The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have actually put out something interesting for a change. Over the last thirty years, Labour supporters’ attitudes to welfare have hardened considerably. In the late eighties 41% believed social injustice was the main cause of poverty, now that figure is just 27%. This can be explained in part by the number that blame laziness amongst those on benefits, up from 13% to 22%. 31% of Labour backers see welfare recipients as undeserving, compared to just 21% thirty years ago. The biggest jump: 46% now believe the welfare state encourages dependency, up from just 16% in 1987. You can see how attitudes have changed among Labour supporters by clicking on the interactive chart above. Ed may want to lead the party of welfare, but his voters are not with him.
Talking of headaches for Dave, last night’s ICM/Guardian poll has UKIP on 18%, their highest ever rating and double their ICM rating for a month ago. Labour, the Tories and the LibDems all lost four points each, with Labour falling below Ed’s fabled 35% target. UKIP are up nine points. What was that about a referendum?
Seemingly the entire left-wing twitterati have been up in arms this week over analysis carried via LexisNexis showing that use of the word “scrounger” has rocketed in the British media since 2010. You might, if you subscribe to the Owen Jones thesis that there is a right-wing agenda cooked up in CCHQ to demonise “scroungers”, have expected it to appear more in the likes of the Mail or the Express than the ‘progressive’ metropolitan liberal press. The demonising is in reality coming from Owen Jones, who is relentless in trying to describe any reasonable attempt to reform welfare as an attack on the poor – he is desperate for a Cabinet Minister to use the term “scrounger” so that he can say to the 53% of the population that receives a welfare payment of some kind – including pensioners, war widows and the chronically disabled – that the government thinks you are scroungers. Not so. Guido has been crunching the numbers, and it turns out it is none other than the Guardian that uses the word most, followed by the Indy, where Owen has a column.
After carrying out a simple search of the word “scrounger” on each newspaper website for the period 2010 to date, the figures show that the Guardian used the word in 736 articles over the last three years. In second place is Owen Jones’ Indy, who – as he might say – “demonised the poor” 185 times over the period. Much further down come the right-wing tabloids: 76 for the Mail and 20 for the Express. Owen knows there is no public sympathy for people who abuse the welfare state, he also knows that the majority of the population, thanks to Gordon Brown, receives a welfare payment of some kind. Owen dogmatically refuses to countenance any welfare cut of any kind, that is why he is trying to encourage the likes of mothers who receive child benefit and deserving pensioners to align with those who are rightly losing benefits – fit people of working age who turn down jobs for example – he wants them to believe that welfare reformers think they are “scroungers”. That is why Owen and the unpopular progressive sections of the media use the emotive term more than anyone on the welfare-reforming right…
Methodology: Because neither Google or LexisNexis include all paywalled sites in their analysis, Guido used each newspaper website’s own internal search engine to determine in how many articles the word “scrounger” appeared between 2010 and today. The respective Sunday editions of the titles were included with the daily for the purposes of this research.
Tory strategists could be forgiven for worrying that after three years of little or no growth and a £120 billion spending black hole this year alone, Dave and George’s reliance on blaming Britain’s economic slump on the last Labour government might be wearing thin with voters. Apparently not.
A study by media agency OMD of over 2,000 adults from across the UK has found that 53% still blame the previous Labour government for Britain’s ongoing economic problems, compared with just 39% blaming the coalition. 39% say Gordon is the main culprit, with just 27% fingering Cameron and 23% Osborne. Numbers Downing Street will be clinging onto…
Hardly a surprise, but confirmation from Sajid Javid that the government projects billions more will be spent on tax credits over the next few years. The total spend on child tax and working tax credits has jumped from £24.1 billion in 2008-9 to £29.9 billion this year. The figure is projected to rise again to £32.5 billion by 2017-18. Austerity, what austerity?
Taking Polly Toynbee’s increasingly fact-free rants with a pinch of salt is generally good advice, but there is a difference between her standard spin and a complete falsehood. In a typical Gove-bashing piece for the Guardian today Polly asserts:
“Gove, calling for payment by results, cited Singapore’s high-achieving school system, “where expectations are higher”. What he didn’t say is that Singapore, like top performer Finland, is one of the most equal of developed nations. As his government drives up inequality, his schools face an ever tougher task compensating for the society they inhabit.”
Only Singapore isn’t one of the most equal developed nations. In fact, it is one of the most unequal. The country is currently dealing with one of the most severe income gaps in the world, indeed it has one of the highest Gini coefficients – the standard measure used to gauge inequality – of developed countries. But why let the facts get in the way of your see-through agenda, eh Polly?
One of Maggie’s many memorable memories from the House is her slap down of a young, snivelling Simon Hughes. Channel 4 FactCheck show that she was entirely right: wages went up across the whole spectrum, including for the poorest.
IFS figures show median earnings went up faster under Thatcher than under Major or during Blair’s second and third terms. Everyone got richer on Maggie’s Farm, including the poor. It comes down to this: would you rather be more equal but poorer, or less equal but better off?
As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, there is some truth to the much-levelled charge that Downing Street is overrun with “kids”. The PM’s team is smaller and younger than at any point in the last ten years. The Prime […]