It's not been a comfortable week for the Conservatives. HSBC, Stephen Green, tax avoidance, and that "black and white ball" when the obscenely rich gathered to give money to the Tories. They had a raffle. On Wednesday I paid a quid for some raffle tickets and won a bottle of cheap plonk. But the Tories' raffle was nothing like that. One of the prizes was an "iron man" with Iain Duncan Smith - a long cross-country run. But as always the Tory deception machine kicked in. MPs were instructed to deflect every question to an accusation against Ed Miliband and Labour. The media happily co-operated, the BBC especially so, but it got pretty desperate. Today came the announcement that a new Tory government will target people who are unable to work because of obesity. They will have to go on a diet or lose their benefits. (Hasn't IDS told them that he's got a much simpler way - just sanction them and starve them thin?) Mark Harper was wheeled out onto the Today programme this morning to explain the idea, and with commendable (and unusual) persistence Mishal Hussein made him talk about tax avoidance as well. The deception machine went into top gear and Harper trotted out the untruths too fast to be contradicted.
But this was by no means the daftest idea of the week. The Tories have been muttering for some time about extending right-to-buy to housing association tenants. Now IDS has come up with the notion of giving their council houses to tenants who've been on benefits but come off for a year. Now, I could list all the reasons why this is insane. But the New Statesman has already done it. And the Mirror points out that an investigation in 2013 found that a third of all the council homes sold off in the Thatcher years are now owned by private landlords. It's no surprise that this story didn't get much attention from the mainstream press. It's so barmy it won't happen, even under majority Tory government.
But this scapegoating of people on benefits isn't going away.