Tag Archives: Goebbels

A fact-check for silly Cameron apologists

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Here’s a piece in the New Statesman that is worth debunking straight away. Entitled 10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for, it makes assertions that suggest to This Writer that it is author Ian Leslie who’s been having dodgy visions.

Let’s focus on three:

“1. THE MEDIA DID IT

“No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

“3. CLEVER TORIES

“It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

“5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY

“It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.”

Firstly, nobody is blaming the media entirely for voters’ insistence on self-destructively supporting the Tories. The media helped hammer the Tory messages home, by amplifying Cameron’s statements and ignoring or vilifying Miliband’s. After a while – and in accordance with Goebbels’ (Cameron is a big fan of Goebbels) claims about The Big Lie – people start believing the claims they see most often.

This is why Conservative claims must be challenged at every opportunity from now on. Whenever a Tory puts forward a policy in the papers, on the Internet and social media or wherever, let’s try to put the questions in front of them that deflate their claims. It has been said that a lie can go around the world before the truth gets out of bed; let’s kill The Big Lie before it can get its shoes on.

Secondly, nobody This Writer knows is saying anything at all about “ruthlessly efficient” Tories. This lot are about as stupid as they come. It’s just a shame – and this was a constant problem for bloggers like Yr Obdt Srvt – that nobody in the Labour leadership saw fit to counter the silly Tory claims with a few ounces of fact. Therefore we must conclude that, not only are the Tories monumental imbeciles; most of Labour were, as well.

This is why the Conservative Party as a whole should be undermined at every opportunity. Whenever they make bold claims about their record – especially against that of the last Labour government – let’s put up a few embarrassing facts to pull the wool out from under them.

Finally, nobody but the SNP and its supporters is making any claim that the SNP’s “tidal wave” – alone – stopped Labour. As This Writer has already mentioned (and the election result was only known yesterday), the Conservative Party used the threat of an SNP surge to put fear into Middle England that “loonie-left” Labour would ally with these crazed Caledonians, to the detriment of the nation. Amazingly, people were gullible enough to believe it.

But you don’t have to take This Writer’s word for it. Here’s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, from his latest Mainly Macro article [italics mine]:

“Why do I say Cameron is lucky? First, largely by chance (but also because other countries had been undertaking fiscal austerity), UK growth in 2014 was the highest among major economies. This statistic was played for all it was worth. Second, although (in reality) modest growth was not enough to raise real incomes, just in the nick of time oil prices fell, so real wages have now begun to rise. Third, playing the game of shutting down part of the economy so that you can boast when it starts up again is a dangerous game, and you need a bit of fortune to get it right. (Of course if there really was no plan, and the recovery was delayed through incompetence, then he is luckier still.)

“The Scottish independence referendum in September last year was close. 45% of Scots voted in September to leave the UK. One of the major push factors was the Conservative-led government. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014, it would have been a disaster for Cameron: after all, the full title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That was his first piece of Scottish fortune. The second was that the referendum dealt a huge blow to Labour in Scotland. Labour are far from blameless here, and their support had been gradually declining, but there can be no doubt that the aftermath of the referendum lost them many Scottish seats, and therefore reduced their seat total in the UK.

“Yet that led to a third piece of luck. The SNP tidal wave in Scotland gave him one additional card he could play to his advantage: English nationalism. The wall of sound coming from the right wing press about how the SNP would hold Miliband to ransom was enough to get potential UKIP supporters to vote Conservative in sufficient numbers for him to win the election.”

While I’m not convinced about the UKIP claim (UKIP’s vote share enjoyed the largest increase of any of the parties in Thursday’s election) the rest rings true.

You have already heard an awful lot of hogwash about the reasons for the Conservative Party’s slim win. Don’t believe everything you hear.

It’s long past time that facts and evidence were reintroduced to politics.

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Balls blasts Osborne’s EU surcharge ‘fog and bluster’

Not impressed: Members of the Labour front bench display their incredulity at George Osborne's claims during today's debate.

