Coffee House

My night with White Dee – and Channel 5’s Big Benefits Row

3 February 2014

What do you get if you mix the Jeremy Kyle show with Question Time? Channel 5 tried to find out this evening in a one-off debate about welfare called the Big Benefits Row.  I was one of the 25 – yes, 25 – guests they asked along. Matthew Wright tried to keep the order, and the debate ranged (or, rather, raged) from the morality of benefits for immigrants to high MTR rates for welfare. It was more of a verbal explosion than a debate – you’d have working single mums screaming (‘give me a job, innit!’) at benefit-dependent single mum. Edwina Currie baiting the lefties, with visible enjoyment. Even a mini protest (‘every mum’s a working mum’) and Katie Hopkins who, with her ‘they’re all scroungers!’ message, wound up the audience perfectly. And Jack Monroe, her of the austerity recipe fame, who was admonished for using the f-word. It was kind of political panto.

Even Peter Stringfellow was present — in his capacity as a pensioner on benefits. He was very keen to touch the hem of Rachel Johnson, there as she’d recently spent a week living on £1 a day and has (as she put it) “friends with benefits”. The ex-Guardian journalist, Sarfraz Manzoor, was there to heckle Katie Hopkins and just when you though the evening couldn’t get more bizarre, up pops Terry Christian (ex-The Word) to stick the knife into Ms Hopkins as well. Margot James, a Tory MP and member of the 10 Downing Street policy group, was watching all this, open-mouthed, from the front row.

But the star of the evening, for my money, was White Dee. She was then, as she is in Benefits Street, calm, articulate and funny — and making more sense than the rest of the guests put together. When the show closed, everyone came to to her asking for autographs and taking selfies. I sat beside her during the first part of the show and she  said that she was a Spectator reader (all the best people are) and that she liked our coverage of the Benefits Street debate.


I’m not sure what we learned, given the many angles the topic was approached from – and the brave attempt to mix the Jerry Springer-style fights with the likes of myself jabbering on about marginal tax withdrawal rates (audio below).

But one thing’s for sure: after years of being an incredibly dull policy area, welfare reform is now one of the hottest topics in Britain. It is capable of breaking out of the normal confines of Westminster debate, and into a wider realm where wilder beasts roam and many more millions pay attention. And where poll after poll (including one taken for the show) makes clear that the public still backs reforms – still, that is, on the side of the government.

PS: Here’s the point I was trying to make. White Dee doesn’t work because if she found part-time work and wanted to increase her hours, she’d find herself trapped in a system that would, in effect, tax her at 100 per cent for the work that she does. There is so much poverty in Britain because we have destroyed the economic function of work for the low-paid. Below is the Marginal Deduction Rate (i.e., benefits withdrawn, as a percentage of money earned) for someone in White Dee’s situation (i.e., a lone mother with two children).

PPS: The Big Benefits Row drew in 1.3 million viewers, almost twice that of Newsnight. Expect to see Stringfellow on BBC2 any day now…

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 06.46.44

Katie Hopkins will be speaking at the next Spectator debate ‘A liberal arts education is a waste of time and money’ with Anthony Seldon, Julia Hobsbawm, Harry Cole and Doug Richard  on 4 March. Click here to book tickets.

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  • Anna C Young


  • Anna C Young

    The benefits debate show the people where speaking over each other

  • GideonsGuy

    You made the only sensible point during the “debate” when you pointed out that some people are better off out of work. When everybody is finished calling people scroungers etc etc that is the heart of the issue that needs to be addressed.

    The rest of it was people promoting their z-list media careers by telling people to get a job or whining about food banks.

  • Lewis Evans

    Heres a video of the jack vs edwina argument. Felt sorry for jack she deserved to have her say

  • glurk

    My! You are a clever lad Fraser. This trap that White Dee is in is nothing new. Its been so for many, many years. Long past the time when reform of the benefits system should have taken place. Ask any single parent over the last 45 years why they didnt work or found it extremely hard to do so, however much they wanted to while still responsible for their children.
    Party politics lacks the one thing that would have sorted out this situation, a little common sense and less posturing and mouthing off.

  • Thats_news

    White Dee’s inability to have a clear DBS check (stealing from the vulnerable. A real classy bird) might be the real reason she hasn’t got a decent job. interesting bust, though.

  • Marie Louise Noonan
  • just me

    I find it very distasteful as a woman in her 40’s should be lumped together adults that have an employment track record as long as Peter Andres number 1 hit list and pensioners.We inbetweeners are never even mentioned in the benefit debate. Good old Cameron might be making work pay now but what about the past 20 years? Never a thought for us poor women carers who have over the years provided care for the elderly in Council care homes. working all shifts day nights waking nights treating the elderly as family often sacrificing our own families and parents only to find out years later that we were being paid lower than the men because our Council employers decided to breach the equal pay law as owning a vagina was not and is still not as cool as owning a penis it seems. There are many women like me that who are still fighting alone to try and claim money that was earned but never paid. Who is standing up for me, not the unions who were in bed with labour and failed to notify many women not the no win no fee scammers ready to jump in like vultures round a dead boy in fact there is nobody fighting for us. No-one cares that I cannot afford to feed myself or my child now. You want to know what it’s like to have depression so bad that you almost avoid any contact with the outside world because you feel like a used up rag worthless to society, suffering crumbling disks through lifting people. May be White Dee would like to try my depression on for size? Women like myself are a forgotten breed in this debate. Those of us that did only have as many children as we could afford and followed the work ethics of our female relatives before us. Those of us that followed the rules and only claimed benefits when absolutely needed. Those of us that raised latch key kids. Who is speaking on our behalf? who is standing up for me. Had I been paid properly for my hard work who knows I might own my own house now and have a nest egg set aside for my old age…….

  • Billy Paterson

    Edwina Currie debating skills – shouting ‘Well, clean toilets’ and ‘We can’t afford it’

  • 170idiot Exactly spot on. The Nazi’s did a fair job with this philosophy.

  • helpmabaob

    I live in a similar run down street in Northern Ireland where myself and most of the others who exist there are on benefits or work in the black economy or both. We all see that we have no other choice being trapped in a cycle of poverty. Many grow their own tobacco and brew their own booze. Television ? Yeah we all have Sky but no tv licences and we access it with snide vieeing cards. Anyone want to swap from Barnes or Highgate?

    • helpmaboab

      Derek, why do you feel the need to copy my avatar and screen name?

      It shows in your comment count.

      Things not going well at home?

  • alexander

    Given the choice of working under Katie Hopkins or signing on,

    I’d say: “show me the way to James Turner Street and whens the first payment of my beer and drug tokens please?”

  • Perseus Slade

    It`s always “given the situation, given the man”
    I`d do the same in Dee`s place.
    Who would`t? Only a fool.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Where was Iain Duncan Smith? What was Katie Hopkins? Why was John Major’s old bed-warmer Edwina Currie a guest? And Peter Stringfellow? Why was the well known disability campaigner Sue Marsh marginalised and given the cold shoulder?

    What the heck?

    A sensational television programme artfully edited to portray specially selected individuals in a bad light for purposes of entertainment, or even to serve an unworthy political agenda, and to make money for a commercial television channel is an unworthy means to spark a debate about social security.

    Shame on everyone concerned.

    Including Mr. Nelson.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Because it’s Channel Five and it’s rubbish.

      What did you people expect from them?

      It’s like buying The Sun and expecting profound insight.

  • anotherjoeblogs

    Baroness White Dee ? Why not ? There are some weird Baronesses about.

  • Tethys

    With pne exception, the programme was a car crash.

