Tag Archives: Mansion House

Mark Field breached ministerial code by grabbing protester. What is his punishment?

Abusive: Mark Field said he acted in the belief that a peaceful, female Greenpeace protester might be about to do violence. But – in this image – who is attacking whom?

How nice. We now have proof that Mark Field went too far when he did this:

Now: what punishment has he received?

None?

Not good enough. He behaved atrociously and should be punished appropriately. Right?

A former Tory MP breached the ministerial code by using force against a climate protester at a black-tie City dinner, a government investigation has found.

Mark Field, who stood down from parliament after being suspended as a Foreign Office minister, grabbed a Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, by the neck and forced her out of the event.

After reviewing footage of the incident and the comments of interviewees, the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, found “that the actions Field took, and the force he used, were not consistent with the high standards of behaviour expected of ministers and with treating Barker with consideration and respect. As such it was a breach of the ministerial code.”

Source: Mark Field found to have breached code by grabbing protester | Politics | The Guardian

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Apparently Boris Johnson has no problem with his MPs abusing women

Abusive: Mark Field said he acted in the belief that a peaceful, female Greenpeace protester might be about to do violence. But – in this image – who is attacking whom?

Boris Johnson has quietly dropped a cabinet office investigation into the way former Foreign Office minister Mark Field manhandled a protester during the recent Mansion House dinner.

BoJob seems to think the investigation is no longer needed because he sacked Mr Field from his government role last week (he had been suspended by Theresa May shortly after the incident). According to The Guardian:

Boris Johnson has dropped the Whitehall investigation into Mark Field, the Tory MP who was caught on camera manhandling a Greenpeace activist out of a black-tie dinner.

Johnson has sacked Field from his role as a Foreign Office minister since taking over as prime minister and decided that the investigation was no longer needed.

A No 10 spokesman said: “Mark Field has now left the government. The current PM considers this issue was a matter for the previous PM concerning his conduct during his time as a minister under her appointment.”

But there’s just one problem:

Mr Field remains a Conservative MP. Is this

– really what Mr Johnson considers acceptable behaviour among his backbenchers?

I don’t.

If you do, read this to refresh your memory.

Activist Janet Barker, of Builth Wells, said after the MP assaulted her that she would not press charges, but that Mr Field should attend an anger management course:

Bear in mind that Ms Barker revealed that after he shoved her out of the Mansion House, Mr Field said: “This is what happens when people like you disturb our dinner!”

I wrote at the time: “Make no mistake; when this man said “people like you” to Janet Barker, he meant people like you, dear reader.

“He meant members of the general public who are harmed by Tory policies. He thinks your place is to suffer in silence while he and his kind eat slap-up meals, bought by causing that suffering. He is a fairly typical Conservative in that respect.”

I sincerely hope Ms Barker makes a complaint to the police. It isn’t too late!

And will this have an effect on the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election?

We now have further evidence that Tories can’t be trusted to do anything for ordinary people – but will always cover up for their mates.

In Brecon and Radnorshire, convicted criminal Chris Davies is hoping to win back the seat for the Conservatives.

We already know he is corrupt – that’s why he was convicted.

Considering the behaviour of Mr Field – and now Mr Johnson – one hopes voters will draw the obvious conclusion…

And treat the Tories like the abusive thugs they are.

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This rural Mid Wales constituency is now the focus of UK politics. Here are the reasons

“Where?” Boris Johnson may need a geography lesson to find out the location of the constituency that could make a monkey of him (or even Jeremy Hunt).

Isn’t it frightening that both remaining candidates in the Tory leadership contest have names that can be perverted into terms for genital organs?

We have Boris Johnson on one side – a ‘johnson’ being a slang term for male parts; and on the other side, Jeremy C… Hunt, whose surname has been mispronounced so many times that no further elaboration should be necessary.

Does this mean that, no matter who wins, the UK is f***ed?

It may not make much difference, if current developments in This Writer’s home constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire run their course. Not only is it now to be the location of a by-election that may break the Conservatives as a credible political organisation, but it is also the home of the woman who was brutalised by a Conservative MP at the recent Mansion House dinner.

Janet Barker, of Builth Wells in the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, was taking part in a peaceful protest against climate change when Mark Field grabbed her by the throat and marched her out, his face a picture of privileged Tory fury.

Mr Field has since apologised but he has already done the damage. Here’s Ms Barker saying he needs to take an anger management course:

What a proud advert for Conservatism Mr Field is! In this Guardian article, Ms Barker reveals that after he shoved her out of the Mansion House, Mr Field said: “This is what happens when people like you disturb our dinner!”

