Saturday, October 29, 2011

Watch Out, There's a Humphrys About

Being a man of leisure, I am now able to further my career as a writer of letters, or "emails" as they are now known, to institutions. What follows is the email I have just sent to the BBC concerning their programme The Future State of Welfare with John Humphrys.

The Future State of Welfare with John Humphrys chose its interviewees, not as a representative sample of the UK's population, but in order to confirm commonly held prejudices about the kinds of people who are supposedly "being given something for nothing in this country", unrepresentative of the vast majority of claimants but always brought up in conversation by people who are well off themselves and not interested in finding out the whole story of who gets welfare and whether it is, in many cases, enough to live on.

There was the newly immigrant family who are receiving an incredibly high amount in housing benefit for a spacious, extremely habitable looking flat in Islington. This panders to the prejudice we hear time and time again of immigrants jumping to the front of the housing queue and living in expensive properties.

There was the single mother with seven children living on benefits which panders to the prejudice that thousands of young women keep giving birth just because they know they'll be looked after by the state no matter how many children they have.

There was the woman on incapacity benefit living with ME, or "yuppie flu"as the prejudiced might say when asked what sort of people are getting benefits when there is nothing seriously wrong with them.

The programme did not qualify as impartial, saying that there was a consensus amongst political parties in the UK about welfare, ignoring the millions of people who are not represented by the main political parties. The programme looked for welfare solutions from the USA, hardly a good example for the eradication of "squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease" which was the aim of the Beveridge Report.

Opinion was taken not from just America but also from young Poles working in this country who were of the opinion that welfare in the UK was too generous as compared to Poland where it is not possible to live on state benefits. Nothing was said about poverty in the UK and the difficulties millions of people have making ends meet not just on welfare but on the poor minimum wage and above. Although two of the interviewees said it was not worth their while working because they would end up with very little more in their pockets, the obvious solution of a higher minimum wage was not mentioned. It was all about making life more miserable for people, not about giving them a decent standard of living.


  1. I've stopped watching or listening to anything political because they all talk out of their arses. But I'm grateful to you for watching and for giving the BBC a rocket.

    I remember Del saying a while back that they overcompensate for being seen as 'leftwing' and sympathetic to the lefties by the government. By making completely rightwing nonsense programmes. Right...

  2. They must be getting it right then! Apart from paying Humphys thick end of 1/2 million a year that is.
    One can't escape the fact that there are an awful lot of people in the country who can't be arsed and the benefits to work does need reform.

  3. Anonymous2:27 PM

    I haven't got a TV so I'm spared these cardboard cutout oversimplifications.

    There are undoubtedly some people on benefits who avoid work. But if I said to you "I'm giving you a pay rise of 5000 a year. You can keep 10 pounds a week and I'll have the rest" you'd tell me where to get off.

    But this is exactly what happens to the unemployed when they find a bit of work. As well as the losing Housing and Council tax benefit.

  4. Annie - The "consensus" thing got me. As if what political parties are saying reflects the opinions of those who "do the right thing" by being lucky enough to have decent jobs and sod everybody else.

    Rog - The solution is to massively increase the minimum wage, not cut benefits. Nobody in work should be living in poverty.

    Looby - And then there's workfare, free labour where you work for nothing.

  5. Arabella7:01 AM

    This has to be the first time I've come to your comments box and felt like punching someone in the face. Keeps me on my toes.

  6. I was less contentious in my early funny days. Once you start criticising popular opinion it is the slippery slope.

  7. Talking of the old days, I see that someone has stolen Mr Murph's blog in your sidebar Geoff. You might want to remove the spamming bastards.

  8. Thank you, Rog. Done.

  9. Arabella10:28 PM

    I was rude. Permission should be sought from the host before calling out, so I apologize.
    I'm not myself; the death of John Stape has sent me over the edge.

  10. Arabella, the thought of six months of Fiz bleating in prison about who will look after Hope has made me think of moving to a religious retreat in Northumbria.

  11. Arabella - I don't mind a bit of political discourse. As long as the socialists win the argument which they always do.

    Betty - Best Bleater at the Soap Awards.

  12. Arabella12:04 PM

    Betty - I've grown accustomed to the eye-boggling, the curled top lip, the nostrils. But now I've noticed a strange gum sucking sound punctuating phrases. Bagsy the top bunk at the retreat.