DWP staff are allegedly ‘trolling’ independent journalists

The DWP logo with busted across it
Steve Topple

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gets more dystopian by the day. After The Canary exposed a fresh scandal with disability benefits, another storm is brewing. This time, it involves Jobcentre staff allegedly ‘trolling’ an independent welfare-focused news site.

The DWP: trolling away

Charlotte Hughes runs The Poor Side of Life. It details the real-life stories of social-security claimants in Ashton-under-Lyne. Hughes’s frank and raw writing has earned her a large number of social-media followers. But now, she claims DWP staff have been “trolling” the comments on her website.

As she tweeted:

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Even Universal Credit chief Neil Couling has had something to say to Hughes on Twitter:

She wrote on her website:

This week the DWP have taken it upon themselves to attempt to troll my blog, call me a liar and are telling people that Jobcentres are wonderful places and work will cure us of all ills.

I won’t tolerate their bullying anywhere so comments are blocked for now until they calm the hell down.

Hughes gave the alleged DWP comment to The Canary. She believes that, due to the tone and language used, it may be a Jobcentre worker from Ashton-under-Lyne:

Charlotte Hughes DWP blog comment

The comment did not impress one reader. They left this lengthy reply:

Hughes comment one

Hughes comment two

On Twitter, founder of Universal Credit Sufferer Alex Tiffin made his feelings clear:

“I won’t be silenced”

Hughes told The Canary:

I’ve been blogging about people’s experiences of the DWP, the Jobcentre and austerity. Every now and then I’ve noticed that a DWP employee comments saying that 1. I must be lying, and 2. the Jobcentre is an amazing place. This week, however, has been different. Not only has the DWP attempted to troll me via Twitter, they took it upon themselves to attempt to troll my blog.

I’ve always been proud of the fact that my blog has always been a safe place to be and to comment, as are my demonstrations.

The actions taken against me by the DWP have only proved that they like to bully people. I won’t be silenced by them though; everything that I wrote is true and witnessed. It’s important to continue to get the truth out there until they silence us forever.

The Canary asked the DWP for comment. But it declined the offer.

This is not the first time, however, that the DWP has taken aim at independent media.

Blacklisting

As RTUK reported, the DWP “blacklisted” founder of Disability News Service (DNS) John Pring. The DWP told RTUK at the time:

There were a number of instances when, having asked the department for information, DNS has refused to reflect in its articles the answers provided.

In light of this, the editor of DNS has been advised that, if his organisation wishes to be treated as a bona fide news organisation by the DWP, then there is an expectation upon it that it acts in the manner of one.

But Pring was adamant this was not the case. He said he left out DWP comments because it missed the deadlines he gave it.

Remember Integrity Initiative?

In Hughes’s case, it’s unclear who made the comment in question. Is it beyond the realms of possibility it was a DWP employee? Recall the scandal surrounding Integrity Initiative in 2019, where a government-funded group was intentionally posting anti-Labour content on Twitter. Anything is possible.

But even if a DWP employee isn’t behind the comment, it shows the disconnect between some people’s views of the Jobcentre and disabled people, and the reality.

Max DWP disruption

Hughes and Pring’s problems with the DWP are unsurprising. Much of the corporate media skirt around welfare issues; or they play it fairly safe. But sites like DNS and The Poor Side of Life don’t pull their punches. They dig into places other journalists won’t tread. Both sites bring you perspectives you won’t normally hear.

But moreover, Pring and Hughes disrupt DWP narratives to the max. They represent so many claimants suffering at the hands of the DWP; the ones government and society have thrown on the scrapheap. That’s why the DWP targets them. And that’s why we must continue to support them.

Featured image via UK government – Wikimedia and d97jro – pixabay 

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  • Show Comments
    1. I myself are disabled, since I was 11 months old. I am now 51
      I was on DLA. Until I was 25.
      I did what dwp wanted and got a job. Since then I have. Had 4 different jobs, all finished me unfit for work, due to one of my disabilities. I dicided to go back on the DLA. (PIP) I have had meetings, with dwp. I have been to tribunal, (Court).
      DWP have dicided. I have live the rest of my life. ON ZERO Money. They are paying my taxes, but not me to live day by day..
      THAT’S DWP AGAINST DISABLED PEOPLE

    2. How is challenging her statements “trolling”?
      There is nothing abusive or insulting in the DWP post.
      This is more Canary Fake News: 0 out of 10: must try harder

      1. Trolling doesn’t have to be abusive or insulting, it can even be a perfectly neutral thing, but what also counts as trolling is when someone posts for the express purpose of causing a ruckus, or to hijack the topic, and steer it away from the main points, ignoring all the facts to the contrary.

        There is challenging a statement with facts (not trolling), and challenging a statement with known lies, deceptions, and half-truths (trolling). Trolls can also be classified thusly;

        Those who knowingly ‘challenge’ others with lies, and unproven conjecture, i.e. they are deliberately out to cause others mischief, are de-facto Trolls (You already know this because you have amply demonstrated your Troll habits previously).

        Those who challenge others in ignorance, but rather than admit their ignorance, continue to ‘Troll’ others with their unwavering, ill-educated arrogance, just because they cannot stand being outed as wrong by others. Also known as Cognitive Dissonance, still Trolls, because they refuse to see the truth, even when it is laid out in detail before them.

        Those who are ignorant, but willing to be corrected, might hammer their point for a bit until they realize they were wrong, they are not true Trolls, just previously misinformed or wholly ignorant of facts, not necessarily their fault.

        You go and make quite a good point, then ruin it by showing you are a Troll yourself by attacking The Canary in a very Troll-like manner (something you repeatedly do, which proves you are a Troll yourself).

        You say there is nothing abusive or insulting in the DWP post, but you are wrong, being that YOU were not the subject of that exchange, how the hell do you get to decide what is insulting or abusive to others?

        You clearly think you are the supreme authority on what constitutes abuse or insult to others, or you wouldn’t persist with your unwarranted, nasty attacks on anyone or anything that doesn’t measure up to your appalling standards).

        It may not insult you, but that’s no surprise, you have already well proven your callousness in previous comments, by attacking people with falsehoods and dishonesty for no good reason other than to be cruel and nasty.

        You literally seem to have no ability to filter out your troll-ish behaviour do you? Even when you could have made a succinct and decent point (as you started out to), you just had to put in your Troll-attack (both insulting and abusive) against The Canary, notably blaming The Canary again for the articles of a single contributor.

        It’s actually more Munrobagger Trolling: 0 out of 10: must try harder – for you.

        “How is challenging her statements “trolling”?” – This is the only decent thing in your post.

        “There is nothing abusive or insulting in the DWP post.” – That’s just your ill-educated opinion.

        “This is more Canary Fake News: 0 out of 10: must try harder” – That is your inner TROLL again writing cheques your brain cannot cash.

        I am happy to see my favourite Troll is back to its old tricks again, I was getting worried you had stopped funding The Canary and taken yourself somewhere else.

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