David Cameron said something today in Prime Minister’s Questions that, even by his ‘high’ standards, was mindblowingly disingenuous.
Trying to ridicule and avoid Ed Miliband’s (perfectly true) accusation that ordinary people will be worse off than ever under this government since George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, and that Osborne’s attempt to demonise people with closed curtains ignores the fact that most benefit claimants are working, and those closed curtains are probably because they were working nights, Cameron said this:
At a time when people accept a pay freeze, we should not be massively increasing benefits
This is deliberately misleading on so many levels it’s untrue. Increasing benefits in line with inflation is not ‘massively increasing’, but simply maintaining benefits – which are anything but lavish – in real terms.
Capping benefit rises at 1%, as Osborne has done, is a real-terms cut, not any kind of increase. And remember, 60% of people receiving benefits are working people.
But the most staggeringly misleading part of the statement is the idea that people ‘accepted’ a pay freeze. The public sector pay-freeze was not ‘accepted’ by public sector workers – it was imposed by a government that left them with no choice and ignored their protests, even making plans to restrict union challenges to the cuts. Unions were livid about the freeze and did not ‘accept’ them by any stretch of the imagination, as even the right-wing Daily Telegraph acknowledged. Similarly, most private sector pay-freezes will not have been accepted by workers, but imposed by company boards.
It seems impossible, but somehow every time Cameron opens his mouth it becomes clearer and clearer that he’s prepared to spout any lie, disinformation or hypocrisy for the sake of a soundbite or if it will help him avoid actually answering a question.