Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Coalition of Lying Thieving Bastards

On the 28th of January 2013 the BBC broadcast a shocking episode of the investigative documentary show Panorama in which it was revealed that employees of a government Work Programme contractor called Triage engage in a practice called "parking" a company strategy of enrolling disabled people on their scheme (which comes with an initial £400 -£600 "attachment fee, paid by the taxpayer) but to then spend as little time as possible helping them to find work in order to maximise profits.

The allegation that "parking" exists as company policy amongst work programme providers gives a clear indication of how the Tory Work Programme has managed to achieve significantly worse results than had nothing been done at all, at a cost to the taxpayer of over £500 million pounds. According to the government's own figures £326 million has been paid out in "attachment fees". It seems obvious to me that the payment of a large upfront attachment fee actually encourages practices like "parking". 

If a company can get a cash windfall of £400 for simply signing someone onto their scheme, the temptation must be to prioritise staff towards signing up more people, rather than attempting to find work for people that would struggle to find work in a healthy economy due to the severity of their disabilities, let alone in the economically stagnant mess George Osborne has created with his lunatic "cut now, think later" austerity experiment.

Not only have this company been using gaping flaws in Iain Duncan Smith's poorly conceived, hopelessly inefficient and ludicrously expensive Work Programme in order to milk the taxpayer by collecting large "sign on" fees, then doing as little as possible to help the clients find work, the staff there have also invented an offensive code to describe the disabled clients that they are deliberately not helping to find work (despite the fact that the whole point of the Work Programme is supposed to be to help people find work). The offensive code the Triage staff have been using is LTB, "Lying Thieving Bastards". The company obviously issued the utterly predictable denials that they engage in "parking" and described the use of the LTB code as "isolated incidents".

The initial temptation is to turn the table on this parasitic outsourcing company to say they are clearly the "Lying Thieving Bastards": Taking taxpayers' cash in order to help people find work, but then immediately abandoning clients that are too old, under-skilled or disabled as soon as the attachment fee has been paid is a pretty clear cut case of Thieving. Referring to disabled people by an offensive code marks their employees out as callous Bastards and the denials look like the usual pack of Lies that get churned out every time a corporation gets caught out like this.

Another, much stronger candidate to wear the tag of "Lying Thieving Bastards" is the coalition government that put the whole sorry shambles that is the Work Programme into place.

Liars

There are several candidates for "Chief Liar" of the coalition government. Nick Clegg is a strong contender for his very public betrayal of the millions of students, former students and academics that voted for him after he held a signed pledge that the Lib-Dems would block any increases in tuition fees. Just a few months after joining the coalition government, Clegg and his Lib-Dem party voted through proposals to triple tuition fees for English (but not Scottish or Welsh) students, making future students pay the highest fees in the entire world for education at public university.


More pre-election lies were told by David Cameron, who famously stated "no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS" and "we'll cut the budget, not the NHS" as part of the Tory election campaign. After the election was over, Cameron appointed Andrew Lansley to push through the biggest top-down reorganisation (mass privatisation of infrastructure and services) in the entire history of the NHS and allowed George Osborne to slash £20 billion from the NHS budget.

Another strong candidate for "Chief Liar" is Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice Damian Green, who put on such an astonishing display of lying in public that I even wrote an article about it.

Iain Duncan Smith is another man that seems to struggle with the truth. He repeatedly claims that schemes like the Work Programme, Workfare and Atos administered Work Capacity Assessments are benevolent schemes aimed at "helping" the unemployed and the disabled to get off benefits and back to work. A closer look at the Tory policy on disabled employment creates a completely different picture. Since 2010 the government have shut down 34 government backed Remploy factories, with 1,021 redundancies amongst the mainly disabled people that work there. It turns out that only 35 of these disabled people have managed to find work elsewhere, the rest are presumably on benefits, or suffering appalling destitution. Even though they are fully aware that Remploy staff will struggle to find employment elsewhere, the Conservatives are planning to axe another 875 jobs at the remaining 18 Remploy sites. The Tory policy of destroying Remploy is resulting in hundreds of people being forced out of their jobs and onto benefits, exactly the opposite of what Iain Duncan Smith's claims the Tories are doing.

