Boris Johnson can’t be trusted with cash: he seems to give it to his friends whenever he can – and the fear is that he’ll do it with the budget of the soon-to-be-scrapped Department for International Development.
Boris Johnson is being urged to forget his plan to scrap the Department for International Development on the grounds that money would go to the wrong nations.
The DfID is being merged with the Foreign Office but whereas the DfID has spent a majority of its budget in the poorest countries and has a reputation for transparency, the same cannot be said for the FO – especially under Boris Johnson.
When he was Foreign Secretary (between 2016-2018), it was in the middle of spending £84 million on China – which can hardly be said to require aid.
Indeed, 39 per cent of FO cash has gone to higher- and middle-income nations, with just 22 per cent going to the poorest countries.
The facts of the matter have only just been revealed, so it seems the FO can get away with hiding its spending – handy if you want to hand public cash to your mates.
So the question is:
Is Johnson scrapping the DfID so he can appropriate its money and give it to his dodgy contacts in foreign countries, in the same way he has handed billions of pounds of Covid-related cash to firms run by his cronies, who have provided nothing in response?
And, if that is even the suspicion:
Shouldn’t the plan to scrap the DfID be itself scrapped – to avoid trust in the government collapsing even more than it already has?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
How pleasant to hear this said in a Parliamentary debate, with not a single word of denial from the Conservative Government:
“Last week there was an amazing sequence of events. On Monday, the Secretary of State told me that he could not publish … data because they were not kept, and told me to stop scaremongering; on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that they would be published; and this was swiftly followed by the Government saying that they were appealing against the Information Commissioner’s ruling, stating that publishing these data would lead to ‘probable misinterpretations’ and ‘was too emotive…and wasn’t in the public interest’. What an absolute shambles!”
This was part of the speech by Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, in a debate on ‘welfare reform and people with disabilities’, called by her to set the scene for any measures against the disabled that George Osborne is considering for his July budget. As the Government prepares to cut £12 billion from the annual social security budget next week, there are real concerns that – in addition to potentially slashing tax credits for the working poor – they will cut further support for working-age people with disabilities.
She was referring, of course, to the government’s increasingly confused response to This Writer’s request for an honest answer to the question, ‘How many people have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance between November 2011 and May 2014 (the date of my request)?” But wait! She continued:
“I could not disagree more. This is definitely in the public interest. As a former public health academic, I am more than aware of the strict criteria for establishing causality, but there are no grounds for not publishing numbers of actual deaths as well as the Government-proposed standardised mortality ratios, including those who died within six weeks of being found fit for work. Will the Minister now confirm when these data will be published?“
Dear reader, it falls to This Writer to report that not one word came back from the Government benches – not even when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Justin Tomlinson (who?) got onto his hind legs to give the Government’s response to the debate.
You can sign the petition demanding that the Government end its appeal against the order to publish the statistics, and provide the figures to the public, on the Change.org website.
She also asked when the Government will publish redacted information on the circumstances of the deaths of claimants who died while sanctioned, and what changes the DWP instigated in the light of reviews of these deaths – and whether the significant surge in suicide rates for both men and women since 2010— particularly for working-age men—is being analysed by the DWP. No response.
The Government doesn’t have anything to say to the sick, disabled or vulnerable, and even less to say about them.
Ms Abrahams began her speech by pointing out, “It is poignant that this debate falls on the very day that the Independent Living Fund closes. A further £1.2 billion is being cut from support for people with disabilities. Such cuts were a hallmark of the Tory-led coalition, and many are concerned that not only will this increase but the cuts will get worse under this Government.
“I … want to draw attention to the punitive and dehumanising culture that has been part of the delivery of these welfare reforms, which set the tone for the leadership within the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government’s wider tone on social security.”
Here’s a quick precis of the facts: She said that, by 2018, £23.8 billion of support would have been taken from 3.7 million people with disabilities, according to Demos. The measures include:
Indexation of social security payments was changed from the higher retail prices index to the lower consumer prices index
There was also a 1% cap on the uprating of certain working-age benefits.
People on incapacity benefit were reassessed.
The time that disabled people in the work-related activity group are able to receive the employment and support allowance was limited.
Disabled people in receipt of disability living allowance are being reassessed to determine whether they are eligible for the personal independence payment.
Disability benefits are approximately 15% of average earnings. With the recent changes—the 1% uprating and the indexation to the consumer prices index—they will fall even further below those in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in persistent poverty as non-disabled people: 80% of disability-related poverty is caused by extra costs. This has implications for disabled people’s families – a third of all families living in poverty include one disabled family member.
Since the Government’s new sanctions regime, the rate of sanctioning of people on IB and ESA has doubled.
She said part of the Government’s strategy has been the “invidious” spreading of a culture of blame and fear.
“In the 1980s we saw the unions being targeted; today the focus is on the poor and the vulnerable.
“The narrative associated with the so-called welfare reforms has been one of divide and rule, deliberately attempting to vilify people who receive social security as the new undeserving poor.
“The Government have spread a culture of pejorative language, such as “shirkers” and “scroungers”. They have intentionally attempted to demonise social security recipients, including disabled people.
“The innuendo that people with a disability or illness might be faking it or are feckless is, quite frankly, grotesque… Unfortunately, the regular misuse of statistics is another way that the Government are trying to harden the public’s attitude.
“The facts are that, in an ageing population, the largest proportion of social security recipients are pensioners and not, as is often implied, the workshy.”