Not impressed: Members of the Labour front bench display their incredulity at George Osborne’s claims during today’s debate.

It’s always fun to see George Osborne being put on the back foot, and today’s attempt at justifying his over-extravagant claims (or indeed lies) about gaining a concession from Europe over its £1.7 billion surcharge was a classic of its kind – even more so because he allowd himself to be flattered into lying to Parliament.

This blog was one of many who challenged his claim within minutes of it having been made, so it was a joy to see Osborne dragged to the House of Commons to answer Ed Balls’ urgent question – a demand for a statement on the matter in which Osborne repeated the claims we’ve heard before: He’d halved the bill, he’d delayed the bill, he’ll pay no interest on the bill.

We know he hasn’t halved it; all that happened was the EU took pity on him and agreed to bring forward a rebate that was coming to the UK in any event, meaning that – instead of receiving some money back from the Union – we’re just paying less in.

It is likely that pity also applied in the decision to delay payment of the bill until the next financial year – one can picture the scene: Osborne imploring, “Please don’t make me pay! The deficit is already out of control this year and you’re asking me to add another billion to it!” – and the decision not to demand interest for every day’s non-payment after December 1. In fact, with an agreement to defer payment until the 2015-16 financial year, it would be unfair to demand such interest.

Having won those concessions from a position of weakness, Osborne’s mistake was to come back and pretend that he was in a position of strength. Nobody believed him.

Today, in the House of Commons chamber, even his own backbenchers seemed to find it hard to put up the pretence. Meanwhile, Mr Balls had the floor:

He began: “Talk about smoke and mirrors, Mr Speaker—I can barely see you through the Chancellor’s fog and bluster!”

He quoted the Austrian, Dutch and Irish finance ministers, saying: “They are queuing up to contradict the Chancellor.

“Is it not now clear that the Chancellor totally failed to get a better deal for the taxpayer?” he asked. “He did not reduce Britain’s backdated bill by a single penny. The British people don’t like being taken for fools, and his attempts to fool them have totally unravelled.”

Labour backbencher Geoffrey Robinson had to withdraw his words after claiming Osborne had committed “a gross act of deception worthy more of Goebbels than the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.” Clearly he is a long-term reader of this blog.

Paul Flynn called Osborne’s “result” – as the Chance(llo)r described it – as “a confidence trick”.

Osborne and his pals were deep in their own narrative by then, whining about details of the rebate and the interest rate on the surcharge, and trying to score points with questions about Labour MPs’ loyalty to their leader. Somebody should have told them that a couple of Labour MPs complaining about Ed Miliband is as nothing, compared to the defection of two Tory MPs to UKIP and calls by a further – 22, was it? – for David Cameron’s resignation or removal.

Oh yes… and a Mr James Arbuthnot seemed to think that the surcharge, which came about because the UK economy had performed better than expected over a period of time, was “because of the stunningly impressive handling of the economy by my right hon. Friend”.

To this, Osborne responded: “One of the reasons why this surcharge, as he puts it, has arisen is because of the strong UK economic performance relative to the continent of Europe.” If he had left it there, we would not be able to call this statement what it was. He didn’t; he added: “We should not be happy about the poor performance of the European continent. We want the European continent to be performing better.”

The second part of his statement makes it clear that he is referring to the recent performance of the continental EU countries, meaning that he was applying comments about the UK’s “strong economic performance” to the period when he was Chancellor.

He was lying to Parliament. We all know that the surcharge has arisen because of the UK’s strong economic performance between 2002 and 2009, when Labour was in office, under chancellors named Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. It had nothing to do with anyone called Osborne.

Having established that lie, there really isn’t any need to go further into the debate. There is no reason to believe anything Osborne says. The Goebbels reference – not permitted in the Commons chamber – is entirely apt; he was trying to feed us The Big Lie.

He failed.

Never mind, George – you’ve succeeded in halving wage growth!

What a shame that it isn’t likely to be a vote-winner for you.