  • Aimee Lauren

    heres a link here with an open letter from me, a benefits user about this so called debate, i was so so saddened by people like katie hopkins and especially edwina currie, who i used to have so much respect for.

  • airy fairy

    It was hysterical…. best laugh I have had for ages. ” Every mother is a working mother” – priceless! loony lefties and ranting righties….. comedy gold.

  • manonthebus

    The marginal rate of take-home pay for benefit-recipients is only marginal because they have been paid so much in benefits since GB’s time as Chancellor. If benefits were not high enough to be a life-style choice, then the recipients would be happier to find work than they are now (in fact most don’t bother looking). However, the numbers of employees on minimum wage is bound to increase year by year because they are not capable of wealth-creating work and thus are not highly valued. Expect much more of this.

    • Freddie

      “in fact most don’t bother looking” I take it you can source that claim?

    • paradise 33

      I expect you think you do, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • London Calling

    Sadly I watched five seconds of the show and had to switch off……It gave me a headache……….Well done for joining the show Fraser, good that you met White Dee
    A human being after all regardless of those who slate her……lets not forget those on low income who also receive hand outs in the form of working tax credits and help with council tax and housing benefit, they get stuck in the system also, simply because they receive a low income, ends just don’t meet…………..:(

    • La Fold

      Working tax credits. This is where we take the lowest paid members of society, take a percentage of their own money, put it through some sort of system and if they fit someone elses criteria the system then hands them back some of their own money? Why lets not let the peoplpe keep the money in the first place?

  • cmp679

    Channel 5 played it safe. Rather than have a balanced debate and risk being accused of ‘demonising the poor’ by Guardian types, they loaded the audience and panel with Lefties and the result was like a Unite rally. As soon as I saw Matthew Wright was hosting I suspected the worst.

    • Adam

      What the right wing have been doing for the past 4 years, just because it doesn’t agree with your beliefs?

      • cmp679

        Most people get their news from the BBC (inc. web and local tv/radio) and think the BBC plays with a straight bat. It’s left-leaning propaganda is therefore much more insidious than anything from the Sun or Mail. That’s not to mention the hegemony exerted by the BBC on other broadcasters’ news and cultural output.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          And yet for all the sympathy they claim to feel for ‘the impoverished’ they go to extreme lengths to force the very same people to pay what is essentially a regressive tax; the license fee.

      • Cyril Sneer

        You’re talking about the conservative/lib dem government? Neither are right wing. If you think that then if just shows how out of touch you are…. it’s not 1986.

  • Russ Pike

    I agree with Julieann below, the debate was a farce, where was the studio audience from, hire a scrounger supported by the goody two shoes brigade?

    Never have I ever heard before, or wish to again that pensioners are on benefits! The majority have worked their whole lives paying national insurance to provide for themselves in the future.
    Unfortunately those on benefits will enjoy the same return for putting zero in.
    Get real and stop messing with statistics to suit the benefit of a channel five slanging match.
    We all know the truth some stop trying to say it’s ok for generations to sit on their back sides innit!
    The answer is easy but no government has the backbone to do it:
    a) Make it more beneficial to work than stay home i.e raise minimum wage and lower benefits substantially.
    b) If your benefits are higher than the wage for the job remove benefits except for a top up to the wage provided to equal the benefits level. If you don’t take the jobs offered then reduce benefits on a monthly basis.
    c) Why do we still have child allowance? it is your own choice as an individual to have a child, if you can’t afford it don’t have one and at the very most child support for the first born only as per the USA.
    d) Stop any more immigration until the jobs available here are filled by those on benefits.

    There done, that was easy wasn’t it!

    • westerby1

      National insurance contributions entitle people to a pension, contribution based jobseekers allowance if unemployed, and contributions based employment and support allowance if ill/disabled. How is a person, who say becomes ill or unemployed at age 62, any less entitled to benefit than a person receiving their pension at 66? Also what about people who have never been able to work due to lifelong severe illness or disability?

      There are also people who have never worked and claimed benefits, during which time they will get national insurance credits, which entitle them to – the state pension! Therefore you have the scenario of people working for 40+ years who are stigmatised because they claim out of work benefit at 62,
      whilst at the same time you can have someone who has never worked claiming their pension!

      Things are not as black and white as you seem to think they are

      • Russ Pike

        I agree Westerby1, but my whole point is that all the things you mentioned need to be corrected, there are genuine people who are deserving, but for christ sake lets weed out the majority that are not. To top up a wage to the benefit level would cut our benefits bill drastically! Pensions should be severely reduced if you have not put in at least 25 years of work i.e. paye NI contributions. It is way too easy not to work and refuse job offers, we have generations of scroungers that believe it is their right to claim and to refuse work because they don’t want to do it or the wage is less than they receive for not working, until that is corrected nothing will ever change it will just get worse. Let’s stop arguing about benefits, cut them and give more incentive to those that have the pride and drive to get up every day, clock in, work an 8 hour shift, 6 days a week, 48 weeks a year, year in year out! I’m sure I speak for the majority of this country if the polls are anything to go by, that I am sick and tired of the spineless MP’s and the liberal do gooders of this country.

        p.s. I have worked all my life, since I was 12 years old hoeing around cabbages in fields for a week to earn £5 pocket money, paper round in all weathers, studied and took an aerospace apprenticeship, re trained and worked on classic cars and then re trained to become a furniture designer maker. I have been made redundant twice, but got off my backside and hunted for a job, had to travel and never been out of work for more than a week. The difference is that I have a work ethic and pride in providing for myself which is sadly lacking in many today, not all as you point out but a lot, however like you say I will be drawing the same pension as the person who has never put a thing into the pension scheme of this country. Oh by the way if NI contributions are being taken from jobseekers allowance if unemployed, and contributions based employment and support allowance if ill/disabled, then the working tax payers are paying it. You are not making a contribution if the contribution is being gifted to you, but someone is paying it for you via tax and NI.

        • westerby1

          I agree with with this comment. As regards the bit about national insurance contributions that is exactly what I was saying to you in my reply to your previous comment regarding pensioners. Someone could be receiving a state pension now and they may never have worked, but they have had NI contribution credits paid for them as part of their unemployment benefit and this has entitled them to their pension. As you say the tax payer has paid for these contributions along with their benefit. Whereas someone who has worked 40 years and become ill has paid their own NI contributions which entitles them to sickness benefit.

          In this case scenario, in my opinion, the ill person is more entitled to their sickness benefit than the never having worked pensioner. That is all I was trying to say in response to you saying that pensioners should not be seen as benefit recipients as they have paid their way. Because some clearly will have not paid their way, and why should a 62 year old sick person be seen as less deserving of benefit than a 65 year old retired person?

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      N’c) Why do we still have child allowance? it is your own choice as an individual to have a child, if you can’t afford it don’t have one and at the very most child support for the first born only as per the USA.’oa

      Excellent. Let’s emulate the Yanks. It’s worked so well for us in the past.

      They’re actually no better off. Been to Detroit recently?

  • saffrin

    Matthew Wright, 100% politically correct clown.

    • airy fairy

      and not a funny one.

  • sarahsmith232

    Fraser Nelson –
    Aren’t you missing a trick then? Get White Dee to write a piece for the Spectator. Unless they’ve been put on a gag order part of it could be an expose of the tricks the doc’ team where getting up to. She could write a good piece about the effects of long-term welfare dependency. She could prob’ mention the fact that what money you pay her will get her nowhere ’cause it will just mean a cut to her benefits.
    Why not try her out with a one off article and see how it goes from there? She would be able to write well, it would be interesting to get her take on politics, society and welfare.

