Lib Dems: Ready to talk budget deficit
Frank, detailed, honest, straight forward, specific, concrete, tangible. Those were all words the Liberal Democrats used this morning to talk about themselves.
Corrupt, dishonest, waffling, treating people like fools. That was them talking about their opponents.
Today Nick Clegg presented himself as the honest man of British politics.
While the man who's never far from his side, Vince Cable, described himself, somewhat oddly, as the elephant man. This was not because he's like the freak show exhibit of Victorian times. But because he's ready, he said, to talk about the elephant in the room - in other words the budget deficit.
Thus the Liberal Democrat budget proposals are bound to come in for particular scrutiny. They are proposing a massive tax cut, almost £17bn, amounting to £700 a head for ordinary workers, at a time of a massive budget crisis.
The money, they say, can be raised by higher taxes on pension contributions, air travel, expensive houses, closing tax loopholes and saving over four and a half billion in tax avoidance. Not a penny of that, mind, would go to cut the deficit or to avoid tax rises like the one planned for national insurance or to protect public spending . All of it would go to give people a tax cut.
Now the party can point to other proposals to cut spending which will help cut the deficit and boost schools spending.
But you don't need to reach for a calculator or even call our friends at the Institute of Fiscal Studies to ask this question - if you were in government and could really find £17bn, would you actually be prepared to give it all away?
Nick Clegg's answer to that question is an interesting one. He argues that the public will only back what he once called savage cuts in public spending if they see that the cake is being fairly distributed.