Make no mistake; when this man said “people like you” to Janet Barker, he meant people like you, dear reader.

He meant members of the general public who are harmed by Tory policies. He thinks your place is to suffer in silence while he and his kind eat slap-up meals, bought by causing that suffering. He is a fairly typical Conservative in that respect.

Two more fairly typical Conservatives are Chris Davies and Glyn Davies, the disgraced now-former Tory MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and the current Tory MP for neighbouring Montgomeryshire.

The latter seems to think the former has “suffered enough”, as the old saying about Tories caught in wrong-doing used to go, and that he should stand for re-election to the Brecon and Radnorshire seat.

He told the BBC: “There is a process. There is a parliamentary process – we’ve gone through that process… I would vote for Chris to be the candidate. We have processes.”

Gibberish!

Personally, I think Mr (Chris) Davies should stand again for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Consider the mathematics here. One-fifth of the total electorate voted to push him out. A further half of the voters are unlikely to even turn out, as this is a by-election (look at the recent Peterborough result). This means Mr Davies would have to try to get a proportion of the remaining 16,000 or so votes – from Tories who are likely to think he made them all look bad (he did) and ‘Leave’ supporters who will probably see the Brexit Party as a better option.

A Tory with an unblemished record would stand a better chance, I would have thought.

Perhaps there aren’t any left.

I wonder what Ms Barker thinks of these shenanigans?

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Tory minister suspended after he grabbed Greenpeace activist by the throat

Attack: Mark Field said he acted in the belief that a peaceful, female Greenpeace protester might be about to do violence. But – in this image – who is attacking who?

If you had not heard of Mark Field before today, nobody could blame you.

The only reference to him on This Site is from 2014, when he was named as one of many Conservative MPs with a stake in private health companies who was therefore likely to profit by allowing those firms to provide NHS services.

It’s a reasonable bet that you’ll have heard of him now, though – he has become infamous overnight after he grabbed a female Greenpeace activist by the throat and forcibly ejected her from the Mansion House, where she was taking part in a climate change protest at the annual dinner for bankers and politicians where Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was making a speech.

As I type this, it is emerging that (caretaker) prime minister Theresa May has suspended Mr Field from his job as a Foreign Office minister, due to his apparent behaviour in this incident.

Let’s look at the video footage, courtesy of ITV reporter Paul Brand:

Mr Brand’s subsequent thread is worth reading:

Take note of that – he says she did not appear to present any immediate threat. That is important when considering the subsequent protestations of people like Peter Bottomley.

Not half!

No complaint has (yet) been made to the police. But fellow activist Hannah Martin has tweeted this statement:

Some Tories rushed to defend Mr Field’s behaviour, quoting bizarre reasons. Peter Bottomley was quoted by The Mirror as saying it was justified because “a person could be carrying a collapsible truncheon”. Mr Bottomley added: “He intervened. I congratulate him for that. I would have done the same.”

Have a look at the footage again and ask yourself where she could have been hiding a truncheon. In her (tiny) handbag?

Here’s Mike Hurst, who labels himself as a security professional, standing up for Mr Field – and being thrown a truth bomb by another Twitter user:

How about this comment – and the response from a formerly battered wife:

Mr Field himself has released the following statement: “In the confusion many guests understandably felt threatened and when one protester rushed past me towards the top table I instinctively reacted.

“There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she might have been armed.

“As a result I grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible.”

“Grasped the intruder firmly”? He slammed her against a pillar.

He added: “I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.”

The “Tory Racism” Twitter account has slowed the footage and added a commentary – making the important point that not one person out of the 350 at the dinner lifted a single finger to help the peaceful protester who was being manhandled out of the room by a man who had gone for her throat:

This lack of intervention has been roundly condemned:

Tim O’Seery tweeted: “I actually find this quite harrowing. He brutalised this young woman while the rest of the Chinless Wonders just sat there and watched. This was assault and people have a Public Duty to prevent this sort of thing happening, if they can.”

Mr Field’s action is even more questionable when one examines his own – expressed – attitude to climate change. In a tweet just two weeks ago, he stated: “Climate security must be at the heart of foreign policy work at a global level. I am grateful for Germany’s action in shining a spotlight on this issue at the Climate and Security Conference yesterday and look forward to continuing our work together.”

To this, ‘Geri the Gerbil’ appended: “As long as they don’t interrupt my dinner.”

