Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Fraser Nelson accuses Ed Balls of lying - Balls explodes!

It looks like this article by the always excellent Fraser Nelson on the Spectator blog this morning which accused Ed Balls of lying about the government planning to reduce national debt over the next few years has provoked a strong reaction from Mr Balls. He rang Fraser and "demanded" that he should take the article down!

There is a good summary by Fraser himself in this subsequent blog post.

I just wanted to briefly focus on one aspect of this spat that Fraser sums up here directed at Mr Balls:

Five years ago, you could lie like this on the radio and get away with it. Space is tight in newspapers, no one would devote hundreds of words and graphs - as we did - to expose a lie for what is. But the world has changed now. Blogging has brought new, hyper scrutiny. Blogs have infinite space, and people with endless energy, to expose political lying - no matter how small. Your claims can be instantly counter-checked, by anyone. If you stretch the truth, you can be exposed - by anyone. And if you plan to base a whole election campaign on a lie, as you apparently intend to do, then you're in for a rude awakening.

Fraser is bang on here. I don't think that team Brown have yet twigged how this new media world works despite having been burnt by Smeargate. They can't just swagger around bullying a few political journalists and get the line they wish out there. There are countless thousands of us now, bloggers, citizen journalists, call us what you want and we WILL hold them to account for what they say and do. We are not reliant on the lobby system for favours and we will tell it as we see it.

Even if Fraser had have been forced to take his post down you can bet that there would have been mirrored copies of it up straight away along with lots of blog posts referring to it. Trying to get the article taken down like this is politically cack-handed.

And finally, if Mr Balls does not like being called a liar, he and his colleagues should stop lying. It is as simple as that.


Oranjepan said...

Excellent stuff - the price of liberty is eternal vigilance - and the freedom to speak provided by the blogosphere enables scrutiny of the minutiae.

Who watches the watchers - bloggers, of course!

Anonymous said...

Can somebody tell me what do the lib Dem's think about welfare reforms, being disabled myself I've left the Labour party, but cannot find the lib Dem's response to the disabled...I really would be interested.

Mark Thompson said...

Anonymous. I hope this answers your question:;show.html/

Policy is aimed at simplifying the benefits system to make it easier for people to understand what they can claim and hopefully claim successfully.

We've also pledged to "cut the extra costs (‘Poverty Premium’) paid by poor people and reduce problems of debt – including abolishing higher utility prepayment charges; allowing social pricing for utility bills for vulnerable groups; increasing the availability of low cost home energy conservation measures; extending the Winter Heating Allowance to those on higher rate disability benefits; and improving access to the Social Fund.
We will also seek to ensure more free generic financial advice and tougher action against irresponsible lending practices." (from "Freedom from Poverty, Opportunity for All")

At the same time, we want to take people out of tax with our redistributive taxation policies - that does not help people who are entirely dependent on benefits, but the idea is to reduce/abolish the poverty trap by making getting into some work actually rewarding.

Giles said...


Fraser is wrong. I've had a go at why here:

Nelson gets away with being the Man explaining the Debt to the Innumerate too often. His analysis is normally overly melodramatic, and wrong.