"name-calling makes it hard to debate and is more likely to lead to disorder and fisticuffs"This is just the type of mindless tosh people who are stuck in the political consensus come out with. It's on a par with people who say that using "swear" words (i.e. using more words than other people) means that you have a limited vocabulary. The problem with our political debate at the moment is that politicians regularly lie through their teeth and it's considered "poor taste" or "bad form, old boy" to say to.
Rentoul says that Tory George Osborne didn't actually call Gordon Brown a liar, as billed. But, bizarrely, today's Times says that David Miliband accused Osborne of "the politics of the big lie and the big smear". No comment yet from Rentoul.
The top line of the Times story is that "Treasury officials have accused the man who could soon be their boss of implying that they had broken the law". Senior civil servants are quoted, anonymously of course, as "voicing anger" at this.
Sadly, from the coverage that I've read, I can't work out who's telling the truth. That is what matters. If Brown really did conceal plans to cut spending while making such a virtue of not doing so, it really should change the landscape of politics, as Osborne claims. But the problem isn't that someone has called someone else a liar, it is that the media like the drama of accusation and counter-accusation more than analysis of who's right and who's wrong.