The Lib Dem’s bend over backwards to create an air of being somehow above the perceived rough-and-tumble games that the two serious contenders engage in. A press release I spotted today underlines that they can be as hypocritical as the best of them when there is a whiff of political opportunism.
As background, Evan Davis tried to give Chris Grayling a bit of a kicking this morning on the Today program. The target was the Shadow Home Secretary’s use of the Home Office’s crime figures. You can listen to the exchange here but in a nutshell Grayling was accused of gaining some political capital from comparisons of year-on-year violent crime, missing the notes in the dataset which said such comparisons cannot be valid. If you’re geeky and interested the dataset in question can be seen here. The rights and wrongs of this issue are well covered elsewhere – my perception was that Grayling got a bloody nose before recovering at the last (despite Davis being in full attack dog mode).
Vultures smell blood and circle. And sure enough this afternoon a Lib Dem press release, with all the faux outrage that could be mustered tried to sustain the attack:
Contact: Louise Phillips
Embargo: Immediate, Wednesday 3 February 201
Tories should think of policies, not fiddle figures – Huhne
Commenting on reports today that the Tories have distributed misleading figures on violent crime, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said:
“It seems that the Tories will go to ever increasing lengths to make David Cameron’s ridiculous claims about broken society seem credible.
“Before they start to point the finger on violent crime, the Tories should consider their own record – violent crime rose every year between 1979 and 1997 and nearly doubled overall.
“Instead of fiddling figures, Chris Grayling should think of some policies.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to putting more police on the streets, and have the best record of cutting crime in Lib Dem controlled council areas.”
The trouble for the Lib Dems is that nowadays anyone with Google (like me) can very quickly check if those proclaiming to be holier-than-thou on an issue pass the sainthood test. And lo-and-behold it seems that Mr Huhne himself has had no problem in the past applying the same interpretation of the crime figures as Mr Grayling . Take a look at the first two lines by Huhne in this speech here. I quote: “Clearly, there is serious concern among the public about crime. There is excessive violent crime, which has doubled since the Government came to power. “ Now he could only have come up with that ‘doubled’ bit by using the exact same analysis he his now savaging Grayling for.
His leader Clegg has also been quite happy to read the figures with disregard to the comparatives notes – and in Parliament no less. A quick search of Hansard here shows Cleggy declare: “In contrast to non-violent crime, violent crime has doubled since 1998.” Further down he also points out gun crime has doubled. Again, both these claims use the same reading of the stats that they attack Grayling for.
So you can take this Press Release as a cynical, hypocritical piece of opportunism that the yellow folk like to pretend they are above. They are not. Mr Huhne is in a great big glass-house whilst chucking those stones….