The ‘Big Benefits Row’ row

'To see ourselves as others see us': It is hard to stand on a platform when you can't even stand - but the social media are giving disabled people a stronger voice and a chance to take the spotlight, rather than the sidelines.

‘To see ourselves as others see us’: It is hard to stand on a platform when you can’t even stand – but the social media are giving disabled people a stronger voice and a chance to take the spotlight, rather than the sidelines.

I can’t directly reblog this but I think you should all read Sue Marsh’s article on her experience with Channel 5’s recent entry into the world of benefit porn.

Originally set to be a member of the panel on The Big Benefits Row (was that really what it was called?), Sue was ‘bumped’ at short notice and ended up being just an invited member of the audience, having to endure the rented opinions of people like the motormouth Alan Sugar had the good sense not to hire and the former Tory minister who was unlucky with eggs when they turned out not to be responsible for food poisoning and lucky with them when hers weren’t fertilised by then-PM John Major.

The most interesting parts of the piece are those relating to the attitude of the government to the benefits debate, as revealed by various TV producers: “They were shocked that invariably the DWP refused to take part unless the stories were edited their way. Iain Duncan-Smith has written repeatedly and furiously to the BBC about their lack of balance in reporting welfare issues. Anyone who follows the debate with even a flutter of fleeting interest will know just how ironic that is. If ever there has been an issue so poorly reported, with so much ignorance and so many lies, the current ‘welfare’ debate must be it.”

For myself, as someone who has to look after a disabled person every day, the way the production company treated Sue was simply unacceptable – and symptomatic of our society’s poor understanding of the misery suffered by people with chronic conditions.

Not only was she bumped from the panel at a moment’s notice, but she and other people with disabilities were treated poorly by studio managers (who’s “them”, for goodness sake?).

The article relates how she had been in London for an appointment and was physically drained afterwards, but had made the effort to stay active and alert for the recording – feeding on adrenaline. To be passed over in that circumstance – and have to watch while opportunities to state the problems faced by the disabled were themselves passed over by programme makers and panellists – was a metaphorical kick in the teeth.

Leaving the studio, Sue tweeted that she’d been given the bum’s rush by the show’s producers, and it is a credit to her online friends that she was trending very highly on Twitter soon afterwards.

But it is always as she states: “Yet again my friends, we shall have to make our own news… show producers of shows like the Big Benefits Row that we do have a voice, we do matter.”

So please visit Diary of a Benefit Scrounger, read the article and share it – along with your own opinion, if you take a strong enough view.

The social media give disabled people a voice that can’t be silenced or sidelined.

You can help ram that point home.

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8 thoughts on “The ‘Big Benefits Row’ row

  1. joanna

    I watched some of it until I couldn’t stand to listen to katie hopkins , eggwina curry was just as bad, talking down to everyone telling everyone to stop being defeatist and get a job, yeah right!
    In the end I couldn’t stomach anymore, it was horrendous.

  2. julia

    i think that hopkins and currie a vile people the only living proof you can live without a heart. these too are as cold as ice. and chanel 5 why just a benefit clock count down where was the MPs claiming count down clock! was you using it as a ceiling fan ;)))

  3. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    There should really be no surprise here that the Big Benefits Row was biased and stage managed to give a platform to Katie Hopkins and Edwina Currie. The channel is, after all, owned by the pornographer Richard Desmond, under whose ownership the Express has become even more right-wing, racist and mean-spirited than the Daily Mail. I also believe that the ingrained ideas among media folk of what constitutes good television also had some influence here. By and large, the broadcast media seem to like right-wing loudmouths for being provocative and causing a bit of what they would see as lively controversy. Hence, Hopkins keeps appearing in print and on the airwaves, despite strong opposition and criticism of her ludicrous and offensive views. The template here seems to be Clarkson, Richard Littlejohn and other right-wing curmudgeons TV managers seem to think make good viewing. The last thing they want is someone actually talking sense, especially a member of the public.
    As for Edwina Currie, I can still remember her looks of bewilderment after she was booed a long time ago on one of Clive Anderson’s shows. She was appearing after she cut the pensioners’ cold weather payments, and told them instead to ‘wrap up warm’. When Anderson asked her about this, she made some kind of weak joke, ending with the line ‘that’ll teach them to wrap up warm’. Then the audience started to boo her. She looked around with an expression of complete puzzlement, as if she really, really couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly disagree with her or find her comments offensive. You would expect that, with her Oxford education, she’d have some kind of intelligence or self-awareness, but this is obviously not the point. Which is probably why she got her post in the Grey Man’s cabinet of horrors and mediocrities.

  4. Pingback: The 'Big Benefits Row' row | Welfare, Disabilit...

  5. jaypot2012

    Curry is a has-been and is being dragged from the bottom of the barrel to come back into the limelight – which only proves to me, and many other people that the media, and the tories, are desperate.
    As for Hopkins, I couldn’t tell you about her as I don’t watch TV at all, and all I know about her is that she too is a has-been and has a loud gob!

  6. Joan Edington

    I’d never had the misfortune to have heard Katie Hopkins before; only the odd quote on blogs which were bad enough. She really is a vicious cow who should be sectioned if she really believes her apparent views. However, when they moved onto the next segment of the show, Edwina Currie took “debate” to the lowest I’ve ever seen. At least Katie Hopkins let other people speak between her bursts of vitriol. The way Currie shouted down Jack Monroe in ever-increasing decibels, resorting to personal attack that was nothing to do with the subject, was so bad that I feel any half-decent presenter should have amade her leave the stage.
    Jack posted an excellent open letter to Edwina Currie yesterday, on her blog, that makes wonderful reading.

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