- Spin. We've been used to that for many years. It means that you publish the figures but play down the negative, never mentioning it, and play up what look like the positives. We saw a very good example of this with the second year Work Programme figures. A week before their publication, the industry was encouraged to put out a raw figure of how many "jobs" had been secured, and this was all the politicians talked about, ignoring the fact that, as a percentage of the total on the programme, this was way down on the minimum targets.
- Lie. This can be done in many ways, which don't actually look like lying. There was Osborne's claim to have created half a million private sector jobs. This was untrue. The figure included thousands who were unemployed and on benefits but doing mandatory work activity. It also included everybody working in FE colleges; they were simply reclassified from the public to the private sector. But the lie was repeated ad nauseam and the truth drowned out. Then there's Iain Duncan Smith's habit of linking unconnected facts and figures to arrive at a picture he "believes" (wants) to be correct.
- Don't publish. This has become a popular method of deceit. The publication of the first year's WP data was delayed for as long as they dared, in the hopes that another couple of months would produce a figure which could be successfully spun. It didn't work that time. But now we have an apparently indefinite delay on the publication of the sanctions data. No plausible reason has been given for this, so we have to assume that they simply want to suppress the figures.
- Don't collect. This appears to be the latest trick. We read on Sunday in the Mirror that IDS has dropped the rule requiring Jobcentres to collect data on why they are giving people food bank vouchers. The Labour MP Dave Watts says that this is in order to hide the fact that the DWP often fails to process benefits claims within the regulation 16 days. But "the DWP said the rule was axed as councils now have more responsibility for giving emergency help." This is patent nonsense.
Are these four methods sufficient to manipulate the truth in the way the government wishes, or will there be more?