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Friday, 10 May 2013

Propaganda breakdown.

 Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith has been rebuked for falsely claiming the coalition's controversial benefits cap had already caused 8,000 people to move into jobs.

Ever since Roman times, politicians (and others) have used propaganda to spread ideas and perceptions amongst people, to further a specific message or political position. Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell provided  a definition as  "Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."
The most refined manifestation of this was of course, Joseph Goebbels and his use of a propaganda machine between 1926 and 1945 in Germany. "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it".

Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels

In recent times, we have witnessed the use of "The big lie" to justify illegal invasions and to "convince" members of the House of Commons that military action was the only option. Now, we are faced with the Tory dominated ConDem coalition, who on a daily basis are bombarding the British people, through the "usual suspects" media outlets and through television news, with a diet of statistics, policy suggestions, "off the cuff" statements and interviews etc. all of which are designed to demonise one or other section of society. The Coalition, has now introduced a new element to the accepted formula for propaganda and now incorporate the age old Tory tactic of divide and rule.
A problem arises for the propagandist, when some or most of their "truth's" are exposed as lies, particularly when such exposure is brought about by some "official" organisation. In this case the UK Statistics Authority has publicly rebuked Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith, for falsely claiming the coalition's controversial benefits cap had already caused 8,000 people to move into jobs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith

This is not the first time that the Coalition has been caught out not allowing truth to get in the way of political objectives.
The lesson which they the ConDem Coalition should collectively take from this now almost regular exposure as incompetents and liars is a simple one. If you are going to have a propaganda machine, you must ensure that your propaganda cannot be so easily discredited.

Full Text Of Andrew Dilnot's Letter To Iain Duncan Smith: From Huffington Post 10th May 2013

Dear Secretary of State
9 May 2013
I have today replied to a letter from Nicola Smith at the Trades Union Congress regarding the recent publication of statistics about the benefit cap, and a copy of my reply is attached.
We have also considered the two short statistical reports published on 12 April against the criteria that the Statistics Authority has published for identifying material that should be regarded as official statistics and published in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.1 These criteria are in essence that the statistics are used publicly in support of policy, or otherwise are seen to be of public significance. Clearly, the statistics in question qualify on both grounds.
In the manner and form published, the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice, particularly in respect of accessibility to the sources of the data, information about the methodology and quality of the statistics, and the suggestion that the statistics were shared with the media in advance of their publication.
In March, when considering a complaint about the handling of statistics on child support, I was told that senior DWP officials had reiterated to their staff the seriousness of their obligations under the Code of Practice and that departmental procedures would be reviewed.2 The Board of the Statistics Authority would welcome further assurance that the working arrangements within the department give sufficient weight to the professional role and public responsibilities of statisticians.
I am copying this to Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee; Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee; Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary; Robert Devereux, DWP Permanent Secretary; and to Jil Matheson, the National Statistician.
Yours sincerely
Andrew Dilnot CBE