I have been trawling my brain, and burning energy with repeated Google searches, looking for times when a front line politician has used such extreme language to make a point. I have failed: Chris Huhne's continued insistence that his Cabinet colleagues lie and the NO to AV campaign is willfully misleading the public and should be sued/prosecuted by the law is a first.
Those who follow politics will be aware of Huhne's interventions: calling the first Muslim, female member of the Cabinet, Baroness Warsi, Josef Goebbels; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a liar; following this up with a repeat attack on Sayeeda Warsi where he called her a liar too; spending all of Easter Sunday on various BBC news programmes repeating all the above ad nauseum.
Former party leaders Ming Campbell and Michael Howard did well on this morning's Today programme to deflate the row much to the Today programme's disappointment. This was the sensible and statesmanlike way to go about the business of electioneering. Both recognising that Huhne is wayward in his attacks and misguided in his use of language.
It remains to be seen what impact Huhne's behaviour will have on British politics longer term. The hope is none. Due to coalition politics he wont be sacked so will go back to writing endless policy papers on climate change while wishing he was Lib Dem leader (surely this is not a possibility now). There is a danger however, that in the heat of political battle front line politicians will from this day on stoop to ever lower ways of making points and undermining their opponents. Forgotten will be the days of making an argument, backing this up with research, costings, winning the support of third party groups along the way, in order to win a debate. Instead we will have shouting matches, a lack of respect and a political culture the public will turn away from. Political knockabout will be replaced with smears, lies, anger, rage and horse-trading.
It is ironic that Chruis Huhne is campaigning in favour of AV: claiming it will make MPs work harder and provide a fairer voting system. Amongst his ranting he has failed to explain how these would be achieved. Perhaps Huhne should be offering up a voting system where politicians need to consistently win the argument over a long-period of time in order to win an election. Or perhaps we should just stick to the current first-past-the-post system, where our politicians already have to do this, and hope Huhne's fortnight of synthetic rage will soon be forgotten.