And the Aggressive Secularist is back, in a different place. Lots to get angry about with changes to the NHS and the constant rudeness about social security (“welfare”) at the moment. It’s sometimes said that you don’t judge someone by who their friends are, but who they decide to make their enemies, especially in politics. I can never remember the difference between a striver and a shirker, but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a massive shift in the use of language going on. A “welfare state” made up of “strivers and shirkers” sounds very different to receiving “social security”. The right-wing tabloids refer to social security payments as “benefits” and “handouts”. However, a lot of how much you get depends on national insurance contributions. Most of the social security bill goes on state pensions, but that’s not what you’d believe if you listen to the press. The level of benefit fraud is also very low: less than 1%. Sure you do get occasional edge cases but the number of these is so small as to be insignificant.
Lots to get the teeth into, especially with the overall narrative and use of language. Later though.
Friday’s Today programme featured an interview where Chris Grayling lost it while he was talking to Evan Davies about the Work Experience programme. Leaving aside arguments about the programme itself, wouldn’t it make more sense for Iain Duncan Smith to do the interview? He is the Secretary of State for work & pensions and Chris Grayling is a more junior employment minister
I think I know what’s going on. David Cameron has a tendency to take a backseat role and allow other people to fail while taking credit for their success. You just have to look at how the Lib Dems are being treated to see what I mean. Andrew Lansley is already tainted because of the NHS bill, but IDS isn’t (yet). Grayling’s rants about the SWP hacking his email by someone CCing him in an email sent to Tesco are a classic way of diverting people’s attention. I think whoever put Grayling up to do this interview knew that he was probably likely to react like that. People are less likely to argue with an irrational person, which works quite nicely when you’ve got something controversial to push through.
By making Lansley and Grayling the personification of these schemes Cameron is diverting attention away from himself, so he can reshuffle them out of the way and continue with them when the fuss has died down a bit. It may well be that they believe in these halfwitted ideas, but prime ministers have ways of making sure people tread the party line and no one in cabinet is indispensable. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Chris Grayling’s next ministerial post involves overseeing fishing quotas, or working in the Northern Ireland office.