Lord Freud, for the government, is generally agreed to have put in a dismal performance – getting his sums confused, admitting lack of evidence on Work Capability Assessments (which have been plagued by misdiagnoses and appeals), and having no response to detailed case studies and well-researched criticisms levelled by opponents.
But this is not only happening in the context that is welfare and disability. The admirable website Sound Off For Justice highlighted – also on Wednesday – the following absurdities in the Coalition’s foolish plans to cut Legal Aid:
Yesterday was is the launch my of my long-awaited report on the Government’s legal aid reforms which found that for every ￡1 cut from the legal aid budget less than 42 pence will actually be saved from the public purse.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will achieve its savings by largely cost shifting to other cash-strapped departments. For example, for every ￡1 saved by removing clinical negligence from legal aid funding it will cost the NHS almost ￡3.
Thus it is that I am unable to decide whether I believe this government to be unbelievably Machiavellian as it proceeds with an unnecessary plan of cuts in order to impose a reign of merciless subjugation on a now hapless voting public or – perhaps worse for us all in such crisis-ridden times as these, where effective leadership is surely required – whether I see it to be simply and quite miserably incompetent in practically everything it does.
Evil or unprepared then? That is the question. What is clear is that Lord Freud’s slips were unhappy examples of self-inflicted banana skins; unnecessary but revealing actions of the frankly useless and totally unhelpful.
And what’s absolutely patent is that whilst Lord Freud will continue to enjoy a privileged standard of living, distanced from the violences of this socioeconomic disaster which he and his colleagues are visiting upon us, it will be the ordinary people who will suffer the consequences of this Coalition’s lack of preparation for the high offices it has aspired to.
As Ekklesia underlined (the bold is mine):
Lord Low hit out at the “draconian” nature of the ESA limits being proposed and called on Lib Dems peers (who had been given a non-whipped vote) to “search their consciences” when it came to voting.
On exempting cancer patients, Lord Patel pointed out that the issue was a reduction in savings, not extra funding. His amendment, he said,was not about adding to expenditure but refusing to take £1.3 billion from the most vulnerable.
He declared: “If you are going to rob the poor to pay the rich we have entered a different form of morality”, adding that cancer patients are not “not skivers, not benefit cheats”.
And absolutely disgraceful.
And still I am not sure if it is true incompetence or utter evil.