Viewers have made clear exactly what they think of the BBC’s latest bit of propaganda [OPINION]
On Thursday 2 March, the BBC managed to cause uproar with the first in a new series of documentaries. The programme aimed to be fact-led. But many viewers noticed it was, essentially, a piece of government propaganda.
BBC One aired Britain on the Fiddle at 9pm. The BBC touted the programme as:
follow[ing] fraud investigators as they build cases against those they believe are cheating the system.
But many viewers found the programme to be little more than benefit-shaming Tory propaganda:
#BBC #BritainOnTheFiddle imagine a programme where Bankers, Tony Blair & Sir Philip Green were arrested and sent to prison
— Leftin Charge #GTTO & #JC4PM (@logical4ever) March 2, 2017
BBC the modern day propaganda channel redirecting our mistrust to those alongside us rather than big businesses.
And ‘therese o’hanlon’ tweeted:
why is it a fiddle if the poorest avoid a few quid in tax but ok if your big business or a celeb fiddle millions?
It’s the poor that take the blame
Some of the cases of people “cheating” the system which the film-makers followed included:
- A man dodging tobacco duty by smuggling cigarettes.
- EU citizens claiming benefits in the UK while working abroad.
- A woman called a “benefit cheat” with multiple identities.
Britain on the Fiddle highlighted numerous, carefully selected facts. These included:
- Benefit fraud costs the UK taxpayer £1.6bn a year.
- People like cigarette smugglers “steal” £16bn from the taxman each year.
No evidence whatsoever
The programme also claimed arrests of EU nationals for benefit fraud was “a regular event”. With no evidence to back this up. And when EU nationals only make up 2.5% of the out-of-work benefits bill.
At the beginning of the programme, it also showed someone spying on a disabled man. It stated that, because he had gone fishing:
He’s fit and well, but claiming disability.
But it gave no evidence of the man’s disability. Nor if the Department for Work and Pensions had ever prosecuted him for benefit fraud. Instead, it chose to drop this confirmation bias in, that disabled people are ‘benefit frauds’ and ‘cheats’. Ignoring the fact that the man could have had a fluctuating, ‘hidden disability’ like fibromyalgia.
But the sums of money that the super-rich and corporations “steal” dwarfs those highlighted in the programme:
- The UK tax payer has to top up low wages that corporations pay by £11bn every year. Nearly ten times that of benefit fraud.
- People and companies avoid or evade up to an estimated £122bn in tax each year in the UK.
- The super-rich put an estimated $12tn worldwide into offshore bank accounts every year.
- Corporate tax avoidance and evasion costs an estimated $600bn globally every year.
Divide and conquer
Britain on the Fiddle is a classic example of divide and conquer tactics. One of the council workers, presumably on the minimum wage, even said they were “excited” about catching a “benefit cheat”. Then we saw ‘Kiri’, of Asian descent, happily catching foreign nationals committing benefit fraud.
Also, when the programme showed “seasoned liar” ‘Angel’s’ other house, it openly gave the impression that someone like her shouldn’t be allowed a house like that. Whether she got it through fraudulent behaviour or not. And narrator Richard Bilton even had the audacity to say of the tracking of one “benefit cheat”:
Luckily, Google Maps has provided a clue.
Thank you Google for helping to catch benefit frauds. While it dodges hundreds of millions in tax.
By pitting the working class against the working class, the government and broadcasters like the BBC hope we won’t notice who the real “cheats” are. Those in the super-rich establishment, ferreting money offshore, paying poverty wages, socially cleansing our cities and dodging huge sums of taxes. While poverty in the UK spirals out of control. Because, after the criminal banking system cheated the whole planet, the Tories imposed austerity on the poorest. So maybe the BBC would like to investigate who in Britain is really “on the fiddle”. Because it’s not the working class.
– Read more from The Canary on poverty.
Featured image via screengrab
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.