Call me old fashioned, but I do like to see some minimal standards maintained during an election campaign. Honest disagreement, I can cope with, sweetening your case whilst brushing aside the negatives, fair enough. However, the sort of inane inaccuracies that spill from the lips of Eric Pickles make me want to spit.
Last night, Eric got his campaign off to a flying start by claiming that David Cameron was more popular amongst Liberal Democrats than Nick Clegg. Apart from the nonsensical nature of such a claim (err, doesn't Nick have a higher personal rating that Dave? You know, I think he does!), it gives the impression that Eric will say anything, no matter how incredible, because he believes that if he says it often enough, the public might believe him. Given that he looks like a butcher who habitually places his thumb on the scales to short change his customers, I wouldn't count on that as a core campaign strategy.
However, he does believe in equal opportunity dissembling. If Labour produce a document outlining the options for potential tax rises as part of a programme to balance the budget, Eric claims that it is evidence that Labour are planning to increase VAT to 20%. Personally, I call it a proper look at all of the options, a strategy of acknowledging that nothing should be ruled out. On the other hand, the Conservatives, when acknowledging that nothing can be ruled out, cannot equally be presumed to be considering raising VAT similarly. Funny, given that if George Osborne loses his envelope, Conservative tax and spending plans are in disarray.
I have little time for this miserably timid Labour government, with their failure to create a fairer society, the ease with which they shed any pretension to having an ethical foreign policy, their inadequate constitutional reform, their prostrate worshipping of the financial markets. All that said though, I've always sensed that their heart would be in the right place if only it wasn't for their view that Daily Mail readers are the key determinant of electoral success.
If Eric Pickles is a reflection of the integrity of the Conservative leadership, then I share their view that it is our duty to vote out this Labour government. It isn't our duty to vote Conservative instead though. Indeed, I would suggest that denying red and blue an overall majority might teach them a little humility. Not Eric though, I fear...