The Tory response to the IFS report: shoot the messenger and then kill his extended family

There’s an old saying, “if you don’t like the message then shoot the messenger”. And so it is with this coalition. When the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)  report on the Honorable Gid’s emergency budget was presented, it didn’t take long for the usual suspects to start complaining of some sort of ‘left wing conspiracy’. One commenter on this blog described it as “Daily Mail headline-grabbing”.  This is ironic, given that the Daily Mail is a Tory-supporting paper.

Clegg was the first to slam it, complaining that it was “partial”. The usual suspects have  entered the fray to both praisesong Osborne and complain how ‘fairness is ruining Britain’. The first is this article from Policy Exchange bod, Neil O’Brien who also writes for the Daily Telegraph (quelle surprise!). He presents a series of bar graphs (yeah, bar graphs) which he then uses to justify how the poorest in Britain will be ‘better off’. Then he says,

I don’t really want to get into the ins and outs of who is right in these arguments here, which are pretty complicated. Even the IFS admit their claim is fair less clear cut if you look at expenditure rather than income. And everyone knows that the statistics at the bottom end are dodgy and hard to measure. If you believed the stats, lots of households in Britain would appear to be surviving on no income of any kind, benefits or otherwise.

So you admit that you haven’t got a clue then? What makes the statistics at the bottom ‘dodgy’? Is it because those stats undo your argument?

Then he says,

The third problem is even more profound. Free societies like ours are complicated, and difficult to understand or steer. It’s often difficult to predict the effects of any given policy change. Brilliant government wheezes can have disastrous effects, and ideas which were seen as hopeless can end up saving the day.

So there is a possiblity that these changes could have disastrous effects?Policy Exchange man in two-face shocker! But Hannan leaps on this and makes the bold claim,

Neil O’Brien has already done a superb job of demolishing the claim that the last Budget was unfair to the poor. (The BBC, like The Guardian, told us that these claims came from a report by the “respected” Institute for Fiscal Studies, neglecting to mention that the report had been commissioned by a Left-wing pressure group).

Oh yeah? Which “left wing pressure group” is this? The left wing pressure group in question  is  End Child Poverty.  What’s the matter Dan, don’t you want an end to child poverty or do you see child poverty as a ‘price worth paying’? It shouldn’t surprise any of us  that Hannan is against such things. He is a self-confessed fan of Ayn Rand, after all. Yet if this report had been commissioned by say, The Freedom Association (of which Mad Dan is a member), there would be no issue? Not that the Freedom Association would be interested in such an issue. Their raison d’être is, er, something rather vaguely called ‘freedom’.

The ‘rationally self-interested’ Hannan ends his blog by saying,

Wouldn’t a truly “fair” society be one in which welfare budgetsfell, as former recipients were lifted out of dependency?

And how do you propose to “lift people” out of what you call “dependency” when there are no jobs and the gap between rich and poor is getting wider? Are you going to employ them on your estate or maybe your parents will give them job on the family chicken ranch? Hannan’s solution is, in common with so many of his colleagues, to create as Thatcher once said a “nation of entrepreneurs”. Though how everyone in the country could be an ‘entrepreneur’ was never elucidated by Thatcher or any of her acolytes. Of course the other option is to rely on ‘trickle down economics’ to produce non-results. Even Capitalism Magazine says that,

[…] there has never been any school of economists who believed in a trickle down theory. No such theory can be found in even the most voluminous and learned books on the history of economics. It is a straw man.

While that may be the case, it hasn’t stopped the likes of the Tories from claiming that it will produce ‘wealth’ further down the income scale.

This part of the IFS’s report is pretty crucial

The report also questioned the government’s decision to use the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) when calculating certain benefits.

It’s like using GDP to measure a country’s economic performance. GDP does not take into account factors such as unemployment, the black economy and waste. Yet both Tory and Labour governments use it.

This blog from Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home is laughable only for its suggestion that the Tories take a leaf out of Orwell’s 1984. First of all he says, “We should say that we want to help people overcome poverty and not make it more comfortable”. Since when has poverty ever been “comfortable”? Friends, this is the warped mindset that we are dealing with. The whole idea here is to redefine the word ‘fairness’ in the same way that Hannan and his zombie army have attempted to redefine ‘left wing’.

Meanwhile The Independent says that the Budget may have breached equality laws. The mere mention of a word like ‘equality’ will have Dan and his pals foaming at the mouth.

It is looking into complaints that a Treasury website asking the public to suggest where cuts should be made has attracted racist comments. It is also considering the wider impact on women of the proposed cuts. Under the Act, the Commission has power to take “enforcement action”, which could range from encouraging a change of practice to starting a formal inquiry – a move which could delay some of the proposed cuts.

This is the most revealing part of the article,

Justin Webb, the presenter, asked Mr Hoban whether the Treasury had conducted an assessment of how the Budget would affect specific groups, as required under the Act.

The Treasury minister appeared not to know the answer. Mr Hoban stuck rigidly to his brief, insisting: “We went through a very detailed distributional analysis at the time of the Budget, it was the most extensive piece of work anyone has done.

Oops! It looks like someone has messed up.  Have a look at the rest of the ambush interview and decide for yourselves.

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1 Comment

Filed under Big Society, ConDem Budget 2010, Government & politics, Public spending

One response to “The Tory response to the IFS report: shoot the messenger and then kill his extended family

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