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

Ed Miliband sets out CV for 'No 10 job'

Ed Miliband believes what will win him the next election is not detailed policy but a different philosophy about how Britain ought to be governed.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    You then have this ridiculous situation of Labour wanting to extend the public sector pay freeze for 3 more years while wanting to pay people on benefits more money.
    You can smell the hypocrisy in them trying to claim the "strivers" tag. Real strivers work had for their families DESPITE the govt and dont need handouts. They need a tax cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Hopefully, everyone knows that a 1% "rise" is effectively the same as a 1.7% cut if inflation is running at 2.7%.

    And we heven't even started on the CPI (2.7%) - v - RPI (3.2%) argument.

    If you see RPI as the more realistic indicator, then a 1% "rise" is actually a cut of 2.2%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    We are heading back to the 70s 80s and 90s were the working man and woman have to look at working 84 to 100 hours a week just to get by
    Most employers only pay the minimum they can for staff so they can make a better profits because the tax payer picks up the bill in working benefits

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I can remember Sandi Toksvig making a hilarious joke about "cuts" a couple of years ago.

    I won't repeat it here though, as the mods will tell me to mind my language if I do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    As a daughter of the proud Scots working class, I know how horrified my parents would have been to think that could not pay their own way with their own labour and that they needed a hand-out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The idea that we can spend our way out of a recession is a misnomer. It may work but then those levels of debt have to be sustained to avoid further recession. And then what do we do when the next recession hits anyway. The entire global crisis was caused by global leaders burying their heads in the sand for over a decade. "The time of boom and bust is over" - Gordon Brown

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    In2009 I had a Brain haemorrhage after 35 years running my own business and paying more tax than Starbucks. I received a small benefit which I was extremely grateful for....(who gets this£26,000 the government go on about, it's £5000 if you have a wife and 2 children )This government constantly belittles you referring to you as layabouts/scroungers etc I'm disgusted by their terminology !

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    We are now paying the unemployed to work for private companies for free.
    No, we are subsidising companies indirectly so that they can compete with cheaper imports or alternatives. EU law prohibits direct subsidies so these are a way of propping up none competitive companies indirectly. The alternative is no company and no job, then it will be all benefits not just a portion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I will start listening to Labour when they stop saying trying to put spin on issues and actually come up with some viable alternatives. Politicians need to stop point scoring and actually do some work. In the meantime people have to live the best they can and learn that all of the political parties are only in it for themselves (hopefully before the next election).

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @23 BigBear as everyone knows the banks stitched up everything (selling sub-prime debt) in a mathematical equation which even some of their execs did not understand - meanwhile EVERYONE was sold the dream hard and fast - were the consumers to blame for this especially the less able?
    It was not what it said on the tin...

  • Comment number 28.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Britains decline started decades ago in the 1970's.

    Unfortunately low skilled jobs in factories in factories don't exist because it's cheaper to manufacture in the Far East plus there is no need for assembly work as computers have automated this task using machines to do the assembly work.

    Britain best bet is to concentrate on high end engineering such as jet engines, aerospace etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    If they are a striver then they should make their pay from their employment. You can't expect ever increasing amounts of handouts while being called a "striver". Osborne made a huge mistake last year when he uprated benefits by over 5%!
    Especially when public sector workers have had pay freezes for 3 years not (which Labour supports incidentally).

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The IFS figues did not include the increase in Tax allowance so that is why Labour think people are worse off when in fact they are better off. I think even though the IFS have corrected this the labour party conveniently choose to ignore it as it suits their purpose. We are in a plague of misinformation and spin of the worst kind right now, and most of it is coming from shadow treasury members.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    GO has shaved 40 billion off the deficit THIS year, that still means we are still borrowing 120 billion THIS year, making the debt worse.

    The national debt is forecast to be 1.6 trillion pounds by 2015/16.

    We are NEVER going to be able to pay this back. Stop cutting now, until we have a functioning economy.

    What sort of a country will we be left with after all these cuts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    @12.Linda - Anyone who took out credit to buy consumer goods or services that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford contributed to this crisis. That includes the poorer members of our society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    @13 No it didn't, but neither did the complete mess that Brown\Balls made of the economy. The fact that we were spending 25% more than we were earning had nothing to do with the global economy. On top of that exactly what party was in charge of regulation while all this was going on ? Priceless...

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    over 40 years the Tories removed every check and balance on utilities, NHS, rail and schools and told us the private sector can do it better but all it as done is push up cost as the private sector as to turn a profit for it's share holders first then meet the minimum requirement of there contract with the government

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    and why are so many "working" families on low wages that need tax credits to survive , well its quite simple the MASS IMMIGRATION since 1997 has kept those wages down. The working class have turned into an underclass.
    Interesting to see Douglas Murry on Newsnight last night

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The long term way to reduce the welfare bill is create jobs and improve skills so that pay rises and work pays..

    That requires a counter intuitive economic policy which increases the deficit in the short term to provide a stimulus which creates work,incomes and revenue.

    It won`t be done,it removes economic decisions from private capital with consequences for wealth and,income distribution


Page 16 of 17



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.