Saturday, 10 May 2014

Telling porkies for a living

YouGov sends out a regular survey which includes questions on the companies which you would be proud or embarrassed to work for.  I usually leave these blank, partly because the companies they list are no better or worse than any others, but mostly because a job is a job.  However, there are two organisations which I would indeed be embarrassed, or even ashamed, to work for; the Daily Express and the DWP Press Office.

There are obviously people who are quite happy to work for the Express.  One is Giles Sheldrick, who wrote yesterday's appalling article headlined "6,000 claimants forced into jobs as 'war on handouts' continues".  You hardly need to read more.  But the sub-heading is "Thousands of feckless families are off benefits and finally earning their keep a year after the Tories declared war on handout Britain."  It's based on ONS figures which, of course, show nothing of the kind.  How many people would have got jobs anyway?  But IDS is quoted, the odious Tory Taxpayers Alliance is quoted (and Lord Freud and Anne Widdecombe), and it's all larded with the sort of language which would land Mr Sheldrick in court if he used it of, say, an ethnic minority.  Some of the article cannot be put down to ignorance.  Take: "About 300 of the worst offenders pocketed £47,000 a year – the equivalent of a £70,000-a-year taxable ­ salary – official figures show.  A further 900 got up to £42,000 a year."  No mention of what Sheldrick surely knows - that most of that goes straight into the pockets of landlords.  Or take: "Workshy families helped create an annual benefits bill of £167.7billion – up £27billion from 10 years ago."  That bill, as Sheldrick surely knows, includes state pensions, which actually make up the bulk of it.  So are we to conclude that Sheldrick was simply given the 6,000 figure and told to cobble together an article on it, so he reached for all the cliches with no sense that what he was doing was wrong?  

The DWP Press Office is becoming an increasing cause for concern.  There's an excellent summary of those concerns on the ilegal website.  The Press Office consists of civil servants, who should be bound by the Civil Service Code.  They should politically impartial.  Yet their press releases often are not.  In January they issued a press release which referred to "welfare handouts".  This was taken up by the Daily Mail as a headline, as you'd expect.  You can read what followed on the excellent Benefits and Work site.  When challenged, there was no sense at the DWP that they had done anything wrong.  The DWP Press Office also has a Twitter account, on which it posts utterly misleading graphics and statements which cannot be construed as politically neutral.  

I'm beginning to think that I would also be ashamed to work for the BBC.  But that's for another day.


  1. I suspect we can expect to see much more of this in the run up to the election as IDS frantically attempts to polish a turd. Since the start of March the DWP's director of communications has been Richard Caseby, highly confrontational ex-managing editor of The Sun and The Sunday Times. John Shield, his predecessor at the DWP, is now director of communications for the BBC

  2. This is why I don't read "newspapers" or want anything to do with politics; they are both odious and I feel dirty just reading about either of them. Historian, you recently said you have no patience for people who don't vote (for which I'm one), so here is your reason as to why some people don't. X(

    As for this ongoing nonsense of "workshy" people, when will the "press" realise that there are people out there doing as much as them, just to get a state benefit and that they have little or no say in wether they actually get any of the jobs that they apply for?! WHEN?! Probably NEVER!! This is one of those times when "talk is CHEAP" to some people with a voice (or a paper to print)!!

    Thankfully, not everyone talks a load of... nonsense. ;)

    1. "Politics" isn't odious. It's the only means we have of governing ourselves. Some politicians are indeed odious when they are trying to get, or hang onto, power. You have the freedom not to vote. But there will still be a government the day after the election.

    2. "But there will still be a government the day after the election."

      Exactly. ;) I'm sure you know why people choose not to vote. At the end of the day, you're only one person and you only have one voice. You can vote for one party and another will get into power simply because more people vote for them. Simple fact of life: someone always loses. So why get involved?!

      In MY view, politics and the press ARE odious (my opinion, remember), not purely because they exist, that was never my point, but because of what they've both become: corrupted (again, my opinion, although shared by many).

      Gotta love politics, right? They bring us together at the same time as pushing us apart. Typical. I don't do religion, either (fighting words *nudge* *nudge*). XD

      I'm good at respecting other people's opinions, which is why I'm so much better at being on the "outside" as it were. ;)

    3. We won't prolong this argument. I was involved in local politics for years. The people who had been in power for years, and never thought they would lose power, became corrupt. Most of the people I knew worked hard for the people they represented. There's a huge amount wrong with the way politics works in this country, but a lot of people are working to try to change that.
      Opting out altogether makes no sense to me, when we've had universal suffrage for less than a century.
      But, as I said, we'll leave the argument there.

    4. That reply to you, TheKightsShield, sounded very tetchy, and it wasn't meant to be. I value your input, but I do have pretty strong opinions about political engagement.
      And to the anonymous fool who thinks that my involvement in politics tells him something significant, I can only say you should try it some time.

  3. Classic divide and conquer tactics. Use loaded language such as "war on handounds, feckless, workshy, etc. to stigmatise one section of society. Then at the same time give others a patronising pat on the head by using terms like "hard working families, workers not shirkers, doing the right thing" and so on.

    Sadly there are too many who'll be fooled by such basic and low intelligence language and blatant tactics used by papers such as the tacky Express and government ministers. Just as sad are the people whose ignorance and prejudices are simply confirmed in their eyes.

    I've said it before. The DWP is a rogue department and is a law unto itself. It is increasingly acting like a cheerleader for Smith and his increasingly desperate and ideological policies.

  4. The Tories have played a blinder (with the help of the overwhelming right-wing media bias) feeding off the ignorance and prejudice of the British public (influenced by the overwhelming right-wing media bias) to introduce oppressive policies that target almost exclusively one section of society - the unemployed.

    See here:


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