Of course there is a political aspect to this:

A petition has been launched to get Mr Field sacked:

Last word on this (for now) should go to Tom Clark of Another Angry Voice:

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Damning #Brexit memo is a wake-up call for us all – including its authors

Theresa May delivers her Mansion House speech, but nobody's listening: Brexit has already made her the laughing stock of the world.

Theresa May delivers her Mansion House speech, but nobody’s listening: Brexit has already made her the laughing stock of the world.

Members of ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloittes may be waking up to an uncomfortable truth about their friends in the Conservative Government today (November 15) – that a Tory will turn on anyone.

The firm has spent six years helping the Conservatives push their punitive agenda of cuts and privatisation but – after a memo on ‘Brexit’ was leaked to the press – suddenly the Tories don’t recognise Deloittes’ work.

This is despite the apparent fact that the consultant from the firm who wrote the report (titled ‘Brexit update’) was working for the Cabinet Office, according to The Times.

The memo said Whitehall departments were working on more than 500 projects related to leaving the EU and may need to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants to deal with the additional work. That would undo much of the Tories’ work in shrinking the civil service, of course.

It identified a tendency by Theresa May to “draw in decisions and settle matters herself” as a strategy that could not be sustained, and highlighted a split between the three Brexit ministers – Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis – and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and his ally Greg Clark, the business secretary as “divisions within the cabinet”. So the Conservative Party is divided again – and we know that divided parties don’t win.

It said major industry players were expected to “point a gun to the government’s head” to get what they wanted after Nissan was given assurances that it would not lose out from investing in Britain after Brexit. We all knew this already.

Perhaps most damningly, it stated that “no common strategy has emerged” on Brexit, despite extended debate among the permanent secretaries who head Whitehall departments.

This is not what the Conservatives want the public to hear, so of course they have disowned the memo, claiming it was “unsolicited”, was not a government memo and the government rejected its contents. They would, wouldn’t they?

The government also tried to smear the memo’s authors by claiming it was a pitch for business – but then, government departments habitually ask firms to submit such work, so this is not proof that the memo was not requested by ministers.

The fact that it fell to Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling – the Transport Secretary – to pass these comments lends them no authenticity whatsoever.

David Davis is the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – what does he have to say about it? Nothing.

Grayling said he had no idea where the report came from and denied that it had been commissioned by ministers. But then, what would he know about it? He’s the Transport Secretary.

His comments – like “I have a team of people in my department who are working with David Davis on issues like aviation, but I do not see the scale of the challenge that is in today’s newspaper” – are those of a man who is only seeing part of the project, rather than the whole.

Meanwhile, in her Mansion House speech, prime minister Theresa May told an audience of dozing businesspeople that Brexit was an opportunity for the UK to “step up” to a new “global role”.

As what? The world’s clown?

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PM pilloried by senior Labour figure ahead of ’empty’ Mansion House speech

Jon Trickett [Image: LabourList].

Jon Trickett [Image: LabourList].


According to Jon Trickett, Theresa May “talks about leading Europe, but has no plan for Brexit.

“She talks about extending opportunity, but Britain’s working people are worse off.

“And she talks about transforming the economy, but all that is on offer is more cuts, poor investment and little, if any, growth.”

And he’s right on every point.

Can anybody suggest a reason anyone should support a failed Prime Minister like Theresa May?

Theresa May “simply represents more of the same failed politics” and “only Labour can offer real change for a better way”, Jon Trickett has said.

Trickett, Labour’s shadow lord president of the council, has launched an attack of the Prime Minister’s record ahead of her speech tonight at Mansion House. May will use her address tonight to tell business leaders about the UK will use its strength to improve trading relations with “old allies and new partners alike” after leaving the European Union.

But Trickett says that it is another empty speech that fails to say what her plan for Brexit actually is, and is undermined by her actions.

Source: Trickett: Britain faces “national decline” under Theresa May | LabourList

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Why SHOULD the government suck money OUT of the economy?

George Osborne: Mouth open, mind shut.

George Osborne: Mouth open, mind shut.

Economists are probably lining up right now to demonstrate that George Osborne is a fool.

The Chancellor is trying to persuade us that aiming for an immediate budget surplus is good policy. Experts disagree.

Very quick off the mark is Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his Mainly Macro blog. He has already pointed out that fiscal tightening is a terrible idea when interest rates are at their zero lower bound (ZLB), as they are at the moment – if economic growth falters, then monetary policy cannot come to the rescue because interest rates are already as low as they can be.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reckons that there’s no reason for the government to reduce debt from its current level of 80 per cent of GDP, as long as the market is happy to keep buying it up. This Writer has issues with that, because it is not advisable for the UK or any other country to become a debt-servicing economy. However, the principle that there is no need for drastic action is sound.

