‘Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not entertainment. People are dying’

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Are you as utterly sick of televised ‘poverty porn’ as you should be?

Night after night, main offenders Channel 4, Channel 5 – and even the BBC – flood their schedules with nonsense films designed to misinform the public about the lives of the deprived and enlist your collusion in their demonization and destruction.

It’s time somebody put a stop to it, and the United Disability Resistance Movement (UDRM) wants your help to achieve this.

“Some of us have recently been looking at asking our members to write a … letter to the individual members of OFCOM about the media portrayal of benefits ‘scroungers’,” wrote a UDRM representative in a message to This Blog yesterday.

“We think all should unite, able and disabled against the media rhetoric and narrative.

“At UDRM we are convinced that, if all protest groups worked together, we would stand a much better chance of changing things because we all want the same thing in the end. We believe there’s strength in numbers and we are already working with some other groups under the banner of ‘Unite and Fight’.”

The group is asking for anyone who agrees that ‘poverty porn’ should be stopped to send a copy of the following letter to one, many or all of the Ofcom members listed below, indicating their support for the points it makes, in a short campaign over two days between Saturday and Sunday (August 8-9).

It’s up to you.

Here’s the letter. Please consider joining this campaign.

Dear [insert name],

I am writing to complain about the number of programmes on mainstream British television and radio and in British print media at the moment which vilify, target and demonise people who are claiming welfare benefits.

People are being mocked and their struggles are being seen as entertainment when, in fact, it is day-to-day existence for many and not a fictitious variation of shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not ‘amusing’ or a joke, they are a reality for many and are horrifying in their brutality. People have died.

Programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ and ‘Benefits Britain, Life on the Dole’ perpetuate the myth that claiming welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice. Vitriolic articles by so-called commentators such as Katie Hopkins incite hatred. Benefit claimants, migrants and job seekers are being portrayed as scroungers who have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and modern-day begging. This is not the case. People claim benefits because there is nothing else they can do. People claim benefits because they were born disabled or have become sick later in life. People claim benefits because they have lost their jobs and have been unable to secure a new role. People claim benefits because employers are paying minimum, starvation wages and they cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. People claim benefits because they need help. People claim benefits because they have no choice. This is not entertainment, this is disgusting, this is frightening; this is tragedy.

Further to this, ‘Poverty Porn’ has alarming knock-on effects on the way people who have no choice but to claim benefits to survive are viewed. The result of this misinformation is the alarming increase in hate crime against those who are claiming benefits. Spying on friends and neighbours is encouraged. covert filming and recording is rife. According to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014 there was a 213 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for hate crime against disabled people. In 2011 the report, ‘Ready Willing and Able’ highlighted the fact that 38 percent of the general public perceived disabled people to be a burden on society. On 24 April 2015 the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein compared British print media’s attitude to migrants to propaganda in 1930s Nazi Germany.

The TUC has stated that “The government’s austerity programme is reshaping the welfare State through cuts in benefits and the privatisation of public services, including health, education and drastically reduced state support. The impact of benefits cuts and of the associated campaign of demonisation of disabled people, the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups has been catastrophic. Crimes motivated by hate have wider and deeper roots, but austerity has made the problems worse.” This is not healthy. This is frightening. This can only lead to the further disintegration of our society.

I am asking OFCOM to look into this trend in the British media to publicise non-stop ‘poverty porn’ in print, on the radio and on television. I am asking OFCOM to do the right thing. I am asking OFCOM to have the courage to say ‘No More’. The public should be shown the true stories of the struggling majority, not the glamorisation of the extreme minority. Over many years the British press has been lauded for its fairness and unbiased reporting. Please do not allow this to change.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name]

Here is the list of possible recipients:

[email protected], Mehmuda Mian, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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31 thoughts on “‘Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not entertainment. People are dying’

  1. Maria

    to be honest, and judging from the TV guide. Not that I have watched these programmes. From the title benefits at the sea and dogs on the dole, It really seems they are scraping the old barrel, there isn’t a lot of future in these programmes and the public in general seems to me to be getting sick of the whole benefit bashing, especially when the sick and the disabled are bearing the brunt of it.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It must be time to strike a killing blow, then.
      Sitting back and doing nothing will only encourage them to find another angle – perhaps one that is even harsher. Remember, the Conservative Government is behind this, egging the broadcasters on.

