Sunday, 14 November 2010

an amendment

Just something I want to add on to my previous post.

Last night, whilst settling down to my first assignment of the year, I caught the end of a debate on Radio 4. I can't recall who any of the participants were apart from Michael Portillo, but one of the points which was made in the programme has resonated with me.

The point concerned the type of language used in the debate around the reforms to benefits, in particular unemployment benefit, and how it is playing a role in allocating the blame for their predicament onto individuals; a point I was at pains to make myself on this blog a little while back.

It all seems curious to me that in the middle of a downturn widely held to be caused by the actions of the finance sector, and affecting many economies across the world (particularly hard hit is our neighbour Ireland) that the blame for unemployment has been shifted from the whimsical vagaries of the international economic order onto the individual.

Is it me or is this counter-intuitive?


  1. You are so right! I have been thinking exactly the same. It seems to me that this is a rhetorical trick intended to make benefits cuts palatable (palatable, that is, to those who aren't the victims).

  2. You are absolutely right. Benefits claimants are an easy target; they don't have a powerful lobby, as individuals, many are not articulate, or are too exhausted and frustrated to be able to challenge the stereotypes.

    And of course, who will object to benefits being cut from scrounging scum who are just too lazy to work...

    I do think there is also the issue that so many of the people making these attacks, and making the rules, have no real idea of the reality of life for those at the bottom of the heap - it's "them & us"