PATRICK HARVIE – Bedroom tax has no place in welfare state

THE words we use in politics really matter.

Loading Comments
Share
Print

They can change the way people perceive ideas, and even how we perceive one another.

The way we name ideas and policies can make all the difference between popular approval and outright defeat.

The UK Government's welfare changes for example, can be described by supporters as necessary reforms to simplify the system, or by opponents as an assault on the poorest people in society, even the death of the welfare state.

Most people won't be surprised that I tend to take the latter view.

Very soon, hundreds of thousands of households will be hit by what the Tories and their LibDem allies describe as "under-occupancy rules."

Everyone else in the country has adopted a punchier name; the bedroom tax.

Slashing up to 25% from housing benefit for people in council or housing association homes, on the basis that they have one or more "extra" bedrooms will mean huge numbers of the UK's poorest people losing out, some by nearly £100 a month.

When this policy begins in April we're likely to see increased poverty, debt, evictions and homelessness.

This isn't an accident; it's the deliberate aim of the policy.

It's to do with the words being used.

Debate about welfare has become dominated by words such as "scroungers" and "skivers", to contrast with "strivers" and that old favourite, "hard-working families."

This language is designed to undermine the compassion people feel for one another, it sets "us" against "them."

It's the opposite of the purpose of a welfare state where everyone contributes to social protection, and everyone benefits. Where we really are all in it together.

This government wouldn't be finding it politically possible to pursue this agenda if they hadn't used such divisive language to change the way people see one another.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a battered and indebted country fought for and won a welfare state to be proud of.

It's now being dismantled in front of our eyes, and this generation must summon up the same determination and win that same battle all over again.

Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

114763

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

How my view of the police has changed

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You Couldn't Make This Up

Twin problems have put years on me.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.