I think we should all play a little game, based around the Parliamentary debate on the one per cent benefit cap. It’s called ‘Count the Tory lies’ and I’ve already spotted a few on the BBC website’s latest article: Iain Duncan Smith “said inaction would leave the UK ‘bankrupt’, and that ‘like Greece and like Spain… we’ll have huge borrowing costs’.”
Bankrupt, is it? The UK wasn’t bankrupt when its national debt was two and a half times its GDP, so there’s no chance of it now! This is clearly a lie, trotted out to scare people.
He went on to say that pensioner benefits like the winter fuel payment weren’t being capped because pensioners didn’t have the flexibility of being able to go to work – that’s actually untrue as well. I know of many people past pension age who still work. The reason it isn’t being capped is that pensioners are more likely to vote – and the Tories want those votes, so need to keep pensioners sweet. Young people don’t vote as much, therefore they get hammered.
“‘No-one is going to be demonised on my watch,’ he promised.” Except the sick, the disabled, the unemployed, people in work but on low pay…”
Mr Duncan Smith said welfare payments had risen by about a fifth over the past five or six years while incomes had increased by only a tenth over the same period.” Twisting the statistics. In fact benefits as a proportion of average incomes, have been kept at 1/6 of wages, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, especially since wages have been depressed severely over the last 20 or 30 years.
Just to hammer this misleading point home, the article restates it: “Mr Duncan Smith said welfare payments had risen by about a fifth over the past five or six years while incomes had increased by only a tenth over the same period.” Therefore I’m happy to re-state that benefits have remained at only one-sixth of average wages. The difference between the percentages has to do with the differences in amounts – a 20 per cent rise in benefits equals just £11.85, while a 12 per cent rise in average wages is £49. Perhaps that might make it seem a little less unfair to your readers.
“Legislation is needed to implement changes announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last month’s Autumn Statement.” Doubtful – and the BBC should not be pushing this as fact. Was it a Guardian article over the weekend that said the vote was being introduced to make Labour look like the party of slobs, shirkers and scroungers? Instead, Labour will come out as the party for strivers, as it is defending benefits that working people, and people who want to work, need in order to survive in these hard times.
People have been force-fed falsehoods by a government that is desperately trying to justify its unreasonable attacks on the poor and vulnerable.
The BBC should not be part of this. It should set the record straight where figures are available, otherwise its reports are misleading readers.
Let’s have a bit of factual accuracy in the run-up to this vote.