Tag Archives: special rapporteur

More smears from the Mail against UN official who is trying to help the poor

The victim: Raquel Rolnik, the United Nations' expert Special Rapporteur on Housing is once again the victim of a baseless Daily Mail smear piece.

The victim: Raquel Rolnik, the United Nations’ expert Special Rapporteur on Housing is once again the victim of a baseless Daily Mail smear piece.

Yet again, the Daily Heil has been using the tactics of its best friend Adolf Hitler – the ‘Big Lie’ – to attack a United Nations official whose job is to point out that Coalition government policies are harming the innocent poor.

The Flail‘s tone was Nurembergian – and almost entirely fact-free – as it denounced ‘Brazil Nut’ Raquel Rolnik for imaginary crimes against Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts – the homicidal, if not genocidal, measures that are driving hundreds of thousands of people into destitution and despair.

You see, the Fail is fine with destitution and despair for the poor – its readers are all rich middle- or upper-class housewives who pass their days spending their husbands’ vast fortunes (this is not entirely true, but is exactly the sort of generalisation you can expect from that paper. If you are a Mail reader, it isn’t such fun when you’re the victim, is it?) and gossiping.

The news story is that a group of United Nations poverty ambassadors has written a 22-page letter pointing out that cuts to social security benefits introduced by Iain Duncan Smith and enforced by his Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of the Coalition government may constitute a breach of the UK’s international treaty obligations to the poor.

The letter is new but its factual information is not, having been confirmed by the Council of Europe.

The letter states: “The package of austerity measures enacted could amount to retrogressive measures prohibited under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1974.”

Among the benefit changes it highlights are alterations to housing benefit, council tax benefit, working age benefits and the bedroom tax and the benefits cap – which everybody agrees would be a good idea if it had been limited to a reasonable amount, rather than one at which the Conservative-led Coalition could throw people into hardship.

The Mail‘s report pays little attention to the facts, lavishing far more space on Mrs Rolnik herself. It said she had been nicknamed the ‘Brazil Nut’, which she had – by the Daily Mail; and went on to attempt to cast doubt on her authority as special rapporteur on housing and those of fellow UN ambassadors Maria Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, special rapporteur on extreme poverty; and Olivier De Schutter, the special rapporteur on the right to food.

These are experts in their field who have been engaged by the United Nations – a higher-ranking legal authority than the UK – to investigate government policies, but that’s not good enough for the Mail.

It prefers to get its opinions from tupenny-ha’penny Tory thinktanks.

So it casts doubt. The letter is from ‘ambassadors’ and follows an ‘investigation’, according to the Mail, because putting those words in that way casts doubt upon their validity.

Mrs Rolnik was brought up as a Marxist, the Mail states – as if that has anything to do with her findings. And the report claims she should leave the UK alone and concentrate on problems in her own country, where millions of people live in shanty towns – even though the writer, ‘Jason Groves’, should know perfectly well that her job involves just that.

He clearly doesn’t want you to see her comments on housing in Brazil, prior to the football World Cup which is being held there at the moment: “We expected that the champion of many football cups would use this opportunity to show the world it is also a champion of the right to housing, in particular for people living in poverty, but the information I have received shows otherwise.”

She had received allegations of evictions without due process or in breach of international human rights standards, cases in which residents and citizens had not been consulted and were barred from to participation in decisions that had a grave impact on their standard of living. Concerns had also been expressed about very low compensation that might lead to the creation of new “informal settlements” (shanty towns) with inadequate living conditions or greater rates of homelessness.

“Authorities should avoid at all costs any negative impacts on then human rights of the individuals and communities, especially the most vulnerable… [and] should ensure that their actions, and those of third parties involved in the organization of the events, contribute to the creation of a stable housing market and have a long term positive impact in the residents of the cities where events take place.”

So critics who think she has ignored issues in her home country are wrong.

That’s a bit of a blow to the Mail‘s credibility, isn’t it?

The measures criticised by Mrs Rolnik and her colleagues were brought in “to tackle the huge budget deficit left by Labour”, according to the Mail. Again, this is wrong. The Coalition government has made no real effort to tackle the budget deficit which was necessitated when Labour saved our banking system, the threat having been created by Tory-supporting bankers whose greed put their firms into overwhelming debt. Look at the annual deficit for the last financial year; it is still well above £100 billion. If you agree that the cuts were to bring the deficit down, you have swallowed a lie.

