Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Strivers and Skivers

No sooner has some political back-room boy or girl noticed that skiver rhymes with striver (which happened approximately a week ago last Tuesday) than the two words were all over the culture, hand-in-hand, dictating the terms in which we discuss the issue of benefit reform. What power there is in a rhyme!  It's obvious, innit;  Those in work are strivers ( a most peculiar word- both slangy and high Victorian) and those out of work are skivers- feckless layabouts sucking on the teat of the state.  It's so catchy it must be true. 

But of course it isn't, We need to resist the jingle.  In reality- as opposed to the world of political sloganeering and point-scoring- very few of us are actually one thing or the other. Many people in work hate their jobs and would love to give them up. Many people on benefits want nothing more than to be in work and earning. Some of us (as Matt the Telegraph cartoonist pointed out yesterday) go to work and do as little there as we possibly can. Others put huge amounts of energy into whatever it is we do at home or in our spare time. Many- in this battered economy of ours- bounce continually in and out of work- earning one week, drawing benefits the next. And of course a very large number of people doing low-paid work rely on state benefits to beef up their income. 
So it's a lie. But also it's terribly, terribly divisive. Intentionally so. People in work are being invited to hate on those who draw benefits in a blatant strategy of divide and rule.  The crowning irony is that this is coming from a government that used to make such a big deal out of telling us we are "all in this together."

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