The Government must get the rhetoric right on welfare reform
By Harry Phibbs
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One of the useful reminders of Lord Ashcroft's polling (read his latest reflection on ConHome today) has been to remind us of the importance of language as well as policy. Often ethnic minority voters misinterpret an attack on "multiculturalism" as an an attack on a multi racial society. Voters defecting to UKIP are as often exasperated by the tone as the substance of the three main parties - a desire for straight talking rather than prissy jargon.
Wading through Government Department websites to gather items for my recent list of Coalition achievements I faced plenty of references to - front loading, fast tracking, roll outs, package of measures, toolkits, keynote speeches and so on.
There has been evidence that most voters confuse cutting the deficit with cutting the debt - and therefore back the notion that spending is being cut "too far, too fast."
So the Government should be clear in the language they use about welfare reform. But they should also remember who is to blame for mess. The "scroungers" are as much victims of the system as the "strivers." If people are better off on benefits than taking a job are they wrong to opt for benefits? They have tight budgets, often families to feed. Should they get a job if it means their family has even less to live on? Would you? Is it a rational choice?
Make work pay. But don't condemn those for not working when work does not pay.