In a stunt redolent of the very worst days of Alistair Campbell, the most interesting Propaganda Supremo since April 1945, 10 Downing Street has taken careful aim and shot itself in the foot. Again. This time they rang round the country planting a story in local media about schools which would be ‘mentioned’ in a forthcoming Brown speech.

According to The Times, the 10 Downing Street Lie Machine rang newspapers in five areas last week and doled out some “pre-quotes” (I have this quaint idea that something does not become a quote proper unless and until it is uttered by someone, not something which this bunch of mendacious dissemblers ever seems to trouble with terribly much) naming individual schools which would be singled out in a Brown speech on Wednesday of last week. The purpose of the mention: to praise them as beacons of excellence.

The local media duly trotted out the “pre-quotes” in advance of the speech which was then, on Wednesday last, delivered at Greenwich University. Sadly not one of the schools thus singled out rated a single word of praise by our Prime Minister. Thus communities in Birmingham, Lancashire, Somerset, Northumberland and Bradford which had been expecting a moment in which one or more of their schools could glow with an aura of success ended up victims of a typical piece of Downing Street coitus interruptus.

Unfortunately for Brown and his paid liars, someone put two and two together and got four instead of the five that they thought they would get. But by then they had got their moneys worth as various outlets had carried the paeans of praise which were then never uttered.

Nonetheless all that advantage has now been thrown away with various people joining the dots of this thoroughly mendacious and utterly deliberate exercise. It demonstrates to anyone who doubted it for a moment that spin (which means no more and no less than ‘telling official lies’) remains a key weapon of Labour. The truth, of course, tends under this Government to be less than appetising, so, with the experience of ten years spinning behind it, 10 Downing Street, when faced with the dilemma, however small, of reaching for the truth or a lie, resolutely seizes the lie.

One wonders why they think we still fall for it. One suspects that they have long ago become blinded to the distinction between truth and untruth. In those circumstances they tell whichever story sounds the best at any given moment. Whether it be true or untrue matters not a jot, so long as it is seen to be good news. That they are pouring a veritable strychnine solution into the body politic of the United Kingdom, they care not.

What they forget, though, is that poisoners are always viewed with particular dislike by the people. This is because of the degree of calculation that is involved in being a poisoner: the selection of the victim, the selection of the poison, the selection of the time and the place and the alibi that is perforce necessary to avoid detection. The latter has been necessary, on this occasion, because 10 Downing Street’s fingerprints and DNA was all over the place, as well as CCTV and eyewitness evidence. In other words the Government’s Official Liars were caught on the job, bang to rights, in flagrante delicto.

In due course they will be put on trial for this and other crimes. It is called a General Election. And this time the Jury may well be disinclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and pronounce them: “Guilty”.

The Times Report is here.