      1. Maria

        true, sometimes I think it hardly worth turning the TV on any more, it not just those silly so-called benefit programmes. TV in general needs saving. Ok I’ll do a couple.

      2. John Gaines

        The Reich Wing Press are gloating about thev suffering of the New Poor as they pocket Taxpayers money by the sackfull and we need Corbyn to stand any chance of shutting their filthy mouths, in the US, where Reich wing is more centered than it was in Nazi Germany Corbyn’s alter ego Bernie Saunders, we shuold invite him to visit over here, it would drive the Tories insane, or, at least more insane than they are already:

        Let us compare:
        “We are the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all people as a right and yet we end up spending much more than they do. So I do believe that we have to move toward a Medicare for all, single-payer system,” Bernie Sanders told ABC News.

        The idea is extremely popular among Democrats, with nearly 80 percent in support according to a January 2015 poll by the Progressive Change Institute. The poll found that a majority of Americans overall supported a Medicare-for-all insurance option.

        And seven in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents agreed with the statement, “it is the responsibility of the government in Washington to see to it that people have help in paying for doctors and hospital bills.” Three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents disagreed according to the most recent Gallup survey.

        2. Taxing The Rich
        Sanders called the “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent” in America “obscene” and has called for a return to a much higher marginal tax rate. “If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top tenth of 1 percent, you’ve got to transfer that back” Sanders told CNBC.

        And Sanders lists America’s top 10 corporate tax avoiders on his Senate website and details the compensation packages of America’s wealthiest CEOs.
        Sixty-four percent of Americans say they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations aren’t paying what’s fair in federal taxes, and 61 percent say the same about some wealthy people, according to a recent Pew poll. Meanwhile, 67 percent of Americans recently told Gallup they were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.

        Does it ring any Bells, it is exactly what Corbyn needs, after all, if its good for Uncle Sam, its good for everybody.

        Sunday Times Explains Corbyn:

        “I’m saying that people I talk to, I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No”On publicity over end of his second marriage May 1999 “I wish we had the French system, where public figures have genuinely private lives and there is no Daily Mail”On austerity June 2015 “Austerity is used as a cover to reconfigure society and increase inequality and injustice.

        Labour needs to offer a coherent economic alternative”On inviting two IRA members to parliament shortly after the 1984 Brighton bomb”I made it clear I felt it important that any individual MP who wishes to meet anyone from anywhere should have the right to do so”On his passion for British cheeses 2013 “We have as many varieties of cheese as the French. My favourite is Stilton. I like it strong and very mature, almost with mould growing on it”Remembering Mandela December 2013 “I recall that when Mandela came here to parliament shortly after his release — he was not president of South Africa at that time — there were Conservative MPs who wanted the meeting banned”On the invasion of Iraq 2003 “In opposing the war in Iraq we are really opposing the power of the West to declare war on the poorest and most mineral-rich regions of the planet” Behind the story: Published 1 minute ago
        Labour has descended into open ideological warfare, with Chuka Umunna declaring that the party had been behaving…

        Union endorses the socialist candidate for Labour leader as fears grow that Jeremy Corbyn could push Liz Kendal…

        Published at July 6 2015
        He made the nomination list with seconds to spare, but Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to lead the Labour party is backed by…
        Last updated at July 5 2015
        Jeremy Corbyn, the radical left-wing MP, is on course to win the Labour party leadership race, according to leaked…
        Last updated at July 16 2015
        The Labour leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn has secured a place on the party’s leadership ballot after scraping together…

        Last updated at June 15 2015 Sponsored Editorial
        http://www.etalia.net/articles/a220903d3-77c1-48e9-9e59-e9a7bbb56035
        Next will be:
        Corbyn wins Election:

      3. Maria

        I know what they do, I am in no doubt John, I am one of their victims, only to be saved by my family. I don’t know about any of them labour leaders and to be honest with you I don’t trust any of them. It seems if you want to vote opposition you have to vote SNP these days. If only they balloted in places other than Scotland, if things don’t change I’d vote for them.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        I wouldn’t, because I’ve seen enough evidence to believe that the SNP’s public position is a pose.