Additional: It has been pointed out to me that Mr Tomlinson stated: “We will be publishing them [sic] the mortality stats—I know the hon. Lady is keen to see them soon; we would all like to see them as soon as possible.” Since he did not define the form those statistics would take, nor did he provide a firm date on which they would be published, it seems clear that what he did say was as near to nothing as makes no odds.
Sam Gyimah, minister for childcare and education, told a meeting at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham tests showed that more than a third of young people were leaving school “unable to read, write or do maths”.
Mr Gyimah’s comments have been rounded on by Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, who said it “doesn’t help when politicians misuse statistics”.
“It’s simply not true to say they are illiterate. It means that they have not reached the required level, but that doesn’t mean they can’t read,” she said.
The Conservatives have been in trouble over their use of statistics before. Chris Grayling’s crime numbers has been persistentlyquestioned, the Tories famously claimed that half of all teenagers were pregnant in some areas, and David Cameron was caught misusing dataabout cancer during the first leaders’ debate. It now emerges that their claims about MRSA are also economical with the truth.
The last two anti-Iain Duncan Smith posts have been leading towards this – a call to action by Jayne Linney. It appears on her blog but hopefully she won’t mind that you can read it in full here. It’s worth it. She writes:
After yet another series of posts demonstrating how IDS and the DWP are continuing to lie about the impact of Welfare Reform on disabled people; I decided it was time to take action, and along with Debbie Sayers, we’ve started another petition.
This time we are demanding – KATHRYN HUDSON PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR STANDARDS to
Use the full Powers of the Commission and investigate Iain Duncan Smith Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for his regular use of untruths and the persistent deception misleading of The House of Commons, Select Committees and the Media.
The Commissioner is responsible for investigating complaints about MPs who have allegedly breached the Code of Conduct or related Rules and we believe IDS has breached at least TWO of the Principles. Most of these principles are concerned with finance and expenses but, we argue IDS persistent use of distorted statistics, causes a breach of Accountabilityand Honesty; this is especially the case asThe Government in their response to the Work & Pensions and the Public Administrations Select Committees, agree that “Government statistics should be presented in a way that is fair, accurate and “unspun” .
” Iain Duncan Smith continues to ignore his Government and persists in misusing statistics, and it is for these reasons we believe it is time for the Powers of the Commissioner for standards to be exercised, and for Iain Duncan Smith to be independently and openly investigated for breach of Conduct”
If YOU agree that it is time for IDS to be made to pay for this ongoing assault on disabled people, please SIGN, SHARE, BLOG, & TWEET about this Campaign –
Double standard man: Iain Duncan Smith reckons its all right for him to make extravagant claims about the efficacy of his policies, in the belief that nobody can disprove them. What would he do if his opponents made extravagant claims about their HARMFUL effects, and used the same argument on him?
This was an entry in the Angry Yorkshireman’s series – number 16, no less – on ‘Feeble Right-Wing Fallacies’. The phenomenon it describes is described as the “no, you disprove it fallacy” or the “libelling the evidence fallacy”.
This is a tactic most recently used by Mr Dishonest Smith on Radio 4’s Today Programme, when he defended his misuse of statistics in support of the benefit cap (the claim that 8,000 people had quit benefits because they had been told about the cap) by saying “you can’t disprove what I said either” (this has since been proved inaccurate – 500 of the 8,000 were tracked down by Ipsos MORI and asked why they got off benefits; only 45 said it had anything to do with the benefit cap). He went on to make his “I believe” speech that Vox Political ridiculed (rather well) last week.
The article states: “His position is that there is no onus upon him to provide any kind of empirical evidence to back his assertions, that a proclamation of belief is all that he needs in order to say something, and that the burden of proof actually falls on anyone that wants to criticise his unsubstantiated claims.
“If we boil it down to even simpler terms, this is the Iain Duncan Smith stance:
I can say whatever I like without providing any evidence, as long as I say that I have faith that it is true.
If you want to criticise what I said, then you must provide evidence that it is false.
“The hypocrisy in this stance is appalling. Iain believes that he can just make up evidence as he sees fit, but he is immune from criticism for having made up evidence, as long as he claims that he believes it to be true and unless his critic does what he doesn’t feel the need to do and (actually develop some coherent evidence in order to) prove the opposite.”
The article goes on to draw the obvious comparison with libel cases. In court cases concerning libel, it doesn’t matter whether the allegation is true or not – the onus is on the defendent to prove there was sufficient evidence to support the claim. If there was not, then the defendant is guilty and must be punished. In commenting contrary to his own department’s official statistics, it could therefore be claimed that IDS committed libel.
There’s more about the Secretary-in-a-State’s beliefs, but it is to be found on Another Angry Voice, not here. We have other fish to fry.
There is a phrase: ‘Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. It means, ‘If something is wrong (or right) for people on one side of an argument, it’s wrong (or right) for both sides.
In other words, if Iain Duncan Smith thinks it’s okay to present unsupported comments as fact, in the way he did on the Today Programme, justifying it by repeatedly saying he believes he is right and challenging his detractors to disprove it (as we have), then what would he do…
What would he do if we all told him the available evidence suggests that he, his ministers and his department, having knowingly imposed a policy that has led to the deaths of many thousands of people who may otherwise have survived for an unknown period of time, have conspired to hide evidence that the same policy is responsible for many more such deaths, in ever-increasing number, in order to avoid any public outcry that might force the government to halt this policy, and therefore stop the deaths?
What would he do if we said we believe this to be right, and pointed out that we have already seen evidence that people have died after incorrect decisions were made about their health, and that we believe this indicates the continued refusal to provide any further evidence about the current death rate proves that it is much worse. What would he do if we said we believe this because he hasn’t disproved it?
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