Eoin Clarke’s excellent blog recently highlighted the fact that the Conservatives had recently changed their official website because their claims to have increased spending in every year of this Parliament so far had been shown to be untrue by an official report by Andrew Dilnot, Dilnot, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, had rebuked the government for misusing statistics and making its false claim on NHS spending.
The Tories responded, at least on their party website. Instead of claiming to have increased spending ‘in each of the last 2 years’, it now claims that they increased it ‘since 2010-11′, a subtle but important difference.
Today, I’ve been watching Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham using today’s debate on NHS Funding to try to get his opposite number, Jeremy Hunt, to admit on the record that his and his colleagues’ previous claims – to Parliament, a very serious matter – to have increased spending every year were false. It’s been pathetic, laughable and infuriating in roughly equal measure to watch Hunt weasel his way around the issue in an attempt to ridicule Burnham and Labour for daring to raise the issue, by making all kinds of statements about efficiency, overall increases and – even though it completely contradicts the rest of his dodging – that Dilnot reports that NHS spending is unchanged in real terms. Anything but actually answer the accusation and admit that the Tories gave Parliament false information by claiming an ‘increase in each year’, just like the website.
Burnham also pointed out that several Conservative MPs needed to rush to change their websites because they were still making the claim that the Tories had increased spending every year, even though Dilnot says emphatically, at least a week ago:
expenditure on the NHS in real terms was lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2009-10
Well, perhaps those MPs will do just that, and try to pretend it never happened, following the lead of their Health Secretary. But to make sure they can’t eradicate their lie completely, I’ve decided to record their names and statements here. The Tories like a bit of ‘naming and shaming’, after all.
The MPs mentioned by Andy Burnham today were ‘the members for’ Mid Derbyshire (Pauline Latham), South West Beds (Andrew Selous), North Herefordshire (Bill Wiggin), Hendon (Matthew Offord) and Sleaford & North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips).
Here are the statements from their websites, followed by a screenshot from each:
Pauline Latham MP
The Government is increasing spending on the NHS in real terms in every year of this Parliament.
Andrew Selous MP
We have protected spending on the NHS to guarantee real-terms increases in each year of this Parliament.
Bill Wiggin MP
We are increasing resources to the NHS. Even when we are taking very tough spending decisions, we are increasing spending in real terms
Matthew Offord MP
Even though the Government is having to take very tough spending decisions, we are increasing spending on the NHS in real terms
Stephen Phillips MP
We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament
So, there you have it. Tory MPs lying to their constituents and the nation about our country’s most-treasured institution and their party’s actions, even after their party HQ amended its false claims (just barely). I’d be amazed if these five were the only ones, so if you hear of others, please let me know.
It’s no wonder, though, that they behave in this way and treat us and even their own supporters as contemptible idiots – it seems to be deeply-embedded in Tory DNA, and they’re following the example set by those at the top of their party, from Cameron, Osborne and Hunt downwards. These attitudes, and the lies they lead to, are killing people as the sick and disabled are targeted and deprived, and they are costing the jobs and hope of millions of others.
There’s only one possible sane reaction to this and all the other Tory crimes and misdeeds: consign them to electoral oblivion at the first opportunity. The sooner it comes, the better.