Pick of the Week: Benefits, injustice and Boris

Boris Johnson's darker side is our top story of the week
Boris Johnson's darker side is our top story of the week
Alex Stevenson By

Our five most popular pieces of the week, for your reading pleasure

Five: Running on fumes: Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit 'throwing good money after bad'

The slow-burning calamity that is IDS' universal credit reforms continues to astound MPs with the sheer scale of its incompetence. There have been so many setbacks it's now becoming hard to keep count. And the latest probing from MPs has revealed further weaknesses which are only just emerging. Most worryingly, they're emerging problems for the future: the biggest headaches faced by universal credit could be yet to come.


Four: The Grayling meme: Top authors insert justice secretary villain into their novels

It's a very novel form of political protest. Top authors are adding their weight to the campaign against the prisoner book ban by adding villainous characters called Chris Grayling to their stories. "You can always impale enemies on the end of your pen, which is why I made a baddie into Chris Grayling," Australian author Kathy Lette tells us. Others, including Stephen Fry, are set to follow suit. The fight continues…

Three: Single parents forced to cut food spending as welfare punishments bite

Never mind reforming the benefits system – the existing one is flawed enough as it is. A report from Gingerbread this week highlighted the many flawed decisions by Jobcentre Plus staff to strip single parents of their benefits. Every mistake makes life harder for people who need all the help they can get. And with research pointing out sanctions don't actually help get people back into work, the question-marks over the policy are steadily mounting.

Two: Grayling's prison regime goes on trial – and is found guilty

For some reason, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to charge 11 inmates of HMP High Down after a disturbance in October 2013. We offered readers the full inside story of the riot – and its insidious aftermath. It's another black mark against justice secretary Chris Grayling, who faces condemnation from figures as close to the government as former prisons minister Crispin Blunt.

One: Channel Four allegations reveal a darker side to Boris Johnson

It's top of our list for a second week. For some reason Politics.co.uk readers are desperate to find out more about some of Boris Johnson's less attractive activities. Perhaps it has something to do with the mainstream press' decision to ignore the findings of a recent investigation into the London mayor's quango London and Partners (L&P) and Chinese developers ABP. Johnson is happy to keep it that way; in the London Assembly he has dismissed calls for a probe as a "complete waste of time and money". Astonishingly, he seems to be getting away with it. If he ever does make it back into parliament, he may not be able to escape so easily.

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