I had lunch with an apolitical friend of mine, who voted Lib Dem at the last election, hates Labour, and wondered why I spend so much time criticising Cameron and the coalition, in print and online. He wanted me, in one or two sentences, to sum up why I’ve got such a problem with Dave.
Writing, rather appropriately in the Sun today, on the subject of welfare reform and benefit fraud, the Prime Minister makes the case against himself in a single, revealing, dog-whistling sentence:
That’s why benefit fraud is the first and the deepest cut we will make.
Benefit fraud?? Which costs the country £1.5bn a year (or less than 1 per cent of the £155bn Budget deficit)? Not tax evasion or avoidance by the rich, which costs around £25bn? Not the £1.6bn lost to the taxpayer in errors and maladministration of the benefits system?
Not the £5bn rail subsidy, which helps fund the multimillion-pound bonuses of fat-cat rail bosses? Not the £2.5bn being wasted by the Ministry of Defence every year? Not the £4bn prisons budget, which, as the Justice Secretary admits, doesn’t cut crime? Not the £4bn spent annually on a bloody, pointless and catastrophically self-defeating war in Afghanistan?
Nope, cutting benefit fraud. That’s Cameron’s main mission. I think it speaks volumes about his priorities and his preferences. So much for the veneer of “progressive conservatism”.