Esther McVey has refused six times to atone for the rollout of Universal Credit in an agonising live radio clash, as the former Work and Pensions Secretary turned an interview into a car wreck as she savagely declined to say the word “sorry” for the six-in-one benefit’s flaws.
She was asked six times by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari whether she apologised to those who lost out on money in the rollout of the new welfare policy, and it came after she admitted that some claimants were worse off throughout her time as Tory welfare chief.
But despite revealing she’d had to make some modifications because claimants were losing out, she refused point-blank to say sorry.
Asked the first time if she would “apologise in any way”, she insisted: “The benefits system before was failing people.”
She said under Labour the number of households where nobody had worked had increased, and the benefits bill had gone up by 65 per cent, and she added that she made sure more people could get into work while Tories also supported the most vulnerable.
Esther McVey was asked: ” Do you apologise for the way it was introduced, that some people were left without money?”
But Esther McVey who is running to be the UK’s next Prime Minister said that she wasn’t in government when those reforms were brought in and that those changes were George Osborne’s changes, and that she actually strived to bring more money into the system because she could see where the weaknesses were.
This much is true, George Osborne denuded £4 billion out of the benefit, and Esther McVey as welfare chief prompted the Treasury to give some, not all, of that money back, but she still didn’t say sorry.
For a third time, Mr Ferrari said: “I get that, but do you apologise for those who did lose out?”
She stuttered: “What we’ve done is… Nick…”
But Mr Ferrari asked a fourth time: “It was reported that maybe 3 million households lost up to £2,000 each.
“If that were the case even if it was half that number do you apologise to those households?”
Again she emphasised she succeeded in getting more money into the benefit by being honest about the problems at Cabinet.
Mr Ferrari said: “I think I’ve asked you five times to apologise, Esther McVey.”
But she pressed on, still not saying sorry, telling him: “I made sure we changed them [the previous cuts], to make sure we reached out and helped the most vulnerable.
“Did I change direction for the party? Yes, I did, to help the most vulnerable.”
Asked, a sixth time, to confirm she would not apologise, she said: “If people didn’t get what they meant to get, that’s why we have a process by which you can appeal and give the money back.”
She added, correctly, that she had further changed prior restrictions on Personal Independence Payments (PIP), though she forgot to say it was after a High Court defeat.
“I’ve changed a lot of things for the benefit of people on benefits,” she insisted.
Esther McVey has the smile of a crocodile just before it attacks you, and appearances can be misleading, the Tories like to smile just before pushing the knife in, and it’s a shame politician’s think they have to play conversation dodge ball, and try to linguistically evade answering questions directly, it merely makes them look bad, less credible and less humble.
The entire thing was a complete car crash, and she’s clearly been taking media lessons, instead of admitting or defending the glitches in the Universal Benefit system, she instead blathered on at tangents designed to put her in a good light.
And she openly confessed to the glitches in the Universal Credit roll-out, and she highlighted the difficulties with the Universal Credit roll-out, and how she had fought for more money, and for that money to be paid sooner than 5 weeks.
Esther McVey had no reason to say that she got it wrong because she wasn’t in charge of the initial roll-out, she had no reason to apologise, but she should have apologised for George Osborne’s cock-up because as it stands she simply tried dodging condemning her colleagues for the roll-out failures.
She knows that rolling out Universal Credit was a blunder, after all, if it’s not broken, why fix it? But she still helped to implement it and its associated suffering where it left countless people dead and poorer, and that she should atone for.
Clearly Esther McVey isn’t losing any sleep over the deaths of people, as a result of Universal Credit, but then it’s extremely doubtful that anything like that bothers her, or her enabling voters, after all, it wasn’t that long ago that she was touring graveyards with Iain Duncan Smith snapping at the occupants, telling them they were fit for work.