Iain Duncan Smith had a free lunch from the Daily Mail, News Corporation, The Daily Telegraph (they bought him dinner as well) and The Spectator between October 2012 and March this year. Even The Guardian have splashed out to feed the sponging Secretary of State, along with the BBC, who were recently slammed over their bias against benefits claimants in a flagship documentary screened in 2011. IDS also had a free dinner with the McWhirter Foundation, an organisation established as a tribute to apartheid supporting racist Ross McWhirter.
Predictably it is the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban who has been the biggest beneficiary of the right wing press’s generosity. He may not do much work, but he’s not one to miss a hand out from Rupert Murdoch. Hoban scrounged three free lunches out of the The Sun newspaper in his first six months in the job, along with the Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph and The Financial Times. He also managed to drag himself away from his tax payer funded silk cushions to enjoy a freebie from the BBC , along with one from The Guardian/Observer and a dinner from right-wing think tank The Policy Exchange.
In fact Mark Hoban had more free meals than all of the ministers involved in welfare reform put together between September 2012 and March 2013, although this does take into account Billy No Mates Lord Fraud who has only been bought lunch once in the last two years. Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey is equally unpopular with just one licence payer funded lunch from the BBC since she started in the job.
For a long time the cosy relationship between the DWP and the some sections of the press has been all too obvious. As Iain Duncan Smith has embarked on a string of brutal and reckless reforms to social security, the right wing media has unleashed a tsunmai of nasty and vindictive benefit claimant bashing stories as political cover.
You might have thought that Ministers trying to influence the press into supporting their policies would at least have had the decency to pay for their own lunches. The culture of entitlement is alive and well amongst the senior ministers at the DWP.
The records (apart from the months January-June 2012 which appear to be missing) can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/series/dwp-ministers-hospitality-and-gifts
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