      5. Maria

        it wont happen anyway, I can’t. Thing is I don’t really trust anyone in politics anymore, least of all my so-called MP. I have sent letters to her about numerous issues, sanctions, welfare changes, things like that, she sent letters she agreed with me that they were wrong. Then she goes against that to agree with the Tories welfare changes after all, she is Labour, or meant to be.

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        Nobody in the Labour Party agreed with the Conservatives’ changes to social security.
        None of them.
        Please don’t confuse the majority of Labour’s failure to oppose those changes with agreement that they are a good idea. That was never true.

    2. Jackie cairns

      To: [email protected],
      Dear Jonathon Oxley,

      I am writing to complain about the number of programme’s on mainstream British television and radio and in British print media at the moment which vilify, target and demonise people who are claiming welfare benefits.

      People are being mocked and their struggles are being seen as entertainment when, in fact, it is day-to-day existence for many and not a fictitious variation of shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not ‘amusing’ or a joke, they are a reality for many and are horrifying in their brutality. People have died.

      Programme’s such as ‘Benefits Street’ and ‘Benefits Britain, Life on the Dole’ perpetuate the myth that claiming welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice. Vitriolic articles by so-called commentators such as Katie Hopkins incite hatred. Benefit claimants, migrants and job seekers are being portrayed as scroungers who have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and modern-day begging. This is not the case. People claim benefits because there is nothing else they can do. People claim benefits because they were born disabled or have become sick later in life. People claim benefits because they have lost their jobs and have been unable to secure a new role. People claim benefits because employers are paying minimum, starvation wages and they cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. People claim benefits because they need help. People claim benefits because they have no choice. This is not entertainment, this is disgusting, this is frightening; this is tragedy.

      Further to this, ‘Poverty Porn’ has alarming knock-on effects on the way people who have no choice but to claim benefits to survive are viewed. The result of this misinformation is the alarming increase in hate crime against those who are claiming benefits. Spying on friend’s and neighbour’s is encouraged. covert filming and recording is rife. According to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014 there was a 213 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for hate crime against disabled people. In 2011 the report, ‘Ready Willing and Able’ highlighted the fact that 38 percent of the general public perceived disabled people to be a burden on society. On 24 April 2015 the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein compared British print media’s attitude to migrants to propaganda in 1930s Nazi Germany.

      The TUC has stated that “The government’s austerity programme is reshaping the welfare State through cuts in benefits and the privatisation of public services, including health, education and drastically reduced state support. The impact of benefits cuts and of the associated campaign of demonisation of disabled people, the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups has been catastrophic. Crimes motivated by hate have wider and deeper roots, but austerity has made the problems worse.” This is not healthy. This is frightening. This can only lead to the further disintegration of our society.

      I am asking OFCOM to look into this trend in the British media to publicise non-stop ‘poverty porn’ in print, on the radio and on television. I am asking OFCOM to do the right thing. I am asking OFCOM to have the courage to say ‘No More’. The public should be shown the true stories of the struggling majority, not the glamorisation of the extreme minority. Over many years the British press has been lauded for its fairness and unbiased reporting. Please do not allow this to change.

      Yours sincerely,

      Miss J Cairns

      © 2015 Microsoft Terms Privacy & cookies Developers English (United Kingdom)

      1. Tony Dean

        Mike I tried doing a one to many email, but that list of email addresses is riddled with mistakes, and missed out commas

  2. amnesiaclinic

    Absolutely right, Mike. It is a good letter and we can adapt it to put in our own thoughts and feelings and then send it to all of them plus your MP and local paper!

