IDS on welfare reform -how do I lie to thee let me count the ways

Note: An update released today shows how generous I was being to IDS in the post below.  It comes from factcheck analysing IDS’s claimed figures which were inflated massively as you can see here

  • He claimed Labour spending was up 58% when it was 8%!
  • He claimed massive amounts of public monies being lost to fraud – the fraud rate was 0.7%!
  • He said tax credits rose by 20% in the last two years under Labour – It was 8.8%


How do I LIE to thee? Let me count the ways. I LIE thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach….

That sums up Iain Duncan Smith’s latest attempt at spin about welfare reforms.  Perhaps this is just to deflect that the word ‘reform’ means to improve and his reforms will cost everyone more but his latest diatribe is simply plagiarizing the most loved poem of Elizabeth Barratt Browning and should be seen for what it is.

Setting the scene for the lies (the first lie)

He begins with the overview which of course doesn’t need any substantiation or evidence Labour’s legacy on tax credits tells a sorry story of dependency, wasted taxpayers’ money and fraud. At the most basic level, Labour used spending on tax credits as an attempt to gain short-term popularity. It knew what it was doing – this was a calculated attempt to win votes.”

As you can see from my emphasis throw in a few key words and IDS sets the scene in this polemic and political diatribe. Clever stuff! Well not really and just a desperate and politically foolhardy attempt to lie through his teeth, the art of every MP except IDS who can’t even manage that.

The lies unfold

Then he uses tactic number 2 some vague statistics that mean nothing but look good in an attempt to support the original lie.

Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.”

By ‘some’ 58%?  Vague!  Ahead of the 2005 general election – Oh I see is that 3 months ahead of general election or 8 years from 1997 – oh I see it’s not detailed just throwaway meaningless statistical opinion that can’t be checked.  Spending increased by about 20%?    Pretend you are a teacher marking a 13-year-old first essay and you see the point and the amount of red ink that will be used!

Lie number 3 – the fudge and almost truth

Yet pumping up welfare transfers not only increased people’s dependency on the state – worse still, it pushed the public finances almost to breaking point. Between 2003 and 2010, Labour spent a staggering £171 billion on tax credits, contributing to a 60 per cent rise in the welfare bill.”

Welfare TRANSFERS?  That’s a curious expression for what is being discussed.  IDS goes on to say he means ‘tax credits’ which is also a curious and clever use of language as he means WORKING tax credit.  This staggering £171bn is for the striver, the man and women in work on low pay (and in essence a subsidy for Britain’s low pay economy) that the Tory Led Coalition (TLC ? – So that’s what they mean by caring conservatism!) are seeking to attract yet they are actually attacking not attracting; or at least they would be if the electorate scratched under the surface of this web of lies and deceit.

IDS is attempting to attack Labour for helping strivers!!

Is there any end to his political ineptitude!!!

A political point I’m sure that will be rammed back down IDS’s throat and one IDS will regret making even in this very clever work piece of sophistry which has the hallmarks of Osborne demanding IDS blame the last lot for these new ‘welfare reforms’ that will cost more than the last lot gave out.  Oh dear!  IDS who set up his own think tank from his own resources to come up with the radical welfare reforms and his ‘baby’ in Universal Credit – all in order to have his place in political history as the man who tried to change the welfare state for the better rather than as the worst party leader ever – has now been found out just like his welfare reforms that will cost more than the last lot….sorry should that be the last profligate lot?

A staggering £171bn?  I don’t doubt the figure at all but that’s £171bn over 7 or is that 8 years IDS between 2003 and 2010.  Come on must do better!!

Lie 4 – The dulce et decorum one

It may be sweet and noble to lie for your political life IDS but please don’t stoop to the level of the usual lie – the conflation of fraud and error wrapped up and presented as fraud.  That is beneath all politicians…even you!

“Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10 billion. “

I hear there is a remote tribe off a small island near Sarawak that hasn’t yet heard this tactic.

You take any system that has errors with 95%+ of these being error and less than 5% being fraud and you label the entire 100% as fraud and error!!  Nice irony that IDS own DWP now are proposing NOT to publish these figures any longer that repeatedly show fraud in the benefit system is less than 5% of all fraud and error!!

Lie 5 – Mumbo No 5 anyone?

A little bit of foreigner in my lie…

Small wonder really, given that the system was wide open to abuse…..It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this benefit for personal gain.

Oh dear not only is IDS alluding to Johnny Foreigner coming here to get benefits  – and how does that happen anyone? Oh yes it’s an old chestnut of a lie itself! – That is now enhanced by IDS here! A compound lie on a lie if you will.

Wow it’s not just Osborne with that knife in IDS’s back its UKIP and the backbenchers too!!

Lie No 6 – the obscure one only 1% notice!

Little attempt was made to clamp down on potential fraudsters. In the year before the last general election, only 34,000 checks were carried out on what were deemed high-risk awards. In the DWP today, we carry out around 30,000 checks a month on what we consider ”high-risk claimants”.

