I was watching BBC Question Time last night and Ken Livingstone and out with some lies which was beyond the usual conjecture and in fact just a plain lie.
It you watch from 38.29 to 38.36 he says:
when Blaire won in 97, our debt was 42% of GDP, when we left office it was 40%
Well this is just a blatent lie, as can be seen here on the ONS site, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=277 – which clearly shows for 2009/2010 – debt as a percentage of GDP was 72%.
Livingstone was pulled up on it a couple of minutes later by the financial and economic historian Niall Ferguson, who was very keen on getting the facts straight – which is as good thing when you professional bullshitters like Livingstone on the panel.
The problem is that the damage is done, there will a proportion of people watching who will take this as fact (because a man on the tele said it was true) and commit it to long term memory to be regurgitated in the pub, dinner party or whatever other political debate they find themselves in.
In my opinion politicians who blatantly lie on TV should be publically corrected on this sort of thing, with a leaderboard for the worst offenders. I suspect though that the problem is very widespread.