04 February 2010

Tower Block of Commons - Needs to be seen to be believed


In this new four-part series the MPs leave Westminster and their comfortable homes to live for eight days and nights in tower blocks on different council estates in some of Britain's most deprived neighbourhoods. They will be living alongside and meeting a wide range of residents on the estates and coming face-to-face with issues that affect their lives: including gangs, immigration, drug addiction, poverty, crime, housing and unemployment.

This really is an appalling example of why our politicians seem to have no concept of the world they constantly argue about.

Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten experiences the dire housing conditions of Goresbrook Village in Barking and meets the residents disenchanted with mainstream politicians who have turned to the BNP. But he's upset when verbally attacked by local youths.Conservative Tim Loughton finds out first-hand what some residents really think of politicians on the gang-divided Newtown estate in Birmingham.Austin Mitchell and his wife Linda are shocked by poor living conditions and a drug problem on the Orchard Park estate in Hull.And former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith learns a thing or two on the Carpenters estate in Stratford, East London.

George was going to write an article reviewing each of the individual MPs involved, their reactions to the estates they found themselves on, and whether this would have any real effect on the policies they would subsequently look to promote. Upon reading the comments board of the Channel Four programme, and some of the reactions of the general public, George has decided to pick out a few of the diverse reactions, compliments, criticisms and at times moving responses made by the 'Have Your Sayers'. It will hopefully do it more justice than George's own, somewhat biased, political opinion.

STEVE on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 18:55 Austin Mitchell; hang your head in shame, retire at the next election, but please do not continue to embarrass yourself and your party. If Gordon was watching he should have been hiding behind a cushion before he got on the phone and gave you the almightiest rollicking you've ever had. You made the Tory and the Lib Dem look half credible you muppet.

PIERSKNOWEREIVER on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 17:53 Rarely do I feel moved to comment so publically on a mere TV show - this, however, just couldn't be ignored. It is high time that our political representatives (increasingly career ones) were exposed to real life. I believe that this show is fairly well intentioned, although it is obvious that a commercial TV company needs to highlight controversy in order to generate ratings. To my mind the participants in episode 1 deserve credit for their willingness to attempt to engage with a lifestyle clearly alien to them - EXCEPT AUSTIN MITCHELL - I can't remember why, but I had always associated his name with the small list of politicians that seemed to deserve respect - NO LONGER!!! I truly suspect that any chances of re-election have now been blown out of the water, unless his constituents have been unable to see this series.

MARK W on Wednesday, February 03, 2010 at 16:00 i enjoyed this programme. out of all of them only mark oaten came across as caring. the others were going through the motions and thinking about their paycheck from channel 4. i was moved by the young girl who asked them what they were doing.

CMILLY on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 01:49 The concept of this programme is brilliant, I love it. Things/programs like this expose people for what they REALLY are {of course there are those that needs to be pressed a bit harder to show their true colours}. Austin Mitchell- I felt his behaviour was insulting to the audience and a shameful reflection on his party and constituent Grimsby. He came across narrow minded, lazy, self centred and ignorant. They lacked the discipline to even participate in the program fully. His purpose there is merely, to take up space. He demonstrated that ignorance is not a 'class' thing but an individuality thing - MP or council tenant. Igorance is a poverty issue, i.e lacking knowledge. You can be an MP, Prime Minister or King and still have a poverty/ignorant problem. I love the fact that he shows clearly that stupidity is not a council tenant issue, as many people assume. Too many people assume that council tenants are stupid, lazy and ignorant, when Mitchell is a clear example that it isn't a council tenant thing. Iain Duncan Smith %u2013 I pray that his wife recovers fully. Mark Oaten %u2013 I loved seeing his struggles as it is a huge reality shock and psychological adjustment MP or no MP. Seeing his struggles made the experience real, which I believe anyone needs to experience to make a persisting difference. I believe that he has contributed the most thus far, due to the petition and time he invested into getting this off the ground. Mark %u2013 whether or not you did what they claim you did, forgive yourself and let go of the past, stop beating yourself up and move forward. You CAN make a positive difference in people’s lives. Live, Love and Forgive... Tim Loughton - Appears to be down to earth. His zeal and enthusiasm is nice. Tim going out and partying illustrated a level of strategic ‘normality%u2019. I hope he makes a positive difference in Sheree’s life.

