No-one can rewrite political history
Peter Mandelson has been re-writing the government's line on public spending cuts but no-one can re-write political history.
I suggested on the Today programme this morning that if you listened hard you might just hear the sound of shredders in Whitehall as Gordon Brown's "lines to take" on spending were disposed of - in particular, the prime minister's insistence that the choice facing the electorate was "Tory cuts" versus "Labour investment". Lord Mandelson suggested that the words had never actually been used. Not so.
On 17 June 2009 (Hansard Column 295)
Prime Minister: "The first thing we are absolutely sure of is that, regardless of economic circumstances, employment, investment and inflation, the Conservatives will cut expenditure by 10%. The right hon. gentleman said it himself last week - Tory cuts versus Labour investment."
And again a few moments later:
Prime Minister: "The issue is that the Conservatives will cut current expenditure in real and cash terms. It is exactly what I said - Tory cuts, Labour investment."
This was at the time that Gordon Brown was labelling David Cameron "Mr 10 Per Cent" after the Tory Health Spokesman, Andrew Lansley had blurted out - also on the Today programme as it happens - that cuts of 10% in other departments would be needed to preserve increased spending on the NHS.
Update, 11:45: When the prime minister spoke of Tory cuts and Labour investment he was, Team Brown now claim, merely quoting David Cameron's own words back at him from the previous week's Prime Minister's Questions on 10 June (Hansard column 788).
Cameron: "The next election - when he has the guts to call it - will not be about Labour investment versus Tory cuts, but about the mismanagement - [Interruption.] It will be about the mismanagement of the public finances, the appalling deficit that he has left and his plan for cuts."
Mmmm. Gordon Brown used the phrase repeatedly on 17 June (Hansard column 296):
"His is the party of cuts; we are the party of investment" doesn't sound to me like a quote from the Tory leader.
Or, how about this one which doesn't use the key phrase but embodies the sentiment and talks about investment in the future and not just during the recession (Hansard column 295):
"We are investing to get ourselves out of the recession; the Opposition would cut, and they would make the recession last longer. That would lead to higher debts and higher deficits that would have to be spent for. As for spending beyond 2011, the right hon. Gentleman knows the truth: he wants to spend less - 10% less in most Departments - whereas we want to spend more."