Professor Wren-Lewis also examined a few of the current arguments in support of Osborne and rubbished them in his usual amiable way:

Osborne’s plan may provide scope for dealing with further ‘Great Recessions’ without running out of what the IMF calls “fiscal space” (the amount of extra debt into which the UK could fall before there was any need for serious concern) – but this would demand that ‘Great Recessions’ take place much more often in the future than the past.

The claim that we should reduce the debt burden for future generations is dismissed as perverse, as it means “the costs of reducing debt would largely fall on the same generation that suffered as a result of the Great Recession”.

Leading on from this, he points out that any claim that an individual would want to pay their debts down quickly is not accurate, for the very good reason that nations are not like individuals; they are more like corporations. Firms live with permanent debt because that debt has paid for the capital purchases they have made: “The state has plenty of productive capital…. If we paid back most government debt within a generation, we would be giving that capital to later generations without them making any contribution towards it.”

From here it is fairly easy to see that selling off national assets (like the Royal Mail or Eurostar – or any of the profit-making utility firms, back in the 1980s) is a bad idea, because the national corporation (the UK) then fails to benefit from the proceeds of all its investment. The railways are an even worse case, because the country is subsidising them with more money than when they were a nationalised industry, but receives none of the profits.

Narrow down your definition of what is happening even further and we see that George Osborne is making the poor pay – with squeezes on benefits – in order to allow the rich to benefit; they will own the assets that the government is selling off while paying nothing towards the capital costs discussed above.

So – unless you are one of the very few people rich enough to profit from Osborne’s policy, do you really want to support him now?

This blog would be particularly interested in hearing from working people who voted Conservative last month:

Did you realise that Osborne would be penalising you and your descendants?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Mansion House speech: Mr MicOsborne takes his bow

George Osborne’s latest policies towards debt appear to follow the Micawber Principle Photograph: HultonGetty.com

Here’s an amusing piece by Heather Stewart, comparing George Osborne to Mr Micawber, from Dickens’ David Copperfield.

Micawber’s maxim was that balancing income and expenditure was the way to happiness – although he couldn’t seem to manage this miracle himself for most of his literary life.

Ms Stewart takes great pleasure in showing us similarities between Micawber and Osborne – they both like to overdramatize their situation so, for example, Osborne pretended the UK was close to a Greek-style bankruptcy crisis when he knew perfectly well that it is practically impossible for this country to fall into a similar situation.

They both tend to sell off anything that isn’t nailed down – look at the Crown’s remaining share of the Royal Mail; and they are both keen to carry out their plans immediately (in Osborne’s case, most probably, because he wants it all done before anybody can find a legal means to stop him).

However:

The two men are not united on all matters:

While Micawber advises Copperfield to trim his expenditure to suit his income, Micawber’s own approach is rather different. He finally triumphs over adversity by borrowing the price of a ticket to Australia (from Copperfield’s aunt, Betsey Trotwood), and starting a new, and as it turns out profitable, life, which allows him to pay off all his debts back home.

Without too much of a stretch, we might call that borrowing to invest – just the kind of fecklessness Osborne will now legislate to ban.

Source: Mansion House speech: Mr Micawber meets Mr Osborne | Politics | The Guardian

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George Osborne’s financial plans are confused and childish

141204osbornetestfailed

Why do commentators like The Guardian think George Osborne’s plans will make life hard for his political opponents, when they are specifically designed to increase inequality and reduce prosperity across the UK?

You’d have to be an economic imbecile not to understand that his plan for permanent budget surpluses will shrink the national economy, while his tax breaks for the very rich and corporations mean the money that remains will float upwards to the very few people favoured by those changes.

If you don’t understand, think of it this way: Governments create money – they have to, otherwise you wouldn’t have any to spend or pay in taxes. The pound in your pocket had to come from somewhere, and while it may originally have been supported by precious metals or minerals of equivalent value, those days are far behind us.

So, governments create money and invest it in the national economy. If all goes to plan, the money circulates, gaining value on the way through, until it is reclaimed by the government as tax revenue. Even if the amount of tax claimed back was as much as the original value of the money, the economy should still have grown by however much extra value the money has accrued during its journey (the ‘multiplier’ effect).