    Sitting back and doing nothing is the way to let them get away with it. There are so many good stories out there of groups that are resisting and making a difference and these are the stories the media should be focusing on.

    When did we hear about Iceland giving more to those on benefits and guess what happened to the economy?

    There is a very good case building for a basic income. Again it makes sense on so many levels. A recent episode of the Keiser Report had Guy Standing on who is very eloquent on this. They have done some pilots and found that -surprise, surprise, mental health is improved when people are given more choice over when and how they work and what they spend their money on. Levels of stress go down and people work harder because they are doing what they enjoy! Plus factor in all the bureaucracy of the present system that costs millions!

  3. CMG

    Another avenue is the BBC Trust consultation which is supposed to shape the future of the BBC and ensure that the views of licence fee payers are taken into account. I have made it clear that the barrage of these programmes deliberately misrepresent millions of its customers. I also commented on their political coverage, particularly their tendency to frame policy debate in how it affects Party leaders and elections rather than the people whose lives will be changed. The link is here and runs until 18 September: https://consultations.external.bbc.co.uk/bbc/tomorrows-bbc

  4. david

    but it’s not that bad honest!!! I mean if it was C5 would be advertising their ‘benefits season’ – erm wait they are

  5. Thomas

    If People on benifits were declared a race, it would then be illegal under the race relations act to make nasty programs about them or refuse to rent houses to them.

  6. Tony Robson

    I want to participate in this campaign but I am not 100% sure as to when the email should be sent. Can it be done straight away or wait until the campaign dates mentioned? thank you.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Sorry, Tony, your comment was flagged as spam and I’ve only just seen it. I think the campaign organisers would have preferred emails to be sent on the dates they mentioned, although I know some readers have jumped the gun.

  7. TomMagenta

    I’ve sent an e-mail to one of the recipients on the list.

    Let’s hope this goes somewhere. It’s really uncomfortable watching my parents consume this disgusting tripe like hot cakes, despite being disabled claimants and carers themselves. The irony is hard to swallow.

  8. maggieZed

    I met many unemployed, sick and disabled people when working for The CAB who volunteered whilst claiming. I challenge Channel 4 and 5 to make a programme following some of these people – but they wont and why not?
    Because as a nation we have lost our moral compass and are happy to sit back and absorb these lies like sponges. We can turn around and agree with all the cuts because we all know that anyone claiming benefits are lazy and poverty is the fault of the individual.
    Channel 4 and 5 will not follow these people because the truth that children are going to school hungry, that people are working 40hours a week and cannot earn enough to feed their families and sick and that disabled people are committing suicide does nothing for their viewing numbers.
    Well written Mike

  9. peter

    The Government is absolutely 100% behind this propaganda, the more brainwashed the general public is , the easier it it is for them to attack the poorest. If you are working and getting by on your wages, tbe more pissed off you become watching the so called scrunching unemployed getting benefits. Fact is who in there right mi d would really like to live on dole money !!!! But remember it’s only for the grace of god, that the people
    that are working and getting on in life, are safe at the moment. If you take ill, or have an ancient, or become unemployed for what ever reason, YOU WILL BE TREATED AS SCUM. YOU WILL BE A BENEFITS SCRUNCHING PLEB. TAKE HEED.

  10. mrmarcpc

    What is this tacky tv’s obsession with hounding the poor, are they in bed with the Tories, makes you wonder, time these cheap, tacky, incorrect and unfair tv shows were scrapped!

  11. Steven Durrant

    I don’t bother with mainstream media on the whole, but I was at my parents recently and they have a Freeview box.

    At one point there were 4 of these propaganda things on AT THE SAME TIME.

    Now, for a different angle, an elephant in the room – what kind of irresponsible thick f***er at this point allows themselves and their families to be filmed by these scum?

    They are arguably acting as class enemies, and their children are sure to be bullied.

Comments are closed.