The Coalition have a track record of lying and trying to mislead the public. David Cameron has now been rebuked several times for making false claims: on NHS spending, the rising national debt and the impact of his tax rises and deep spending cuts on economic growth. The Tories invented figures to claim people are now “better off”, but which totally ignored and excluded an account of the impact of significant factors like the rise in VAT, the cost of living, cuts to tax credits and other benefits.
The government is committing fraud on a grand scale. The reason for such deceit has nothing to do with public finances or the state of the economy, and everything to do with shrinking the public realm. There is an irreducibly ideological dimension to Tory economics, and by making it sound “scientific” when really, it’s more akin to philosophy or Tory buck passing, they attempt to lend it an air of authority and legitimacy it does not deserve.
The only thing that unites Tories is wealth, they mostly thrive on creating social divisions. The Tories have used a justification narrative based on a moral entrepreneur approach to scapegoat and vilify vulnerable social groups in order to justify transferring our public wealth to private bank accounts, behind the façade of austerity. What we are witnessing is a governments’ nonchalant adherence to Tory ideology which scripts policies that generate and perpetuate inequality, no matter what the consequences for the most vulnerable. Or the economy.
The Tories peddled the lie that due to Labour’s management of the economy, the UK was “on the brink bankruptcy” and claim the solution to is to cut government spending with a painful programme of austerity cuts. Of course the UK economy was growing in 2010 when the Tories took over and was subsequently plunged back into recession by Osborne’s austerity policies which have meant that the economy has not grown at all under the coalition; and for much of their tenure has been contracting.
Many economists have said consistently that this is the wrong approach. The best solution is to borrow or, better, create money to invest in infrastructure. But what we have instead is Osbornes’ closed economy, with a colossal redistribution of public funds to few private businesses and millionaires, who are sat on our money, whilst the government is steadily removing even more of our public capital through deep cuts. There is no investment in the infrastructure, public services – it’s a framework of increasing and devastating socio-economic entropy.
The Tories seem to think we have forgotten that it was they that lost the Moody’s Investors Service triple A grade, despite pledges to keep it secure. Moody’s credit ratings represent a rank-ordering of creditworthiness, or expected loss.
The Fitch credit rating was also downgraded due to increased borrowing by the Tories, who have borrowed more in 4 years than Labour did in 13. In fact this Tory administration have borrowed more than every single Labour government ever, combined.
The Tories have seized an opportunity to dismantle the institutions they have always hated since the post-war social democratic settlement – institutions of health, welfare, education, culture and human rights which should be provided for all citizens. The Tories attempt to destroy fundamental public support for the health, education and welfare of its people. Offering and inflicting only regressive, punitive policies and devastating cuts, the Tories lie to drag the compliant, conforming and increasingly shell-shocked electorate along as they dismantle our social democracy, our public services, fundamental rights and the very basis of our civilisation.
Whenever this authoritarian government have been challenged and opposed effectively, they simply ignore or edit the law, veto tribunal rulings or invoke archaic government privilege to bypass opposition and to get their own way with unpopular policies, such as The Health and Social Care Bill and the Welfare “Reforms”.
That a government needs to employ such underhanded methods to pass their policy through the legislative process, and justify such policies by lying, and by the malevolent scapegoating of vulnerable sections of society via the media, informs us that those policies are not addressing public needs, and wishes; that they are not democratically motivated or processed and that they reflect a political ideology which does not accommodate social and economic realities, nor is it fitting for a so-called first world liberal democracy that is a signatory to several international human rights charters to witness a government so deceptive and arbitrary in its approach to legitimacy.
Here is catalogue of officially recognised Tory lies used to justify their unjustifiable policies, which have have resulted in official reprimands:
David Cameron rebuked by statistics watchdog over national debt claims -The PM said the government was ‘paying down Britain’s debts’ in a political broadcast, even though the debt is actually rising.
“Now that his false claims have been exposed, it’s time the prime minister stopped deliberately misleading people about his economic record” – Rachel Reeves.
