Science says… personalise the cuts

Simon says… stick out your tongue.

Simon says… play with a Siberian Tiger Cub.

Simon says… emphasise with the 500,000 public sector workers who are going to lose their jobs and with the elderly and most vulnerable who have seen the budgets of the councils who care for them cut by 30%.

Simon says… feel outrage that the Treasury are pretending that the richest are hardest hit by assuming that the loss of child benefit to a millionaire is a greater hardship than to those on lower incomes and be angry that they are willing to risk inflicting “spiralling poverty” on millions.

This chimp ain’t emphasising and this chimp ain’t outraged. He’s overwhelmed and unresponsive. Why when faced with the biggest assault on the welfare state since its foundation is he so calm?

Because statistics don’t move people to action, they don’t anger and they don’t make you drop down and weep at the senselessness of it all (as you undoubtedly would if you did not have some threshold to keep you sane).

When a small number of people suffer we can picture their anguish, the details of James Ross found tortured in Portugal are more easily intelligible to us than the horror of the Congo, a point made forcefully by Ben Goldacre.

If the left wants a tactic for fighting the cuts then it needs to abandon statistics as propaganda, a billion pounds mean nothing these days and a 100,000 people suffering is just a statistic.

These cuts need to be personalised, and it needs to be made clear that they are unnecessary. Bendy Girl has done us a great service in providing one of the first personal reactions, we need more.


8 thoughts on “Science says… personalise the cuts

  1. Whats the use anymore it was labour that started off the welfare reforms, it’s labour who are saying they agree with the Tories on welfare, so you try your best and at the next election vote for the Chimp get more sense out of him or her…..

    1. Thank You Paul, You’re In A Bit Of A Purple Patch Yourself Too (hahahaha, capitals galore).

      Thinking about this, it seems one of the advantages the right has is that anecdotal evidence tends to fit their simple stories even where statistics don’t bear them out, “bogus” asylum seekers, benefit “cheats”, the public finances are like a household etc.

      That benefit fraud was only responsible for only 1% of benefit claims, and is at something of a historic low comes to naught opposite an anomolous asylum seeker with 8 kids in Kensington on the public purse.

      There seem to be rhetorical asymmetries between the left and right.

  2. There seem to be rhetorical asymmetries between the left and right.

    You do not mean labours like the Tories do you?

    1. Are you accusing my of being Stalinesque?

      People have difficulty imagining a million or billion whatever, it just isn’t in people’s vernacular, however a single vivid image can do more.

      What are you disagreeing with?

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