Sunday, September 21, 2008

Put an end to 'Hard Working Families'

Just received this email...
Any chance you can track how often the phrase 'hard working families' is used during the Labour Party Conference?

I have a hard working family, three kids all under six. I push them up those chimneys everyday. So when they are at home in the evening huddled around the single candle for heat listening to the wireless and hear that phrase they think Gordon is talking about them.

My wife would like to hear it but by then I've shipped her down the docks to wander the streets looking for old sailors- or maybe old stewards.

Seriously anything you could do to dissuade the use of this inane phrase would be a great service to the British public.

So, every time you hear it, be in a conference floor or fringe speech, feel free to catalogue it in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Let's face it, it's the only sop he can offer the middle classes at the moment with hard cash at a premium.

Anonymous said...

Oh you don't how pleased I am to read this, my wife and I have no children therefore I presume because we're not a 'family' I can't be hard-working, though the fact we pay loads of tax suggests we must be.

Anonymous said...

I thought they'd moved on from 'hard-working families' to 'hard-pressed families'.

A new 'narrative' d'you see?

Anonymous said...

I also find this phrase highly irritating, but for different reasons to those of your correspondent.

As a single person it just makes me feel my life is of total irrelevance to the government - granted it probably is, but they're are happy to take large sums of my money in tax to fund the education, care, medication etc. of the children of these 'hard-working families', so it's a bit of a slap in the face to be made to feel I'm not even worthy of recognition by them! (To be fair, this point probably applies to the Tories as well, with David Cameron and the Shadow Cabinet using variations of the phrase).

alfstone said...

It might not be so easy to get rid of. Here is a touch of deja vu:
'Britain's hardworking families'
It is rapidly becoming the most over-used phrase of the 2005 election.
No policy announcement, whether on crime, immigration, the economy, health or education, is complete without it.
BBC News website 15th. April 2005

James Higham said...

Next Saturday is sooner than you think.

weggis said...

I think you may have misunderstood the phrase.

Hard [as in owns a pitbull or similar, is overweight with a shaved head and tattoos].

Working [as in working the system, not actually employed in gainful employment]

Families [as in at least 17 chidren by several different partners]

Make sense now?

Anonymous said...

I am sick to death of reading this over-used term as if only families feel the tightening purse. As a singleton, I have no one with whom to share my bills. There are plenty like me from what I read of the developing demographics of this country. I am middle aged and still working, but there are also many widows and widowers, older, who need to service increased prices across the board. It's not just about families!

I read today that the actions taken to try to resolve the financial meltdown will lead to increased taxes in the future and for a long time. Let's hope that Brown can find a way of distributing this liability fairly.

Also in the news today: Barclays takeover of Lehman's in the US includes a commitment to honour ring-fenced bonuses of some $2.5bn. London is up in arms and no surprises there. But let's get real. Bonuses are paid on performance and actual results, ususally in a well-designed scheme, on the basis of company and individual performance.

Lehman's filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. It's a company that failed. No one should have a bonus. Not even the leading execs who may have signed deals for exit packages. It's an insult to all those who will have to pick up the pieces and debts in whatever shape or form, at the very least. It's also an indication that the reality of life continues to be far removed from those on super-salaries. At best, denying those bonuses is a goodwill gesture to a global market that means ordinary man and woman will suffer for years for the activities of the over-paid few.

Unknown said...

It is a very irritating phrase and seems to be used by Tories and Labour. Wasn't it coined by Michael Howard as a sort of dog-whistle phrase to signify 'people like us'/non-chavs/respectable middle classes etc?

Anonymous said...

"Hard working families" means families with a working breadwinner.

Get together your average focus group of men with jobs and start talking about single mums and the benefit system. Ask them what they think about non-working families and the way in which nwf can get free housing, travel and a multitude of benefits and you will get a very angry room. To tap into this you devise a set of soundbites that taps in to that feeling. Lets try a few:

"Many people on benefits are lazy" - strongly agree
"Many people on benefits get excessive help from the government" - strongly agree.

Now your focus group is very happy with what you are saying, but the language is too harsh so we will turn the phrases around to sound more positive.

Working families are the backbone of society - strongly agree!
Working families contribute more to society - strongly agree!

The final piece of spin is to remove the divide implicit in the words 'working families'. This is a phrase that can be picked apart by the media to infer an attack on the undercalss (which it is of course). Inserting the adjective "Hard" now makes these non-scroungers into 'Hard working families'

The focus group now gets presented with a phrase like:

"The government would not let down hard-working families or modest and middle income families" (gordon brown)

When focus groups were first used, they were a great way to get qualatitive honest feedback from consumers. You are launching a new breakfast cereal. Get a group of mums together, let them try it and see what they say. Works great. The thing about political focus groups is that the politicians dont really want to know what people think. Instead, the political focus group is there to test out lies and spin and see whether the public is gullible enough to fall for it.

Hence, the politicians know that most working people on lower incomes are hopping mad about the benefits system. They don't have to do anything about it though, because they have tested a form of words that will convince the electorate that they are 'Doing something about it'

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to tot up how many times Mr Brown has used the word "prudent"
freedom to prosper
PS Don't forget to mention oil prices every ten seconds

Anonymous said...

I believe it was John Major who first brought the phrase into political lexicon.

During the Newbury by-election he said, "Millions of hard-working families have always voted Conservative." t the same time Brian Mawhinney was talking about the "hard-working classes".

Anonymous said...

This is just another term now used to describe "middle class" families without actually saying it.

Just as "ordinary people" is code for the "working classes".

Obviously not PC to use the old terms any more.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that only a third of the population live as a 'family' unit. The rest of us who live alone, or with friends, or are otherwise child-free are invisible. This isn't just a Labour thing, every single one of the major parties uses it. We live in a democracy (allegedly) based on 'one person one vote'. Not 'one family one vote'. Where are the politicians representing hard-working people?