indecision – has run away from any confrontation with her political opponents.
What lies behind this shameful Conservative campaign. Yes, indeed – what lies!