Iain Duncan Smith, the man this blog describes as ‘RTU’ (standing for ‘Returned To Unit’ in tribute to his failed Army career) is reportedly furious at this intervention from the United Nations, which has a duty to intervene if governments of member countries descend into criminality, as has happened with the UK (here’s just one example).

Vox Political has reported extensively on this matter and his arguments carry about as much weight as his retrospective Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act. Take a look at Mrs Rolnik’s report on housing in the UK and the research that supported what she said and then ask yourself if Mr …Smith has got a leg to stand on.

According to the Mail, he said: “They talk down our country, criticising the action we’ve taken to get control of the public finances and create a fairer more prosperous Britain. They simply do not have a clue – and we will not be taking lessons from a group of unelected commentators who can’t get their facts straight.”

“Unelected” and “Can’t get their facts straight” are both criticisms that could be applied with more accuracy to Mr …Smith and his government.

In fact.

Additional: Here’s some more information about Iain Duncan Smith playing fast and loose with statistics, just in today.

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Are landlord councillors resorting to illegal antics to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions?

Taking no notice: Councillors appear to be breaking the law in order to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions. [Picture: The Guardian}

Taking no notice: Councillors appear to be breaking the law in order to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions. [Picture: The Guardian}

It seems the ruling group of Powys County Council, here in Mid Wales, has challenged the law in its attempts to block a ‘no-eviction’ motion on the Bedroom Tax.

The Labour motion was put forward at a meeting of the full council on October 24. It called on councillors to note the comments of Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Housing, who said that the Bedroom Tax policy could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing, and asked them to pledge that Powys will not evict tenants who fail to pay their rent because of it.

Councillors who are also private landlords were forbidden from speaking or voting on the motion. They have a financial (or pecuniary) interest in the matter as they stand to benefit if social housing tenants are forced to seek accommodation with them as a result of the policy. This meant around 30 councillors had to leave the chamber.

It seems that members of the ruling Shires Independent Group, realising that there was a real possibility that the motion would be carried, then called for any members who are themselves social housing tenants – or have friends or family who are social housing tenants – should also be barred from taking part.

This made it impossible to continue the debate. The matter has been passed to the council’s Standards Committee, whose members have been asked to judge whether landlord councillors should receive special dispensation in order to debate the motion.

It seems that this decision is wrong in law.

According to Essential Local Government, a journalistic textbook from the Vox Political vaults, “In some cases, the Secretary of State for the Environment or Secretary of State for Wales can issue either a general or particular dispensation entitling members with declared interests to take part in debates and to vote. An example of this is that councillors who are council tenants may take part in debates on, and vote on, matters relating to council housing.”

That book was published in 1993 but there is no reason to expect such a general dispensation to have been removed and therefore it seems that any call for councillors who are tenants – or who know tenants – not to be able to take part in a debate can have no basis in law.

The motion should have been debated by councillor-tenants and members with no interest, and a decision made on the day, nearly a month ago. The delay means social housing tenants in Powys (and VP knows of 686 affected households in the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency alone) may have been subjected to an unnecessary month of evictions or threats of eviction.

It has been suggested that the decision to block the motion may have been prompted by figures from the House of Commons library which suggest that as a result of the Bedroom Tax the amount of Housing Benefit paid to private landlords (remember, HB is a landlord subsidy and does not enrich tenants at all) will rise from £7.9 billion to £9.4 billion.

If the Standards Committee decides to allow them to debate the motion, it is likely that the decision will therefore be corrupt.

The matter went unreported by the local press because none of the newspapers had sent any reporters to cover the meeting.

How many other councils, across the UK, have voted on ‘no evictions’ motions under a false understanding of who can take part? VP knows that Bristol City Council has debated the matter with a controversial result.

Meanwhile, for tenants up and down the country, the agony goes on.

The land of do-as-you-please (if you’re a Tory minister)

The Tory Faraway Tree: By the power of very bad image editing, David Cameron, Iain (RTU) Smith and Grant Shapps have replaced the protagonists. Careful, Mr Shapps - your panties are showing! How unusual that they aren't on fire!

The Tory Faraway Tree: By the power of very bad image editing, David Cameron, Iain (RTU) Smith and Grant Shapps have replaced the protagonists. Careful, Mr Shapps – your panties are showing! How unusual that they aren’t on fire!

