Universal Credit, it has been made clear recently, is a concept that is proving rather more difficult to put into practice than to talk about. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), led by the dubious talents of Iain Duncan Cough, is coming under increasing fire, and Duncan Cough is not bearing the criticism well, lashing out at his Civil Servants in desperation.
Into the debate and condemnation has waded Bruce “Brute” Anderson, the only person to successfully make me feel sorry for (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who has been given a platform by the Telegraph to mount a defence of what is one of the Coalition’s flagship policies. And Anderson has clearly decided to take the reality of the situation and completely ignore it.
So in place of facts, “Brute” has resorted to making it up as he goes along, inserting whoppers as required to turn Duncan Cough, an immodest man with much to be modest about, into some form of heroic figure (no, don’t laugh). “Ed Miliband has no answer to IDS the dragon-slayer” he declares. What, no answer to the involuntary laughter at Duncan Cough flailing about and getting nowhere?
No, he’s serious: “Beveridge ... warned of a risk. He did not believe that the welfare state ought to provide feather-beds for the able-bodied. Those who needed help should receive it. Those who did not need help should look after themselves. The ready availability of dole payments to those who ought to be in work ... he did not think that governments would be so foolish as to permit this. Alas, he was wrong”.
Ah, out comes the “undeserving poor” argument: “As a result, we have a welfare aristocracy: large numbers of people who believe that they have a hereditary right to life-long unemployment benefit. It might have been 50 years since any close male relative made a serious attempt to find a job”. Given the UK effectively had full employment less than 35 years ago, that’s total horseshit.
Anderson then gives us the “I know two employers” schtick, and extrapolates from there to excuse Duncan Cough, who went to see all those unemployed chaps in Glasgow and therefore knows all about the subject. “Brute” applauds ideas “to widen the financial gap between work and welfare, by capping welfare payments” without engaging brain and considering what this may mean.
And then he’s away with the fairies: “Mr Duncan Smith is undeterred. If this was easy, he will say, someone else would have done it by now. He is also encouraged by the public’s response. The voters do not seem interested in the technical glitches. They are looking at the big picture and like what they see”. Anderson has not yet found himself in a debate with Sue Marsh. Perhaps this can be arranged.
Or perhaps he could take a reality check and stop defending the indefensible.