This is really subtle and quite clever and deserving of a hat tip.  The 34,000 yearly checks IDS discusses were by HMRC for tax credits.  The 30,000 per month checks / 360,000 per year are for ALL welfare benefits and by a different department.  Is that like for like or lie for lie?

Lie No 7 – The profusion of bullshit that ignores the obvious

Even for those in genuine need of support, tax credits were not fit for purpose. They were haemorrhaging money while at the same time trapping people in a system where those trying hard to increase the amount of hours they worked weren’t necessarily better off. What sort of a message does that send to someone who is trying to get on?

What sort of message? Well a better one than taking money away from these ‘strivers’ which you are doing is the direct answer IDS!  (see Lie number 3 above)

He goes on:

“The system I inherited punished hard-working taxpayers and was in need of reform. Welfare spending had increased by a massive 60 per cent under the last government, rising even before the recession hit.“

Ah ‘inherited’ again!  Just how long that line last for under this government?

Increased by 60 % – in what time frame? Vagueness becomes you IDS and then ‘even before’ becomes yet another conflation of two separate points doesn’t it? (q.v. most of the above lies!)

Lie number 8 – the really despicable lie that only a politician can make!

This Government is returning fairness to the welfare system. We are taking 2.2 million people out of tax and getting public spending under control, in a way that helps the poorest into work. Universal credit is designed to make work pay at each and every hour – 1.5 million people will keep more money as they increase their working hours, on average seeing an extra 14 pence in their pocket out of every single pound earned.

An extra 14 pence in their pocket out of each pound earned?  You mean a tax rate of EIGHTY SIX PER CENT!!!

Yes a tax rate on the lowest paid of 86% …and while billionaires get a tax cut!!

What does IDS say about this? “This is a dynamic reform, which will benefit hard-working people across the country.”

Benefit! An 86% tax rate doesn’t have that definition in my dictionary.  I first paid tax under Thatcher and she inherited an 83% top rate of tax that she instantly reduced to 40% yet IDS thinks 86% tax rate is a good thing for the lowest paid workers in his ‘reforms’

Strange how IDS doesn’t mention his welfare reforms will cost the public purse more than they save.  Yet we call that lie an error of omission and of course in this case an error of commission too.

Lie number whatever!

Lets allow a bit more of IDS tubthumping let’s be kind to him!

“The sad truth is that despite leaving Britain with its worst deficit in living memory (I see Labour still being blamed for world recession caused by the bankers then!)…

“... Labour is now voting against the measures this Government is bringing forward to reduce our debts. (Note the language very very carefully and note IDS does not say these measures WILL reduce debt!!) ….

“…..Labour voted against the benefit cap (that’s the one that the Pickles letter reveals the coalition knew would cost more than it saved yet still going ahead with then!   The same one that the coalition said is on track yet has delayed!  The same one that IDS’s own DWP admitted will hit 3 times as many people as they forecast in the final impact assessment just a few months back!)….

“….against reducing the cost of housing benefit…yes the same Housing Benefit that now stands at £23.6bn against the coalition target of £18bn and has risen by £37.85p every second of every day since the election and the same one even Cameron admits is going to rise even further!  Yes that same Housing Benefit that Cameron has been fibbing about all year!

And to think all this effort by IDS has been published over the festive period when every politician knows that is the time to bury bad news (or even to issue housing consultations!) What a consummate politician he is!!

In summary and to be fair IDS has an impossible job.  You cannot reform welfare benefits and reduce the cost of them unless you tackle where two-thirds of the entire welfare benefit is spent…on pensioners.  Oh dear I’ve really upset everyone now haven’t I for stating a simple fact.  I must mean pensioners get too much in benefit.  No I don’t at all.  I simply mean that to reduce overall welfare benefit spend but not reduce pensioner benefits you need to dramatically reduce the benefits of the working-age population, all of those aged 16 – 59 who account for less than one-third of all welfare benefit spend.  That includes the 92% of all new HB claimants since the election that are working.

That is the nightmare for any politician.  If you can’t or wont cut pensioner benefit spend – and every ‘reform’ put in place so far and all those to come this you exclude pensioners – because they make up 40%+ of the electorate and are too politically sensitive then you can’t cut welfare spend..  That is a simple fact.

However that fact does not excuse IDS overtly fibbing to the electorate as he has done in this woeful article today.  Anyone see IDS as a dead duck with Osborne, UKIP and backbench knives at the ready? Sorry IDS you place in political history will not be the great reformer of the burgeoning welfare state as you so want it to be.  It will be as the inept bumbling idiot who couldn’t even see that making a one-stop shop assessment for all benefits, which is the cornerstone of you Universal Credit, means that the many billions of welfare spend that is now not claimed, and HB and WTC alone runs to over £15bn per year alone, will now have to be paid out.

A schoolboy error in your thinking to match the schoolboy article today..quite apt really and all the dissembling and deflection and sophistry can’t hide that basic fact.

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