Do any British readers remember what it was like to live in a country where the government respected the law, and accepted facts without making up silly little stories about them?

What an amazing place that must have been.

Sadly, we’re all trapped in Tory-Coalition purgatory for the next 19 months at least, and have to endure the relentless procession of nonsense associated with it.

Yesterday (Friday) we were provided with two glowing examples.

Firstly, the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, was treated with extreme prejudice by the Tories and their poodles in the right-wing press, after she announced she would be filing an unfavourable report after investigating the effect of the bedroom tax on the British people.

Vox Political covered these events in some detail, so there’s no need to rehash them here.

Tory chairman and ‘Michael Green’ impersonator Grant Shapps then wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to complain about the Special Rapporteur’s behaviour. A reply has now arrived and, rather than give it the due consideration it deserves, Shapps seems to have handed it straight to The Sun.

That newspaper reported that the UN had “slapped down” Ms Rolnik for her behaviour. Shapps himself told the paper: “People expect the UN to be neutral, yet on this occasion a former Workers Party politician came with a clear agenda” – a bizarre claim, when the letter itself creates a completely different view.

Guido Fawkes’ blog provides the text of the UN letter – along with a bit more right-wing spin which we’ll ignore as it is irrelevant.

It states: “Ms Raquel Rolnik is one of 72 independent experts appointed by the United nations Human Rights Council – the lead UN body responsible for human rights – on the basis of their expertise and independence, and following a competitive selection process. As in the case of all mandate holders, Ms Rolnik serves in an independent capacity and in accordance with a Code of Conduct adopted by the Council. She is not a staff member of the United Nations, is neither accountable to nor appointed by the Secretary-General, and does not receive any compensation beyond a daily allowance when engaged in mandated activities.

“Among other activities, Special Rapporteurs are mandated to undertake country visits to assess human rights enjoyment on the ground. The United Kingdom is one of 94 Member States which has extended a standing invitation to mandate holders thus indicating that it is open to the visit of any Special Rapporteur. Country visits are governed by rules and procedures set out in the Code of Conduct referred to above and the Manual of Operations adopted by Special Procedures. Ms Rolnik’s visit was planned and organised over many months in consultation with the Government in compliance with these rules and procedures.

“As in the case of all country visits, Ms Rolnik’s visit concluded with a press conference and a press statement, provided to the Government in advance, which indicate preliminary findings and recommendations. The final report on the visit will be submitted to the Council’s twenty-fifth session which will take place in March 2014 in Geneva.”

Reading between the lines, we can piece together the gist of Shapps’ correspondence – and it’s clear that he made a lot of mistaken assumptions. Firstly, it seems likely he wrote to Ban Ki-moon demanding that Ms Rolnik be fired from her position, in the belief that she is a hired hand and that the Secretary-General can hire and fire her as he pleases, the way Tories would like to run the UK. She’s just ‘the help’ in Shapps’s eyes. He must also have made a claim about her remuneration – possibly that she receives too much money from the UN or that, as a Socialist, she must be pulling pennies out of the public purse like there’s no tomorrow. Both claims get short shrift.

It seems Shapps then asserted that Ms Rolnik had not been invited to the UK and had no reason to be there. Wrong again, as the UN letter clarifies. A claim that she went beyond her remit is similarly batted away by reference to the governing rules which, we may conclude, were available to Mr Shapps before he wrote his letter. Oh yes, look, they’re available from the introduction page to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) website, here!

Next, Shapps is likely to have reasserted his claim that “It is completely wrong and an abuse of the process for somebody to come over, to fail to meet with government ministers, to fail to meet with the department responsible.” The UN response is the same as Ms Rolnik’s own statement in her preliminary report.

And the final paragraph seems to be a response to his further claim that it was out of line “to produce a press release two weeks after coming, even though the report is not due out until next spring.”

Taken at face value, then, this is a letter that entirely supports Ms Rolnik, both in her position within the United Nations and the way she carried out her role in the UK.

But that wasn’t enough for the United Nations, whose higher echelons clearly wanted to ensure there can be no doubt about the way this – let’s face it – international  incident is being viewed.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Huffington Post: “The Sun‘s take on it – that ‘The United Nations has slapped down’ Ms Rolnik – is pure spin. There was no such intention whatsoever.

