Sunday 27 September 2009

Labour follows the Daily Mail's flow on benefits, says Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee has accused the Labour Party of pandering to the Daily Mail's agenda on benefits. Speaking at the Fabian Society's 'Do Brits Hate Benefits?' debate, the Guardian columnist criticised the Mail's negative coverage of families and individuals who receive benefits, saying:

It's always so easy for the Daily Mail to produce shameful pictures. Labour has failed to make the case that these are anecdotes and stories, and failed to talk about the experience of most people who are poor. Labour could have done much more and has taken fright and gone with the flow of the Daily Mail.

When questioned by Tim Horton, research director of the Fabian Society, Toynbee immediately discounted the idea that journalists would see a moral responsibility to present a balanced and nuanced appraisal of the benefits system.

Journalists never feel like they have any responsibility. The terms of engagement with the media mean you are dealing with a force of nature, mostly malevolent. On the whole that's the problem. I never have any illusions about the press, it's not about what should the public know.

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