Despite strong competition from across the coalition the winner has to be Cameron who continues lying to the public. His most recent lies include a party political broadcast in which he claimed that the coalition are "paying down Britain's debts", when the debt is actually growing at an alarming rate and telling the public that there would be "No UK army boots on the ground" in Mali just two weeks before u-turning to send British troops to provide logistical support to the French.

Given his willingness to repeatedly lie to the public, Cameron should perhaps be better known as Secretary of State for Lies, rather than Prime Minister.

Thieves

There are dozens of MPs sitting on the government (and opposition) benches that were caught out in the Parliamentary expenses fraud. One of the most noteworthy cases is George Osborne's use of the Parliamentary second home allowance to fund a property speculation scheme in Cheshire. The second home allowance allows MPs to claim mortgage payments on their second property. Osborne claimed on a mortgage that also included other, separately registered property, including a paddock. None of which were mentioned on his expenses claim.

Much has been written about Osborne's fraudulent expenses claims, (here's Mike Sivier's take on the scandal) yet little seems to have been done to investigate, let alone prosecute Osborne for this theft of public funds.

I know there are plenty more egregious examples of expenses fraud out there, but the revolting irony of having a man with a track record of pilfering state funds working as Chancellor of the Exchequer (the job of administering the national finances) is so hard to stomach that the award of "Chief Thief" has to go to Gideon Osborne.

Bastards

It is no hard task to identify bastards in a coalition government that is mainly comprised of MPs from what is commonly known as "the Nasty Party", however one Tory MP stands head and shoulders above the rest. This man is Iain Duncan Smith. Not only is he the man that is directly responsible for rolling out the ludicrously inefficient Work Programme that led us to the situation where private sector contractors like Triage abuse their disabled clients as "Lying Thieving Bastards" whilst doing as little as possible to help them find work in order to maximise their taxpayer funded profits, he is also an odious cretin of a man.

One of the strongest examples of Iain Duncan Smith's bastardry (see embedded video) was a performance he gave on Question Time in November 2012, where he shouted down a tribute to two disabled people that had died as a result of the Atos Work Capacity Assessment regime. It doesn't matter how strong your political views are, if you take to callously shouting down tributes to the dead, (instead of expressing regret and offering condolences to the families) you are an inhuman bastard
 


One can only imagine the reaction of the right-wing press had it been a Muslim or some kind of "leftie" peace activist interrupting a description of how some British soldiers had tragically died in Afghanistan with an angry politically motivated tirade. They would have undoubtedly been made into a national hate figures overnight. Iain Duncan Smith's disrespectful rant received very little criticism in the mainstream press and even elicited a round of applause from around half of the studio audience. Sadly it seems that in modern Britain dead disabled people and their families are due infinitely less respect than dead British soldiers and their families. This doesn't prevent Iain Duncan Smith getting marked as a bastard by anyone with the human decency to expect people to respect the dead and their families.

Conclusion

OK, part of this article has been a slightly irreverent look at who are the worst Liars, Thieves and Bastards in the current government, but there are serious issues at play here. Iain Duncan Smith's Work Programme has been an absolute disaster (in social and economic terms). It is so bad that even the bitterly right-wing Daily Telegraph are extremely half arsed in trying to come up with excuses for it.

These revelations about the practice of "parking" and the shocking attitudes of some of the staff that work for these corporate outsourcing parasites clearly demonstrate what is going wrong with Iain's Work Programme. The companies are only interested in rinsing as much profit as possible out of their contract (a task that is made that much easier by the lunatic payment of huge upfront Attachment Fees that are not dependent on the achievement of outcomes) and they seem to staffed by people that have an even higher level of contempt for the people they are supposed to be helping than the Jobcentre staff they are replacing.

A "back-to-work" regime built on payment before results, corporate profiteering and an atmosphere of contempt towards those that are supposed to be being helped is a recipe for social and economic disaster and the man to blame is not the ignorant little shit that calls disabled people a LTB, not the bosses at a profiteering outsourcing company intent on sponging public cash, it is the man that is responsible for implementing this shambolic reform, "Chief Bastard", Iain Duncan Smith.
 



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