First things first, David Cameron says money will be no object in the battle against the elements. Clearly money is no object when buying votes little over a year from a crucial general election. Some businesses are underwater; a florist on the radio was already writing off her business having been hit at the most inconvenient time of the year. But isn't that too bad? Capitalism is blue in tooth and claw; if your business goes under - literally - why should the rest of us bail you out? That's the worldview espoused by the people in power. That's their message to everyone else: if you fall on hard times then, by our deeds if not our honey coated words, then it's your own failings that you can't provide for yourself. Michael Gove dismisses foodbanks by saying it's the individuals that can't budget properly who use them, for example. But when it comes to business, money is no object even if it comes from those that despise the concept of a nanny state.
We shall see, but isn't that what constitutes socialism? This constant veneration of business is ridiculous. When things go wrong they expect to be helped, the rest of the time the CBI is more than happy to make excuses for tax avoiding and piss poor wages. Surely you cannot have it both ways? Either you want a world where you stand or fall on your own, or it's socialism. They have rigged the deck so they have the best of both worlds - in other words, they get to profit exorbitantly at our expense, paying as little as possible, avoiding their financial responsibilities as much as possible, while getting a hand out when times are tough.
Why then is that not something to be extended on an individual level. Didn't Thatcher famously say there is no such thing as society only individuals? Don't you people all worship the wicked witch?
On to the main topic: recently there have been two televised spectacles, both masquerading as debates, confronting benefits and the supposed benefits culture (which of course is different and murkier than the Westminster culture, or the Etonian culture - of course). Channel 5 produced a laughable cardboard shoutfest fronted by the increasingly tabloid Matthew 'Wrighty' Wright, called the Benefit Row - I will discuss that separately and in more depth than last night's Benefits Britain, which capped off the infamous Benefit Street series whose 'stars' featured in the 'debate'. I'm quickly running out of quote marks, there's that much sarcasm necessary.
The latter was hosted by Richard Bacon who, in my opinion, has the most frustrating presenting style of anyone that drawls less than the interminable Robert 'um ah er' Preston. In short it was another shoutfest, though notable for not being a vehicle for the repugnant and irrelevant Katie Hopkins. It attempted more substance, by inviting on Chris Bryant and Mike Penning, but again issues were not discussed and the depth necessary to really expose just what is currently happening was not, nor was it ever going to be, present. Penning is the Disability Minister and yet, despite mentioning DLA (in the context of inheriting a, yawn, massive number of DLA claimants), was never called to account for the decision to cut DLA and replace it with the unncessary and unfair PIP system, which calls people for further tests at further public expense (despite austerity and recession).
What really is there to say. My write up of the first of these programmes is more a blow-by-blow account, but really it's the same old same old. Instead of actual points facts and evidence or even solutions we get promises of 'passionate' debate where everyone's views are welcome. No, they are not. I don't want to hear from Joe Public per se; I want to hear expert testimony and facts. As an example one gentleman said that in Africa people don't get benefits (they do get slavery, famine, warlords, fundamentalism, tribal warfare, corruption, poverty, rape and mutilation - but not benefits), and that everyone receiving benefits should have theirs cut. No explanation of how this would work or what it would achieve, though it's fairly obvious it would be a shortcut to chaos and crime going through the roof. This is what is regarded as a passionate discussion where everyone can have their say - as if that's a good thing.
I'm all for free speech, and I'm all for people being able to express themselves, but that doesn't factor in the poisonous influence of the mainstream media, or the framing of the benefit narrative. It also doesn't account for the ignorance of those contributing who, like the person I just mentioned, is then given equal standing to someone that's campaigned on the issue for years and knows his facts. Owen Jones, for instance, proffered two solutions: a house building programme and an industrial response to the changing environment. In response Penning was heard muttering 'pie in the sky', but this wasn't picked up on by anyone. It was barely caught by the producer.
Sitting next to Owen was professional loudmouth and somewhat damaged goods John Bird (I don't trust the Big Issue, the homeless have to buy their stock to sell, if they don't they are fucked), Mehdi Hassan who tried to contribute facts but, being a Muslim, clearly can't be trusted - sigh - and next to him was the toxic Alison Pearson. She buggered off half way through after Owen Jones called her to task over her vile comments conflating claimants with the Philpott affair. I make this point because it affords people like her the same degree of credibility, in the eyes of the viewer (they are all in the front row), as Owen or even John, who despite being far too temperamental and loud, does occasionally blunder ideologically in the right direction, or Mehdi. Also in the front row, for some reason, was Douglas Murray. Need I say more.
Sadly the 'debate' got off to a bad start by focusing on 'white' Dee (could they not differentiate between the two Dee's by virtue of their surnames rather than their colour, or am I missing something) and her struggle with depression. Again it's putting someone under the spotlight by virtue of calling their claim into question. One might think it right, objectively, to want to get to the truth of this; people can lie and it would be ignorant to assume otherwise. But ours is not an objective world; it's one governed by powerful interests who wilfully propagate criticism of and negativity toward such people - even though that exacerbates such problems, creating a deeply vicious cycle. So we have to question Dee - is she really as depressed as she claims? Look she's articulate, she's smiling and joking - she's on TV in a group of people! Bloody hell...she must be scrounging?
Dismally Alison Pearson, a right wing hack, resorts to the cheap tactic of "she didn't look ill to me", referencing - incorrectly - the effect that the government's application, via ATOS, of the Work Capability Assessment, has had on the apparent number of sick claimants, as evidence that people are playing the system. Of course she, like the rest of the dogs, doesn't have the courage of her conviction (evident by her doing an IDS later on and slinking out) to make the accusation. Of course not; she'd be liable if she did as I assume Dee has a genuine claim - and why would I assume otherwise? Even if she secretly is some criminal mastermind behind the camera, who cares?
This about sums it all up: the constant reinforcement, if only by reiteration, of existing unfair tropes. Consequently the debate stumbles and never catches up to where it needs to be. Everything is held back by the simple tactic of regurgitating bullshit. As a result Alison gets to speak way more than she should - she isn't a claimant and her knowledge of this is based on watching...Benefits Street.
I say no platform. Don't bother with these people anymore; tell Richard Bacon to fuck off and the rest of this coked up media shit haze. They are only interested in themselves, their set and the ratings their venal ant hill kicking exercsies create. These people have no worth and I am not interested.