DWP Secretary Esther McVey appeared before MPs again yesterday – fresh from lying last week about her ‘apology’ for lying to them – to answer questions about her department’s disastrous Universal Credit system.
Her original lie last week had been to claim that the National Audit Office said the roll-out of the system was going so well it should be accelerated – when in fact the NAO had said it must be paused until the DWP can cope, because of the hardship its inability to cope were causing.
Ms McVey has not learned any contrition – and certainly no empathy.
Labour’s Liam Byrne stood to talk about the chaos of Universal Credit in his Birmingham Hodge Hill constituency and told Ms McVey about one of his constituents so badly impacted by it that her family can’t afford food – or even socks for her children’s feet.
A situation of such agonising pathos must surely elicit a human response from even a hard-hearted Tory – even if only a token word. Right?
McVey made no reference at all to the poor woman or even her children – just a lame quip about Byrne’s note left for his successor after Labour lost the 2010 general election, while her equally callous colleagues jeered.
Such notes are part of a long parliamentary tradition and are never meant seriously, nor to be taken seriously – but the Tories cynically exploited Byrne’s to create a false narrative of ‘Labour overspending’.
Byrne told the SKWAWKBOX today:
Actually, we were right to do anything and everything to stop a recession made on Wall Street becoming a second Great Depression.
Since then, the Tories have not only given us a slower recovery than after the Wall Street Crash but they’ve doubled the national debt. They actually cut taxes for the richest people and wealthiest companies while axing help for those in need. Ms McVey either doesn’t understand that or, more likely, simply doesn’t care.
Doesn’t care seems a good bet – years ago, as a DWP minister, McVey predicted that the government’s policies would push hundreds of thousands of children into poverty – and the government exceeded that ‘target’ by so much that they wanted to stop measuring it.
Now, under Tory policies, more than one in four children in the UK lives in poverty – around four million, many of them in working families – and that number is expected to rise during this parliament, made even worse by McVey’s determination to press ahead with Universal Credit nationally, in spite of warnings by the NAO and others.
Esther McVey has been contacted for comment.
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