Tag Archives: government lies

Chris Grayling: The Compulsive Liar at the Heart of Government

There appears to be little agreement amongst psychiatrists as to whether compulsive or pathological lying is a genuine personality disorder, whether it is a symptom of another condition, or whether in fact, some people are just lying bastards.

One thing seems clear which is if it is left untreated it can develop into a delusional state in which the individual barely knows whether they are telling the truth themselves.  For some people lying becomes the default position, and this is compounded by the need to keep lying to maintain past deceptions.

This of course can be devastating for both the individual and the people around them.  Compulsive liars may often be little more than harmless eccentrics or pub bores, but many of them manage to lie themselves into  positions of responsibility.  This is the case with Employment Minister Chris Grayling who has resorted to ever more outrageous falsehoods, even risking his career recently by lying to the Parliamentary Committee on Work and Pensions.

Grayling’s deceptions began way back in 2007, when he was Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.  His first big whopper was his claim that “billions of pounds are being lost to fraud” in the benefits system.  This was based on figures which showed that £2.5 billion was lost due to fraud and error in the system.  It turned out that the amount lost to fraud alone was less than a billion.  Grayling has never apologised for this distortion of the truth and has remained relentless in his  attempts to portray benefit claimants as criminals.  A press release issued by the DWP just last year led to lurid and fictional headlines claiming that 75% of people on sickness benefits were ‘skiving’.  Disability hate crime soared as a result.

Grayling’s decline seemed to accelerate in 2009.  Back then Grayling was Shadow Home Secretary, and tipped to be a big wheel in government should the Conservatives return to power.  After a single visit to the Moss Side area of  Manchester, Grayling claimed the area was in a state of urban war, comparing it to the fictional depiction of Baltimore in television’s The Wire.  Manchester has a population almost five times that of Baltimore, yet Baltimore has a murder rate around seven times higher than the Northern city.

Shortly after this the expenses row blew up and Grayling did not fare at all well.  At one point Grayling claimed for two mortgages, one on his large family home in Surrey, just a short commuter trip from London, and another on his posh flat in Pimlico.  Grayling also owns two buy to let properties within the M25.  In 2005 he carried out extensive renovations on his Pimlico flat and to pay for them claimed almost close to the maximum annual allowance for MPs.  This wasn’t quite enough however and a year later he was back claiming thousands more for work done the previous year.  Had he not spread the cost over two years he would have been unable to claim the full amount.  He explained away this discrepancy by pleading that his “decorator has been very ill and didn’t invoice me until now.”  

Only a year later Grayling was at it again.  This time he claimed that violent crime had soared under the Labour Government.  Grayling had deliberately chosen to ignore the change in the way crime had been recorded which led to a furious rebuke from the UK National Statistics Authority.  The chairman of the authority, Sir Michael Scholar, was forced to write to Grayling accusing  him of misleading the public and risking damage to public trust in official statistics.

His most famous gaffe came a month later.  Grayling was recorded saying he supported the right of B&B owners to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.  This drew condemnation from across the political spectrum with calls for his resignation.  Cameron was incensed that the true face of Tory bigotry had been revealed to the public and Grayling all but disappeared from public life until after the current Government weren’t elected in 2010.

As ever Grayling attempted to squirm his way out of the scandal claiming: “I am sorry if what I said gave the wrong impression, I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone… I voted for gay rights”

No-one accused him of giving the wrong impression, we all know what the Tories are really like.  Theyworkforyou.com reveals that in truth Grayling has voted moderately against gay rights, voting against the initial legislation to establish civil partnerships, against fertility treatment for gay couples and was absent from the vote on repealing the notorious Section 28.

It was upon his appointment to Employment Minister however that Grayling’s pathological deceptions really began to take hold. An early scandal emerged over the private companies given lucrative contracts to carry out the flagship ‘Work Programme’.  Deloitte Ingeous were listed as preferred bidders by Grayling and went on to win a contract worth almost a billion pounds.  Grayling had previously received a donation worth £27,978  from Deloitte.  Grayling for once remained tight lipped on the affair which Labour Minister John Robertson claimed could be a breach of the ministerial code.

When the workfare row broke out two months ago Grayling found himself repeatedly forced into the public eye and he began to fib and bluster like never before.  It is now impossible to know whether people are mandated to workfare for private companies on the Work Programme as Grayling says one thing yet his department claims quite another.  DWP officials have been reduced to rewriting documents and ‘disappearing’ freedom of information requests to cover up for Grayling’s dishonesty.  Grayling claimed that under the last Government people who undertook work experience lost their benefits when in fact (to their shame) it was Labour who introduced workfare.  Spurious claims about 20,000 young people finding work due to the Tory’s Work Experience scheme were never backed up.  He was humiliated on Channel 4 news when he pleaded to his interviewer to look into his eyes and see that he wasn’t lying.  This was in response to his claim that the Government’s Work Experience was completely voluntary despite Channel 4 news presenting a letter from the DWP which confirmed that this was far from the case.