Finally Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise? David Cameron rebuked over austerity claims – David Cameron has been corrected by the Treasury’s own forecaster over claims that cuts in public spending are not reducing economic growth. The Office for Budget Responsibility told the Prime Minister that it does believe that cutting public spending will reduce economic growth in the short term.
Robert Chote, the head of the OBR, contradicted a claim Mr Cameron made this week in a speech about the economy, in which the Prime Minister said the forecaster does not believe cuts are reducing growth.
In fact, as Mr Chote wrote, the OBR believes that cuts in spending and increases in tax will depress economic activity, meaning lower growth.
OBR head rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy. Office for Budget Responsibility chief Robert Chote dismisses the “danger of insolvency”.
In the weeks after he took office, George Osborne justified his austerity programme by claiming that Britain was on “the brink of bankruptcy”. He told the Conservative conference in October 2010: “The good news is that we are in government after 13 years of a disastrous Labour administration that brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy.”
It was, of course, nonsense.
*Please note the original link to the New Statesman article seems to have curiously vanished. So here is a cached link to the same article: OBR head rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy.
David Cameron rebuked over jobs claim: Sir Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, the independent statistics regulator, said the prime minister was wrong to say figures showed that more than three-quarters of all new jobs went to British citizens when “official statistics do not show the number of new jobs.”
Cameron was attempting to show in an interview for the Daily Telegraph that the government had reversed a situation in its first few years of office when he claimed most new jobs were taken by migrant workers. The interview was widely interpreted as an attempt to win over Ukip voters who believe most jobs created as Britain’s economy recovers are being snapped up by foreigners.
Following a complaint by Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic & Social Research, Dilnot confirmed that neither the original fear that migrants were taking British jobs nor the reversal of this trend were supported by official data.
Employment data collected by the Office for National Statistics relates to jobs in the economy whether or not they are newly created by employers. Dilnot said the relevant figures from the ONS showed the number of migrants in the labour force increased by 400,000 over the last five years, an 18% rise, while the number of UK nationals increased by 3%, or 900,000.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, the independent statistics regulator, said the prime minister was wrong to say figures showed that more than three-quarters of all new jobs went to British citizens when “official statistics do not show the number of new jobs.”
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham launched a scathing rebuke of the decision to exercise the Government’s veto in a report on the case to Parliament. Blocking the publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms is a sign that ministers want to downgrade freedom of information laws, a watchdog has warned. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley deployed it to block an Information Tribunal ruling that he should meet Labour demands to disclose the document.
Duncan Smith rebuked by ONS for misuse of benefit statistics – The claim that 8,000 people moved into work as a result of the benefit cap is “unsupported by the official statistics”, says the UK Statistics Authority. In letter to Duncan Smith, Andrew Dilnot writes: “In the manner and form published, the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice, particularly in respect of accessibility to the sources of data, information about the methodology and quality of the statistics, and the suggestion that the statistics were shared with the media in advance of their publication.”
Another statement by Duncan Smith later in the month also drew criticism and a reprimand. The minister said around 1 million people have been stuck on benefits for at least three of the last four years “despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work”.
However, the figures cited also included single mothers, people who were seriously ill, and people awaiting testing.
Iain Duncan Smith Rebuked Over Immigration Statistics – Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions have been accused of publishing misleading immigration figures that were “highly vulnerable to misinterpretation”.Figures showing 371,000 immigrants were on benefits were rushed out by ministers with insufficient regard for “weaknesses” in the data, according to the UK Statistics Authority.
In a strongly-worded rebuke to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the head of the UKSA, sir Michael Scholar, condemned the handling of the research, the Press Association reported.
Sir Michael said that despite being “highly vulnerable to misinterpretation”, the claims were given to the media without the safeguards demanded for official statistics and by issuing the figures as a “research paper”, the DWP had bypassed the need to meet the usual code of conduct, he noted.
Grant Shapps rebuked by UK Statistics Authority for misrepresenting benefit figures – Yet another Conservative politician is caught making it up. Grant Shapps has joined his fellow Conservatives in the data hall of shame. In March, the Tory chairman claimed that “nearly a million people” (878,300) on incapacity benefit had dropped their claims, rather than face a new medical assessment for its successor, the employment and support allowance.
