One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic ~ Josef Stalin
Reading Twitter this morning it suddenly dawned on me where the problem is with arguments about the savage Welfare Cuts being made by this Government, whilst refusing to regulate Bankers bonuses, it is quite simply we argue in the abstract, and not the personal. Put simply how does a 10% cut in anything matter to the average punter who are struggling themselves under the cuts, its one less trip, one less meal out, it’s an abstract argument – what does really make a difference is when you put a face on the argument, when you use a real person, when you show what it means.
I was asked last March why I was marching, 500,000 people taking to the streets to protest against cuts and job losses whilst ‘we’re all in this together’ Dave was the at the Henley Regatta; I am not a Public Sector Worker, I am, at the moment, reasonably comfortably off, though my partner is facing the cuts, my arguments were taken from the Socialist Lexicon about solidarity and protecting society for everybody, but still I was asked “how do the cuts affect you” I then parried with something about the National Health Service, but since I rarely use the NHS that didn’t wash – more questions – with back against the wall I citied the cut in the local Bus Service, “that’s, legitimate, go and march you have a reason”.
The point is that we need to make these policy cuts about real people, the tweet that made it real was as follows:
my 22-year-old brother got his benefits stopped three days after his final round of chemotherapy ~ @cnlester
suddenly the cuts stop being an academic argument and the question changes from the morality of the cuts to “Minister, do you think it is right that person had his benefits cut three days after finishing chemotherapy? The policies are now real laws that are hurting people, and here’s an example, there’s an example, what about this person.
We have to make the argument specific, we have to get personal.
The adage that there are “lies, damned lies, and Government statistics” always works in the Government favour, while else would they use them, they hide the truth and they minimise the impact, two examples firstly an old Daily Mail headline “33% PERCENT OF COUNTRY WANT TO GET RID OF THE MONARCHY” firstly I would challenge their figures, but it means 67% are in favour or not bothered, secondly “a 1 % drop in University applications, not a lot unless you make it personal, that’s 44,000 people fewer people applying to go to University. The percentages that the Government are trotting out are fairly small, even if they used numbers it would be meaningless, but you when you know that the person down the road is living without heat, and not getting enough to eat because the mothers Welfare Benefit has been cut, then it becomes personal, a consequence of the savage cuts. Government figures are obscuring the human tragedies.
My question to the David Cameron is “David, how have the cuts affected you personally?”
Before you think I am going soft I will quote Sheffield’s
@OwenJones84 “So, the Tories and Lib Dems have voted to strip cancer patients of their benefits. Twisted bastards. Pardon the French.”
when we get questions like that at PMQ’s I will know the revolution is in full swing and we have a Labour Opposition and champion of the NHS worthy of Bevan