Iain Duncan Smith: Big on belief – lacking in truth

Strong beliefs: But is Iain Duncan Smith about to say a prayer - or is he eyeing up his next victim?

Strong beliefs: But is Iain Duncan Smith about to say a prayer, or eyeing up his next victim?

I believe that Chris Huhne really wasn’t a crook
I believe Britannia Unchained is a readable book
I’m prepared to believe that the government isn’t leaking
And that Boris Johnson sometimes thinks before speaking
Yes I believe J Hunt is clever
Norman Tebbit will live forever
And that GM foods will make us healthier
And there were WMDs out in the desert.

I believe that Cameron means what he says.
And that Michael Gove got good ‘O’ Level grades.
And I believe our courts are great;
That the NHS is safe:
And the economy’s professionally-run…
And that George Osborne knows how to do his sums.

And I believe that the Devil is ready to repent
But I don’t believe IDS should be in government.
(With apologies to Rowan Atkinson)

Early to bed and early to rise… means you have a chance to hear the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions put his foot down his own throat on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Needless to say, I missed it. It’s a shame, because the letter of complaint I was to write to Andrew Dilnot of the UK Statistics Authority would have been slightly different if I had.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In yesterday’s article, I mentioned the need to query a claim attributed by the BBC News website to the Department for Work and Pensions. True to my word, I wrote – and sent – the following:

A report on the BBC website has stated, ‘More than 12,000 people have moved into work after being told about the benefits cap, the government says.’

“It continues: ‘The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said that 12,000 claimants have found jobs over the last year, after being contacted by job centres. The job centres warned them they might have their benefits capped if they did not find employment.’

“I am writing to ask you to investigate this claim, as I believe it may have its origins in a previous statement that you have already shown to be false – relating to a claim that 8,000 people had found jobs because of the benefit cap.”

I went on to quote Andrew Dilnot’s letter containing his verdict on the ‘8,000’ claim – that it was “unsupported by the official statistics” in two documents, one of which “explicitly” stated that the figures were “‘not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact’”, while the other noted “Once policy changes and methodological improvements have been accounted for, this figure has been no behavioural change.’”

I also drew attention to the comments made by John Shield, the DWP’s Director of Communications, at a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions Committee last Wednesday (July 10) when he seemed to be saying that Mr… Smith ignored his officers’ advice and went ahead with a false statement.

I now dearly wish I had known about the part of the Today interview in which Mr… Smith discussed his own opinion of the affair.

The Huffington Post reported it as follows: “Challenged over the fact his statement was not supported by officials statistics published by his own department, Duncan Smith said: ‘Yes, but by the way, you can’t disprove what I said either.'” We’ll come back to that in a moment!

“‘I believe this to be right, I believe that we are already seeing people going back to work who were not going to go back to work,’ he said.

“‘I believe that this will show, as we move forward ,that people who were not seeking work are now seeking work.'”

“The work and pension’s secretary was mocked by Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Anne McGuire, who tweeted that ‘I believe’ was ‘a substitute for facts in IDS world’.”

Well, maybe his Roman Catholic upbringing makes him a creature of strong beliefs.

Unfortunately, his beliefs don’t hold a candle to the facts – and yes, we can disprove what he said!

The blog alittleecon takes up the story: “Ipsos Mori undertook telephone interviews with 500 of the 8,000 people who had found work since the announcement of the benefit cap to try to show that people had been motivated by the cap to find work.

“The problem is that they did not find that. Remember, IDS originally tried to claim that all 8,000 had moved into work because of the benefit cap. The survey found though that 15% of them hadn’t even heard of the benefit cap, and another 31% only knew a little about it. Only 57% remembered being informed that the cap would affect them, and of these, 71% were already looking for work.

“About half of those who remembered getting a letter about the cap took action afterwards. For 31%, this meant looking for work (although half of these were already looking). This means of the 500 surveyed, only around 45 people started looking for work because of the cap that weren’t doing so before. 45!!

“Looking at the results then, and if we assume the survey was representative of all 8,000 people, far from being able to say all 8,000 found work as a direct result of the cap, the best that can be said in reality is that about 720 people started looking for work and found it after hearing of the cap that weren’t looking before. Not a particularly impressive behavioural change.”

There can be no doubt about this. Ipsos Mori is a reputable polling agency and its figures are trustworthy.

It doesn’t matter what Iain Duncan Smith believes, his figures were wrong – plainly wrong.

He has no business peddling them around the TV and radio studios as though they’re set in stone.

He has no business mentioning them at all.

And, if he is determined to keep pushing his falsehoods on us, claiming they aren’t lies because he believes in them, then he has no business being a Cabinet Minister.

33 thoughts on “Iain Duncan Smith: Big on belief – lacking in truth

  1. scarecrow78

    We no longer have evidence-based government, but conviction politics and policy scribbled on the back of a fag packet.

    Sadly, effective as this blog may be in exposing the misuse of stats by LieDS, it seems no-one in the Westminster bubble is interested in the truths presented here, since they too are invested in the pillaging of our Social Security and National Health Service to dare speak up, and that includes many on the Labour benches.

    And that’s why I expect to hear nothing about this on PMQs on Wednesday…

  2. Stephen Bee

    Way to go, Mike…Your blog makes page turning history more enjoyable than Agatha Christie or J K Rowling. Stunning performance and I hope every DWP spy gets the shivers the closer you get to nailing the buggers..You should get a medal mate…Awesome investigation powers!

