Demagoguery Inc.

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

‘Demagogy/demagoguery: impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace’.

Normally I resolutely avoid being affronted by the Daily Mail, but I just couldn’t bear their ludicrously spiteful headline yesterday. In case you missed it:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2090750/Welfare-reform-Labour-bishops-Lib-Dem-peers-derail-benefits-cap-plan.html

Using the term ‘an insult to every working family’, the Mail goes on its typical one-sided hate-filled diatribe against anyone it sees as undeserving, i.e. non-white non-middle-class non-conformists. We can see such enlightened articles in other bastions of reasoned debate like The Sun and The Express no doubt.

The Leveson inquiry has revealed a murky world of espionage and lies endemic at the heart of our print media, yet hasn’t really scratched the surface of media standards in terms of balanced reporting. Yes, we all know that The Mail, The Express, The Sun and most other national newspapers worship the ground that David Cameron walks on and spew vitriol at anyone foreign or claiming benefit of any kind. But still, surely journalistic standards would implore them to at least consider alternative viewpoints to a debate, rather than dragging it down to the level a ten year old can understand and shout about.

An example from this article comes when The Mail uses the kind of sarcastic phrasing you would expect in a pub debate:

‘Ministers reacted with fury as Church leaders suggested that capping benefits at a maximum of £26,000 a year was somehow un-Christian.’

To their minimal credit, they do actually quote Bishop Packer later, when he explains that, in essence, the sins of the father should not be visited upon the children by capping child benefits.

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this non-article is that there is no discussion whatsoever in terms of the repercussions of this ill-thought out headline-grabbing bill. A cynic might suggest it has been constructed from Daily Mail headlines alone. For instance, people in London will need far more for living costs than anywhere else North of London. £26k is not a huge amount with London property prices. ‘Well if they can’t afford it they should have to move elsewhere like the rest of us’ I hear the Sun reader at the back yell. If they have moved to London and later moved onto benefits perhaps. But if they were born there, why should they be forced out of their home near their family for something that isn’t their fault? But then we come to the crux of the argument; the implication constructed by the right-wing media: that all benefits claimants are on the fiddle.

You know the kind: Jeremy Kyle fodder. Hapless or violent and absent father with stacks of kids and a mother with a mouth like a sewer; not a brain cell between them. This is the kind of minority which the Conservatives wish to convince the ignorant public is the majority. No disabled families, no terminally ill people. Just mouthy layabouts cocking a snook at the ‘taxpayer’.

The ridiculous thing is, if a few people abuse a system, you don’t tear down the system. Otherwise we would have shut down all banks by now. But let’s try not to trot out the line about the City bankrolling the Conservatives, despite its truth. A better example is MPs expenses. Did we eliminate expenses? Or cap them? I don’t remember much happening other than minimal punishment for a select few offenders, assuming they didn’t have titles or anything. So this is surely the better solution. What the Government doesn’t want the masses to know is that it is their fault people abuse the system, as these people are committing fraud. The Government is responsible for not being defrauded. If larger numbers of people are getting away with it, then the people assessing these claims are incompetent or too naïve for their position. But of course this is far too logical, self-critical and makes bad headlines. Instead of ignorant readers lapping up the ‘Government getting tough on scroungers’, it would read ‘Government admits being conned by scroungers.’

Amusingly, despite the Government’s rabid anti-public sector rhetoric in most areas, the public sector areas that actually seem to need the most reform or culling would be the area that deals with benefits claims, and Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs; busy hobnobbing with CEOs whilst waiving large tax bills for their corporations. But then again, a cynic would once again suggest this is part of the agenda: party politics.

And no party, or media, does demagoguery better than the right wing.

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