Monday, May 13, 2013

 

Tories Lie to Sustain 'Truth' of Scrounger-Striver Distinction

Much of the Tory case for reforming welfare rests on the contention that a substantial proportion of those on benefits are not there legitimately: that they are, in other words, 'cheats'. This idea, for which there must asssurendly some fondation in reality has been amplified a thousand fold by the likes of The Daily Mail and used by Osborne and Cameron as the Coalition's battering ram to bring down the walls of this particular bit of the welfare state. So we were told by delighted Tory cheerleaders that the mere mention that people on incapacity benefit were to be medically re-assassed, led to a third of them surrendering their claims.

In the same way Iain Duncan Smith-IDS- claimed that his cap on benefits was working its magic even before it came into force:

   "Already we have seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs."

In other words, joy unconfined for Conservative MPs whose reason for living would receive such a crippling blow if the 'benefit scrounger' were to be undermined. IDS, the Thatcherite former leader -well, failed leader actually- who had undergone an emotional conversion to fight against povedrty while visiting the run down Easterhouse area of Glasgow, has based his strategy upon the assumption of the fecklessness of benefit claimants.

In a withering article in yesterday's Observer, Nick Cohen destroyed the basis for this assumption. Cohen asserts that IDS's staff brief the press with 'unpublished figures' which are eagerly disseminated by the Mail, Telegraph and the like. 

   . "By the time the true figures appear on the DWP website , and informed commentators can see the falsity, the spin, the old saying applies: "A lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on."

Cohen reports how the UK Statistics Authority,whose job it is to oversees all official statistics, has shown there is no basis whatsoever in the figures to support the contention in relation to the benefits cap. Morever, Jonathan Portes, former chief economist at the Cabinet Office has shown that the claim about incapacity benefits is. according to Cohen, 'False and demonstarbly false'.

Far from being a 'good Tory' as Michael Foot said of Disraeli, IDS seems to be just like all the other Tories, eagerly accepting falsehoods about the lower orders because such people have always had a vested interest in denigrating the poor and disadvantaged. And the public, always receptive to such knocking copy, just lap it up. Well said, Nick Cohen.  

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