DWP Secretary Esther McVey is infamous for her extraordinary arrogance and insensitivity – for example, outraging Scottish MSPs by brushing off a benefit sanction applied to a claimant who missed an apppointment because of a heart attack and telling MPs that forcing rape victims to fill in forms to ‘prove’ a birth resulted from rape was an opportunity for them to open up.
But Ms McVey also sometimes demonstrates a relationship with the truth so tenuous – or simply contradictory – that she comes across as either a fantasist or deliberately dishonest.
So it was on Monday, when she insisted that a report by the NAO (National Audit Office) recommended speeding up the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) when MPs pointed out that the report says it must not go any further indefinitely:
The NAO report’s recommendations state categorically that the DWP:
should formally assess the readiness of automation and digital systems to support increased caseloads before migration begins, and ensure the programme does not expand before business-as-usual operations can cope with higher claimant volumes.
This was an outrageous falsehood that so completely contradicted the content of a report she must have been intimately familiar with that it beggars belief to propose that she did it accidentally.
So horrified was the head of the NAO at McVey’s wanton and complete misrepresentation of his report that he took the extraordinary step of publishing an ‘open letter’ calling her out for it:
But that’s exactly what she did today, when she appeared before MPs to offer an ‘apology’ for misleading them.
Note, in the orange-highlighted line above, that the NAO head re-emphasises the point of the report: that ‘the Department must now ensure it is ready before it starts to transfer people‘.
In other words, the DWP must pause – and not recommence any further roll-out until it is demonstrably competent to do so.
Ms McVey referred to the letter at the end of her ‘apology’. She had read it. This means what happened next is – by her own words – anything but ‘inadvertent’.
Because McVey being McVey, she misled them again during the so-called apology – and since it cannot have been ‘inadvertent’, that makes it intentional:
McVey claimed that,
the calls from the party opposite to pause it seemed to fly in the face of those particular conclusions
When McVey insisted that her earlier – twice-repeated – insistence that the NAO report called for an acceleration of the UC roll-out, she stretched credulity beyond its breaking point.
A pause is exactly what “must ensure it is ready before it starts to transfer” means.
So when she told the House during the ‘apology’ that the report ‘flies in the face of’ calls for a pause, she knowingly misled MPs.
The Ministerial Code of Conduct has only one remedy for doing that:
Esther McVey has knowingly misled the House at least once and, more realistically, at least three times in the space of two days. There are other, shorter words for that.
Her resignation is obligatory. And if she fails to resign, then May taints herself with the disgrace of her dishonest subordinate if she fails to remove her.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.