In this essay, I aim to prove that current government "welfare reform" policy set out to influence the public to support its ideas. As part of this, I will demonstrate how certain sections of the media were influenced to demonise the poorest in our society. Recently, the impact of reforms has been broader and deeper than those made several years ago. I will argue that this has the potential to change public opinion and reduce government support for the welfare reform agenda. The Conservative Party's policy has promoted individualism and sought to reduce dependency on the state. Thatcher, in particular, was a Conservative leader who believed in this policy. In the late 1970's the Thatcher government thought providing generous collective provisions for unemployment and sickness would sap some of the wills from working class peoples' drive to work (Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 2013). The current Conservative government continues with these policies.
Arguably, recognising it was not a popular policy this time round, the current government recruited large sections of media to push their agenda and demonise sections of the population. By creating a sense of separation between the unemployed and employed through the media, it becomes easier for the public to judge and criticise people who now become seen as different and 'other' such as the disabled or sick (Mooney, 2009). To illustrate this, papers such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express – both acknowledged Conservative supporters – often use demeaning language to describe benefit recipients. Headlines about this topic have included: 'Vile product of Welfare UK' (Daily Mail headline 03/04/2013) and 'War on Scroungers' (Daily Express headline 28/8/11). Compare this to reporting from other newspapers such as the Guardian or Independent: 'Welfare reforms will lead to 'extreme hardship', say campaigners' (the Guardian, 11/11/2010).