Jeremy Corbyn slams ‘poverty porn’ in TV shows like Benefits Street [VIDEO]

Jeremy Corbyn poverty porn
James Wright

Jeremy Corbyn has slammed ‘poverty porn’ in TV shows like Channel 4‘s Benefits Street. The Labour leader was taking part in a Q&A session after a screening of Dispossession at the Curzon Chelsea cinema with director Paul Sng.

“Poverty porn”

Sng first drew attention [20.00] to poverty porn and its impact:

Council housing and the people that live in it have been demonised and been stigmatised. And that’s due to those terrible poverty porn shows… One thing that perhaps you could do while you’re in opposition is lobby Ofcom… If TV programmes stereotyped people with disabilities or people of colour the way that they do to working-class people… it wouldn’t be allowed. So let’s make ‘poverty porn’ history.

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Then, Corbyn said [21.23]:

You’re absolutely right… The demonisation of communities makes it easier for politicians to make decisions that are damaging to those communities. Look at… the underfunding that went on in Grenfell. Look at the way in which the Grenfell Action Group were not listened to when they should’ve been. They said, in terms, they were worried about a catastrophic fire in that block.

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Demonisation by the state

The apparent demonisation of people on benefits is also reflected in the government’s enforcement policies. Tax dodging loses the UK up to £120bn per year, which is more than the entire NHS budget. Meanwhile, benefit fraud costs the UK about £1.3bn per year, according to official statistics. Yet government policy is the opposite of the economic reality of the situation. HMRC employs 3,765 staff working on benefit fraud and error. Only 700 people are charged with tackling tax avoidance and evasion from wealthy individuals.

The constant focus on people on benefits appears to serve a dual purpose. Not only does it divide the working class, but it also scapegoats a section of it. Corbyn and Sng are right: we need to end the culture of blaming the most vulnerable for the misconduct of the rich.

Here’s a clip from Channel 4’s Benefits Street:

Watch Corbyn speak at the event here:

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