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George Osborne: Far from poor, but the table displays evidence of an unfortunate habit!

George Osborne: Far from poor, but the table displays evidence of an unfortunate habit!

Isn’t it strange how there’s one rule for Iain Duncan Smith and his Department for Work and Pensions, but a completely different rule for the rest of us?

Spokespeople for the DWP have spent more than a month telling newspaper reporters that “It is irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim”, in response to calls for the Department to reveal the number of deaths among claimants of Employment and Support Allowance since November 2011 (the last date for which any statistics have been released).

Yet on the morning of June 25, the Gentleman Ranker showed he was happy to suggest a causal link of his own, despite producing no evidence for it.

He was crowing over the fact that new statistics have shown no significant increase or decrease in child poverty – a fact that confounded expectations – and lecturing Labour on what he saw as its own policy failings.

Accusing Labour of adopting a position in which providing families with extra money to push them above the poverty line did nothing to transform their lives, he said:

“Let me give an example of a family who are officially in poverty under those measures, with parents who have huge drug problems.

“When they go over the line, according to the measurement, they are not in poverty, but because the parents are likely to spend all their money on drugs, the children do not get fed” [boldings mine].

This Blog is not about to suggest that nobody in poverty has drug problems, or that nobody has huge drug problems – but the Gentleman Ranker here makes a claim that he cannot support – either with figures or by the example he is setting for himself and his department.

Here’s why – and let’s paraphrase the DWP’s own songsheet to make our point:

It is irresponsible to suggest a causal link between drug use and poverty.

He only has to look along his own front bench at George Osborne to understand that.

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