  • swatnan

    I would have thought she would have been a reader of the ‘Big Issue’ rather than the right of centre Spectator; but then a lot of preople on benefits must be right of centre politically because of policies on immigration and privatisation, and its in their interests to keep a right wing govt in power.

  • Rockin Ron

    “…..welfare reform is now one of the hottest topics in Britain. It is
    capable of breaking out of the normal confines of Westminster debate.”

    But you have reported that the programme had an audience of 25 comprised of politicians, commentators and celebrities. Therefore, it was the Westminster bubble talking amongst itself. Journalists who can’t see that will never be able to break out of the bubble. Indeed, most are fighting to stay in it. A truly gormless statement from an out of touch commentator with next to no knowledge of the difficulties facing most people outside the Westminster bubble.

  • AlwaysIntegrity

    The answer to the high marginal rate of tax is not so much one of reducing benefits it is one of increasing the minimum wage.
    We are in the catch 22 that a low minimum wage means that there is huge government expenditure to ‘top up’ low wages. The effect is that we drive wages down as corporations can pay less in the knowledge that the low wages they pay will be topped up by the state!
    More unemployed I hear you shout – but would the reasonably well off really eat less burgers or go out to restaurants more if a few pence were added to each bill?
    And, by the way I am a Tory and an employer, not some daft left winger!

    • SgtVimes

      Or even an articulate, intelligent left winger.

  • paulthorgan

    Benefits withdrawal is not a tax. Stop misusing this word.

    If a person is on out-of-work benefits and they start work, then why shouldn’t the benefits be withdrawn?

    The benefits are there because the state recognises that there are instances where no jobs are available. If jobs are available, then they should be taken. People should work for a living and not be told that they are better off living on benefits, which is what Nelson does here.

    All Nelson does is reinforce the destruction of the work ethic and removes wealth creation as an ideal.

    • SgtVimes

      Benefits are withdrawn if someone starts work and that job pays enough to live on. If they are in a job paying the minimum wage they are likely to still get benefits to avoid them being made homeless. There are two things that could help the situation, lower housing costs and a higher minimum wage.

      • La Fold

        A “higher minimum” wage will price out the lowest skilled and educated members of society out of the job market. This in turn will force them to rely even more on benefits than previously before. No matter what the state sets the minimum wage at the real minimum wage is always zero.

  • Jim

    We were repeatedly told that benefit fraud accounts for less than 1% of the total welfare bill. But surely people defraud the system while playing by the rules?

    And nothing was said of the negative consequences of having a ‘non-judgmental’ welfare system. Whereby the priority for benefits and housing is allocated to those who display the most self destructive social pathologies. What is the long term cost to the British public when good behaviour is penalised?

    • SgtVimes

      So a couple who are both working in low paid jobs and trying to raise their children clearly have self destructive social pathologies because they are receiving Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, Working Tax Credits and possibly other help such as free school meals.

      No one seems to worry when those who display the most self destructive social pathologies are working for the banks and destroing the economy while creaming off bonuses for themselves. Isn’t it about time they were penalised for their bad behaviour?

      • Colonel Mustard

        In your second paragraph you could replace the word banks with ‘government and the third sector’ and it would still make perfect sense.

  • Linda E

    Edwina Curry was ignorant she was tryng to tell everyone that the trussell trust only have one food Bank when infact they run 400 of them , She was also completey sure that you can just walk into a food bank with a carry Bag and walk out with food that is complete rubbish anyone who believes that try it see what happens , Both Edwina and Katie should get there fact right 100% before they shoot there mouths off in any Debate , Both off them should try living on benifets before they shout about it, Katie hopkins also when prompted about her child beniets said she had given them back because she is a high earner when we all know she didn’t just give them back they were taken away from her so i suspect if it hadn’t been she would have been just as pleased to keep on taking it

  • Holly

    This site is getting MORE determined to STOP people commenting.
    I am bored with always being ‘moderated’!
    There was NO swearing, NO insults.
    Someone needs to ‘moderate’ the moderator.

    • SgtVimes

      If you can’t debate without insults and swearing you’ve already lost the argument.

    • Makroon

      You must have used one of the apparently innocuous “key words” suppressed by the Speccie’s eccentric censor.

  • Dave Wainwright

    White Dee for Prime Minister, she KNOW’S you KNOW !

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      She’d be better than Edwina.

      Curried eggs anyone?

  • Julieann Carter

    I thought Matthew was an abysmal chair. I thought the discussion subject was about people on welfare, NOT tax evasion. That should have been another subject for another time. I find it very distasteful that pensioners who have already worked their shift, are lumped together with, and included as welfare recipients.
    Edwina Currie, I did not perceive as “baiting the Lefties with visible enjoyment”; but adopting a brave – which very often results in a pasted smile – when under attack from the chair who was clearly ‘with’ the very gobby, Jack Munroe – from the outset.
    It was a legitimate response to remind/question Miss Munroe as to her ‘well-off’ grandfather, a question to which we were not allowed to know the truth, resulting in the young lady Jack, effing on live TV. Jeremy Kyle indeed!
    But of course, Katie Hopkins being belligerent, is something else entirely, and where we must all hiss and boo.

    I sincerely hope for our children’s and grand children’s sake that White Dee is not going to be held as some kind of national treasure, as it’s beginning to feel as though to criticise her life choices, might be akin to committing the original sin.

    I am not at all surprised the viewing public still supported the Government reforms, after that show. It was a show, not a debate.

    • m montgomery

      does it mean that her well off dead grandfather was keeping her NO it does not .My dead grandfather was reasonably well of, but this side of the family never saw a scent it went to his second wife .use your loaf not all family are close enough to be left something in a will .and anyway why was that important to the topic

      • Julieann Carter

        Sorry for contributing freely to the discussion.

        The answer to your question is: I don’t know. That is why I like to have information in order for me to then ‘use my loaf’ in determining whether that person, in my opinion, is credible.
        I don’t really care about your late grandfather. You were not on the show, nor are you publicly marketing yourself as poverty stricken, or a public spokesperson for the impoverished.
        Nor are you advertising for Sainsburys, secured a book deal with Penguin publishers, and doing the rounds on the TV circuit.
        All that, I’m afraid, means she is not immune from further scrutiny.
        She may be your cup of tea – probably for ideological reasons. To date, she is not mine.
        Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
        Just call me old fashioned, if it pleases.

        • SgtVimes

          I think the wealth or otherwise of Jack Monroe’s grandfather is irrelevant when the question asked was about foodbanks and the process required to get emergency aid. Jack Monroe has a wealth (deliberate pun) of experience in this area while I suspect from her Spectator piece that Edwina has ver little. The Trussel Trust responded to her article explaining just how wrong she was, but clearly she isn’t prepared to listen to both sides of a debate. What we had was Edwina trying to defend her position in the only way she could by stopping anyone from commenting further.

          Jack Monroe does not claim to be poverty stricken now but happy to talk about how she once was. She has made a career out of helping those that are impoverished through advice on feeding your family on a tight budget.
          I would have thought that dragging herself up by her boot straps like she has would make her a Tory Darling.

        • Andy

          Well said.

        • fathomwest

          Julieann, You are the kind of person we need in Parliament.
          Please join Ukip as the Conservative Party have a death wish following all their socialist policies. You are what the country needs.

          • SgtVimes

            You clearly want Julieann to join your group of swivel-eyed loons and not anybody else’s.

            • Colonel Mustard

              “your group of swivel-eyed loons”. Hmm. Elsewhere in this very same thread Sgt Vimes (the hypocrite) asserts:-

              “If you can’t debate without insults and swearing you’ve already lost the argument.”