Osborne wants to take back more money than his government releases. This means somebody will have to lose out – and the system of tax breaks and permitted tax avoidance for the rich (Tory Party donors) means it is going to be the people who do the actual work, who are searching for work, or who are unable to work because of illness, who will be unfairly penalised by this plan.

He can’t claim any of the credit for it, either – it was all worked out back in the 1970s by Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley. Their plan was to create insecurity among those who have to work for a living in order to increase the gap between the amount they earned and the amount their bosses earned. Thatcher lied about this, right up to her very last day as Prime Minister.

The Guardian‘s article on Osborne’s Mansion House speech says that he will challenge the Labour Party “to decide whether it wants to back the proposal that tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government”.

Why? Labour does not have to accept the premise of the question. Important conditions are omitted from it.

For example, if Labour was asked to back the proposal, along with plans to ensure that minimum wages would always be able to cover the cost of living – without the government subsidising employers in tax credits, landlords in housing benefit or lenders in subsidies to the City of London, that would be a far more enticing proposition. But Osborne isn’t offering that.

If Labour was asked to back the proposal on the condition that the extra money necessary to reduce the deficit and debt came from those who could most easily afford it – the corporations and shareholders who are currently reaping the benefits of five years of Conservative economic mismanagement, that would be far more interesting. But Osborne isn’t offering that.

Furthermore, Osborne can only dictate what his government will do. He can’t tell Labour what to do if Labour wins the next election because no government can bind the next. Any claim that he can do otherwise is a lie.

But then, we have already been shown that he has been lying. He will say: “The result of this recent British election – and the comprehensive rejection of those who argued for more borrowing and more spending – gives our nation the chance to entrench a new settlement.”

This is a jab at Labour’s plan to run a surplus on day-to-day spending, but to borrow for investment projects. This is not “more borrowing and more spending”, as Osborne describes it, but investment with a view to see profits in the future. That business principle has been around since commerce began – it’s how most Tory donors operate. Osborne is a hypocrite to scorn it.

But then, Osborne has borrowed more money in five years than every Labour Chancellor put together. That’s hypocrisy on a grand scale!

The Guardian article continues: “During the election, Labour struggled to cope with the accusation that it had spent and borrowed too much in the years leading up to the financial crisis. Some of the contenders to replace Ed Miliband as opposition leader have said subsequently the public finances should have been in a healthy state in the last years of a 15-year period of economic expansion lasting from 1992 to 2007.”

This indicates confusion on the part of the article’s author. Labour did not borrow and spend too much in the run-up to the financial crisis; the nation’s finances were in a much healthier state than at any time under Conservative control in the previous 40 years – and let’s not forget that the Conservatives supported Labour’s spending plans throughout this period.

Furthermore, the crisis was caused by bankers who were too loosely regulated, granting loans irresponsibly to people who could not pay them back. At the time, the Conservative Party was pushing Labour to deregulate banks even further.

So we know that the financial crisis would have been much, much worse if the Conservatives had been in office at the time. Osborne’s criticism of Labour is in extremely poor taste.

Talking of extremely poor taste, here’s more of Osborne’s speech. It seems he wants “a settlement where it is accepted across the political spectrum that without sound public finances, there is no economic security for working people; that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest; and that therefore, in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.”

Like all clever lies, this contains a few truths. He’s right that without sound public finances, there’s no security for working people. Osborne’s plan for the public finances is particularly unsound – and targets people who have to work for a living with particular hardship.

But it is not necessarily true that the poorest suffer most when governments run unsustainable deficits. This government has singled out the poorest for suffering because it wants to ensure rich Tory donors can continue enriching the Tory party – we are living in extremely corrupt times.

His final claim – that all governments should cut debt to prepare for “an uncertain future” would have more weight if Conservative governments had not created much of that uncertainty themselves, by dismantling the UK’s industrial base and relying instead on the financial sector that let us all down so badly.

Osborne is full of hot air – but his plan won’t fly.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Work Programme providers’ plea is an insult to everyone they have mishandled

The truth about the Work Programme: The BBC's piece of 'managed' news was among the most despicable distortions to have blemished our TV screens.

The truth about the Work Programme: The BBC’s piece of ‘managed’ news was among the most despicable distortions to have blemished our TV screens.

It isn’t very often one can say a news report was shocking – not because of the subject matter, but because of the way it was reported.

That was the situation tonight with the BBC’s item in which Work Programme providers complained that they need more money to “help” the most challenging jobseekers into work.

This group, of course, being benefit claimants in the work-related activity group of Employment and Support Allowance.

