Jeremy Corbyn Condemns “Poverty Porn” TV Shows. Where Are The ‘Banker’s Street’ Programmes?

Benefits

“…the demonisation of communities makes it easier for politicians to make decisions damaging to those communities. Look at the underfunding of Grenfell.” Jeremy Corbyn

Speaking at a Q & A session for the critically lauded film Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned TV shows like ‘Benefits Street’ for misrepresenting millions of people throughout the UK, stating we should be “seeing fewer” of these types of programmes. You can see the full Q & A session by clicking HERE.

This is a very important point as we often see The Welfare State, something for us all to be proud of, as being seen as an entirely negative thing. The narrative commonly being “those on benefits are the enemy of those lucky enough not to be”. It is this false framing of, mainly working class people, and/or those who are disabled, refugees, migrants, unemployed, homeless and/or poor somehow being responsible for something they have very little influence on-national & international economic incompetence and greed.

As a contemporary example, those responsible for the 2007/08 world financial crash, belong to a group who in the period since, have doubled their wealth. Yet, we do not see any ‘Banker’s Street’ programmes, do we? What we do see is a very conscious effort from both our Conservative government, and large swathes of our mainstream media, to fragment our communities by presenting the blame for these failings at the door of the aforementioned. It is not someone claiming disability, child, unemployment etc benefit who caused the economy to crash-but it is our communities, whether we claim benefits or not, who have to pay for it via austerity.

It is worth remembering that while we obviously condemn any form of ‘cheating’, only 0.7%-yes, 0.7%!-of those claiming benefits are ‘cheats’; yet the UK public believe the figure to be 34 times that amount! It is also worth noting the the attitudes of the UK public are changing, with many wanting less money going to those most in need. A noticeable change from the past. So, as we can see, the media is clearly influencing public opinion here. Based on lies.

This comes back to the ‘divide & conquer’ point-i.e. Make us all blame each other for our personal, and the country’s economic issues, rather than those actually causing them-often those I mention above who have doubled their wealth in the same period…or at least those facilitating this increase in inequality.

So, why would the media do this? Well, most of our mainstream press is owned by a handful of people-like those exposed in the recent ‘Panama Papers’ scandal. i.e. Those avoiding or evading tax on an industrial level. The irony being those calling on us to turn on those least responsible, are most responsible for not paying their fair share, and significant contributors to the unnecessary, ideological choice of austerity. A point also often forgotten is that those receiving benefits, in various ways, see that money go directly back into the local and UK economy; can we say the same when we are chasing money from the richest in Panama and other international locations?

I always liken it to the government being captain of the Titanic. We are all told to rush to one end of the ship and put our finger in little holes where there are minor leaks, while doing very little at all about the massive iceberg-shaped hole at the other end of the ship and then wondering why we are sinking! As I say, no one is condoning ‘cheating’ the system; but surely you would start with who was costing our economy and communities the most, then work your way down? Rather than blaming the crew for the minor leaks on the boat, the poor people left to die in the bowels of the ship and the people in the lifeboats?!

We must also remember that large business are often massive benefit claimants themselves; multi-billion pound profit making companies, receiving millions in public money & subsidies. Who (correctly, but the point still stands) bailed out the banks? You did. I did. We did. The state bailed out the failures of the extreme Neo Liberal Capitalism we have now. Yet, it is you, me, us paying for it through austerity. In theory, based on a generally accepted principle of Capitalism-most invested economically = most received in profits-our public finances should be awash with surplus money. Except, as we know all too well, the exact opposite is happening.

We are ALL ‘wealth creators’. We helped pay to educate the workforce, build the roads, subsidise the low wages, build the infrastructure in general that business and we all benefit from. Demonising those who have the least, while allowing those who have the most and/or helped cause the current situation a free ride by comparison, is both morally & economically bizarre. It makes no ethical or financial sense. It is ideological.

We must not allow this false, dangerous narrative to continue to stain our culture and communities as there are only negative consequences to that. No positives, at all. It is essential we do not allow the continuing fragmenting of our communities, and the continual blaming of those who are not at fault for any of this. It is time for desperately needed, economic, political, social and ideological change; after all, what is the alternative? More of the same?!?! No thank you!!!

#TORIESOUT #JC4PM

In Solidarity, Adam Samuels – Clwyd South Media & Community Engagement Representative

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