22 February 2014
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The recent channel Four production, Benefits Street, has created a lot of controversy for various reasons.
Therefore, the question which should be asked is what was Channel Four’s raison d’être for making it?
There is as much condemnation as there is praise for the production.
Investigative journalism can often open up a big can of worms and in this case it has achieved exactly that, however, whether you view the series as poverty porn or as a well researched exposé of life in Benefits Britain, it has successfully managed to ignite the debate surrounding the benefit system here in the UK.
Left wing commentators such as Owen Jones and Mehdi Hasan are finding popular platform from which they can hold up a mirror or indeed a lamp at Ian Duncan Smith’s inept welfare reforms, and, it would appear people are actually sitting up and taking note.
Jones and Hasan are indeed giving the subaltern a much needed voice.
Immaterial though of how we personally feel in regard to Benefits street, one thing is for certain, the exposé has proved that former PM Margaret Thatcher was fundamentally wrong when she insisted `there’s no such thing as society.`
`White` Dee, the main protagonist of the channel four documentary, epitomizes the fact that a sense of society/community can and does exist, albeit in this case, in the most dire of circumstances.
Altruistic Dee, assists her less fortunate neighbours’ by permitting them to use her phone, reading letters they receive, making appointments, resolving resident disputes and basically helping them make the best of a situation which is often tragic.
Dee’s a social worker, community worker, mediator, agony aunt and life coach all rolled into one.
Dee is the overtly clichéd salt of the earth; yes she has made mistake in the past, hasn’t everyone, but her determination to do the right thing should be a lesson we should all attempt to learn.
So as the debate widens, and as the left continues to expose draconian Tory policies, we should take a minute to think about the White Dees in our society who tirelessly makes attempts to help others, and to think for a moment who it is that actually makes some attempt to help them?