In the face of a blizzard of misinformation and personal abuse of Ms Rolnik, published in one or two other UK tabloids during and immediately after her visit, the letter to Mr Shapps simply corrects the factual errors that have been asserted about her status and her role as an independent UN expert, or ‘Special Rapporteur.’

“Ms Rolnik’s visit was planned and organized over many months in consultation with the UK Government in compliance with these rules and procedures.

“As in the case of all country visits, Ms Rolnik’s visit concluded with a press conference and a press statement, provided to the Government in advance, which indicate preliminary findings and recommendations.

“The final report on the visit will be submitted to the Human Rights Council’s session next March in Geneva.

“In short, there was nothing unusual or untoward about Ms Rolnik’s visit – apart from some of the reactions to it.”

No doubt Mr Colville will have drawn his own conclusions about the current UK administration from that Sun article – conclusions that, one hopes, will be included in that final report next March.

The New Statesman reckons the Tories have an “antipathy for evidence” and presents a theory regarding why this should be so: “If all the facts are against you, your best tactic is to make stuff up and hope you can shout the other person down (changing your mind obviously not being an option).”

Alternatively, we return to V for Vendetta territory. The graphic novel’s writer, Alan Moore, referenced Enid Blyton’s novel The Magic Faraway Tree several times. For an anarchist like the story’s protagonist, the Land of Do-as-you-please would be very attractive – but here in reality, it seems the Tories think they’ve taken the ladder to that land and can do and say whatever they want – and facts don’t matter.

For more evidence of this, let’s turn to our second example: The Department for Work and Pensions and its reaction to a benefit tribunal in Scotland, who ruled against Fife Council, saying that a room of less than 70 square feet should not be considered a bedroom for the purpose of the bedroom tax. This led the council to call the tax “unworkable” and demand its reversal. Since then, a disabled gentleman has won a ruling against Westminster Council, after he claimed that a room used to store equipment that helps him manage his disability was not, and never has been, a bedroom.

In his decision notice, the judge wrote: “The term ‘bedroom’ is nowhere defined [in the relevant regulations]. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined.”

In response to the first ruling, the DWP has issued an ‘Urgent Bulletin’ in which an attempt is made to retroactively define a bedroom, for the purposes of administering the tax.

Perhaps we are to assume Iain Returned-To-Unit Smith believes that, having achieved one retrospective law via the normal legislative route, he can now ordain such rulings willy-nilly. He’s wrong.

His Department’s demand that “when applying the size criteria and determining whether or not a property is under-occupied, the only consideration should be the composition of the household and the number of bedrooms as designated by the landlord, but not by measuring rooms” is worthless.

If he wanted that to be the case, he should have written it into his silly little Bedroom Tax Bill (or whatever it was called).

For the moment, Shapps and RTU can get away with their bizarre pronouncements – although they can’t expect to be believed – because the Conservatives are in office.

But they won’t be in office forever.

In the meantime, let’s all keep supporting the opposers, wherever they turn up. If you are being subjected to the Bedroom Tax – appeal. And write to the UN, supporting Ms Rolnik and her findings against the tax.

You have a chance to prove that the Land of Do-as-you-please is a very small place.

And, as in the book, the return to normality involves a very, very long descent.

Coalition: Put your own house in order before you patronise foreigners about disability

Lynne Featherstone: Her speech may have been well-intentioned, but was also patronising and hypocritical in the light of the Coalition's treatment of disabled people in the UK.

Lynne Featherstone: Her speech may have been well-intentioned, but was also patronising and hypocritical in the light of the Coalition’s treatment of disabled people in the UK.

Today the Coalition government announced it is showing the developing world how to treat people with disabilities (don’t laugh) – by ensuring that schools built with direct UK funding will have easy access for the disabled.

According to a government press release, Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone used the High Level Meeting on Development and Disability at the United Nations in New York – the biggest disability rights meeting in five years – to call on the international community to tackle the ‘great neglect’ of a billion people globally who face unequal access to education, employment, healthcare, social support and justice as a result of disability.

Did her speech make any mention of the ‘great neglect’ of people in her own country who face discrimination on exactly the same grounds, caused by her government?

“Those living with a disability are disproportionately some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world – part of an unseen great neglect,” she told the meeting. “It is telling that of the 57 million children currently out of school in the world today, over a third have a disability.