              • SgtVimes

                Point taken. I apologise and shall withdraw the comment.

              • Kitty MLB

                ” Swivel – eyed Loons ” That is original, is it not
                Mind you I have not heard ‘ fruit cake’ for a while-
                I quite like fruitcake, extra fruity, nutty and with a dash
                of rum- far better then our dried up Victoria sponges
                of a political class.
                UKIP and Conservatives are always under attack,
                the insults the Lefties plod out are somewhat tiresome
                and boring, they really need to find some new material.

            • Wessex Man

              Oh really Allymax Bruce at least be honest when you want to insult others.

        • Eve
          • SgtVimes

            Edwina’s nasty tweet shows just how little she knows. If she’d ever been to Southend she’d know that owning a guest house there does not make you rich.

        • sarahsmith232

          From what I’ve read on this female she screams, absolutely shrieks, fraud. First of all it was supposed to be that she got pregnant and the boyfriend left her, then it’s – ‘actually, I’m a lesbian’. She’s going to marry her partner soon, this female she’s been with for years, so there couldn’t ever have been a boyfriend. Plus, the dad owns a hotel in Southend, she worked in it for years. So is she really trying to say that while she and her tot were starving she couldn’t just take a quick trot over to the hotel and get the dad to rustle something up? Or, I’m sure the more likely story, that she couldn’t just pick a few shifts up for cash while continuing to claim?
          So turns out she was set to inherit a pile as well, is it? Well, that will have been deposited somewhere, shouldn’t the benefit fraud team be looking into that? Someone should highlight this inheritance to this team, they work on tip offs, so who’s it going to be to give them a ring? Someone please?

          • SgtVimes

            I really don’t understand why you feel the need to direct such vitriol towards Jack Monroe. She wouldn’t be the first person to be in a heterosexual relationship and then come out. Maybe you should read her blog rather than listen to the poison spouted by Edwina and try not be so judgemental.

            Edwina argues that Jack’s Grandad had a guest house in Southend so must have been rich. She clearly has never been to Southend. I think its a safe bet to say he owned a house and let out rooms to make ends meet. As the daughter of a nurse and a fireman I doubt the family had much money to go round.

            But all this is beside the point. Edwina disagrees with her, and that’s fine, she allowed to have a contrary opinion, but what is not fine is attacking someone’s background to avoid addressing the difference of opinion.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Edwina obviously considers adultery is the way too go. Slag is the word, is it not? Rich slag though.

            • sarahsmith232

              She was claiming in 2012/13, she was in a relationship with her Policewoman partner then. The 18month period when she was claiming, and also claiming to be unable to afford food, was when she was in relationship. Neither here nor there what gender the person was, this person was earning a good wage, EXTREMELY unlikely that her partner would have let her and the kid constantly starve during this.
              Also, in 2013 when the Benefit Agency got wind of the Penguin book deal they cut her housing benefit. She wrote that the money hadn’t dropped into her bank account yet and so had had to move into a house share, sharing with 5 other people, her and the kid having to share one room because of this. Hello, this was in 2013, she was in a relationship with a Policewoman then, do you REALLY think that someone who is only waiting for the Penguin cheque to come through and is in a relationship with a good earner would do this? REALLY? You believe that? The girl is a liar, she screams fraud.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Of course there could have been a boyfriend. Why not? Do you suppose lesbians never have, or had, boyfriends, or indeed that gay man never have, or had, girlfriends. You should definitely get around more.

            • sarahsmith232

              On believing in media directed social caricatures – Luv’, I lived in Chorlton in the 90s, that’s not going to mean anything to you, so, this was it’s nickname – ‘the Lesbian capital of Europe’. Believe me, you didn’t get to live, work and socialise in Chorlton back then and come out the other end of that so unconnected to the homosexual community that you still need to ‘get around more’.
              The reason why you needed to have this explained to you is because you’re a Left-wing sheep. The only reason why there are people that disagree with you is because these are people who are ignorant. The reason why you believe this is because you are unobservant, the Guardian & BBC play into this empty space where observed opinion should reside and fill that vacuum with idiotic caricatures. Due to your mind being an empty space, they’ve brainwashed you. In future just comment using the word baah, it will have about as much worth.

              • Fergus Pickering

                You got me wrong, dearie. I haven’t read the Guardian since the cricket correspondent was Denys Rowbotham. That would be around 1965 or so. And as for the Beeb I don’t believe a word of it. I was going to vote Labour in 1970 but stayed in the pub far too long and didn’t vote at all. Since then, nada, I assure you. Tory to my bootstraps. You suppose that everybody has his opinions in bundles. If you know as much as you say you do about lesbians then you must know that a boyfriend or two is on the cards. And if you don’t, as I said, you should get around more

                • sarahsmith232

                  If you’re on the Right and only too quick to believe that those that are opposed to benefit dependency are too ignorant to know any better then what on earth is going on with you? You presumed I wouldn’t know anything about lesbians for no better reason that I know this Monroe is a fraud and a liar.
                  My views conjured up a social type for you, this social type has been implanted not observed. The lot that did the implanting are the BBC & the Guardian. If you’re not even on the Left then that’s doubly brainwashed.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  How can I be brainwashed by what I do’t read and don’t see? However I may have been guilty of misjudgement. I often am. I think it is better if people are not dependent n benefits.But for some, living as we do, there is no choice. I am sure you would agree to that.

                • sarahsmith232

                  Not v.believable that someone would not watch the BBC.
                  The holes in this Monroe’s story are crater sized. She’s wrote that she was supposed to be marrying her partner sometime around now, yet only 7/8 months ago she wrote that she had to move into a house share with 5 strangers, her and the kid sharing one room ’cause her cheque from Penguin hadn’t come through yet and the housing benefit had stopped.
                  Now who on earth could believe that???? Only months away from marrying and living with your life partner you are made move out of a nice flat to move into a house share with strangers and share a bedroom with your kid? This is such absolutely beyond believable it’s ridiculous. This person is a liar and a fraud, on a monumental scale, absolute outright fact. The Policewoman would prob’ have been living with her during all of this, so committing a crime by living rent free courtesy the UK taxpayer.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I do watch Have I Got News For You, but when it’s on Dave. And I watch the foreign serials on BBC4 on Saturday Nights. But I don’t think that counts. What else would I watch on the BBC?

                • sarahsmith232

                  Actually, anyway, her whole story is bogus anyway, ’cause as is displayed all too well by Benefits Street, the issue with benefits is that they’re too generous. Love White Dee but one thing she just goes to prove – on benefits starvation is just about the last issue they’ll face.
                  This Monroe was writing that she had to feed herself and the kid on £10pw for the whole 18months. Er, why? She would have had a lot more than that to feed the kid with, she was a single mum on benefits in 2012/13, the hand outs are extremely generous, really no reason to starve.
                  When is there going to be an expose, this female is lying through her teeth. Almost written in stone that in actual fact she was living with her in employment partner throughout all of this. It wouldn’t be too difficult to expose them, prob’, the policewoman prob’ get a sentence though for setting a bad example.

                • sarahsmith232

                  But the deal is the benefits system is encouraging dependency. How do you sort the deserving from the not, it’s not possible. If you saw the effects on the North it would break your heart. Salford makes me want to cry, I’ve travelled to parts of the developing world, Salford is a mile worse. Manchester is circled by a 5mile doughnut of long-term welfare dependency going out in all directions and the effects have been catastrophic. It’s turned the place into a violent, sub-human zoo. Actually it’s worse, it’s an insult to the civility witnessed in the animal world to associate them with it.
                  Decades of Labour party socialism has absolutely destroyed the North, Labour knows it, they know what kind of effects this has had on people psychologically but they know it’s the only thing keeping people voting for them. She’s doing her bit to maintain it, she needs to be exposed.

