Posts Tagged ‘argument’

Labour needs to remember how to make an argument

10/01/2013, 07:00:47 AM

by Peter Watt

So, after five hours of heated debate the government got its way and parliament voted to limit annual increases in working-age benefits to 1%, for the next three years.

Only a handful of Lib Dems rebelled.  But put aside the rights and wrongs of the argument for the moment.  Just consider the arguments used in the first big political battle of the second half of this parliament.

To be effective an argument has to be heard, resonate, be noticed and be believable.  It critically has to be understood.   I spent much of Monday and Tuesday listening to party spokespeople making their arguments in advance of and in the aftermath of the welfare vote.  I was struck by just how hard it was for Labour to get to the point and to make their argument.  The government spokespeople on the other hand seemed to get to the point quickly.  I wonder if this is why?  When you go to the respective websites and try to get a distillation of the arguments you find:

Government argument:

“Today Labour are voting to increase benefits by more than workers’ wages.  Conservatives: standing up for hardworking people.”

Labour argument:

“Labour will today challenge the government to back its plan for a compulsory jobs guarantee for the long term unemployed as new figures from the IFS show 7 million working people will be hit by the government’s ‘strivers tax’. The new report from the IFS shows that 7 million working families will lose out under the government’s real terms cuts to tax credits and other benefits. It follows Children’s Society research which shows that a second lieutenant will lose £552 a year, a nurse could lose £424 a year and a primary school teacher could lose £424 a year.  Labour will oppose the bill and call for the government to bring in a compulsory jobs guarantee, which would give people out of work for 24 months or more a job which they would have to take up or lose their benefits.”

Remember, put aside the merits of the respective arguments, and judge them on their effectiveness.


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