Twitter schools a Tory MP after he claims I, Daniel Blake doesn’t match reality

James Cleverly and screengrabs of I, Daniel Blake
Emily Apple

On 5 January, the BBC broadcast Ken Loach’s film, I, Daniel BlakeThe film is a gritty and heart-breaking account of the reality of the benefits system in Tory Britain.

As the Canary‘s Fréa Lockley reported, the film was made following six months of research that included visits to jobcentres and foodbanks.

But this apparently wasn’t enough for deputy chair of the Conservative Party, James Cleverly. He took to Twitter to call out the accuracy of the film and to claim it didn’t match his experience. Luckily, Twitter was on hand to give him a dose of reality.

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“In my experience”

Cleverly started by calling out Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey after she tweeted that people should watch the film to see the “human cost of Tory austerity”:

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He then used a series of tweets to explain why he believes the film is a “political polemic” and “unfair” on “public sector professionals”. He also cited his “experience” of Job Centre Plus staff:

People soon corrected him. Including people who said they worked “in the benefit system”:

Healthcare professionals also called him out:

Others questioned his alleged “experience”:

And Labour MP Dawn Butler highlighted the experience of her constituents:

Yes, it is a film. But…

Many Twitter users pointed out to Cleverly that, yes indeed, I, Daniel Blake, is a work of fiction. However, not only is it a work of fiction that is based on reality, but that reality can actually be far worse:

Others pointed to the research undertaken for the film:

The reality

In November 2018, Philip Alston – the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – concluded an investigation into the impact of austerity and rising levels of poverty in the UK. Alston found that poverty is inflicting “misery” and that:

homelessness is up 60% since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134%. There are 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list, but less than 6,000 homes were built last year. Food bank use is up almost four-fold since 2012, and there are now about 2,000 food banks in the UK, up from just 29 at the height of the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Alston described child poverty in the UK as:

not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one.

But Alston also noted a “state of denial” in politicians – something that is clearly seen in Cleverly’s tweets:

On the other side, what I found in my discussions with ministers is basically a state of denial. The ministers with whom I met told me that things are going well – that they don’t see any big problems and they are happy with the way in which their policies are playing out.

“Parallel Universe”

MP Ian Lavery pointed out that Cleverly appears to live “in a parallel universe”:

But it’s a universe that is beginning to fall apart. The day after the film was screened, the government announced it was delaying a vote on whether to continue the rollout of Universal Credit to millions of people; a benefit that has already caused misery to so many.

The arrogance of Cleverly’s comments is breathtaking. Unfortunately, it’s representative of so many Conservative MPs; MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who described the rise in foodbank use as “rather uplifting”.

People are dying under the benefits system. Many others are suffering. Cleverly’s comments show just how urgent it is we get rid of this out-of-touch and callous government.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Chris McAndrew and screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. TO Tory M.P. James Cleverly
      Plus our Tory M.P. Andrew Stephenson
      STOP P**TAKING the less well off.

      “I posted this below on our local Tory M.P. A Stephenson
      p***taking is resident children plus presents in our area.
      with propaganda bribes from parliament not in is own area
      “I SEE of Pendle Lancashire

      https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/
      LINK to post 7.1.2019

      Help available for East Lancashire schoolchildren to see Parliament in action highlighted by Pendle MP
      //
      STOP patronizing the poor kids in Pendle area
      With this article get them funding for school free meals and help in leaning Tory Pendle leader Mr. Paul White + Joe Cooney + Tory M.P. of Pendle area NOW.
      //
      All the pupils want funding for their school
      not a trip to the very place that cuts their funding off, to the school just to talk to local area Tory M.P.
      Andrew Stephenson.
      //
      That voted yes -yes -for the cuts to their school’s grants and help to the pupils’ parents with free meals and in class help for the less well-off that strudel in learning and need extra help in classes to lean in Pendle area schools not a trip to London.
      //
      This trip will NOT change a god “darn thing happening when they return back home to Pendle area now under Tory rule that dose not help any school out or us resident any more “full stop!

      1. Balkalsey
        WELL SAID
        We free voter think a new G.E. is way overdue now
        Labour party member must tell Mr Corbyn time
        to start the process of NO confidence vote in Tory Govt
        **
        “I have told Mr Corbyn we free voters + the Young voters
        the Tory Govt would not let vote on their future with the E.U.
        WILL HELP in removing this incompetent Tory Govt,
        and aid in putting him into power in posible 2019 May G.E.election.

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