Cuts - Mind your language


Do you remember that old song "You say tom-ar-to, I say tom-ay-to" ?

It ended, you may recall, with the line "Let's call the whole thing off!"

Westminster is now locked in a similar battle over language. One decision has seen to that. It's the Autumn Statement decision to cap - or should that be cut? - the benefits - or should that be the tax credits? - of shirkers - or are they really strivers?

The language you choose may determine who wins the battle over fairness. One reason for that is that spelling out the actual policy - a rise in benefits for people of working age by 1% which, since it is below inflation, represents a cut in real terms over the next three years. Try fitting that in a soundbite or a headline or a TV news graphic.

The prime minister believes that Labour's decision to oppose the cap/cut is one they'll regret. Today he dubbed them the "party of unlimited welfare." He believes his decision to curb welfare bills is popular and will be seen as fair when public sector workers are also getting a below inflation 1% rise.

Yesterday Ed Balls spoke about "cuts to tax credits and benefits". Today Ed Miliband claimed the government was introducing a "strivers' tax".

He says the Tories' language gives a false impression since many working families are hit by the measures in the Autumn Statement.

Today he pointed to IFS figures which suggest that more than 60 per cent of families hit by the tax and benefit changes are in work and, in particular, to stats that show that the average one-earner couple will be £534 a year worse off by 2015 even after the rise in the personal tax allowance.

Labour have calculated that there are over 6,000 of these families who will lose out in every Tory constituency.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    #337 TGF

    Quoting nominal debt is meaningless, as I have pointed out to you many times before. Do you disagree, or just don't understand?

    Debt as a percentage of GDP fell under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997, and rose under Labour between 1997 and 2010. This doesn't, in isolation, prove that one party was better than another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Naut @336

    Tories 1979-1997 increased UK debt by 250%, all the while amassing deficits despite selling off anything they could lay their hands on.

    Labour 1997-2010 increased UK debt by 120%, more than half of which was dealing with a nasty little financial event 2008-2010.

    For spin please step forward Craig 'watch out for Levenson' Oliver, DaveC's communication man.

    Who needs the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    No299 Naut,

    The topic is 'cut and mind your language'
    Outside of Westminster - most people cannot tell you anything about what Milliband would propose in terms of 'cuts' to deal with the debts & deficits amassed under 13 yrs of Labour.
    Milliband & Labour are the empty vessel here
    Milliband is empty & only has spin & no substance whatsoever & most can see this despite BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    One last point before I retire , the weather was worse for me under Thatcher as I took Tebbit's advice and became an economic migrant in Socialist Sweden, who had high taxes jobs abd a marvellous welfare system'

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Scientists actually run controlled experiments to test their hypothesis.
    The hypothesis I have been testing is that Tax Avoidance is immoral even if legal. I have read no evidence here to change the hypothesis.
    I understand your eg 331,I just think that the law should be changed so you pay tax where you do business to contribute to the infrastructure


Comments 5 of 338


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