Postscript: Ed Balls is also to be congratulated for his handling of Martha Kearney on the BBC’s The World At One today (Monday). Ms Kearney was in belligerent mood, keen to interrupt Mr Balls before he could make any meaningful points about Labour’s economic plans. He was trying to make the perfectly reasonable point that the UK can clear its debts by building up the economy, but she dismissed this as a project that would take many years to pay off (thanks for the vote of confidence, Martha!) and pressed him to tell her what cuts he would make when he had already clarified what he would rather do instead.

Then she asked why he had not supported the #WeBackEd campaign on Twitter. He pointed out that he had made his support for Mr Miliband perfectly clear in a radio interview at the end of last week, before that campaign had started. “I think that was a silly question,” he concluded – and she had to admit defeat.

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Don’t blame the poor when the rich are bleeding you dry

bluelabour

You know that things have come to a pretty pass when Labour Party supporters turn against the poor.

This has happened at a time when the number of people with money to spare has dropped dramatically, meaning more of our people have become poor.

The change may reasonably be blamed on Labour’s adherence to Liam Byrne’s diabolical welfare policy, that aims to continue where the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats leave off – demonising people who have done nothing wrong, unless you count illness, disability and unemployment as a personal choice.

It suggests that people of good heart are leaving the party in large numbers, allowing those who are left to turn it into what its critics have claimed it to be for a considerable time now: Tory Lite.

The change is identified in a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that showed 47 per cent of Labour supporters surveyed in 2011 thought that, if benefits were less generous, people would learn to support themselves – up from 17 per cent in 1987.

The fact of the matter, of course, is that benefits are much less generous now than they were in the 1980s. In 1987, unemployment benefits totalled around 20 per cent of the average weekly wage; now they come to around 10 per cent – around half of what they were. But Labour supporters – Labour! – say they are too generous.

It looks like the Tories really are brainwashing people with their nonsense rhetoric, as repeated in newspapers that Labour supporters shouldn’t be reading, like The Sun and the Daily Mail. That good friend of the Conservative Party, Joseph Goebbels, was right – “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Of course, Goebbels added: “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent.”

So those of us who are interested in the facts may be looking forward to hard times. It’s still better than being a fair-weather friend of social justice – only interested in the good of our fellows if it doesn’t impact on us.

But it is already impacting on everybody!

The Office for National Statistics, using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures, has reported that the UK has plummeted down the international league table of economic well-being, from fifth to 12th within the six years up to 2011.

On a separate labour-market ranking, the country fell even further, dropping 12 places. In the labour market league table it ranked 21st out of 34 countries. Top of the league was Norway, which has just three per cent unemployment and, as I understand it, a thriving welfare state. Think about that.

The ONS noted changes to taxes and benefits as key factors in the drop.

This morning, one of Vox‘s longest-serving commentators reported that there is a change among the people around him; that those who argued against his criticism of the Conservative-led government are now turning to the Left. If so, it seems they are not turning to Labour.

Recently we have witnessed a movement to form a new political movement, representing socialist views but untarnished by the memory of New Labour’s 13 years of Neoliberal mistakes. Several contenders have cropped up but none of them will carry any weight at the next general election – instead, all they are likely to do is sap enough votes from Labour to let the Conservatives back into office again. That would be a calamity for the country.

No, the best thing to do is to take Labour back for the people it was meant to serve. First step in that direction must be to consign Liam Byrne and his vile mess of a welfare policy to the back benches, and design a new plan, attacking the causes of unemployment and workplace sickness and disability, rather than their symptoms. This is simple logic.

And we need to get people into the shadow cabinet who have actually held proper jobs. Look at Ed Miliband: Oxford graduate – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Ed Balls: Oxford graduate (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Douglas Alexander: University graduate – six-month career as a solicitor – Westminster. Yvette Cooper: Oxford (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – Westminster researcher job for Labour. Andy Burnham: Cambridge – researcher for Tessa Jowell. Many of these also went to Harvard.

