British people stopped believing in the benefits system due to Tony Blair, researchers claim

The exact moment that the British public lost its faith in the benefits system has been pinpointed by researchers.

Tony Blair’s famous pronouncement in 1999 that welfare should be “a hand-up, not a hand-out” in reference to Labour’s New Deal policies coincided with a fundamental change in public attitudes towards benefits claimants, according to a paper published today by academics at the University of Bristol.

Using data from the British Social Attitudes survey, the researchers argue that around the time Mr Blair introduced his fresh approach to the benefits system, public opinion on the subject reached a “point of intersection”.

Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, they argue, there was a widespread belief in Britain that out-of-work benefits were set at derisory levels, causing significant hardship for those who relied upon them. But by 1999 people had started to feel they were set too high – ushering in an era of benefit “scroungers” rhetoric which has continued to this day.

Attitudes towards unemployed people are clearly changing and hardening fast. Solidarity with unemployed citizens, poor people and welfare claimants has declined significantly in recent times,” said Dr Chris Deeming of the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, who led the research.

“The British public now sees work aversion and the declining work ethic as one of the main issues facing society. Coupled with this trend is a growing belief that out-of-work benefits are now too generous and act to promote the ‘dependency culture’,” he added.

> But who exactly believes this ? Certainly no-one who has actually had to live on benefits for any length of time.

Nor, you’d suppose, anyone who had close relatives of friends who had to survive on them.

Still, wasn’t it Sid Vicious who once remarked: “I’ve met the man on the street, and he’s a cunt” ?

The research also reveals that support for the welfare state among Labour voters has been in steep decline for two decades. In 1987, around 73 per cent of the party’s supporters agreed that the Government should spend more on welfare benefits for poor families, compared with just 36 per cent in 2011.

The study, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is published in the journal Social Policy and Administration.

Source – The Independent, 25 Sept 2014


  1. Trevor

    Yes, indeed, Blair has a lot to answer for. I well remember him and Gordon Brown enthusiastically denouncing the supposed “something for nothing society” almost immediately after winning the 1997 general election. Laughable coming from a man who scrounged free holidays for himself and family from his rich chums (Silvio Berlusconi et al.).

    This warmongering capitalist piece of human shite has been responsible for inflicting more damage to working-class solidarity than virtually anyone else in recent times – except, of course, his beloved idol, Thatcher. For once she was correct when asked what she regarded as her greatest achievement, instantly replying “New Labour”.

    Anyone who ever voted for this compulsive lying psychopath should hang their heads in shame.

  2. jess

    This is a far more cautious and nuanced paper than the Independent would have us believe
    “The present Conservative-led coalition government has pursued further workfare reforms and reductions in welfare spending with little political or public opposition. Second, there appears to be a new and more divisive type of ‘welfare politics’ emerging in Britain and other advanced liberal democracies (Deeming 2013c). In the political contest for votes, workfare ideology not only divides workers but also further depoliticizes the relationships between capital and labour in the process.”
    Deeming Social Policy and Administration Sept. 2014 p.19

    One cannot agree with the first sentence. Yet the second has some resonance, but only for parts of society. The third sentence needs to be borne in mind, when re-reading the first two. If you get my drift.

    Local libraries (or college libraries) should be able to provide access to the journal for those interested

    The author also goes on to question the value of the sampling by BSA

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