According to the Newcastle Journal (08 October 2013), “the North east is overwhelmingly in favour of a benefits crackdown, an exclusive Journal poll has revealed.”
As is usual with these kind of polls, this was not actually the view of an overwhelming proportion on the North East population, and not a random selection either – the “research” was conducted by a company called Other Lines Of Enquiry North who, we are told, “specialise in delivering quality insights to advertising, creative, design and PR agencies as well as directly to brands across the North of England.”
The people polled appear to have been part of their in-house panel, Panelbase, who get paid for their opinions – “Most surveys will carry rewards between £0.25 and £10 (depending on survey duration and complexity), which we will add directly to your panelbase.net account.” In fact you appear to get 3 quid just for signing up ! (https://www.panelbase.net/ if anyone wants to take advantage).
So, not the views of the average man/woman on the north east street then. And definitely not that sizeable portion reliant on welfare for survival.
“Some 66% of the region said they thought Britain was “soft” when it came to welfare, “ the Journal trumpeted nevertheless, ” lending support to the drive by Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to make it harder for people to claim.”
Of course, we’re not told what questions the paid poll-responders were actually asked. This could be quite crucial.
For example, if the question was ‘Do you think it would be right for people on benefits to get more than working people ?’ then obviously most people would say ‘no’ – despite the fact that
(a) people on benefits dont get more than those working, and
(b) the question didn’t actually claim they did
– but I suspect a sizeable number of those being polled would read it as “People on benefits get more than those working – is it right they do ?”
This dubious piece of public opinion also claimed “…almost 63% of the region thinks the long term jobless be made to do voluntary work for their benefits…”
Oxymoron alert ! You cant be made to do voluntary work. You either do it voluntarily, or you’re made to do it against your will, probably in this case by the threat of financial sanctions.
There was a rather vanilla token response from Catherine McKinnell (Labour, Newcastle North) – “People in the North East have the same strong work ethic as the rest of the country and it’s therefore unsurprising that this relatively small survey indicates a strong belief that benefits should not be handed out without good reason.
“However, I also know we are a compassionate region and care about the individual circumstances people find themselves in – and I know from my constituency surgeries how many people in genuine need are having support taken away from them by the current system.”
Unfortunately, what seems likely is that the “current system” – including “cracking down” on the worst off, would continue under more or less similar lines should Labour win the next election.