                • Kitty MLB

                  ‘ I have travelled to parts of the developing world,
                  Salford is a lot worse’.
                  Do you actually know what extreme poverty is,
                  What parts of the developing world did you visit-
                  you mentioned parts- the ones that were not too bad.
                  I lived in India for several years, no benefits system there.
                  It was dreadfully ‘ sub- human’ the word you use.
                  People, even children forgotten, stepped over, living in the most
                  dreadful conditions and with dreadful diseases.
                  Its such a part of society that its treated like the norm.
                  Yes Labour destroyed our manufacturing industry in the North,
                  it destroyed the entire country. just please do not
                  say we are similar to the developing world.

                • sarahsmith232

                  Haven’t lived in India but did spend 5months there back in the 90s. Oh, I’d say for sure Salford is worse. Now I know that could be ripped apart ’cause of the NHS but from the point of view of everyday social interaction and people’s mental state, oh worse and then some.
                  You are a female, you shouldn’t be writing about the effects of welfare from such a superficial male brain angle. We’re supposed to only understand welfare in terms of numbers, the money, how much does it buy, what does it buy, if can buy in abundance then good, if not, then bad. This is ’cause males, they have their plus points, ability to understand human behaviour when it has been stripped of a profit motive, is not one of them. Politicians and economists are mainly male so they’re getting to dictate the limits of this issue. Check confused and disorientated male BBC reporters faces when reporting on that clean and attractive Karen Matthews Yorkshire council estate saying ‘Why did she do it, this is not an area with a lot of deprivation’.

                • sarahsmith232

                  I seem to have been marked out as being really very bad. My comments are taking forever to upload now, must be putting through the – ‘Jeez, are we going to get sued?’ moderator computer system. So, apologies if they’re a bit long winded and going on, didn’t realise that they’d get uploaded at some point.
                  Enjoy your day, and do try and exercise some judgment when you’re next watching that BBC dear.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Moll Flanders eat your heart out.

        • Fergus Pickering

          If she is advertising for Sainsburys and writing a book or money, surely you should approve utterly. She is getting wage by using her talents, like David Beckham. Let us hope the same career beckons for White Dee. She would no longer be, or probably live, on Benefits Street. Incidentally, in her shoes I wouldn’t get a crappy job for no money either. Would you?.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Absolutely! They should make White Dee a Benefits Tsar, invite her to No.10 for a photo opportunity with Cameron and create a law called White Dee’s Law that prevents future governments reducing the benefits bill. And it is important that she should take part in the televised debates of the party leaders before the next election.

      Well at least until the next ‘national treasure’ is identified by the sleb generation . . .

      • Noa

        I feel proud to have contributed to every surplus wobblnig pound that White Dee shakes on behalf of the urban poor.

      • Marie Louise Noonan

        the ‘sleb’ generation? you mean the ‘baby boomers’?

        • anncalba

          The “sleb genberation” are those born since 1980 or thereabouts, definately not baby boomers.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Oh please. `like the Boomers were untouched by celebrity. Beatle mania anyone?

            The generation that came before the Baby Boomers were called The Greatest Generation for a very good reason.

            But I can see what they are trying to do…

    • Ian Walker

      The pensioners who have ‘paid their way’ also benefited from high quality selective education, huge house building programmes followed by the right-to-buy, free and universal health care, free university education and easy credit.

      Their children and grandchildren will pay the same taxes and receive none of the above, because it will all be going towards paying the bill for it that was continually put on the never-never.

      • Wessex Man

        what world were you living in then? High quality selective education, no pre school for me or any of my siblings, the village school with two full time teachers and one part-time to look after 58 kids 5 to 11! Council Estate built in the 1950s to accomodate London evacuees, who had no homes to go back to 10 years after the war and no more built since. Free and universal health care, a local Doctor, who was an Army Dentist in the war who had to cover the nine villages in his patch! Free University education, no one from my village or any of the other nine actually went to University because we had to get jobs to support the family, only if we were lucky getting to the local Technical College, I starting working in the mornings before school at the age of ten and we certainly never had easy credit anywhere, I can though remember my mother’s Co-op number!

        Despite all of that we were cared for by our families who would rather go hungry than claim off the state and we, our generation grew up to become big wage earners by our own toil and brains and paid big taxes into the bargain!

        You were either a pampered little rich boy or weren’t there!

        • Tom M

          You forgot to tell him that their were a consderable number of children without fathers, just like today but for different reasons.
          My personal horror was reminding myself that we used to collect live ammunition from around the area and save it for Guy Fawkes night. Health and safety dream on.

        • Weaver


          Respectfully, in aggregate, the boomers took/are taking more out of the welfare system than they ever paid in, unlike generations X and Y ever will. I don’t blame them for it, but those are the numbers.

          • terregles2

            Well they never got working tax credits or help towards childcare. Many people now receive more in tax credits per month than the state pension is.
            What do pensioners get now. Most of them have worked solidly for almost 50 years have never been unemployed . Fifty years of paying non stop income tax and national insurance and they receive a very modest state pension. Fifty years of non stop contributions and some people even grudge them a bus pass.
            When people complain about the retirement age being raised they should remember many pensioners started full time work at 15 not when they were over 20 as is often the case now.

            • Weaver


              Respectfully, this may be hard to accept without a finance background, but boomer pensioners, on average, barely paid enough to cover the cost of the basic state pension over their working life, let alone the state additonal pension or the cost of those on central or local government pensions. Amongst other things, they tended to retire earlier and live longer than the original planners provided for.

              I’m not commenting on whether this is good or bad, or what to do about it. Those are just the numbers, make what you will of them.

              • terregles2

                I do not disagree with what you say but the baby boomers contributed a substantial portion of their earnings to their pensions.Instead of younger people blaming the baby boomers they should recognise the BB are victims of a combination of incompetent politicians, bankers and companies such as Equitable Life and the Robert Maxwell Pension fiasco etc.
                People may retire from work but the taxman never retires and pensionsers who have more than the minimum income still pay tax. Many BB are still very acive in their communities doing voluntary work and those who are in part time paid employed still contribute to society through taxation direct and indirect.
                Younger people should be glad that they ge such gd support in raising their families and don’t lay the problems of long term pension funding

        • Fergus Pickering

          You didn’t have to be rich, just richer than you.You were obviously poor and your strictures are just Incidentally, why are rich boys always little? Aren’t all boys little? Aren’t poor ones generally littler. Having said that, it is true that my North London primary school had classes of 45 and no teaching assistants. God knows what happened to the kids at the bottom end. Thugh, come to that my best friend WAS at the bottom end. What became of him I wonder. We were parted for ever at nine when my father got a job in Edinburgh where the education was superior (though that wasn’t the reason for the move). There the primary classes were only thirty-six.

          • Wessex Man

            My parents were honest God fearing working class people who worked hard and provided very well for us, out of the four of us my elder sister went to Grammer purely on academic achivement as did I, my other sister was taken on by the local Hotel and became a Chef.

            None of us asked anything from the State, nor did many of our friends, without any help from the State I was able to retire on my own private pension at 55 as did many others in my area. We worked damned hard for every thing we had and have and I’ll take no lectures from Ian Walker or you about anything we may receive from the State.

            It’s not the retired that pulling every stunt in the book to squeeze the State dry and are too bone idle to get off their *****!

            • Fergus Pickering

              I don’t think I have ever lectured you on that topic.

              • Wessex Man

                That’s certainly what your little homily read to me.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Come, come. I said your strictures were just. Don’t you read the things you criticize?