“As a global community, we have a duty to safeguard the most vulnerable. If developing countries are to move forward into prosperity and greater self-reliance, they must take everyone on the journey.

“That’s why from this day forward, all schools built with the direct support of British taxpayers will be designed to allow disability access.

“With the ongoing discussion of what development should focus on when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to finally put disability on the agenda.”

Leaders of developing countries would have been justified in looking askance at the British minister while she was making this speech, with her hypocrisy on display for everybody to see.

They would be right to ask themselves: “Is this not a minister from a country that demonises its disabled people? That treats them as a burden on the community? That is trying to purge its society of them?

“Did her government not drive 73 disabled people per week to suicide or death through the exacerbation of their health problems – both brought on by cuts to state benefits and the threat of destitution – during 2011? And is her government not now refusing to provide up-to-date figures on the deaths its policies have caused?

“Does this not mean that deaths of disabled people caused – directly or indirectly – by UK government policies have increased dramatically during this time period, and the same government is trying to cover up the fact?”

It is notable that the government’s announcement landed on the same day that disability activist Samuel Miller received the following correspondence from the office of the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights:

“On behalf of the Special Rapporteur, thank you very much for your communications… Ms Sepulveda is observing very closely the situation with the UK welfare policies and their effects on persons living in poverty, including persons with disability.

“She is doing her best within the limits of her mandate to address such situations not only in the UK but globally through direct engagement with Governments.

“She would like to commend you for your tireless efforts and wishes you all the best in your endeavours.”

In the light of all this, would leaders of developing countries not be right, while thanking the UK government for its well-intentioned offer, to ask why Ms Featherstone feels justified in talking down to them about the disabled when her government refuses to allow those in its own country an opportunity to live with dignity.

Mail and Telegraph silent as research proves Rolnik right

[Image: Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation]

[Image: Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation]

This is how the right-wing media try to stifle popular protest against their masters – by trying to distract attention away from the facts.

There can be no doubt about what today’s big news story is: According to the Daily Mirror, hundreds of thousands of families have been put into rent arrears because of the ConDem government-imposed Bedroom Tax – and, according to the Independent, 50,000 of those people are now facing eviction.

Isn’t that exactly what the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, was saying at the end of her recent tour of Britain to investigate the effect of the Bedroom Tax (often wrongly described as the spare-room subsidy. A subsidy would give money to people; this takes it away)?

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which the UK is a signatory) includes housing as part of the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”.

But Ms Rolnik said that in Britain “the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the people who are on the fringes of coping with everyday life” were being hit hard by the policy – and called for it to be abolished.

In response, the Daily Mail (in particular) attacked Ms Rolnik – on the grounds that she was “a dabbler in witchcraft who offered an animal sacrifice to Marx”. How this relates to her Bedroom Tax investigation has yet to be explained.

The alleged newspaper published a series of character assassination pieces on the internationally-respected United Nations special rapporteur, in which it criticised her for staying in a £300-a-night hotel (booked on her behalf by the United Nations and nothing to do with her personally), and for being born in a country (Brazil) that it described as “violent” and “slum-ridden” (an accident of birth).

It also quoted some stupid Tory lucky-to-be-an-MP called Stewart Jackson, who said she was a “loopy Brazilian leftie”.

But none of its claims about her mission – or those of the Tory MPs it quoted – were true. All were refuted within a day of being voiced.

Today, the Mail thinks it is more important to tell us that the B&B owners who refused to let a gay couple stay on their premises have been forced to sell up because of lack of business.

That other bastion of Conservatism, the Torygraph, tells us that Conservative MPs are on a mass outing to Chipping Norton today. How wonderful for them.

One couple for whom Chipping Norton isn’t wonderful consists of Toni Bloomfield (25), who lives there with her partner Paul Bolton (42) and his four children.

“I have to pay £98 extra a month since the bedroom tax came in,” she told the Independent. “We’ve got a four-bedroom house and Paul’s four children, aged between two and eight, live with us. Before the school holidays we were struggling and now we’re nearly three months behind on rent.

“The children get free school meals and feeding them through the holidays was tough. Paul and I are only eating in the evenings two or three nights a week to make sure we can put enough food on the table. We’re not working, but not out of choice. Trying to find a full-time job here is a nightmare.”

