08 February 2010

Tower Block of Commons - Series 1 Episode 2 - Comment


(Watch this is you already haven't.)

Last week George wrote a small article on the first episode, made into the largest article in the history of Watching With George by other comments taken from the channel four website.

Shocked, ashamed, reflective, sometimes individually, sometimes all at the same time, readers (if I have any), these are a brief snippet of emotions you will feel if you have watched this series so far. At first, with my anti-Tory, anti-establishment, anti-politicians-if-I'm-honest, attitude; I expected to be laughing with anger at the Tories, who would obviously fail to empathise with any of the commoners, introducing to the watching audience their bigoted perceptions, free market economic ideas about how to solve the 'council estate problems', and undoubtedly look down upon the 'scratter's and chav's' with disdain. How I was wrong. How my judgement and own bigoted views were highlighted.

The Tory, Tim Loughton, was astounding. Honestly; was so impressed by his attitude, his level of understanding, his empathy. Not that Tory-ism is the answer, but if this guy was prime minister, it wouldn't be all bad.

The Labour MP, on the other hand, was a wanker (my own bigoted views re-surfacing). He has no clue about his own real-life, it seems, never mind anyone else's. He takes his own wife for granted, he thinks the 'women's' place is in the home, he assumes that being a mum is an easy job and refuses to take any real part in the idea behind the show. Keeping his little affluent perk's, refusing to take part in the show in the first place without being allowed to bring along his wife, and then (some would say to his credit*) paying for a meal for his 'guests' to discuss politics.

Mark Oaten was somewhat accosted by the women he was staying with for suggesting she was wrong to spend £42 on cigarettes, when she later found out he had (aside from the money for interest re-payments) spent £110 on three irons on his expenses forms. He then claimed that the situation was 'awkward' when asked about his own affluent lifestyle, belongings, property and earnings. Really? That must be really hard, that feeling 'awkward' thingy.

I am going to save the other MP involved, Nadine Dorries, till the next episode, in the interest of fair and balanced bullshit. Although check this out, because I cannot write a political article without criticising the Tories in some way, it goes against my religion.

*This would have had far more effect if he had managed to do this on a budget, without the ongoing help of his wife.

**Will hopefully add some comments from the channel four website tomorrow, they do not appear to be allowing any at the time of writing. You have to love the freedom of spontaneous speech and vented, raging anger, that I am sure some would have felt after watching it.

