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Friday, 25 April 2014

The rot at the root of the Mail's anti-foodbank campaign must be challenged

‘Foodbank’ is a word now synonymous with economic recovery in the UK.
So it was only a matter of time before the Mail on Sunday decided to do a hatchet job on one. It was heartening to see a strong backlash against the story.
But aside from this, what is it in our collective psyche that makes it possible to believe that there really are people out their vying to rip off foodbanks?
I have a feeling that it is this assumption that the Mail and poverty porn producers like 'Love Productions' feed on. 
The following exchange I had with a well-meaning Labour councillor in Brighton illustrates what I mean.
(NB - Emma seems to be a decent and compassionate politician who has done a lot to support foodbanks in Brighton and to highlight the issues surrounding them).
Has anyone ever ripped off a foodbank? If they have, does it matter? If we don't question this assumption then, notwithstanding the backlash, the Mail wins.
At this level it has successfully ensured the continued stigmatisation of social security claimants and poor people generally by fuelling the notion that foodbank users contain amongst their users individuals who will rip off charities for material gain.
The Mail is like a malignantly narcissistic abuser, it excels at projecting the evil at its own heart onto everything around it. 
David Wearing puts it into ideological context. 
It's not enough to condemn what the Mail did, we also need to contest the malignancy at the root of it.  The widely held notion that people are fundamentally dishonest, selfish free-riders is what drives the Mail’s reporting and strikes a chord with readers. This has to be challenged.

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