Liam Byrne, the demon of the Labour Party: University (Politics and Modern History at Manchester) – Harvard – then work for a multinational consulting firm (Accenture) and then the Rothschild merchant bankers(!) before going to Labour to help lead its ‘New Labour’ business campaign. This man has nothing whatsoever to do with real working people.

When everybody in a particular group – in business, politics, socially, whatever – is from the same background, they tend to agree about key subjects. From the above group we can see that many of the Labour front bench have followed exactly the same career path. What do they know about working-class people? At least two of them – Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, no less – graduated from the same Oxford degree course as David Cameron, the comedy Prime Minister.

No wonder people are having a hard time distinguishing between the two main parties and want a left-wing alternative.

It’s time for Labour to grow up and realise it needs to change. It must come back to its voting base and start to represent the people of the UK once again – rather than Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard graduates. If Ed Miliband wants to keep his position, he needs to clear out his shadow cabinet and get some fresh thinkers in. Someone recently mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s ‘cabinet of enemies’, and the fact that it was good for him to have opposing views at the heart of his government.

Until we get that in the Labour Party, maybe we should agree that the ‘Tory Lite’ criticisms are accurate.

What are you going to do about it, Labour?

The BBC: helping the Tories force-feed falsehoods to the masses

"Nation shall speak peace unto nation" according to the BBC's motto. But it seems that same nation's public service broadcaster shall speak lies unto its own people. Why?

“Nation shall speak peace unto nation” according to the BBC’s motto. But it seems that same nation’s public service broadcaster shall speak lies unto its own people. Why?

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.

The benefit cap WILL happen – but we don’t need to believe the Tories’ Big Lie

Big liar: Iain Duncan Smith, last week.

Big liar: Iain Duncan Smith, last week.

A little while ago, somebody said: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

It’s a comment that could have been tailor-made for the Coalition government, in the run-up to tomorrow’s debate and vote on the plan to break the link between benefits and inflation, ensuring that those on benefits fall further into poverty as the years pass.

Why? Because ministers have been preparing the ground by demonising benefits claimants – getting the public to believe not only lies, but huge lies about the level of benefits and who gets them.

They’ll get what they want – the Coalition between Tories and Liberal Democrats creates a majority in the House of Commons. In theory they can do what they want. But they know that public opinion will swing against them – and stay against them – unless the people can be softened-up with a few juicy non-facts.

Vox Political has already uncovered some of these lies. More have been found by the Trades Union Congress in a recent poll which reveals some of the “myths” the public has been fed about those who rely on benefits.

So, as we go into the debate, let’s look at some of these myths. The people spreading them are the usual suspects – George Osborne gave us his story about “the shiftworker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next-door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits”; and Iain Duncan Smith has highlighted figures showing that, in percentage terms, benefits have risen by almost twice as much as earnings in the past five years. In fact, as demonstrated in this blog, this simply means that benefits as a proportion of earnings have remained at the same level. It’s a manipulation of statistics in order to mislead the unwary. Were you caught?

A YouGov poll found 42 per cent of people think benefits are too generous.

It discovered 59 per cent believe the system has created a culture of dependency.

But just give those people a few cast-iron facts and their beliefs change drastically.

The plan to cap benefit rises at one per cent was supported by 48 per cent and opposed by 32 per cent – but only because three out of every four people asked believed the “myth” that it was the unemployed that would take the hit. When told that 60 per cent of those affected will be low-paid workers receiving tax credits (fact), the move is opposed by a margin of 40 per cent to 30 per cent.

Only one in four believe benefits should rise be less than wages or prices, and 63 per cent want to see them linked to wages, prices or both (in other words, keep them as they are – precisely the opposite of what Herrs Osborne and Smith are pursuing).

The TUC poll found:

People think 41 per cent of the entire welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people, while the true figure is just three per cent.

They think 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently, while the government’s own figure is 0.7 per cent.

