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.