Politicians are not noted for veracity and answering a straight question with a straight answer. But we understand: a straight lie to a straight question is politically dangerous and likely to cause trouble. However, what about an unconstructed and univited whopper? How do we recognise it? Here are some recent examples. The Governor of the Bank of England (or his officials for there are several versions) told me that immediate cuts in the budget deficit would be helpful (needed /essential) in maintaining market confidence in the value of sterling and borrowing rates. There is no way that this evidence can be checked for no one in the Bank would be likely to comment on the statement. In general it is probably true. It would help the Bank in its central task But the Bank has no responsibility for fiscal policy and should shut up in public. There is no way of checking the statement. Similarly with this one: Obama expressed his confidence in the British Governments tackling of the Budget deficit. What else would he say? And he certainly wouldn’t deny it in public. Another version: the G20 group of nations expressed its full confidence in the Government’s emergency budget. Hold on, did he? The G20 endorsed Obama’s view that its members should aim to half their public deficit over the next three years. Is that not Labour’s policy. Would we expect Angela Merkel to come out publicly with a condemnation of British policy? Here is another: Alistair Darling gave consideration to an increase in VAT but Gordon Brown vetoed it (good for you Gordon?) Of course Alistair would have asked his officials to give him a full list of possible changes to tax and spending, with their pros and cons; and of course Gordon would have looked at it. Not on your Nelly said Gordon and -probably we might suppose- Alistair agreed. So what is the commonality of these whoppers? We cannot check or question the source of the information. If we cannot check it the statement it is worthless, a breech of confidence, or a mis-quote. And there is another characteristic: all good propaganda contains a germ of the truth (don’t ask me ask Dr Goebbels, if he still listens). All the statements I list above contain one. Of course, we know from our personal lives that one lie leads to another. We reach a point when our nearest and dearest do not believe us and then by some process of time no one does. The Coalition must live in hope that electors have short memories and will be willing to sell their souls for thirty pieces – or a job and the promise of a pay day!