The figures, he said, “demonstrate how the welfare system was broken under Labour and why our reforms are so important”. The claim was faithfully reported by the Sunday Telegraph but as the UK Statistics Authority has now confirmed in its response to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore (see below), it was entirely fabricated.
In his letter to Shapps and Iain Duncan Smith, UKSA chair Andrew Dilnot writes that the figure conflated “official statistics relating to new claimants of the ESA with official statistics on recipients of the incapacity benefit (IB) who are being migrated across to the ESA”. Of the 603,600 incapacity benefit claimants referred for reassessment as part of the introduction of the ESA between March 2011 and May 2012, just 19,700 (somewhat short of Shapps’s “nearly a million) abandoned their claims prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012.
The figure of 878,300 refers to the total of new claims for the ESA closed before medical assessment from October 2008 to May 2012. Thus, Shapps’s suggestion that the 878,300 were pre-existing claimants, who would rather lose their benefits than be exposed as “scroungers”, was entirely wrong.
As significantly, there is no evidence that those who abandoned their claims did so for the reasons ascribed by Shapps.
The chair of the UK Statistics Authority has rebuked shadow home secretary Chris Grayling – the authority have said he “must take issue” with claims made by the conservatives and warned the way they use violent crime statistics is “likely to mislead the public” and damage public trust. Mr Grayling has used a comparison between figures to suggest that the Labour government has presided over a runaway rise in violent crime.
Even colleague Iain Duncan Smith said that such comparisons were “profoundly misleading and London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, described Grayings’ claim as “absolute nonsense”. Chris Grayling made a headline-grabbing speech in which he likened life in Britain’s inner cities to that in Baltimore, Maryland, as portrayed in the acclaimed television series The Wire. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, remarked: “The connection between The Wire and Chris Grayling’s grasp on the problems of modern Britain is that they are both fictional.”
Treasury rebuked by UK Statistics Authority for inflation leaks – Britain’s statistics watchdog, ordered the Treasury to review its processes after sensitive inflation data this month was sent to 400 unauthorised people 17 hours before its release. Sir Michael warned: “There is a risk of market manipulation if key economic data fall in to the wrong hands before publication.”
Speculation data was leaking into the market ahead of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announcement has been rife. Market rumours correctly predicted the last two Consumer Price Index inflation releases just before publication – in April and May.
UK Statistics rebukes Government over NHS spending claims – David Cameron famously promised he would cut the deficit, not the NHS. We now have it in black and white: he is cutting the NHS, not the deficit. There could be no clearer evidence of the failure of this Prime Minister and his Government.
“For months, David Cameron’s Government have made misleading boasts about NHS spending, misrepresenting the true financial difficulties he has brought upon the NHS. At the same time they have recently begun to try to distance themselves from these problems which David Cameron has created, trying to shift the blame to the NHS and its staff” – Andy Burnham.
The watchdog has called on ministers to correct claims the coalition has made that they increased NHS spending in England. The UK Statistics Authority upheld a complaint by Labour about government claims the NHS budget had increased in real-terms in the past two years.
The watchdog found the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10. The coalition said during its spending review the NHS budget had gone up.
Coalition rebuked again by UK Statistics Authority – this time on flood defence spending. Andrew Dilnot says a Treasury graph on infrastructure left readers with “a false impression of the relative size of investment between sectors”. George Osborne and the Treasury have been reprimanded for misleading people about the government’s investment in infrastructure. For example, their chart made it look like investment in flood defences was roughly the same as in other areas, when in fact it was a tiny fraction.
Andrew Dilnot rebukes Treasury again over the false presentation of statistics in the National Infrastructure Plan.