As the row deepened Grayling’s fibs became ever more bizarre.  Whilst David Cameron boasted of all the new companies who were joining the Work Experience scheme, the DWP, under Grayling, began to refuse FOI requests asking exactly who these companies were.  Blaming the resistance to workfare on an SWP plot he revealed himself to be  increasingly paranoid, at one point even accusing the SWP of hacking his email account.

Last month he deliberately ignored the number of people who successfully appealed decisions which had declared them fit for work and stripped them of vital benefits.  The DWP published a press release which dishonestly claimed over a third of those assessed were Fit For Work, a number which omitted the growing number of appeals.

When Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind quit an advisory panel on the Government’s Work Capability Assessment recently,   Grayling’s pathetic response was to pretend he was going to sack him anyway.  Farmer had said the assessment was unfit for purpose,  whilst Grayling alleged his position was untenable because Mind were suing the DWP.  According to Mind no such court case was on the cards.

And it was late last month that Grayling lied to a Parliamentary Committee when he declared there is no evidence of anyone on the Work Programme being sent on a mandatory work placement at a private company.  This was perhaps Grayling’s most bare-faced lie yet, as despite the DWP’s attempt at a cover up, evidence of this practice can be found in seconds.

None of the other members of the committee have yet commented on Graying’s lies, although they have been informed.  This may be down to the fact that the lazy bastards are on holiday again.

It is clear that Grayling is out of control.  The DWP is fast becoming a laughing stock whilst insiders say the system is in meltdown behind the scenes.  With a Minister in charge who seems to be making things up as he goes along, it is little wonder that the no-one in the department seems to know, or even care, what’s going on anymore.

When people lie compulsively a day of reckoning is never far away.  Deceptions can only be maintained for so long until eventually the whole charade comes crashing down around them.  Grayling has been very quiet the last couple of weeks.  His initial swagger is all but non-existent these days.  Some have claimed his career is hanging by a thread.

The rows over Atos and the WCA, along with workfare, are still generating headlines.  Universal Credit is a train crash waiting to happen.  It will no doubt be entertaining to watch Grayling attempting to wriggle and squirm his way out of trouble yet again.  You can hardly blame him.  He’s just doing what’s always come naturally, and he’s been well rewarded by Cameron in the past.

It is a weak leader who allows such a dishonest and malevolent influence in their ranks.  Grayling has been a continual embarrassment to the Tory Party and Cameron has still cheered him from the sidelines.  The Prime Minister looks unable even to control his own ministers.  If a lying, cheating, scheming, money-grabbing bastard like Grayling is the best the Tories can come up with to ram raid through welfare reform then it reveals a party desperately lacking in talent.  Still, with Grayling on board, at least you can’t accuse them of a lack of imagination.

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Iain Duncan Smith is a Lying Bastard

Iain Duncan Smith revealed himself as a sad and desperate man with his pitiful outburst aimed at the Bishops last weekend.  So intent is he on pushing through his inept and brutal Welfare Reform Bill, the lies have been dripping from his tongue with such frequency it’s unlikely if he even really knows what the truth is anymore.

During his crazed outburst last weekend IDS suggested that children who share a room are classed as homeless, fibbing that:

‘The definition (of homelessness) inside government and places like Shelter is that children have to share rooms.”

Shelter’s  Chief executive Campbell Robb  has hit back saying that this is simply not true,  and that Shelter used the same definition of homelessness that everyone else does, which is laid out in the Housing Act.  Children of the same sex are expected to share a room until they are sixteen whilst those of the opposite sex are expected to share until they are 11.  This applies not just to Housing Benefit eligibility but also Council House allocations.  Even teenagers of different sexes sharing a room would not be deemed as homeless, although they would be eligible for council housing assistance, which can take a long time.  These are all things you would presume the Secretary of State would know.

Now his grand claims made of the Work Programme Scheme are falling apart.  The DWP has claimed that 40% of people on the new mandatory forced labour scheme will find work.  However the National Audit Office claims that the figure is likely to be only 26% based on previous schemes carried out in more positive economic times.  IDS’ clone and underling Chris Grayling says this figure is based on ‘guesswork’ by which he presumably meant to say ‘evidence’ unlike the DWP’s own figures which appear to be pie in the sky.

And pie in the sky is exactly what a recent government insider called claims that Universal Credit, the new and vastly expensive replacement for Working Tax Credit and other benefits, will be ready to roll out in Autumn 2013.

