Long John Silver tribute act
Yes, I know - all politicos are economical with the actualité. But what this election is underlining is that the Lib Dems are in a league of their own.
Last night Clegg came out with a string of jaw-dropping porkies.
First, challenged by Cam over the LDs' amnesty for illegal immigrants, he said:
"I don't want you to be misled by David Cameron. I'm not advocating an amnesty."No? In that case why does the LD manifesto say:
"We will allow people who have been in Britain without the correct papers for ten years, but speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn their citizenship."Because you see, Mr Clegg, that's an amnesty - an amnesty for people who are in Britain illegally.
It got worse, when Clegg tried to hit back at Cam. He said:
"David Cameron says you can put a cap on immigration. It is complete nonsense, since he knows that 80% of people who come into this country come from the European Union. You can't cap those numbers, so you shouldn't pretend to people, give them false hope that you can bring numbers down when you can't control them in that way. It's wrong to raise false hopes on such a sensitive topic."80% from Europe? Really?
But how on earth does that square with the official numbers from the Office for National Statistics that we blogged just yesterday? Because those numbers tell us that the proportion is just 25% over the last decade, 50% over the last 5 years, and 40% over the last year for which the ONS has full data (2008). The very latest stats from the International Passenger Survey say it fell to just 34% over the most recent year (to mid-2009). All way short of the 80% waved around by Clegg.
Indeed, so egregious was this particular porkie that St Vince had to go on R4 Today this morning to explain it. Except that he couldn't. Instead, he came up with some shifty blather about Clegg using a different unofficial definition of immigration, and taking the 80% number from some article he read in a magazine. Shocking stuff from a Saint of the Realm (and listen to Tim Harford demolishing the LD stats here).
And then of course, there's the Euro. Lifelong europhile Clegg told us:
"No, I'm not advocating entry into the Euro, I'd only advocate it, by the way, if ever, if the economic conditions were right, if it was good for your jobs, good for pensions, good for savings."Except of course, if the Lib Dems had been in power in 1999, we'd already be members of the Euro, stuck on the kebab skewer right alongside the PIGs. In their 1997 manifesto they promised they'd:
"Participate in a successful single currency. Being part of a successful single currency will bring low inflation and low interest rates. Staying out will result in less investment and a loss of influence."No mention of that last night.
As Tyler has been discovering in the local campaign, the LDs may look clean, but they fight real dirty. They major on gross distortions of what their opponents say and do, and make contradictory policy promises to different groups of voters.
For years they've managed to get away with it, but only because they've never seriously been in contention at the national level.
Now they are in contention, we are getting a good look at just how shifty they are.
Can you just imagine how they'd cope with government? With their half-baked policies built on their distorted half-truths, we'd be calling in the IMF within weeks.
It simply doesn't bear thinking about.