They think that almost half the people (48 per cent) who claim Jobseeker’s Allowance go on to claim it for more than a year, while the true figure is just under 30 per cent (27.8 per cent).

They think an unemployed couple with two school-age children would get £147 in Jobseeker’s Allowance – more than 30 per cent higher than the £111.45 they would actually receive – a £35 over-calculation.

Only 21 per cent of people think that this family with two school-age children would be better off if one of the unemployed parents got a 30 hour a week minimum wage job. They would actually end up £138 a week better off – in other words, they’d have more than twice as much money. Even those who thought they would be better off only thought on average they would gain by £59.

Yes, you’ve been told lies.

Yes, they’re big lies.

What might surprise you is the amount of time the Tories, in particular, have been telling these lies.

I am indebted to skwalker1964, who pointed me towards the pro-Tory ‘research trust’ Reform. This organisation published a press release as far back as 2009, claiming that Britain had a welfare “dependency problem”.

It said benefit “gimmicks” – among which it numbered child benefit, winter fuel allowance, maternity pay and tax credits – were “benefiting nobody”.

And it called for an end to universal benefits (such as child benefit, which stopped being a universal benefit today) and the localisation of welfare (as demanded in a ‘blueprint for the next Conservative manifesto’ being promoted by 70 Tories including Michael Gove and David Willetts).

In 2009.

So you see, the person who made the comment at the top of this piece really knew what he was talking about. Who was he, again?

Oh, yes.

He was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

And he was paraphrasing his own boss, Adolf Hitler.

Plus Ca Change (or: The More Times Change, The More Tories Stay The Same)

I’ve just found the following fascinating snippet in a recording of the BBC’s News Quiz, c 1993. It’s a reference to a cock-up by then Social Security secretary Peter Lilley, that was revealed right around the time of the Conservative Party Conference that year.

“Peter Lilley had a very successful Blackshirt Rally- Blackpool Rally – in which he made one of those caring, sensitive speeches about how the loss of money and the budget deficit was all the fault of three single mothers in Cardiff,” said Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

“But then it transpired rather amusingly that his own department had managed to lose, entirely by incompetence, about £331 million, which is more money than all his stupid measures would have saved anyway.”

The legendary Barry Took, chairing the show, explained: “It is Peter Lilley and his team at the DSS. They’ve managed to overspend a massive sum from the welfare benefits, so would the person who received the Giro for £331 million and 48p please send it back to Mr Lilley or to any of his immediate staff: Eva, Unity or Benito.

“It was of course Mr Lilley who attacked scroungers of all sorts, and especially the growth in claims from single mothers, so any young woman thinking of getting into that condition should think again, and stay away from cabinet ministers.”

Now we have Chris Grayling at the Department for Work and Pensions – a man dubbed ‘Goebbels’ by the media, after Nazi Germany’s propoganda minister, in an apt (and entirely coincidental) follow-up to the News Quiz reference to Hitler (Barry Took’s comment namechecked Hitler’s wife Eva Braun, along with Unity Mitford and Benito Mussolini; and Ian Hislop’s reference to Blackshirts was a comparison with Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists before World war Two).

Grayling’s department awarded a contract to Atos Origin that was worth £801 million over a 10-year period, to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on claimants of sickness and disability benefits, at which people with terminal illnesses or severe medical conditions have been declared fit for work and had their benefits cut.

The cost of appeals against Atos decisions is running at £50 million per year, and the number of successful appeals is currently around 40 per cent, according to The Guardian.

So, this time, we’re already up to nearly £1 billion (£801 million plus around two years of appeals against decisions) wasted on the latest attempt to demonise “scroungers”.  The language is exactly the same as in 1993, although it is now being used to attack the sick and disabled, rather than single mums.

And the situation is exactly the same. The Coalition wants to cut £9.2 billion from sickness and disability payments but is already on course to spend far more in the attempt, due to – in my opinion, and I’m sure I’m not alone – incompetence.

The more times change, the more Tories stay the same. It would be pathetic if it wasn’t so dangerous.

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