Chipping Norton is the home of David Cameron, when he isn’t pretending to be the Prime Minister, and lies in his constituency of Witney. If people in the Prime Minister’s constituency can’t get on in life, what hope does anyone else have?

It would be interesting to hear more from Mr Bolton and Ms Bloomfield. What is it like, living below the breadline in the home of the infamous ‘Chipping Norton set’? Do they rub shoulders with Jeremy Clarkson down the supermarket (when they can afford to go)? If so, would they kindly suggest to him that he lay off the drink for a while, as it’s encouraging him to say silly things about standing for election?

The information supporting the story was supplied by campaigning group False Economy, which submitted Freedom of Information requests to local authorities across the UK. Of these, 114 replied, providing the figure of 50,000 tenants threatened with eviction.

As not all local authorities responded, the newspaper stated that the total number of affected council tenants was likely to be much higher.

Separate research by the National Housing Federation swells this number by 30,000 housing association tenants, the Independent states.

Clifford Singer, campaign manager for False Economy, said: “Together with the raft of other benefits cuts the Government has forced through, both this year and previously, the bedroom tax is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears, and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis.”

The Daily Mirror‘s report estimated 330,000 families to have fallen behind with their rent, including around 165,000 who always paid on time in the past.

The reality of the situation is that it shows how badly wages have slipped since Margaret Thatcher came into power with all her silly neo-liberal drip-down economic theories. The Bedroom Tax is a threat because working people do not earn enough to pay the rent along with all their other overheads. This is why the Housing Benefit bill has blown up to huge proportions; if only the unemployed were claiming it, it would be manageable. Employers are to blame – partly.

And who really benefits from Housing Benefit? Not the tenant! No, the people who really receive Housing Benefit are landlords. This is why some, including this blog, have called for it to be renamed ‘Landlord Subsidy’. So part of the blame must also lie with them and the amounts they charge – especially for council houses, where the money never really leaves the local authority’s bank account; it would go out, only to be paid straight back.

So we can say that the debt into which these people have fallen is not their fault; working people should be paid enough to be able to cope, and the unemployed should be able to rely on the state to support them until they can get back on their feet – without the state, itself, going into debt.

It has been created because, somewhere along the line, somebody has been taking too much money for themselves.

What is really to blame?

Greed.

Iain Duncan Smith – the Musical!

When he realises we’ve started making satirical music videos about him, Iain Duncan Smith will probably think he’s hit the big time.

Sad, deluded little man.

This is a project that has been developing for a while, after RTU himself went around the media, denying all the factual evidence that said his benefit cap had not put 12,000 people into work, as he was then claiming.

(A previous claim that 8,000 had gone into employment to avoid the effect of the benefit cap had been disproved by polling organisation Ipsos Mori, who surveyed 500 of those 8,000 people and found that only 45 had started work because of the cap. That’s nine per cent of the total claimed by the Secretary-in-a-State).

On this particular media junket, he refused to countenance the factual evidence that was put in front of him, saying he “believed” the anecdotal evidence provided to him by a few members of staff at Job Centre Plus.

That is now worthy of comment in itself, as he has been quick to dismiss the findings of the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, as “anecdotal” – and she has spoken to far more people than he did!

Inevitably, Vox Political published an article on the subject and – because the SoS had made it a matter of belief, prefaced the story with a few verses that could be sung to the old Not The Nine o’clock News/Rowan Atkinson song ‘I Believe‘.

That would have been the end of it – but then it became clear that Mr … Smith was delaying a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions committee, convened to make him account for his manipulation of the statistics.

It seems clear that he has been waiting for the fuss to die down.

Dear reader, you can probably work out the rest for yourself. The lyrics and music were available and, with the addition of a few more words, Vox Political went into the recording studio.

The audio track that resulted is rudimentary but does the job. Yes, that is Vox founder Mike Sivier’s voice, for which he apologises. He played all the instruments as well, so he supposes he should be doubly apologetic.

The video was put together with photographs trawled from the Internet, interspersed with specially-written captions, and is intended only to give YouTube viewers something visual to enjoy while they’re listening to the song. All the images are copyright their respective creators and were freely stolen for humorous use – for which, again, we apologise.

We think the result is a lot of fun – amateurish, haphazard and slapdash though it is.

It gets the point across.

