|Perhaps the most effective Welfare Secretary of post-war Britain?|
The biggest challenge for IDS however was how to sell this reform to the public. Previous reforms in other countries, though successful, like in Germany under Chancellor Schroeder (a Social Democrat) proved to be deeply unpopular. IDS early on distanced himself from value-laden language and honed in rhetorically on the problem of 'making work pay', i.e. to create a differential between benefits payments and work related wages. In effect, his reforms were tackling the incentive structure for work.
In an interview this morning with John Humphreys from the BBC, he robustly defended the benefits changes (the full interview HERE). Humphreys intoned about the immoral effect of benefits changes but IDS pointed out that the effects of benefits changes will be to improve the situation of those out of work in the long term. He thereby found a way to reject the 'moral outrage' of those on the left and in the Church establishment, while using their language to defend the reforms. This two-pronged approach, appealing to the sensible majority by emphasising the incentive structure of the reforms, and pointing to the ethical underpinning of the changes, makes his reforms uniquely likely to succeed. Over the years, despite a merciless onslaught from some of the left, he never used disparaging language about those people at the bottom of society but spoke clearly of the need to give them the right support. He might just turn out to be one of the most effective welfare secretaries of post-war Britain.