Like so many others I’m sickened by the lies and spin that seem to characterise Iain Duncan-Smith’s DWP public statements about welfare benefit recipients. What’s worse is the way certain sections of the news media, notably the Daily Mail and the Sun reinforce this ‘dog whistle’ politics with aggressive content designed to turn public opinion against the poor. I was appalled to read recently that even Labour supporters were beginning to believe all this evil bullshit.
In view of this, I was more than a little heartened yesterday when I came across an excellent recent report published by The Joint Public Issues Team from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church which identifies six myths propagated by the Coalition government about the nature of the UK’s poor families.
The report entitled “The lies we tell ourselves:ending comfortable myths about poverty” is a thoroughly researched piece and exposes the ideological agenda of a morally bankrupt government in no uncertain terms. In the Executive Summary of the report the Joint Public Issues Team say:-
“The myths exposed in this report, reinforced by politicians and the media, are convenient because they allow the poor to be blamed for their poverty, and the rest of society to avoid taking any of the responsibility. Myths hide the complexity of the true nature of poverty in the UK. They enable dangerous policies to be imposed on whole sections of society without their full consequences being properly examined. This report aims to highlight some comfortable myths, show how they have come to prominence and test them against serious evidence…The reputations of society’s most disadvantaged families became collateral damage in the rush to defend a new policy. Perhaps we are not surprised by this but we should be appalled.”
The full report can be found here
In order to publicise their findings and challenge the perceptions of the public which are being fed by the Tory press the Joint Public Issues Team actively encourage people to share their findings and provide a number of graphics which totally blow apart the false picture of families living in poverty which has been painted by the likes of IDS and George Osborne who recently tried to claim that the UK was full of dysfunctional families like the Philpotts who were the products of a ‘benefits lifestyle’. The graphics appear below. Click on each image to amplify. Please share them widely.
The Welfare Benefits Up-Rating Bill is currently going through parliament and a wide spectrum of church leaders have been lobbying for the government to protect benefits that affect children. As Paul Morrison, a Joint Public Issues blogger said on 13th April:-
“Churches and church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have asked the Government to reconsider and exempt the benefits targeted at children. The Government response to these challenges has been aggressive but failed to address the substantive points or the underlying issues. More troublingly the response is grounded not in robust evidence but in the popular myths about those in poverty and receipt of benefits.”
I’ve been an atheist for many years and will continue to be one, but I’m impressed that these churches are at last standing up publicly against the government in defence of the many thousands of vulnerable people whose lives and reputations have been torn apart by the pernicious lies emanating from Westminster. Please give them your support.