HuffPost just sunk to BBC levels in its Tory boot licking

Michael Gove and the HuffPost logo
Steve Topple

HuffPost‘s executive editor’s latest article on the government response to coronavirus (Covid-19) was quite something. Because he managed to pump out BBC levels of Tory propaganda. And he also effectively whitewashed the deaths of thousands of chronically ill, disabled, homeless, and sick people over the last decade.

The “Waugh Zone”

Paul Waugh publishes a “daily politics briefing” called the Waugh Zone. In it, he attempts to dissect goings on in Westminster. But his column on Tuesday 31 March took the notion of subservient journalism to a whole new level.

In it, Waugh discussed cabinet office minister Michael Gove’s coronavirus briefing. As Waugh wrote, Gove said:

‘Every death is the loss of a loved one… Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are grieving’.

The numbers were ‘deeply shocking, disturbing, moving’, Gove added.

Enter Toby Young

The HuffPost editor went on to discuss comments made by journalist Toby Young. As The Canary reported, the “eugenicist” took aim at the Tory government’s approach to coronavirus. Young specifically had issues with the amount of money being funnelled into society. He said:

Spending that kind of money to extend the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people with underlying health problems by one or two years is a mistake.

The Canary‘s Ed Sykes wrote:

He essentially argues for ending the UK’s coronavirus lockdown in order to avoid economic crisis, and suggests that people who die as a result will be ‘acceptable collateral damage’.

Back to Waugh, and this is where the boot licking began.

Sorry, what…?

He noted that:

it’s those death figures that really do weigh most heavily on ministers’ minds.

Waugh continued by saying:

no one in government is rallying behind Toby Young (a close contact and admirer of Gove) and his call for the lockdown to be lifted by Easter and the schools to be opened soon after.

But then, Waugh dropped perhaps the biggest pile of drivel of the day. He said that Young’s idea of letting elderly and vulnerable people die of coronavirus was:

seen in Whitehall as both morally callous and economically illiterate.

While the latter is probably believable from the Tories, Waugh saying they would find unnecessary deaths “morally callous” is absolutely preposterous. Because given the party’s track record, there is no evidence to back up his fawning comment.

A blood-soaked record in government: sick and disabled people

It’s quite easy to pick apart Waugh’s claim. Because the Tories have presided over the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Some of them may have been avoidable. Others, while expected, happened in situations exacerbated by government policy. But all of them are a stain on the party’s record.

Not least among these are the deaths of chronically ill, disabled, and sick people on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) watch. As The Canary has consistently documented, the DWP has been mired in scandal for at least a decade over its treatment of claimants. But it’s the mortality figures which are perhaps the most shocking. Because:

  • Between April 2013 and 30 April 2018, almost 12 people a day died. They were waiting for the DWP to make a decision on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims.
  • Between March 2014 and February 2017, around 10 Employment and Support Allowance claimants a day died. These were people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). The DWP said they should be moving towards work. The death rate for this group in 2016 was four times higher than the rest of the population.
  • Also, in the same period, around one claimant a day died after the DWP said they were “fit for work”.

No one is saying the DWP killed these people. But as The Canary previously wrote:

The DWP told some they have to work. It told others they have to get ready to work. And it left others waiting for payments right up until their last breath. That’s around 8,000 people a year, dead. Many died amid stress, upset, financial ruin, and misery, amplified by DWP incompetence and neglect.

Blood soaked: homeless people and austerity

Meanwhile, the number of homeless people who have died has reached staggering levels under successive Tory governments. As the charity Shelter noted:

  • “In 2018, an estimated 726 homeless people died in England and Wales, with 692 (95%) of those in England. This is the biggest annual increase (22%) since records began”.
  • “The number of estimated deaths in England and Wales has increased by 51% over the last five years (between 2013 and 2018)”.

These figures are likely to be underestimates.

Research from Oxford, Cambridge, and University College London found that there had been 120,000 excess deaths due to government austerity. This was between 2010 and 2017. But as The Canary previously reported, the research also said an additional 100 people a day would die between 2017 and 2020.

Does any of this paint a picture of Tory politicians finding unnecessary deaths “morally callous”? It doesn’t. And yet Waugh still felt compelled to push the narrative that the government somehow cares whether its citizens live or die.

Toxic and dangerous propaganda

As The Canary‘s Ed Sykes previously wrote:

Since 2010, the billionairebacked Conservative Party and its allies have inflicted devastating, unnecessary austerity on the UK. This intensified both regional and economic divisions. It also starved the NHS while severely reducing public funding for education, social welfare, the justice system, councils and housing. It sparked a rise in poverty, foodbank usage, and widespread suffering for some of the most vulnerable people in Britain too. One recent report, meanwhile, revealed what one expert called a “national scandal”, with life expectancy slowing and health inequalities widening between the wealthiest and poorest parts of England.

The Tories’ track record categorically disproves any notion that they care. And for Waugh to directly say otherwise is toxic propaganda of the highest level. The only reason Tories would be concerned with coronavirus deaths is for the political impact it would have on them, their careers, and their bank balances. This kind of baseless, blatantly subservient drivel from HuffPost is highly dangerous. Because it’s the kind of intentional manipulation of the public that allowed the Tories to repeatedly be voted into power over the past decade. Waugh should be ashamed. But he probably won’t be.

Featured image via YouTube – Guardian News / Wikimedia – AOL

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