Perhaps this is over-exaggeration, unlike the other outright lie frequently told by Duncan Smith this month, which is that low income working families couldn’t afford to live in the same properties as Housing Benefit Claimants.  In fact they could, and many do, by claiming Housing Benefit themselves, which is an in work benefit.  This distortion of the truth has been told so many times it has become repeated as fact by ministers, the media and the DWP alike.

Now it seems that the recent shock horror statistics that 371,000 migrants are claiming benefits weren’t actually government statistics at all but in fact were part of a research report.  Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, explains:

“These statistics are both highly relevant to public policy and highly vulnerable to misinterpretation,”

“There are important caveats and weaknesses that need to be explained carefully and objectively to parliament, and to the news media at the time of publication,”

This didn’t stop employment minister, Chris Grayling, and the immigration minister, Damian Green running to the right wing press in howling outrage over the figures over the weekend.  According to the Guardian Iain Duncan Smith has said this kind of fuck up won’t be repeated.  It will be a different kind of fuck up next time.

It’s hardly surprisingly IDS is getting desperate.  With six defeats now inflicted on the Welfare Reform Bill in the Lords the truth about his shabby attempts at Welfare Reform are unravelling.  The bill is rotten and incompetent from top to bottom.  Few Ministers and even fewer Lords have any understanding of Welfare and many have been sucked into the claimant witch-hunt by the drip of misinformation from the DWP and the press, but even they can recognise a shambles when they see one.

The response from Labour has been predictably  inept, even from those former Ministers who grappled with welfare themselves and should know better.  It is entirely possible that this is because they see the car crash coming for Iain Duncan Smith and have no desire to put on the breaks.  There are already whispers that the Welfare Reform Bill could become this government’s poll tax when it’s full effects are unleashed on the populace.  They may have what they think is public opinion on their side now, but the public are fickle bastards.  When it’s their granny losing her DLA or their neighbours kids being made homeless attitudes will change very quickly.

Homelessness is already rising and could soar beyond even the most pessimistic predictions.  The Atos disability assessment system is in shambles, and they’ve barely even begun re-assessing the 2 million people on sickness benefits.  As of November last year they had only completed 56,000 Work Capability Assessments, just around 20% of the target of 11,000 a week since the process began back in April.  Add to this 3 and a half million to be re-assessed as part of DLA’s replacement, the Personal Independence Payment, and the upcoming disaster is plain to see. Already the appeal courts are in chaos whilst private companies involved in Welfare Reform are at each other’s throats.

As New Labour found out after spending billions on the failed New Deal, workfare doesn’t work.  The new Work Programme, which IDS claims will help all those stripped of sickness and housing benefits find work, will be a disaster at a time of high unemployment.  Even in more favourable economic conditions all that ever happened is that all those who would have found jobs anyway did so.   Private workfare sharks like A4e and Reed simply picked up a fat cheque for pretending to help young people who got jobs themselves.  Unemployment rates were barely affected, if at all.  At least the New Deal had a training element to help those with lower skills and greater needs, IDS’ Work Programme contains no such provision.

The reforms to Council Tax benefits could see Local Authorities chasing the poorest families in their boroughs for just a few pounds a week, a situation directly comparable with one of the most unpopular aspects of Thatcher’s Poll Tax.  And the Universal Credit, dependent as it is on creating the largest and most complex IT database ever attempted on the planet, is doomed to be yet another failed government IT project with hundreds of millions currently being pumped into a black hole.

Resistance continues to spread against all aspects of the Bill, with UKuncut joining disabled protesters planning a daring and disruptive act of civil disobedience aimed at the Welfare Reform Bill this weekend.  Pickets of workfare exploiters are planned with Brighton Benefits Campaign taking action against Poundland on Saturday.  Court cases are also on the away challenging the forced labour scheme and groups such as Boycott Workfare are going from strength to strength.  Protesters have vowed to continue the campaign against Atos, who carry out the Work Capability Assessment so vital to the welfare reforms, and a demonstration is planned in Nottingham on February 3rd with the promise of more action to come around the UK.  The Spartacus Report forced so many concessions out of Lord Freud on disability benefit reform that chaos seems inevitable.  Finally the PCS, whose members will be expected to carry out these reforms, are embroiled in industrial action over pensions that doesn’t look like ending any time soon.

So there is little surprise that Iain Duncan Smith is pushed into ever more desperate behaviour as his long cherished dreams of an all out assault on the poor crumble before his eyes.  That’s no excuse for telling porky pies though.  There was a time when deliberately misleading the public was a resigning offence (if you got caught).  It now seems that senior Government Ministers can lie outright, time and time again, and still remain in post.  Why on earth should anyone ever believe a word Iain Duncan Smith says again?  And more importantly why should someone so utterly incompetent be trusted with the lives of millions of the country’s poorest families?