This group being the most consistently abused and neglected element of the new underclass created by the Conservative-led Coalition government, demonised and hated by the right-wing press, often attacked in the street (to judge from first-hand accounts), many of whom have been driven to suicide or death caused by their conditions, which have been worsened by the unacceptable (and to most people reading this, inconceivable) amount of stress the DWP, Atos (the private company assessing their fitness for work) and the private Work Programme providers have put them through.

This group who have been sent on so-called “back to work training” with Work Programme providers, consisting of minimal and elementary exercises that are an insult to the intelligence, rather than an aid to employment. Does anyone remember the exercise in which people are asked to draw a pig? Apparently the direction it faces indicates whether you’re the kind of person who faces their challenges head-on, or someone who takes a more circumspect attitude (so, nothing to do with whether you think a side view is more interesting, then).

This group, being cynically exploited by Work Programme provider organisations in a blatant bid to screw money out of the taxpayer, despite having done the bare minimum to “help” people back into work.

This group, consisting mostly – if not entirely – of people who belong in the support group of Employment and Support Allowance but were placed among those who should be able to go back to work within a year because the Atos Work Capability assessors are under orders to place no more than 12 or 13 per cent of everyone they see into the support group. Oh, you don’t believe me? Ask yourself why, when the fraud rate for disability benefits is 0.4 per cent, the percentage of people being told they are lying and are fit for work is 70 per cent, to which a further 17-18 per cent can be added who are deemed likely to be fit for work with this so-called training from the WPPs.

This is why the Work Programme companies can’t get these people into jobs: They are too ill to work.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This isn’t about the facts. This is about ‘managing’ the news, to present the public with a cosy story to make Work Programme providers look nice and friendly. They’re not failing because of any lack of will on their part (the BBC story tells us); they’re failing because the government isn’t making them rich enough!

Let’s take this BBC story apart. We’ll use the article on the corporation’s website.

First factual claim: “Of those who have been on the scheme for at least a year, a third have begun a job, figures seen by the BBC show.” This may be true. Unfortunately, statistics tend also to show that these jobs do not last long and the individuals in them end up back on the Work Programme within a few weeks or months. The DWP’s own mark of success is a person keeping a job for six months or more. That’s not exactly permanent by anybody’s standards.

Second factual claim: “In the most challenging group – who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – only 10 per cent have found work”. This may also be true. Readers will recall the fuss over government lies that 900,000 people had signed off ESA rather than take the Work Capability Assessment, that were proven to be the normal “churn” of claimants signing off for perfectly ordinary reasons such as finding a job they could do, even though sick/disabled, or getting better. ESA is not a lifetime benefit!

So with this figure – totalling around 1.7 per cent of the total number of claimants over a 12-month period – it is entirely likely that some will have found a job they can do, or got better, after taking the assessment. The figures for fraud aren’t touched by this possibility, as there is no reason to believe a fraudulent claimant would be put in the WRAG.

In other words, the 90 per cent of WRAG members left on the Work Programme are, most likely, those who belong in the support group, who are unlikely to find lasting employment because (let’s repeat it): They are too ill to work.

Work Programme providers have their own representative organisation called the Employment Related Services Association, or ERSA. This organisation claimed that the Work Programme cannot “fix” the “complex” health and skills requirements of ESA claimants on its own, but needed to tap into “skills and health budgets”. This is fascinating, because the Work Programme is supposed to be specifically designed to meet the needs of its users. We know it doesn’t, because it has been running since 2011 and we have first-hand accounts to the contrary from people who have been on it, but that was the claim.

ERSA figures “suggest around a quarter of ESA jobseekers have been unemployed for at least 11 years”. This seems likely – they belong in the support group, not the WRAG, and are unable to work.

“The DWP says it recognises the ‘particular barriers facing many of the hardest to help’. Hang on! Wasn’t the DWP under heavy fire only weeks ago because work programme providers were ‘parking’ the most difficult claimants – admitting there was no way to get them into jobs? And that, after the Secretary of State, no less, Iain Dunderhead Smith, went on the BBC’s Question Time and railed about people who had been “parked” on benefits for decades at a time, making it clear in no uncertain terms that he was going to get them off benefits, come Hell or high water?

This is the same story, but now the providers have got the begging bowl out. They’re already paid millions (don’t believe the payment-by-results claim) but they want more money.

Have they forgotten the aim is to save the taxpayers’ cash?

I thought George Osborne’s Mansion House speech would be the most infuriating thing I’d hear this evening.

I was wrong.