Polly on Poverty

Most voters have a profound sense of justice

Indeed they do Polly, indeed they do.

But the word "poverty" plays badly with focus groups, even with the poor themselves: people are unconvinced it exists outside Africa. "Redistribution" does badly too. Mention the word benefit and people add "scrounger" on the end – often encouraged by Labour ministers who should know better. As a result, Labour never talks up its children\’s programme except to the poverty charities, as the two Eds did yesterday.

And therein lies the problem with your plans. Poverty, the general public thinks, does not exist in the UK as a general rule. The shoeless, foodless child will get any of us opening our wallets, whether directly or through the tax system. But when people look at the world around them they don\’t see that. Your definition of poverty (less than 60% of median income, or, if you prefer, well into the top 20% of global incomes) strikes most as not being poverty but simply some having more than others. And to the Great British Public this isn\’t the same thing, nor is it a matter of great concern.

Which is why, as younote, it doesn\’t play well with the public.

As for child poverty, do not underestimate the scale of Labour\’s task. As the median income moves up 2% a year and benefits for parents are not up-rated with earnings, the target keeps getting harder to reach. It means running fast up a down escalator.

And when people realise that then your project will be stone dead. For you\’ve let the cat out of the bag. This isn\’t investment, a one off payment to solve a problem, it\’s a committment to steadily increasing spending forever. Higher taxes, rising steadily, forever, to "solve" something which, as you point out, most don\’t care about. Perhaps that\’s why the politicians don\’t talk about it, eh?

3 thoughts on “Polly on Poverty”

  1. When are this mad woman and her gormless associates going to get it into their thick skulls that by any sensible metric there is no such thing as poverty in Britain. There should be; people who repeatedly have children that they’re unable to support and who refuse to work because they don’t want to, ought to be poor, but because those of us who work for forty hours a week are relieved of a goodly proportion of our justly-earned cash to subsidise millions of parasites, the message is never sent.

  2. That column was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, even for PT. She doesn’t just shoot herself in the foot once, she does it over and over again until I started feeling sorry for her. It’s like a compendium of Polly errors.

    She repeats the 6% tosh for inheritance tax. She completely ignores the fact that poverty is relative. She refers to poor children all the time instead of deprived children. She ignores the fact that tax money can be redirected instead of having to put taxes up. She gets completely mixed up over tax complexity. She gives the impression she thinks wealth is zero-sum (she ignores the fact that “yacht-owners” are often the ones creating the wealth).

    There’s probably a few more that I’ve missed.

  3. PT is a blithering idiot. But anyone who believes that the general public–especially those at the mid-to-lower economic levels–is unconcerned about such matters is delusional. Whatever their appreciation of some far-off “African” poverty, each one scrapes off just enough of the stuff to jam into his own kit and, thus, to justify his (and all his fellows’) votes for those promising more redistribution to their (perceived) net benefit.

    It’s a generalized case of septicemia; Polly’s just a visible, festering excrescence.

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