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TOPIC: Minister urges Tories to fight back over 'bogus' social media claims

Minister urges Tories to fight back over 'bogus' social media claims 21 Dec 2017 16:42 #5394

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Minister urges Tories to fight back over 'bogus' social media claims
David Gauke’s spat with Frank Field over universal credit part of concerted effort to defend policies online

Anushka Asthana Political editor
Wed 20 Dec ‘17

A Conservative cabinet minister has said his party must “not desert the battlefield” when it comes to defending policy in areas such as health and welfare, but instead be prepared to embark on Twitter spats with critics.

The work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, suggested his decision to use social media to challenge a Labour MP’s claims about universal credit were part of a concerted Tory effort to respond more robustly.

He also claimed that “bogus” accusations by Labour and the media had resulted in a spike in the number of claimants turning up to job centres with unfounded anxieties.

“I think it is important that we do not desert the battlefield. Social media can at the moment feel dominated by the hard left. I think it is important we engage and make the points,” he said.

“I strongly believe we have got a really good policy with this that will transform lives, but there is almost a sort of knee-jerk criticism and a temptation in particular with universal credit that you can almost say anything critical about it and it goes without challenge.”

The minister’s ongoing battle with Frank Field (whom he admitted was not someone who could be described as “hard left”) comes after the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, became embroiled in a row with the comedy actor Ralf Little over mental health statistics.

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