This article is from the July issue of Total Politics
Fairness should be the hub of our welfare system. This isn’t the definition of fairness the left advocates, where everyone has entitlement no matter what they give to society, but fairness where if you work hard you should be rewarded. If you don’t, don’t expect the welfare state to subsidise your lifestyle.
In difficult economic times those who work hard and take risks feel aggrieved that there are many who do neither of these. So why might crucial changes to welfare never happen? In short: political expediency.
To fight this, the Conservative Party must communicate better its aims on reversing the spread of ‘welfare-statism’.
Too often the Conservative part of the coalition has allowed its opponents – including the Lib Dems – to define their position on key issues. On welfare, it can’t allow this to happen.
Reformists need their arguments to be relevant to individuals and families, not the Westminster village, and then find ways to take these arguments to all those who work hard for a living. Momentum needs to be built, making reforms inevitable.
Effective communication tactics – used by the unions to water down the recent NHS bill – should be deployed by those who see the need for real welfare reform. They need to use case studies and examples of real people who, despite misfortune, sickness or a disability, strive and provide for their families.
Opponents of change will run a campaign to water down the plans, so a genuine campaign in favour of change needs to be launched, too.
Recent polling suggests that the public is more approving of reductions in welfare than politicians used to realise. Imagine if the proposed changes were communicated better: the opposition would be marginalised and the battle to defeat the rise of welfare-statism might actually be won.
Communications consultant Ed Staite blogs at edstaite.blogspot.co.uk