***In the spirit of 'good' Tories - Here is what appears to be the other one.

SPANISH RESIDENT on Tuesday, February 09, 2010 at 12:05
I thoroughly enjoyed the Tower Block of Commons last night- a very well balanced documentary, I thought. I watched in awe as the residents whined about how little money thet had to live on despite the fact they bought cigarettes and marijuana, kept pets and had their nails done!! I live in a tiny traditional Catalan village and have done so for ten years now. Here there is no benefit system- if you hit hard times you can take out what you put in. If you dont work, you dont eat- it really is that simple.The expectation is for families to help through troubled times- if they cannot the governemt has various schemes to help. My friend is a single mother who has joined the army where she is given free accommodation and child care and has a sense of pride and hope as well as studying and training for her future. We are facing a crisis here in Spain as unemployment levels rise-our tiny village creates posts for people suffering hardship- they are given a broom and sweep the streets for their pay and they do so with pride. I am appalled at the decline in values and standards in UK now and could not or would not return to live in Britain. When will the benefit system be addressed? I hope the MPs who endured the hardships of living as these people do as well as having to be criticised for actually working, are allowed to give the viewers an open and honest evaluation of what they relly feel- this could be a very interesting ptrogramme. Come on Britain, find your spirit again. Create job opportunities for everyone on benefits- community work would be a start- the welfare system was created to offer a helping hand and should not be a way of life-and in my opinion benefits should not be paid to feed pets and buy cigarettes. I grew up in a council estate as did many of my friends- our parents worked and did whatever was needed to provide for us. We had very little in terms of posessions though I did notice most of the homes on the programme had flat screen televisions. I pray some MP finds the strength to address this abuse and get Britain back to being GREAT again. Until then, I am staying here, thank you.
JENNA MAC on Tuesday, February 09, 2010 at 13:46
Havn't the two ladies who Nadine Dorries stayed with heard of contraception? Why bring more children into poverty (they had eight between them). These people can afford fags, dogs and gameboys but don't have beds. The Jeremy Kyle generation are alive and well.
PENNY on Tuesday, February 09, 2010 at 00:27
Plse dont vote tory just coz new labour are bad, tories will be worse than maggie thatcher if they get in. that means things will only get worse. benefits are too low to live on. it should be a basic human right to be able to feed yourself and keep warm without having to choose between the two. even working people cant afford to live on minimum slave wages. no one should be paid less than £15 per hour. greedy bankers get bailed out, MP's fiddle their expenses. this system sucks. people should start rebelling more. we want a true democracy ie of by and for the people. not for corporations banks and m.p's. wish i had the money to go live in an eco village and be self sufficient. its the only way i can see that you can get freedom in this police state poverty ridden britain. politicians have sold us down the river. the rih get richer and the poor get poorer. they want us all to die off. to die a slow death of malnutrition and hypothermia coz we cant afford a decent meal or to heat our homes. dorry but i think its going to get worse not better. modern life is crap unless youre well off. WHERES THE HELP FOR US POOR IN BRITAIN? WHY CANT WE GET FOOD AID?
ROBYN MCKENZIE on Tuesday, February 09, 2010 at 00:07
MPs you should try living on benefits for at least 6months. Some of us are too sick to work. key or card meters for electricity and gas. sit in a cold unheated flat unable to feel well coz youre cold and hungry coz you cant afford the bills. Try walking up the stairs whilst junkies are shooting up leaving their human waste, blood urine faeces, remnants of junk food and bear cans that you have to step over to get to your door. you MPs make me sick. you do nothing to help us you just tell us we're scroungers when you put your hand in the coffers and get away with it. Forcing us to live in poverty is a crime against our human rights. no one should have to live on less than £130 per week. benfits are too low. its a pittance. i wish the british public would rebel like the french. no one should go hungry in britain we're supposed to be a rich country, but therse people who miss meals every day coz they cant afford it. We need more progs like this. EXPOSE THE POVERTY IN BRITAIN - when is oxfam going to give us food parcels?
JOANNIE on Monday, February 08, 2010 at 23:29
As a (54 year young)life-long resident of Newham, I find this series very watchable. Bad housing, indifferent councils and out-of-touch MP's have always been with us (check the records Channel4!). The scary fact is that in East London, much of the pre-war slums were destroyed not by Government initiatives, but by WAR!! Better housing conditions and greater social awareness came about, again as the result of, you've guessed it, WAR! In short, politicians of all parties were faced with a choice - social upheaval or social anarchy. Homeless people were initially housed in prefabs, some of which still exist today until better housing was built. It is a sad, sad day for the UK when our Right Honourable members are unable to learn from recent history. Even more important, the Ronan Point disaster in Canning Town (May 1968) should have sent out a stark message that Tower Blocks were not the answer for social housing, any more than the old tenements they replaced, yet still they build them. Greater onus should be placed on councils to maintain their housing stock, and stricter tenancy agreements would strike the balance between tenant and council rights & responsibilities. Councils need to have the machinery in place for tenants who are suddenly affected by financial hardship, without making them jump through impossible hoops. Equally, tenants must agree to keep their properties clean, tidy and not sub-let them out. These 4 MP's are to be applauded because to a greater or lesser extent, they have become involved. They are doing something every MP, every councillor, and social worker should do - go and live at the sharp end of the societies they work among and represent for at least a month. Make them survive on the benefits, make them jump through the hoops, make them queue up at council offices and jobcentres. Whilst I am not holding my breath as to the extent this series will change lives on these estates, it might just make the 3 major parties rething their coming manifestos

The best comment, in the humble opinion of George, is the one directly above. Please read it. MPs and Council estate tenants alike.

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