This week, the Tory Lie Machine has been cranked into action. We knew this would happen - the Tories don't have a positive vision for the country, so they're reduced to spreading lies about Labour's plans. As my colleague Michael Dugher showed in his recent blog, they have plenty of form for telling pork pies, fibs and whoppers about Labour. The problem is that this week the Tory Lie Machine hasn't been working at full throttle - in fact, it keeps backfiring.
On Monday, they tried to attack Yvette Cooper's speech on The Choice on Crime and Justice - but their rebuttal ended up admitting that the number of police officers on the frontline has fallen by almost 16,000, and that prosecutions and convictions for rape have fallen between their first year in office and last year. Bad start.
On Thursday, they decided to put Chris Grayling up to make a speech about Labour's plans - on the very day that his own department, the Ministry of Justice, issued shocking figures about his own appalling performance in office, with twice as many prisons rated "of serious concern" compared to last year, a huge decline in prison safety, and an increase in the number of prisoners absconding - a number that rose again that very afternoon. Imagine if Grayling did his own job properly instead of spreading lies about the Labour Party.
To make matters worse, Grayling ended up admitting that the tennis match involving David Cameron and Boris Johnson, flogged to the wife of one of Vladimir Putin's cronies for £160,000 to raise money for Tory Party coffers, was still going ahead - putting the spotlight back onto the murky world of Tory fundraising, where hedge funds and oligarchs hand over millions, and get cuts in the top rate of tax in return.
Meanwhile, Tory central office put out a graphic claiming, falsely, that Labour planned to scrap the benefits cap, a graphic which used as evidence - and you really couldn't make this up - an article by Ed Balls which included the words "We will keep the benefits cap".
Today, the Tory Lie Machine is still firing away. They decided to issue a new set of claims about Labour's tax plans. The trouble is that their claims were a pack of lies. They claimed that we want to raise National Insurance - we don't. They claimed that we want to raise fuel duty - we don't, and in fact they're the ones who have added to the price of fuel by raising VAT to 20 per cent after promising not to. They claimed that we want to introduce a so-called "death tax" - we don't, it's not our policy, and Ed Balls made that very clear on Wednesday. What part of the words "it's not our policy" do the Tories not understand?
The truth is that Labour wants to introduce a lower 10p starting rate of tax, to help around 24 million people on lower and middle incomes, funded by a mansion tax on homes worth £2 million or more. Most people think that's fair - so the Tories pretend it's not our policy. And we want to scrap David Cameron's hated Bedroom Tax, which hits hundreds of thousands of disabled people, funded in part by reversing George Osborne's tax cut for the hedge funds that give so much to the Tory Party. Most people think that's fair too - so the Tories ignore it.
It's no wonder the Tories are desperately trying block Labour's proposal to allow the Office for Budget Responsibility to independently audit the spending and tax commitments in the manifestos of the main parties - they want to carry on making totally false claims, and ignore the truth.
The Tory Lie Machine might not be a well-oiled piece of machinery, but it's the only tool they've got. We know they're desperate to distract attention from the fact that they've raised taxes 24 times, and that tax and benefit changes since 2010 will leave the average household £974 a year worse off by the time of the next election - while giving millionaires a tax cut. But when they choose to lie about Labour's plans, we're going to call them out on it.
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