NEIL GILMOUR on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 00:10 I'm not into blogging and don't even facebook but feel i have to shout my words out - I congratulate the programme makers to some extent in trying to highlight issues but it is really just a sensationalise to grab some ratings, politicians who have taken part my hat off to all of you except austin mitchell - you sir should feel ashamed of yourself for ever claiming to have a career in politics, you have a disgusting display of arrogance and could never represent the public when you simply cannot appreciate any other class of people other than your preferred selection - your own. I am not into the belief that all fault lies with the government or the people, the faults we have in our society lies in all of us, an apathetic society and a selfish society of which I too am guilty, trouble is at nearly 40 now what can i do to effect any change ?? what can the politicians do to effect any change ?? In essence the tower block and the no go areas of many of our cities and towns are now into their 2nd and 3rd generations of ill educated and immoral classes of people that our social benefits system promotes continued downward spiral rather than to promote change in people and raise aspirations, our policing, courts and prison system is completely FAILED not failing, there is no deterent to crime when perpitrators have to live in these conditions and worse when of course our prisons are so well equipped, comfortable and clean. Without going into the relms of boring the ass off anyone interested in reading this - nothing will change when we have mp's that are too frightened to effect the change needed for a great country and a great population because to attempt to make the real changes means they will lose their jobs - unpopular choices need to be made and the mp's are too busy pandering to the minorities of society as they are the only ones who seem to get a voice - poor criminals if they don't get what they want, poor young single mothers and multiple absent fathers because they can't have a house, poor never worked a day in their lives claimants - what about poor majority of society that work, struggle, pay their bills, keep a roof, educate their kids and disipline them when necessary - Listen up all politicians - watch the programme and learn from it - the tower blocks will show a mixture of people, some beyond help I am sure but on the whole people who deserve to live better - simple suggestion is this - lets have a social benefits system that instead of giving away free money, how about every claimant capable of working does work, for the state, and is paid benefits according to the hours worked each week, minimum no of hours applicable, say 16 hrs a week, otherwise no payments of any money at all will be made to the claimant, give people some ability to earn a living wage whilst on benefits and looking for a job, employers would be able to see that claimants are capable of working and at the same time the work done by claimants could be cleaning the streets of all the broken glass, needles, grafitti, repairing damage etc - maybe it will also promote a reluctance to cause the damage in the first place if they are then having to clean it up or clean up the mess made by their mates, this would I am sure also pose an interesting debate amongst them !! Finally - maybe the purpose of this sort of programming is to dissolve the apathy we all seem to have, give a voice back to the people where it should be and not to leave the MP's in total control and to screw it up any further !!!

DEB on Monday, February 01, 2010 at 23:56 Make no mistake,the solutions to the many and varied problems this series highlights are unlikely to be found quickly. I remember seeing World in Action and Panorama programmes from 40 years ago and where tower block living is concerned I see little change:same damp and mould, same excuses by Councils,same lack of recreational facilities and community involvement,same petitions that raise hopes and smash them when nothing happens. Most of those MP's have been in Westminster for many years,how come they still lack understanding of constituents daily lives? Why so surprised? They were all scared,as well they might be, at being cut off from the comfort of their own little world. The one who shocked me the most was the Labour MP Austin Mitchell. He's been around the block and he's obviously grown used to ignoring the underbelly of UK life. Why go on the programme if he can't do what's required? He was fixated more on a bloody newspaper than his hosts difficult circumstances. His wife in trying to empathise with Selina, at least had the humility and honesty to share her personal understanding of addiction ,albeit to a legal drug, was shut up by Mitchell's completely selfish and brutal rebuke about his reputation as an MP now being shattered by her public admission. So we all know where his true interests lie! Will be watching with interest.

SIMO on Monday, February 01, 2010 at 22:19 Mmmmmmmm........not a nice place to live....i would hate it........i wouldn't do it........i would rather sleep rough in a farmers field and be surrounded by creepy crawlies ........my heart went out to the little children......poor things..........its a vicious cycle that needs breaking.....and that means demolishing them. As for the MP's....well.......it's not a fair test for starters.........ok they get to see the other side of life for a short time and all the knockers say you should try it for a year or five years ..........but get real....these are high achieving people who would WORK themselves out of the situation in no time...........and that's THE major difference between them and a lot of the residents....going on what was shown...they wouldn't accept the situation and would get themselves out of it instead of expecting handouts and benefits. A lot of them seem incapable of doing anything for themselves.......come on.....if i lived in that flat the shower wall would not look like it did and be all mouldy and flaky.........i would clean it and buy some paint......even if i had to do it once a month to keep on top of it.........And drugs are not compulsary........everyone can say no! And to fags too. It's all about choices and what you are prepared to accept as an individual.

LILLIAN MAY on Monday, February 01, 2010 at 22:14 Typical, harping on about poverty and how hard their life is living on benefits but sat there watching a 42" flat screen television. Right at the end summed it up perfectly...MP struggled to keep within the weekly shopping budget and then the mother spent ?42 on cigerettes (compliments of the British Tax Payer)...what a joke!!


CHILLI71 on Monday, February 01, 2010 at 22:11 Found the programme fascinating, was a shame that Ian DS had to leave as he seemed to really grasp the challenge though he had no alternative - family life has to come first. I think both the Tim Loughton and Mark Oaten tried to understand the lives of the people they were living with but the labour guy Austin Mitchell- what a total idiot. He wouldnt even live with his host, his wife complained about the accommodation they were going to stay in for a few days, they didnt appear to spend much time with their host and even when she came round with lunch and discussed her drug programme he sat and read the paper, totally disinterested in her story, they also left the tower block for a nice cosy supper with friends!! Am looking forward to what the rest of the series shows us about our MP's. Good start to what could be an interesting series.

George too was appalled by the behaviour of Austin Mitchell, truly a self-obsessed, pampered, champagne socialist. But enough has been said about him above. George truly hopes Iain Duncan Smiths wife is on her way back to health and a full recovery. The shock to the system was the attitude and behaviour of the Tory MP Tim Laughton, he tried to empathise, and was willing to 'muck' in and be involved, even though his attempt at dancing was hilarious, at least he gave it a go (take note Mitchell). The same has to be said about Mark Oaten, compassionate, showed real emotions, and tried to actively do something - pointless maybe, but he tried, again, unlike Mitchell.

Looking forward to the second episode.

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