I’ve just watched most of Nick and Margaret: We All Pay Your Benefits on BBC One tonight.
Here’s the synopsis:
As the economy struggles and everyone feels the pinch, the country is more divided than ever about how much of our taxes should be spent on benefits for the unemployed.
In an ambitious experiment, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford want to discover how much benefit is enough to live on and if work is worth it. Four claimants and four taxpayers come face-to-face to explore each other’s lives, examine their values and speak their minds. Will the tax payers feel that benefits are too high, or not enough? And will the claimants decide that hard work is good for them, or will the sacrifice be too much?
Set in Ipswich – a town with typical figures for unemployment – this first episode sees the taxpayers spend time shopping, socialising and going through the claimants’ spending to see exactly how their hard-earned taxes are being spent. They must decide if they think the claimants are given enough benefits money or not enough and, with the battle lines drawn between ‘scroungers’ and ‘strivers’, this series brings the two sides together to discover if any of them can agree.
Some points should become apparent to anyone with a basic understanding of the benefits system such as the line about ”our taxes” being spent on the unemployed which is deliberately loaded to exclude the unemployed from the rest of society. It’s not ”their taxes” because they’re just unemployed so they’re lower than filth and it’s our money they’re spending on mobile phones and flat screen telly’s right?
Wrong. Everyone who’s ever worked has paid National Insurance among a variety of other taxes. The majority of people unemployed or on benefits have either paid taxes, or are claiming benefits while still in work to supplement their income because they’re not paid enough, but obviously this was more about appealing to the Daily Mail school of political and social thought. The reality is harder, complicated and ultimately boils down to there not being any jobs, pay rises, or anything to promote economic growth to help everyone rather than the fortunate few.
The programme itself featured the sort of crass victimisation of the unemployed you expect from the Mail and it’s ilk, so you had a ”taxpayer” question a mother on camera whether she needs to give her children more than one hot meal a day and whether buying a whole chicken is economical enough as she’d be better off buying fillets as a whole chicken has bones in it.
Yes, this actually happened on national telly. Why the mother didn’t deck the ‘taxpayer’ is beyond me.
It is however the idea that because someone is claiming benefits that they’re almost a lesser species, and certainly irresponsible, stupid and moronic that’s the most offensive. It’s the stream of lies and propaganda shat out into the public as making the debate about ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’ in the first place is simply idiotic as it’s really about why our elected government have so singularly failed to serve it’s people. People are being blamed for the biggest failure in government in our lifetimes but instead of dragging those responsible through the street by their bollocks before throwing them in prison, we have the sight of unemployed people trying to justify their lives on BBC One all in the name of ‘education’. The Idea that those on benefits should be justifying everything is quasi-fascistic, and the strong authoritarian streak from people in this programme was fucking sickening.
So I suggest watching this on iPlayer, and then promptly complain to Ofcom and the BBC, before making sure that you wash the dirty feeling you’ll have watching this off your skin, and then make sure that the next time someone goes ‘scroungers’ in reference to people on benefits make sure to put them straight. It’s the least you can do.