Please feel free to copy the code and embed the YouTube video anywhere you see fit. This was made to be seen, to be enjoyed, and to get across a message about Iain Duncan Smith and his beliefs.

We hope you all enjoy it!

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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The lies, the cost, the hardship… the price we all pay for Iain Duncan Smith

"Not even this much": Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates how much he cares about the damage his policies are doing to public health, and to the public finances.

“Not even this much”: Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates how much he cares about the damage his policies are doing to public health, and to the public finances. (Image: Evening Standard)

When it comes to Iain Duncan Smith, it seems the point still isn’t being made forcefully enough.

So let us be perfectly clear: This man is a liability to the United Kingdom. He is costing this country billions of pounds with his failed pet projects like Universal Credit, his contracted-out work programmes that are more likely to hinder people looking for a job then get them into one, and even his enormous expenses claims – £39, just for breakfast!

Now it seems he has lied to Parliament – yet again. He told the House of Commons, and the country at large, that his Department for Work and Pensions expected to write off £34 million of investment in the IT systems being developed to administer his real-time, six-benefits-in-one Universal Credit. The actual amount, revealed to Parliament’s public accounts committee yesterday, is more like £161 million.

Not only that, but he was lying when he said he had been monitoring the project constantly. If that is true, then why was a civil servant’s personal assistant allowed to sign off contracts when the responsibility lay with himself, or at least his ministers?

Even more damning, it seems the DWP has spent the last six months sitting on this information, rather than actually doing anything about it!

And this odious little liar last week tried to blame the civil service for Universal Credit’s failure. He is a lower form of life than an intestinal worm.

He still thinks he can take the moral high ground, though – look at his attack on the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, after she (rightly) denounced his bedroom tax as an attack on British citizens’ human rights.

He described her call to abolish the tax as “outrageous”, claiming that it undermined the impartiality of the UN. Isn’t it more accurate to say that she has revealed the truth, and now he is panicking?

He said he wanted UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to investigate Ms Rolnik’s conduct – a line already pointlessly taken by Grant Shapps, all of whose claims were lies, as we discovered yesterday.

In the Daily Mail, he said she had not asked ministers or officials for their input, adding: “I find it staggering that without this official information Mrs Rolnik feels she is in a position to be able to properly prescribe what the future of the policy should be.” In fact, she met many officials and government representatives, all of whom are listed in her preliminary report.

So IDS – or RTU, as we like to describe him here (it refers to Army personnel who are Returned To Unit for failing to make the grade) – has lied again. And he joined a deeply dodgy cadre of Conservatives in denouncing her for – among other things – being born in a country with worse deprivation than the UK. Doesn’t that put her in an excellent position to point out the faults in our system?

But then, what can we expect from this vile creature. There are strains of syphilis with more charm and social grace.

Is the point made yet?

Back in May, Vox Political published ‘Iain Duncan Smith has committed contempt of Parliament and should be expelled’. That article has been read by more than 12,600 people who almost unanimously supported it. Now we see that he has shown the same contempt, to Parliament, to the British people, and now to a respected and senior United Nations representative. Go back and refresh your memory if you need to do so.

Is the point made now?

No, it probably isn’t.

The fact of the matter is that most people won’t care, because most people don’t think they are affected by the disasters Iain Duncan Smith is inflicting on us.

They are wrong.

Just go back and consider the cost of all his mistakes: Billions of pounds wasted. Possibly tens of billions, when you consider the cumulative effect (although this would be a hard concept for him; he has resisted all attempts to get his Department to provide a cumulative assessment of his regressive changes’ effect on this country’s poor for many months, claiming it would be “too difficult”).

Tens of billions of pounds have been wasted on his so-called attempts to cut the benefit bill, while that bill has increased, year on year, because of his government’s policies.

As Adlai Stevenson said of Nixon (and the comparison to Nixon is well-deserved): “He is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree and then mount the stump to make a speech for conservation.”

This hypocrite does not speak for you. He doesn’t speak for the taxpayers because he is robbing them of their hard-earned money and wasting it despicably. He doesn’t speak for the unemployed, the sick or the disabled because he is a social darwinist who would steal a wheelchair to see how the owner managed without it. He doesn’t speak for Parliament because he has lied to Parliament.

Why aren’t you demanding his dismissal in your millions?

Well?

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