            • Marie Louise Noonan

              This has been the case since the early 1980s.

              Look at the popular culture of the period: Carla Lane’s ‘Bread’. That song by wham that said something about ‘I am a man. Job or no job you can’t tell me that I’m not. Do you enjoy what you do? If not, just stop. Don’t stay there and rot.’

              On Youtube there is a documentary looking at poverty and benefit dependency in the UK. It was made in 1996.

        • Kitty MLB

          Indeed people used to take care of themselves.
          The welfare system was created for people who
          needed a helping hand during difficult times,
          it was not supposed to be a life choice.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            All that changed in around 1985, I think.

            • Kitty MLB

              The problem we also have now we have Mary- Louise
              is that as we know, people cannot afford to work,.
              I remember when Gordon Brown ( bless him- not! )
              Was out and about before the last election.
              He asked a young lady if she were working class,
              and she said no she had never worked- Gordon
              scuttled off tail between legs.

      • Liberty

        The current generation of youngsters have less because successive governments have over-spent, over-borrowed and over-inflated our wealth leaving nothing. The last [Labour government] went so far over the top that it is not enough to inflate [that is, take people’s savings to pay it off] it away. The money earned in the 1990s and 2000s was ‘invested’ by the banks in the eurozone and American subprime which are now technically bust. Add in the consequences of investment now getting better returns from technology than workers and the young are suffering.

      • Kitty MLB

        If true, you can blame the Labour party for that,
        they created the benefit lifestyle where people take no responsibility,
        or a care for future generations.
        You cannot blame pensioners, they paid their taxes and I might add
        were robbed by Gordon Brown.

        • terregles2

          Some were lost a lot through private pension companies such as Equitable Life.

          • Kitty MLB

            Indeed. Good point.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          No they didn’t.

          This stuff was happening in the 1980s.

      • terregles2

        I agree the over 65’s did benefit from the points you have listed however many over 65’s had to take mortgages before the right to buy council houses at knock down prices came about. They had mortgages in the 1970’s and early 80’s when interest rates were eye wateringly high. Many of them had low paid jobs with no working tax credit help.People with children and low wages got very little state support. There was no subsidised child care and no child friendly work places. The 70’s were a decade when it was quite acceptable for an employer to ask a woman at an interview when she intended to start a family. Women were very often paid less than men. Part-time female workers were not allowed to join a pension scheme. Many older women who are now pensioners and are divorced or widowed have a very low income in retirement. When people are talking about everything the pensioners get now they should remember that they did not get their part-time wages topped up by the government simply for having children. Nobody is suggesting that people now should not get working tax credits etc but when making comparisons we should remember that although their were many benefits from the past that have disappeared they have been replaced by some others.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          The working tax credits were NuLabour’s way of bringing everyone into the fold.

          • terregles2

            Was it not to support big business by subsidising low wages. I’m sure it went down well with many companies and helped to drive the wage bill down.
            Just as much of the benefit money is passed over to private landlords. You could argue that the biggest beneficeries of our tax money are not the unemployed or those on a low wage but big business and wealthy private landlords.

    • SgtVimes

      You clearly weren’t watching the same programme as I was. Of the guests I expected Katie Hopkins to be the most controversial and offer the least to the debate but Edwina showed her how low you can stoop to avoid losing an argument.

      After her appallingly inaccurate piece in the Spectator last week we should have expected Ms Currie to seek to defend her stance but not to disrupt what debate there was through aggressive haranguing. Jack Monroe has a lot of experience working with food banks but due to Edwina’s relentless attacks was only given time to defend her family (which wasn’t and should never have been an issue).

      My lasting memory of the programme will always be the sight of the inept Matthew Wright trying to move the programme on and deliver a piece to camera while Edwina, leaning forward in her chair, veins bulging in her neck repeatedly shouts “get a job” at two members of the audience.
      If we asked a foreigner whether Edwina or Deirdre Kelly (Benefits Street’s White Dee) were a former Minister in the UK Government suspect that the vast majority would have assumed it was Ms Kelly.

      • Watt_A_Pryke

        I would be lost without the help of the local food bank and the soup kitchen in Co Kildare.

    • Makroon

      And nobody, except Fraser Nelson and your good self, ever watches Channel 5. Yawn.

    • tjmac7

      “I sincerely hope for our children’s and grand children’s sake that White Dee is not going to be held as some kind of national treasure” two words…. Jade Goody.

      • SgtVimes

        I agree but she’s still preferable as a national treasure than either Hopkins or Currie.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          Poor Norma.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Poor Jade Goody didn’t last long, did she? Nor did that other national treasure, Princess Di, poor unfortunate ignorant women that they both were.

        • Kitty MLB

          Mr Pickering. What a ungracious, spiteful, and snobbish post.
          One is not inferior or superior to another because
          of the fortunes or misfortunes of birth, opportunities ( or lack of) wealth or frailty of character ( education is a different matter).
          ‘They did not last long did they’- what a sneering remark
          and a lack of respect for death- Do terrorists feel the same I wonder?
          People of your generation who lived through WW2,
          came across many who did not last long.
          My Mother died very young, and my friends son will
          be gone by Easter.If I become so miserable, ungrateful,
          sour faced, and whinging, I hope my Husband shoots me
          like a pheasant.

          • Fergus Pickering

            No, you entirely misread me. There was no sneering. I meant what I said.Look at the previous post. They were deserving of pity. What is sneering about that?

            • Swanky

              Emotional, isn’t she?

              • Fergus Pickering

                Aren’t we all?

                • Swanky

                  Not quite like that, no. I’ve been on blogs a long time, and it cools you down. I’m pretty hard to flap at this point.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  A very Jeeves of the blogosphere!

                • Swanky


        • Marie Louise Noonan

          And Edwina Currie is some kind of intellectual colossus, is she?

          I’d suggest you read her diaries but I’m reluctant to inflict that on anyone. That’s a half hour of my life I won’t get back.

          I recall a debate Ms Currie was involved in during the ‘Jade Goody’ debacle. She said: ‘those girls are slags.’ I guess it takes one to know one.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I have no opinion of Edwina Currie, I assure you. And I do feel sorry for Jade Goody. Who would not?

            • Marie Louise Noonan

              I seem to remember something about eggs, salmonella, resigning and being stupendously cr*p at her job.

              As for Ms. Goody: she’d have been better off sticking to her job as a dental nurse

              • Fergus Pickering

                Yes I remember eggs. Averagely crap I would have said. But what everybody remembers surely is that she got inside John Major’s underpants. I imagine by goingon and on and on about it.

                Jade Goody would surely have died anyway. If she got brief pleasure from her fame then I am pleased for her.

    • westerby1

      You say you find it very distasteful that pensioners are lumped together with other welfare recipients as they have paid their way, but, have they all? It is entirely possible for someone to have never worked, or worked very little, to qualify for a state pension. If a person is unemployed, and claims jobseekers allowance, they receive national insurance contributions for as long as they are eligible for the benefit. These contributions enable them to claim a state pension when they reach the appropriate age.

      Also, what about people who have worked for many years who lose their jobs, or become ill /disabled, in their late 50’s or early 60’s? Are you saying they are less entitled to claim jobseekers allowance or employment and support allowance than a 65 year old is to claim a pension? Both these benefits would be, for them, contributions based, just like the state pension, so they too have paid their way, have they not?

      The state pension alone accounts for 50% of the benefit bill, if one factors in other benefits that pensioners claim: Housing benefit, council tax benefit, pension credit, disability living allowance, attendance allowance etc etc then 75% of the total benefit spend goes to pensioners (DWP statistics) I do not begrudge pensioners 1p by the way I will be one myself in 7 years!

