Friday, 8 November 2013

Government`s "economy with truth"

  Being "economical with the truth" appears to be rising to a new level with this government.We`ve recently heard Jeremy Hunt alleging that foreign visitors and short-term migrants, taking advantage of the NHS, cost  the taxpayer £300m a year, ignoring the government`s own research which suggests the true figure is nearer £60m; accuracy does not appear to be a priority when it comes to data, as long as the "gutter press" can be fed with misinformation to mislead their readers.
          A few incorrect figures can, of course, deflect attention from a ministry`s incompetence, or promote a flawed ideology; not so long ago Iain Duncan Smith was discovered to have issued completely spurious statistics to claim his benefits cap had encouraged 8000 unemployed to move into jobs; the made-up figure did not deter the media from reporting it as fact, and the damage was done before the truth was revealed. Gove has also misled the public, even to the extent of being reprimanded by the OECD, in his quest to denigrate state schools, so successfully he seems to have convinced the opposition of the need for free schools and Performance Related Pay for teachers! Accuracy, such as the positioning of British schools as 6th in Pearson`s education league tables, somehow gets ignored.
       We should be wary of the government`s "claimant-count measure of unemployment", especially as numbers claiming Job Seekers Allowance are bound to be lower when 387,000 have been forced to abandon their claim because of the "new sanctions regime". Notice how Cameron always stresses these figures, and the ones relating to people in work, because he can include part-time workers, even though they desperately want more hours, and those on the dreadful zero-hours contracts, suitable for students maybe, but not for anyone with a family or mortgage.
      Figures, of course, add authority to Government claims, but when none "suitable" are available, Goebbels-like repetition is the favoured method; hence the public is inundated with the "need for privatisation" in order to encourage profits and investment in our industries and transport, whilst the millions paid into the Treasury by the profitable Royal Mail and the east coast railway fail to get a mention. Similarly, state ownership is always wrong, except when other countries` nationalised companies are taking over British businesses.

       A reduction in unemployment figures, no matter how convoluted, adds to the argument that the economy is recovering, and that coalition policies are justified! The sad thing is that the government gets away with it, largely because of its massive media support, and a response from Labour which, to say the very least, is ineffective.

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