Thursday 30 July 2009

The Labour/BBC narrative

This BBC report has all the hallmarks of a joint Labour/BBC operation. The article starts:
"It is "unacceptable" that two million pensioners in the UK are still living in poverty, a group of MPs says.

The Work and Pensions Committee says the figure is a third lower than it was in 1997, but wants ministers to commit to ending pensioner poverty altogether. "
Sounds laudable? But what is the definition of "pensioner poverty"? A little further down we learn that
"One in five pensioners in the UK are classed as living in relative poverty. "
So "pensioner poverty" is a relative measure; relative to what? If it is relative to other pensioners then how can "pensioner poverty" ever be ended?

The article includes this:
"Committee chairman Terry Rooney said: "The government has committed to eradicating child poverty, now they need to commit to eradicating pensioner poverty."
I know "child poverty" is a relative measure and so eradicable, is the same true for "pensioner poverty"?

The BBC bring in a quotation from the Labour minister who is willing to spout some tractor stats:
"Responding to the report, Pensions Minister Angela Eagle said more than 900,000 pensioners had been lifted out of poverty since 1997."
A definition of "lifted out of poverty" would be useful and also a figure for how many pensioners had "fallen into poverty" since 1997; somehow I don't think Angela Eagle is quoting a net figure.

Of course this story is really about something else entirely; it's about Gordon Brown being able to say that whilst Labour wants to end "pensioner poverty", the old-Etonian Conservatives want to impoverish all pensioners. The BBC know this and are happily complicit.

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