      The problem with programmes such as this is they tend to include people from the extremes of both sides of the argument, so debate is almost impossible. White Dee, Jack Monroe and the young lady shouting “give me a job innit” are no more representative of most benefit claimants, than I, or you, are of most women. Not all benefit claimants are as they ar3e often potrayed: lazy, overweight, uneducated, chain smoking, booze guzzling,tattooed, drugged up single mothers of eight glued to their 40″ televisions. Neither are they all maths graduates,well-read,fitness fanatics, church goers who apply for every job they see and spend all their spare time doing charity work.

      Benefit claimants are as diverse as society as a whole, but, if you want to make a good tv show, or a good newspaper headline, you choose extreme stereotypes, light the blue touch paper, stand back and enjoy the fireworks!

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      younger people tend not to think much of so called ‘national treasures’ anyway.

      that’s the boomers for you.

      (wasn’t that Jimmy Savile bloke a national treasure at some point?)

      Edwina Currie is about as *socially* conservative as my dead cat.
      (and take a look at her party’s record while in office.)

    • Tethys

      The programme and host were indeed abysmal with one notable exception- that the debate (sorry- row) was interspersed with statistical FACTS – not that this seemed to matter to the bigoted among the panellists.

  • Jez

    I was doing some college work in the kitchen and heard the commotion on the tv.

    It just seems politically ignorant, but decent working class people that are force fed feel important worthless diatribe on a daily basis. They seemed stunned into a complete confusion on ways happening but at the same time think they’re on top of the game.

    The media, education system and the rest of the propagandists have done a sterling job.

    The elephant sits constantly in the room. Everyone is oblivious of its presence and anyone tries to tell the rest it’s there are utterly destroyed.

  • Justin Black

    I enjoyed your blogpost. Very entertaining. I hope you are right when you say that the welfare reform debate is about to break out of the confines of Westminster because if that proves to be the case, there is a fair chance that the ordinary voter will discover just how badly claimants are now being treated. Then, I think, the polls will change. Bring it on.

    • Makroon

      You assume that the general public (and particularly hard-pressed working people), has no personal, and very bitter, experience of massive benefit fraud/exploitation, and will just suck up the latest Labour stunt. Stand by to be disappointed.
      How many times does “socialism” have to be repudiated before you people get the message ?
      Labour under Balls and Red, is like the Conservatives under Hague – stubbornly convinced that the public will vote for an extreme agenda.

  • Ste

    The whole problem with shows like this is it’s designed to set extremes against each other with no regard for sensible discussion of debate and opinion. It also indicates a problem with society at large, that this kind of program holds more sway with the general electorate than something like Daily Politics or Newsnight.

    Whilst in a way it’s good that mainstream TV is willing to broadcast such a debate, it’s also very notable that our political system is now following the exact same trait of “my opinion is right and I will shout down everyone who disagrees”.

    As long as trumpets such as Hopkins and Currie are given airtime, as well as the trumpets on the opposite end of the spectrum, there can never be sensible debate. I think it would be best for all concerned if we were to end these adversarial-type shows and return to one-to-one interviewing. Although that wouldn’t be very entertaining so I don’t expect Channel 5 to take my idea up.

    • m montgomery

      and who should they interview ian duncan smith

    • Colonel Mustard

      One to one interviewing is also partisan. Mouthpieces of the right invariably get a much harder time than mouthpieces on the left and in contrast attract opprobrium rather than rational-based criticism (IDS, Gove). I have seen Labour’s mouthpieces escape even the mildest challenge when indulging in the most outrageous dissembling and hypocrisy.

  • Anita Bellows

    Don’t you think that public opinion might be different if the media has allowed people like Dee to make their case?

    • Ste

      Not for one second – the opinion was made clear by the right-wing trumpets, and is the position that right-wing media will take: it doesn’t matter how hard you look for work, it’ll never be hard enough to satisfy the trolls.

      On the bright side, it was nice to see Matthew Wright at least bring up the issue of tax evasion and avoidance, as it gave Eggwina Currie another chance to show she knows nothing about the economy – to claim that the unemployment benefits bill is bigger than the amount lost to tax evasion alone is completely incorrect.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “to claim that the unemployment benefits bill is bigger than the amount lost to tax evasion alone is completely incorrect.”

        Hmm. Mr Murphy is hardly impartial (he works for the TUC amongst other things) and asserts those figures are based on his own ‘estimates’ and that the tax evasion figures are ’embraced’ by the EU whatever that means.

        On the other hand the government’s own figures suggest that of the £32 billion tax gap in 2010-11 £9 billion was due to tax evasion or avoidance whereas the Chancellor announced on 26 October 2010 that the benefits bill was £200 billion.

      • Andy

        More ‘lefty’ drivel. You are conflating two things. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and something you probably indulge in, so why you doing it ? Tax evasion is illegal and a crime. Please produce figures to back up your claim that tax evasion is rife.

      • SgtVimes

        Amount lost to benefit fraud £1.2bn
        Amount lost by DWP due to overpayment and error £1.4bn
        Amount in benefits unclaimed £16bn
        HMRC estimate of tax avoided, evaded or uncollected £30bn
        Tax Justice Network estimate of tax avoided, evaded or uncollected £120bn

        • AndrewS

          Tax evasion, as in, illegally, not declaring taxable income or gains is extensively carried out by people claiming benefits. Have you got any statistics as to what proportion falls into this category?

          By the way conflating evasion with, avoidance and uncollected tax is just stupid.

        • Weaver

          You’re confabulating evasion and avoidance, repeatedly. Stop it. It’s plain dishonest.

  • JRH

    Sorry, Fraser! I usually like to read your articles through to the end, but some subjects are too much. I got to the end of the first paragraph, and popped down here to your comment section to say just two things:

    First, I’m sorry you had to go through an evening of that. I don’t know entirely what ‘that’ entailed, but your first paragraph was enough to suggest it was nothing that an educated, civilised and sentient human being should be put through.

    And second, when this sort of event is put on the television and pantomime characters are included (not you!), it is clear that the programme makers have no interest in the substance of the debate, let alone serious answers. In such circumstances, my advice is that you would be better served to simply stay away and continue reporting the real issues as you do every day on here and in other places.

    • m montgomery

      who were the pantomime characters Hopkins and curry

  • Agrippina

    Fraser I cannot understand your fascination with Dee. Did you watch the recent episode in which Fungi was explaining to us about his time on the streets. How he was sleeping in a doorway and his daughter found him, but he did not follow his daughter, as his need for heroin, was greater than his duty to his child.

    He went onto to tell us he has 3 children with 3 different women. He tried to contact the aforementioned daughter aged 23, she has blocked his number. Then he claimed that the adoptive parents of his 6yr old son said he could meet him the following day. Dee supposedly spent some time trying to wake him up for the meeting, before he eventually emerged to tell us that they had cancelled.

    Dee’s response, that’s disgusting he is his father and should be allowed to see his son. What is the son to make of this strange, smelly, dirty man (still on methadone, no bath) who appears and perhaps will disappear just as quickly, how unsettling for the child and disruptive. So instead of looking at the issue from the child’s viewpoint your heroine Dee could only see it from her friends’ side. You really need to look closely at her relationship with her own children hardly functional, asking them if they wanted to grow up and go on the dole. They both stated they wanted to work, much to her surprise. I do hope they both make it out of that dump and faraway as possible.

    • m montgomery

      maybe she was concerned at how not being able to see his son had affected him at the moment ,

    • Dave Wainwright

      Had you watched the programme and debate you would have heard how White Dee is ill , she has mental health problems and is sick . Addiction is also a disease but lack of empathy and human compassion is not .