The UK Statistics Authority has censured the Department for Education – Sir Michael Wilshaw – appointed by Mr Gove as Ofsted chief inspector – for using uncertain, weak and “problematic” statistics to claim that England’s schools have tumbled down the global rankings – the central justification for Goves’ sweeping school reforms. But now the government’s own statistics watchdog has called into question the figures at the heart of the education secretary’s argument. His verdict will be seen by critics as a blow to Mr Gove’s claim that England has “plummeted in the world rankings” given that the education secretary has been so unequivocal about the figures, arguing that “these are facts from which we cannot hide”.
Senior Conservative ministers have been rebuked for attempting to cover up Government statistics – showing one of their key housing policies is not working. In his ruling, seen by The Independent, the Information Commissioner roundly rejected the argument put forward by DCLG officials and demanded that the information be released.
“The exemptions cited by DCLG require more than the possible inconvenience in responding to queries about disclosures,” he wrote scathingly.
“The Commissioner considers that DCLG has not provided arguments which demonstrate that disclosure would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.”
He ordered the information be released.
And what did it show? In a short table released to the Labour Party, it showed that the number of people who begin self-build homes had fallen since the depths of the recession in 2009 under Labour from 11,800 to 10,400 in 2011.
Oddly the department claimed it did not hold the statistics for 2012 – despite the fact that more than five months had elapsed since the period covered by the data.
Theresa May rebuked over illegally deported asylum seeker – Rare court order calls on home secretary to find and bring back Turkish national and investigate UK Border Agency conduct.
The home secretary has returned to the high court and asked Mr Justice Lloyd Jones to set aside the order. The request was rejected and May now has to ensure the man is brought back to the UK. It is rare for orders to be granted by the court calling for people who have been forcibly removed from the UK to be returned and even rarer for the home secretary not to comply with them.
Mr Justice Singh stated that he was “very concerned” the government had failed to comply with his order.
In the court documents a senior UK Border Agency official admitted: “It is regrettable that the claimant was removed in spite of a court order preventing removal.”
Watchdog reprimands Eric Pickles’ department for £217m overdraft – The National Audit Office finding is embarrassing for communities secretary who was praised by chancellor as ‘model of lean government’ – for his ability to impose cuts on struggling councils – he has been reprimanded by the Whitehall spending watchdog for running up an unauthorised departmental overdraft of £217m, the NAO disclosed that the Treasury had imposed a £20,000 fine on his department as a punishment for its poor financial management.
The head of the civil service officially reprimanded David Cameron over the behaviour of his special advisers – following ‘unacceptable’ briefings to journalists, PR Week has learned. Sir Gus O’Donnell was so alarmed at briefings coming out of Government that he wrote a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister urging him to restrain his aides.
Prime Minister is rebuked over Liam Fox inquiry, for failing to call in his independent adviser to look at claims that the ministerial code had been breached. Fox resigned after being found guilty of breaching the code in his relations with lobbyist Mr Werritty.
MPs also claim the advisory role itself “lacks independence” after a new candidate was appointed behind closed doors by Mr Cameron.
Office of National Statistics rebukes David Cameron because of his false claim that average waiting time in Accident & Emergency has fallen.
Andrew Dilnot rebukes Cameron regarding the false claim that most new jobs in Britain used to go to foreign workers but now go to British workers.
David Cameron rebuked AGAIN by the Office of National Statistics for the false claim that Britain is “paying down its debts”. The Prime Minister said Britain had been “paying down its debts” during the Tory party conference, Sir Andrew Dilnot, pointed out that, while the deficit has fallen since the Coalition came to power in 2010, debt has risen.
And he noted that he had already rebuked Mr Cameron for making the same claim in a party political broadcast in 2013.
George Osborne rebuked for boasting he halved £1.7bn EU surcharge – The all-party Treasury select committee said: “The suggestion that the £1.7bn bill demanded by the European Union was halved is not supported by published information.”
The committee’s reproach is a blow to Osborne before the general election, when the Tories are expected to come under fire from Eurosceptics inside the party and from Ukip over the size of the UK’s EU contribution.
Finally, Coalition is rebuked by Churches over ‘human cost’ of austerity measures – despite Camerons’ claim that his policies are because of “divine inspiration”
Further evidence – UK Statistics Authority correspondence list: complaints and responses regarding Tory lies.
Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone