Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “language battle”

Laboured Opposition or Absent Opposition?

I find the Labour Party’s current stance on what is happening to the country confusing to say the least. They are meant to be holding the government to account but seem too paralysed by fear of UKIP to offer anything except abject abdication. “We will not obstruct the invoking of Article 50”!

They are of course reaping what they have sown. During the Miliband years (remember them?), they failed to tackle Cameron and Osborne as that dreadful duo laid the ground work for the right-wing coup* that is currently happening. The Language Battle was lost. Read more…

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Three ways to cut welfare

  1. Tighten eligibility criteria so fewer people can claim
  2. Reduce the actual amounts payable to specific claimants
  3. Create an economy where fewer people need to claim welfare

Which ways are the Tories pursuing? Read more…

Union Barons and Government by Consent

I have mixed feelings about our “Union Barons”:

The head of the Unite union has said he will not “respect” any law passed by a future Conservative government tightening the rules on strike ballots.
BBC News Website 20 March 2015 : Unite boss McCluskey warns over strike ballot changes

But then I have less mixed feelings about our Prime Minister’s more blatant agenda:

David Cameron has said strikes should not be lawful unless a minimum number of union members vote in a ballot.

Plans for a “turnout threshold” will be in the party’s election manifesto.

But Unite boss Len McCluskey said this would “oppress the people and remove their freedoms”. He added: “Can we respect it? It ain’t going to happen.”
ibid

There is a problem, but I do not agree with the Prime Minister’s prescription. I don’t like McCluskey’s response – but I can’t see an alternative. Read more…

Language Battles: BBC

I have commented previously about this Government’s strategy of fighting the language battle before introducing political change (Language Battles) and predicted that the next battle-grounds over areas to be “softened up” were likely to be Europe, Migration and the NHS. Listening to Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (Wednesday 9 October 2013), I think I may have missed a target. Read more…

Language Battles

We have seen how the Conservatives have won a language battle over “Welfare” – with, for instance, use of statistics that has been condemned by the ONS and selective demonising of welfare recipients attempting to tar all welfare recipients with the label “welfare scrounger”. It has been suggested that they have set up the working poor (who do not think of themselves as “welfare recipients”) against the non-working poor.

This sort of use of propaganda is of course clever politics and we have seen it used elsewhere with similar success. At the beginning of this parliament they would not have got away with it. But by winning the language battle they have opened the opportunity for welfare cuts that will affect many to a small degree and a few to a very heavy degree. The debate now seems to be how can we solve the deficit problem by further welfare cuts (not by for instance ensuring that all pay their taxes). The deficit is “due” to excessive welfare, apparently – nothing to do with inadequate control of credit, poor regulation and massive government spending to prevent complete collapse of the world economy after the banking crisis. Osborne has said that he will not need to increase taxes in the next government – I can’t see him borrowing more, I can’t see massive growth, so presumably there are going to be further cuts. And which budget is not ring-fenced?

Given the success of this political ploy, we should ask: where is the current language battle and where will the Tories go when they have won the battle? Read more…

USA Today; UK in a decade?

In an article about the heroism and composure of Antoinette Tuff, (who talked down a man who had walked into the her school armed with an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition), there is an interesting description of society:

Our politics, particularly in an age of terror, austerity and growing inequality, is predicated on the basis that people are basically venal, selfish, dishonest and untrustworthy. The poor are assumed not to be looking for work but cheating on welfare; foreigners are assumed to be taking something from a culture rather than contributing something to it; public sector workers, like Tuff, are assumed not to be devoted to public service but a drain on our taxes. The disabled are assumed to be well. When we look at others, the default position in much of western political culture is not to see ourselves in them but to see a threat.
Gary Younge, The Guardian website 25 August 2013: The heroism of Antoinette Tuff reveals what’s missing from politics

Younge’s article is about the USA, but the description of society is more universal (the UK links in the quote are the Guardian’s). Often changes in society seen in the USA are seen in Europe and the UK within a decade. In this case I fear it is taking less than a decade.

The language battle is being fought well by the Tories.  They have successfully demonised welfare and are taking us towards a more American Society. The alternative is a more European Society, but the Tories have made “Europe” a bogey word as well. I fear that the EU question is lost and part of the collateral damage is the ability of Labour to offer the obvious contrast to Tory aspirations. Can they make the case for a European Society without getting tangled in the EU question?

What type of society we want is a key question that needs to be debated now; we cannot let the shape of our country over the next few generations go by default.

Economics of madness

The current government is leading us in a nasty direction.

They have won the language battle to stigmatise welfare recipients.  Tonight’s BBC News (News channel 23:00 15 July 2013) reported that 70% support the benefit cap.  The government feels that it can demonise the Labour party as “The Welfare Party”.  We use to be a society that was proud that it cared about the welfare of its fellow citizens. No more it seems.

The benefit cap comes in on the same day that the Resolution Foundation reports (Home Truths: How affordable is housing for Britain’s ordinary working families?) that housing costs rule out vast swathes of the country for all but the comfortably off (BBC Website 15 July 2013, Mark Easton: Rent ‘unaffordable’ in third of UK).

It would seem that we don’t care? Read more…

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