I came across three pictures this morning that speak volumes about this government – about its deceptiveness and its real agendas.
The first, from the PCS union via Sue Jones’ excellent blog, nails the government lies about the UK’s supposedly over-generous benefits system. The Tories in particular (although the LibDems tamely parrot the ‘company’ line) love to talk about ‘making work pay’ as though the way to do that is by turning unemployment into destitution.
They talk as freely as they do inaccurately about ‘people on £100k of benefits’ and the ‘need’ to cap benefits at £500k per week ‘because it’s not fair that working people should get less than those on benefits, and use their ‘skiver vs striver’ rhetoric to deliberately mislead those who don’t know better into thinking that the ‘welfare’ cuts only affect some mythical class of layabout, when in fact the vast majority receiving benefits are working, but being very poorly paid.
The net effect of all this is to create the belief, in the minds of those who get their news from the right-wing press or even, God help us, from the BBC, that the UK is too generous – that being unemployed is a ‘lifestyle choice’. Into believing that Shameless is real life.
Are benefits ‘too generous’? Take a look at this, which speaks for itself:
The answer is no – the Tories are lying (again).
The second image – from no less surprising a source than the Daily Mail – maps out (some of) the downgrades and closures of NHS hospitals that are planned or in progress. The map misses a lot, but in a context where the government and (usually) the media work hard to keep anyone from seeing the whole picture of what the government is doing to the NHS, it’s still striking:
All across the UK, with almost no attention from the national press and television, hospitals are being quietly downgraded or close – and remember, this map is incomplete. Well, not quietly, exactly. Last month more than 50,000 people packed the streets of Stafford to march in support of their hospital, which is set to be broken up and probably sold off to private bidders – but were almost entirely ignored by the national media.
But in this graphic, you can get a clear – if incomplete – picture of what is being done by the party that claimed ‘The NHS is safe in our hands’.
Our 3rd picture takes us back to the supposed ‘skivers’ again – and again the source is surprising: the Daily Mail (via the outstanding Johnny Void blog).
The government would have us believe that hundreds of thousands of disability benefit claimants are ‘swinging the lead’ and could work if they wanted. They even want us to believe that 900,000 ended their claims rather than attend an assessment of their fitness – even though the real figures show nothing of the sort.
Here’s the Daily Mail image:
This map shows the numbers of people found ‘fit for work’ around the country. As Johnny Void points out, the figure in Leeds represents around 1 person in 300 claiming disability benefits when they could be working (even if the full figure shown is correct, which it won’t be – 40% or so of ‘fit for work’ decisions by Atos are overturned).
Even if every figure shown was cast iron, among some 3 million disability benefit claimants, the totals shown here are tiny, almost negligible. Yet the government has promoted the ‘disabled skiver’ line so much that hate-crimes against disabled people have rocketed.
They say that if a Tory’s lips are moving, he’s lying. They also say a picture is worth a thousand words.
I’d say the latter proves the former. Wouldn’t you?