Look Mike, I know you know about the polls and I know you’re probably thinking about what you can do to turn things around. Well, I’ve got one little idea. Stop using their language.
It’s pretty simple really – I mean it’s not gonna win the game or anything but it’d be a damn good start if you stopped talking about ‘Tax Relief” and “Tax Burden” (f’crisskes!) ‘cos y’know that’s kinda what the right want it to be called. Here’s Lakoff on the issue:
The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.
Now I’m not a great big fan of framing but this seems pretty elementary to me and when I see stuff like the press release you put out today (and you’re doing it nearly every friggin day):
“We also know that the report does not take into account the billions of dollars of tax relief that are being delivered through the Working for Families programme.
I just wanna scream. But bro, you are the Minister for Finance so perhaps you know better. If you are running some super-smart reverse-psychology game plan then I can only offer this advice – when referring to the surplus call it “my overtax loot”, when discussing Working For Families call it “the middle-class welfare scheme” oh and you might want to start referring to National as “the natural party of government” while you’re at it… “Tax Burden”? Sheesh…