Hardest hit by cuts are struggling to survive

I am a Labour party member and an opponent of the council's tree felling plans.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 2:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 2:21 pm

I am also researching politically manipulative speech.

I’m writing now to discuss a remarkably manipulative argumentative strategy used by proponents of the Council’s felling plans. (One example is discussed here: < http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/letter-defends-sheffield-council-and-slams-lack-of-perspective-of-tree-campaigners-1-7739862>.)

The strategy is to list off the horrific consequences of austerity cuts to Sheffield, and then to make two further moves – to note that those hardest hit by these cuts are not complaining about tree felling and to suggest that those who are complaining about tree felling don’t care about austerity cuts.

Let’s take the claim that those hardest hit by cuts are not complaining about tree felling. This may well be true. Those hardest hit by cuts are struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis and may well be unable to devote any energy to anything but immediate survival.

It is outrageous that we have so many people in this position, and a key reason that I joined the Labour party, but it does not mean that it is a mistake to devote any time to any other issues.

This line of thought would lead to a total neglect of long-term priorities that would be irresponsible.

Now let’s take the claim that those who protest felling don’t care about austerity.

This is manifestly untrue. Many of us care a great deal about the appalling austerity cuts, and have taken a variety of actions against them.

But it may well be that the council is relatively unaware of these actions.

Why? Because, unlike the tree-felling strategy, the austerity cuts are a product of the national government.

When I object to something, I relate my objections to those who have made the decisions I disagree with. I complain to the Sheffield council about tree-felling and I complain to the government about austerity.

I thoroughly agree with those who oppose austerity cuts and willingly join them in the battle.

But I also think the tree-felling is a mistake. And while I cannot speak for all of those fighting the tree felling, I must say that this seems to be widely true.

But this has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the tree-felling plans.

Jennifer Saul