    Re-blogged on my FB page

  3. Sam Spruce (@samspruce)

    I have to agree with scarecrow78 that no one who has power gives a damn and with Stephen Bee that you deserve a medal. However these things do have an effect in the end and people must keep pursuing them relentlessly or they will get away with murder – oops – they already have. So keep up the good work and thank you for your efforts.

  4. Big Bill

    All of which raises the question, if these people weren’t actively looking for work before they heard about the OBC, how come they were allowed to be claiming anyway? Is IDS telling us that his punitive system of sanctions don’t actually encourage people to actively look for work? What’s it for then? His message is incoherent at best. More evidence, I’d suggest, he has no and has never had any place inpublic life. This rambling incoherent fool is clearly unfit for office.

  5. beastrabban

    Great poem, Mike. And I remember the original on ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’ all those years ago. Ah, it’s like going back to the days of That Was the Week That Was.

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  7. jaynel62

    We can only hope the Select Committee 4/9/13 and our petition, currently 100,430 ps://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/work-pensions-committee-hold-ids-to-account-for-his-use-of-statistics-2#., strong can be the beginning of the end for this pathological LIAR. Together We will reveal the Truth Mike

  8. hilary772013

    ANGRY! that they can get away with this time after time and no matter who exposes them, they still continue and seem untouchable, no wonder there is so much apathy in our country when this Evil is being spouted at truth. As a Roman Catholic he should be frightened of the consequences when he meets his maker, if I where him I would be terrified.

  9. Silver

    I am beginning to wonder if IDS is Joseph Goebbels reincarnated.Either that or he has studied Mien Kampf and the essential guide to the Third Reich and a Total Dictatorship.

    1. AM-FM

      “The Guardian following up”
      I can see a mention by Polly T, and the Steve Bell “I believe” cartoon, you’ll have to give us a url/clue.

  10. Nick

    IDS himself can only rely on what is told from the DWP he has always stated that he knows nothing at all about the benefit system and that it’s way to complicated

    all i know is that he seams to know the full facts about about those that have gone into work when the DWP has threatened them with loss of benefits if they don’t but knows nothing at all about anyone who has died by being found fit for work when there not and have died

    he knows nothing at all about the few on line friends of mine who have died by going through this welfare reform process

    all i can say is very convenient for him to be able to have such a selective hearing and thought process in which he will need as he nears his own death

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s Mark Hoban who said he doesn’t understand the benefit system.

      He does know the full facts about people being pushed into work – but doesn’t present them properly.

      Yes indeed – he is very selective.

      1. Nick

        IDS has also said that he doesn’t understand the benefit system
        he went on a tv programme last year i believe and quit half way through

        He will just muddle on until he gets kicked out at the next general election

        if the conservatives get in again thou and he can keep his seat then he’ll go on to destroy all the sick and disabled once and for all that’s my belief anyhow

      2. Nick

        Tower Block of Commons is a British four-episode reality documentary show produced by Love Productions and broadcast on Channel 4 in 2010 where four Members of Parliament (MPs) have to spend time living in a variety of deprived housing estates around Britain.The four MPs who participated were Austin Mitchell (Labour), Mark Oaten (Liberal Democrat), Tim Loughton and Nadine Dorries (both Conservative). In the first episode, Iain Duncan Smith appears but Dorries appears in his place for the remainder of the three episodes.[2] Duncan Smith’s exit from the show followed his wife being diagnosed with cancer.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Block_of_Commons

      3. Mike Sivier

        Well I’m not going to blame him for leaving if it was because of that!

        It’s a shame, though… would have been fascinating to see how he coped.

      4. Nick

        he supposedly left for that reason however i found that he looked very awkward in the program when talking to the unemployed just as many people do when talking to the disabled he looked most uncomfortable in their houses having to sleep on a council house floor

      5. AM-FM

        I remember watching Tower Block of Commons, and IDS’s one appearance, at least he was up for it. World in Action and Matthew Parris did a very similar experiment in 1984 and repeated it in 2004.

        Meanwhile a quote from IDS in July 2010 – 2 months after the election.

        ‘Under David Cameron’s leadership, we are witnessing a cultural shift.
        This Government will be open, there will be no hiding of figures, we will apologise when we get things wrong, and we will apologise in the Commons. We will respect Parliament.’

        What went wrong!

  11. guy fawkes

    I wonder how many of those estimated 720 actually manage to find work to overcome the benefit cap? Why does no-one listen to these blogs and petitions that are calling for resignations because of the lies – where is the accountability?

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s easy – blogs are low-readership and not representative of the millions in the population.

      I know – in comparison with the population, even the mass market newspapers are low-readership!

  12. scarecrow78

    The benefits cap could be reduced further to just £20,000 per year, if the current cap “beds in” well.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/new-benefit-cap-could-be-lowered-by-6000-a-year-if-deemed-a-success-according-to-treasury-sources-8710585.html

    My instinct is this will be adopted as part of the manifesto for the campaign for the 2015 election, if it is adopted at all. It goes without saying this will be a disaster for those affected, not least for those affected by the current £26,000 cap.

  13. beastrabban

    Nick, regarding your mention of the programme ‘Tower Block of Commons’, I can remember that way back when I was at school one of the then Tory MPs was challenged to live on Unemployment Benefit. He lasted a week before they cut off his electricity, gas and water.

    You’re absolutely right – these people have no idea.

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