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Double standard man: Iain Duncan Smith reckons its all right for him to fake claims about the efficacy of his policies, in the belief that nobody can disprove them. What would he do if his opponents made extravagant claims about their HARMFUL effects, and used the same argument on him?

Double standard man: Iain Duncan Smith reckons its all right for him to make extravagant claims about the efficacy of his policies, in the belief that nobody can disprove them. What would he do if his opponents made extravagant claims about their HARMFUL effects, and used the same argument on him?

I did – several times in the previous article.

We can’t seem to get away from LieDS, if we’re discussing falsehood, perversion of the facts, pretending to do one thing and then doing another. He is an archetypal Tory, it seems.

Yesterday he was the subject of an article on the esteemed Another Angry Voice blog, which is heartily recommended.

This was an entry in the Angry Yorkshireman’s series – number 16, no less – on ‘Feeble Right-Wing Fallacies’. The phenomenon it describes is described as the “no, you disprove it fallacy” or the “libelling the evidence fallacy”.

This is a tactic most recently used by Mr Dishonest Smith on Radio 4’s Today Programme, when he defended his misuse of statistics in support of the benefit cap (the claim that 8,000 people had quit benefits because they had been told about the cap) by saying “you can’t disprove what I said either” (this has since been proved inaccurate – 500 of the 8,000 were tracked down by Ipsos MORI and asked why they got off benefits; only 45 said it had anything to do with the benefit cap). He went on to make his “I believe” speech that Vox Political ridiculed (rather well) last week.

The article states: “His position is that there is no onus upon him to provide any kind of empirical evidence to back his assertions, that a proclamation of belief is all that he needs in order to say something, and that the burden of proof actually falls on anyone that wants to criticise his unsubstantiated claims.

“If we boil it down to even simpler terms, this is the Iain Duncan Smith stance:

  • I can say whatever I like without providing any evidence, as long as I say that I have faith that it is true.
  • If you want to criticise what I said, then you must provide evidence that it is false.

“The hypocrisy in this stance is appalling. Iain believes that he can just make up evidence as he sees fit, but he is immune from criticism for having made up evidence, as long as he claims that he believes it to be true and unless his critic does what he doesn’t feel the need to do and (actually develop some coherent evidence in order to) prove the opposite.”

The article goes on to draw the obvious comparison with libel cases. In court cases concerning libel, it doesn’t matter whether the allegation is true or not – the onus is on the defendent to prove there was sufficient evidence to support the claim. If there was not, then the defendant is guilty and must be punished. In commenting contrary to his own department’s official statistics, it could therefore be claimed that IDS committed libel.

There’s more about the Secretary-in-a-State’s beliefs, but it is to be found on Another Angry Voice, not here. We have other fish to fry.

There is a phrase: ‘Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. It means, ‘If something is wrong (or right) for people on one side of an argument, it’s wrong (or right) for both sides.

In other words, if Iain Duncan Smith thinks it’s okay to present unsupported comments as fact, in the way he did on the Today Programme, justifying it by repeatedly saying he believes he is right and challenging his detractors to disprove it (as we have), then what would he do…

What would he do if we all told him the available evidence suggests that he, his ministers and his department, having knowingly imposed a policy that has led to the deaths of many thousands of people who may otherwise have survived for an unknown period of time, have conspired to hide evidence that the same policy is responsible for many more such deaths, in ever-increasing number, in order to avoid any public outcry that might force the government to halt this policy, and therefore stop the deaths?

What would he do if we said we believe this to be right, and pointed out that we have already seen evidence that people have died after incorrect decisions were made about their health, and that we believe this indicates the continued refusal to provide any further evidence about the current death rate proves that it is much worse. What would he do if we said we believe this because he hasn’t disproved it?

I’m not saying it now.

I’m just wondering what he would do if I did.

(The first Vox Political collection, Strong Words and Hard Times, is now available and may be ordered from this website)