      • Makroon

        Don’t waste your sympathy – she is already a Sleb, and with a bit of judicious “marketing” is probably on her way to her first million.

        • SgtVimes

          Are you talking about “White Dee” or rent-a-bigot Hopkins? If Deirdre Kelly earned anything from last night’s show she will have to declare it and have her benefits adjusted accordingly. I bet Currie and Hopkins would have had theirs paid to a corporation in Jersey to avoid the tax.

          • Makroon

            I expect that some smart huckster/lawyer is presently explaining to “Dee” that she won’t have to worry about benefits anymore, if she just signs this lucrative agreement to appear on Tele.

        • Fergus Pickering

          If so then she will be off Benefits. You should applaud her. I expect a lot of money would work wondrs with her depression too. And the kids would come well out of it. A win-win situation I would have thought.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          Well if life hands you lemons…

    • Makroon

      Fraser has the “Gladstonian tendency”. He is morbidly fascinated by the underclass. Perhaps he should spend more time worrying about the virtuous working strugglers.

      • Agrippina

        Agreed, Fraser wouldn’t actually invite them to stay with him and to try and assist them.

    • sarahsmith232

      Your post just goes to show how easy it is for these media sorts to brainwash. I’ve not watched the last couple of episodes but the first 2 were staged throughout. Extremely unlikely that this meeting with the adoptive parents was ever agreed to in the first place. It would have been all a set up, Fungi would have been given drink and cigs to add lib’ his part. Her reaction is her playing her part, the crew would have told her to react like that.

      • Agrippina

        Agreed, the notion that out of the blue the adoptive parents would have contacted him is highly unlikely, especially if they are any good at assessing the needs of the child. The disruption it would cause to all their lives would be very damaging. The rotten tv production company must have been involved in some way. Fungi, needs to come off methadone, clean up his act and make his home habitable before any considersation given to his needs. His first wife had his measure and told us he is a waster.

        As to Dee, she is a very angry volatile person she shouts and is v aggressive at home, her son is watchful of her, and her daughter parents her. The daughter told us her medication makes her difficult but they can deal with it, poor kids. I just hope they both make it out of that lifestyle for there own sanity.

    • ann jones

      i agree with everything you are saying the so called white dee should not have been on that show she should be looking after her children and maybe just maybe she should get off her back side and clean her house.

      • Agrippina

        If she suffers with depression, part of getting better is to do things, simple stuff, like cleaning, going for a walk, reading a book, a change of routine, she does nothing to help herself. Living in that dump would depress all of us.

        I wonder if Fraser would allow her to babysit his kids, puffing away all the time, I doubt it somehow.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Well of course he wouldn’t,let her babysit his children but what’s that got do do with it. He was showing why it doesn’t pay her to go to work. And it doesn’t, does it? Ian Duncan Smith is on the right track, isn’t he?

  • Tron

    Terry Christian is smart and quick witted so he must know he is talking crap. Is he just doing it for effect or out of habit?

  • Dogzzz

    When you take money off people who work, to pay people to not work. The economy can only suffer.

    • Sue Jones

      That’s not how it works. Most people on benefit have worked too and and taxes. That’s how social security works. Your money is taken off you to handout to the millionaires, who have had £107,000 each per year under the tories and are set to get another tax break hand out

      • Vindice

        You may be well-intentioned and compassionate but your reasoning is flawed. You are not following the logic of your own argument. You are blinded by hatred. Hatred is making you more stupid than you need to be.

        Having paid tax is irrelevant. Compare the sum costs of your care when you are elderly, infirm, pregnant, on trial, etc. against your contribution to state finances at the point at which you cease working. Paying rent to your landlord for 5 years does not entitle you to halt payments and take possession of his house.

        It is only under the Tories that those earning over £150k have paid the rate of 50% tax. The rate was introduced in 2010 and Labour were removed from office in 2010. The rate was reduced in the 2012 budget to 45%. This is higher than the top rate of tax during 13 years of Labour government. Under the coalition the tax-free allowance was raised £1000. This increases the wealth of those on low wages.

        You want what you perceive to be justice and you have the dumb arrogance to believe that the state can deliver justice. How much evidence do you need that socialism leads to cruelty and decay? Believing that you have a monopoly on good intentions and sustaining this belief by demonising your enemies does not make you right.

        • SgtVimes

          And of course Captialism has been such a force for good. Just ask those poor people in the Bangladesh sweat shops making clothes for UK chains, or the Chinese workers making smart phones, or the children working in sugar plantations to supply soft drink manufacturers.

          • Nick

            I have been to lots of Chinese factories to check on labour conditions and what you seem unable to grasp is that most of these workers choose to work in a factory rather than work barefoot in a rice paddy. I recently visited a shoe factory to check for underage labour (the youngest person I found was seventeen, which is ok by me) and I was struck by the care nearly everyone took over their appearance – clothes, hairstyles (men and women) etc. This factory makes trainers aimed at the lower end of the domestic market, selling them to people who a generation ago would have owned a pair of flip-flops and two generations ago wouldn’t have had any shoes at all. If you would rather send these people back to subsistence farming and the barter trade I saw in rural China when I first went there nearly thirty years ago, then I would suggest you are being a touch condescending.

            • La Fold

              Correct, in fact in Malaysia jobs in the factories that manufacture clothing and shoes for mostly a western market are the most sought after because they pay the highest wages in that sector. So much so that being a foreman there is highly lucrative due to the bribes people are willing to pay to get a job there. But then again like Sgt Vimes we should maybe condemn everyone to a life of subsistence farming just like the good old days!

          • Colonel Mustard

            Chinese workers are employed under a communist government in a single party state which has paradoxically embraced ‘Captialism’ (sic). Few with any experience of China prior to that paradox emerging would assert that those workers are not now better off. It is their civil liberties which are deprived now and that is down to the ideology of socialism not Captialism (sic).

          • Rocksy

            Of course. That these countries have adopted capitalism after decades of socialist misery and squalor and changed dramatically the living standard of their people including the opening up of these countries to the rest of the world is a complete mystery to me.

          • Ridcully

            “Just ask those poor people in the Bangladesh sweat shops making clothes for UK chains, or the Chinese workers making smart phones…”
            (sent from my iPad)

          • Weaver


            You have no idea of the horror of subsistence agriculture and its mortality. You’re 10 generations removed from pre-industrial times and don’t understand the poverty the vast majority of the human race has always endured.

            Seriously, those people are the lucky ones.

          • Wessex Man

            Bet they are glad they weren’t in a Gulag or on the wrong side of Mao’s five year plans though.

        • Makroon

          She may be “well intentioned and compassionate” …… but much more likely she is just another Labour troll on a mission to boost their latest stunt. As if Balls cares for these “lost souls”, as if …

      • Andy

        Don’t talk such utter drivel. Most people are net beneficiaries of the State, not contributors to it. That is why we need radical reform. And you can cut all this tax breaks for millionaires crap, which is straight off a Fascist Labour Party press release. We should have a Flat Tax to stop evil people like you confiscating other peoples property.

      • Fergus Pickering

        That is not accurate, is it. They have had nothing. They have paidl ess tax. Actually they haven’t done thateither. They have paid more tax since the tax under Labour was 40%.I don’t like rich bankers either but unles you consider everybody’s earnings as belonging to the State then your post is silly. What is the correct rate of tax for YOU?

    • m montgomery

      most people on benefits have worked and paid NATIONAL INSURANCE most people on benefits work but have to have there meager wages topped up to be able to afford to go to work

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