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1 November 2010

In praise of Peter Oborne

Why can’t we have more conservative columnists like him?

By Mehdi Hasan

I’ve been enjoying my good friend Peter Oborne’s columns and blogs in the Telegraph in recent weeks. He joined the paper from the Daily Mail back in September, and has brought some much-needed sanity and balance to the Torygraph’s comment pages.

Oborne is a supporter of David Cameron, but fronted a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into Andy Coulson and the phone-hacking scandal last month. He has also been a long-standing opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an outspoken critic of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment (perhaps he should have a word with the Telegraph’s blogs editor, Damian Thompson). Why can’t we have more conservative columnists like him?

Writing today on his blog, Oborne castigates the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, for using fraudulent figures about the extent of benefit fraud.

Oborne, who is a supporter of the coalition’s welfare “reforms”, adds:

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There was an unnecessarily snide tone to Osborne’s Spending Review. [He] failed to emphasise the powerful Christian vision of moral redemption and the value of work which lies at the heart of David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith’s Big Society. Indeed, his false figures on benefit fraud helped to build up the impression that the poor are mean-minded and cheating.

. . . of course there are benefit cheats, and they do need to be dealt with. But there are also many people who do their best to raise a family and make ends meet in incredibly difficult circumstances. That is why it is important that Osborne will do the right thing and issue a correction concerning his false figures about the scale of benefit fraud in Britain today.

Hear, hear!