Much of this morning has been taken up with Labour figures trying to get across they aren’t actively considering the story on the front of today’s Times — that Labour is planning to deny child benefit to mothers who refuse to give their children the MMR jab. I have just chaired a fringe meeting on the Big Society and asked him afterwards if the story was true. He told me that the idea was originally floated by ‘Kevin Rudd in Australia’ and was ‘never part of the Labour policy review’. Cruddas also suggested the One Nation vaccination idea was ‘an interesting idea’ but just one of ‘loads of ideas put to me’.
This story falls into the trap of journalese lingo. Was Cruddas considering it? Over to Rob Hutton and his guide to journalese in his new book:
‘The all-purpose unfalsifiable public policy story. No one will ever be able to convincingly deny that they’ve considered something. If the thing they’re considering might actually happening, try ‘actively considering’ to distinguish it from the sort on passive consideration people things before rejecting them out of hand.’
So Crudas, it seems, may have given the MMR-benefits link passive consideration. But not active consideration. Anyway, he’s not the only personal who’s distanced himself from the policy. Ed Balls went onto ITV Daybreak this morning saying ‘there is no question of a Labour government ever taking child benefit away or punishing parents for choices they make on vaccinations’:
The question now stands of how an a vaguely mooted idea, which was never apparently considered part of Labour’s policy review, made it as a front page of a national newspaper. Pretty much everyone in Labour now seems to be running away from it as fast as possible.