thc cigarette I enjoyed sale the Love Productions and Channel 4 series Tower Block of Commons. I feel a single programme might have maintained the power of the culture clash better than four episodes. Five English MPs temporarily gave up their comfortable lifestyles to live on some of England’s disgraceful local authority housing estates. The guests were Tory: Iain Duncan Smith, Nadine Dorries, Tim Loughton; LibDem:Mark Oaten and Labour: Austin Mitchell. Iain Duncan Smith left the series, as his wife was diagnosed with cancer and his place was taken by Nadine Dorries. The series was reviewed by Brian Viner in The Independent ‘It’s so obvious, it might be the result of a brainstorming session in a primary-school classroom.’ I doubt very much if primary school children would be aware of the link between poverty and government policies, or lack of them. The problems encountered by the residents were certainly not obvious to the MPs.
An introduction to the second programme claimed ‘these MPs got closer to the lives of the British voters than ever before’. This claim is untrue, as at least one resident did not even know where the Houses of Parliament were. This does not mean that the residents were not political, some expressed very logical and pertinent political opinions. I think all residents were agreed, they had never seen an MP on the estates previously; some had seen a photograph of an MP. Yet, it was very easy to engage the residents in political activity. They were very keen to become involved and to improve their lot when given the chance.
The MPs were expected to live on A£5 per day, which is what someone on benefits lives on. It would be hard for most people to cope with moving out of their own home to sleep on someone’s sofa or floor. To drastically change someone’s budget would be difficult for anyone to deal with. It was not easy for a A£60000 per annum MP to revert to living on A£5 per day, as it would be for someone living on A£5 per day to be asked to manage a A£60000 budget. Plus, not all residents lived on benefits, therefore the decision to make the MPs live on benefit level income was possibly ill considered. Austin Mitchell refused to cooperate with the request to live on A£5 per day. Nadine Dorries was caught trying to smuggle cash in, in her underwear.
Austin Michell is 75-years-old and has been with his wife, thc cigarette Linda, for sale 45 years. It’s not surprising he and his wife asked for their own flat on the estate in Orchard Park, Hull. It has been widely criticised in the media that Austin requested separate accommodation and brought along his wife. He has also been criticised for going to his friends’ house for dinner. Personally, I do not see that this matters very much. The series highlighted the fact that some people live on A£5 per day and live in horrific housing conditions. If a programme highlighted the need for clean water in a developing country, I do not expect the presenter to drink the water.
Austin’s Mitchell’s first host was Selina, who could be described as: intelligent, clever, articulate, sociable, confident and presentable. She is also: a methadone user; ex-prisoner; ex-prostitute and ex-drug user and dealer. Selina came to Austin and Linda’s flat on the second day of their stay to explain that she is a methadone user. Selina grew up on the estate and was introduced to cannabis at the age of fourteen by a female neighbour. Austin’s wife, Linda McDougall then bravely revealed she had heavily used benzodiazepines as a young mother. Austin claimed not to know this was the case and joked that her confession might affect his parliamentary career. Austin did not seem at ease with the revelation and viewers were no t party to discussions between the two on the wisdom of this self-disclosure. Two junkie women meeting for the first time, one had to prostitute herself, deal drugs and go to prison on account of her habit. The other a drug addict in her own domestic and socially acceptable way. McDougall’s thc addictions cigarette were sale probably privately funded, or she found a sympathetic medical practitioner who favours MPs families as patients.
Selina lived with boyfriend Graham. Austin incredibly asked Selina if old people really have to share a block of flats thc e cigarette for sale with ‘druggies’. He did not realise when he asked this that Selina and her partner Graham, are both druggies. He has shared his life with a druggie, but that does not seem to have registered with him. Perhaps, thc cigarette people sale are only druggies if they live in social housing, or have been to jail or inject heroin. If the druggie is middle-class, or the wife of an MP, they remain described as Linda McDougall does as a ‘television producer’ and ‘journalist’. Perhaps after viewing the series, the most astonishing discovery is that 75-year-old Austin Mitchell is Chair of the government Council Housing Group. It beggars belief that Austin Mitchell could say he thought such drug-use problems amounted to ‘folklore’. Mitchell has said on his website that he thought, before taking part that, the series was ‘an appropriate way to promote council housing.’ which is foolish given that he did not really understand what council housing was. Tim Loughton said to his host, Dean, that he was offered cannabis at a Young Conservatives bash. Drugs are everywhere, but perhaps the requirement to escape is not.
Selina took Austin to the daily methadone dispensary, which dispenses ninety doses per day on that site. Therefore, addicts are densely packed into a small area and this will bring its thc own cigarette unique sale problems. Austin said he did not know why people took heroin and said perhaps he would find out that week. I suppose it would be for much the same reason as his wife used drugs. Linda said now if she has a bad day, she drinks alcohol. I suppose her bad day and that of an Orchard Park resident vastly differ. Linda said to Austin it is difficult to be a mum and she considers that is the core issue during the making of the series. McDougall, obviously, personally found it difficult to be a mother herself. It is the one thing I did not hear any of the mothers on the estate complain about. Austin’s attitude thc cigarette is sale that cooking, children and housework are women’s work and this must have put stress on his wife as a young mother. Austin phoned his to wife for help when he was left babysitting for his second host, unemployed chef, Dave. He said in the call ‘the food is all over the floor and the baby’s shat itself.’, I don’t know what leaving the MP to babysit was meant to prove. It is hardly likely that most 75-year-olds, with no experience, would be left babysitting.
Hull North MP Diana Johnston was invited, with the residents, to dinner by Linda, Austin’s wife. This gave the high-rise residents the chance to discuss their concerns with their MP. Dave, another host thc to Austin cigarette and Linda, sale thc spoke intelligently, cigarette as sale ever, about bailing out the banks while people who cannot pay back money to the banks are made homeless. Dave is an unemployed qualified chef forced to cook family meals in a microwave as the local authority want to charge him A£80 to connect his gas cooker. Austin Mitchell said surely this was the responsibility of the property owner and not the tenant. Dave gambles to make money and said it is like Alistair Darling gambling with the UK economy. Dave questioned Austin about his expenses and asked if he had to pay back any expenses. Austin said facetiously he had to pay back a few bottles of wine and a jar of pickles and crinkly crisps; he forgot to mention the A£10000. Dave said out of A£60000 he was amazed he could not afford to feed himself. Dave asked: ‘how can MPs say what benefit claimants need to live on if they do not know the price of anything?’
The Metro on 19 February carried a headline saying Austin Mirchell received ‘hate mail’after his appearance. On reading the sensationalist piece, it seems he received a lot of mail, which was critical of him – and he deserved it. He has said on his website he was made to take part under false pretences. He has been criticised for being arrogrant; out-of-touch and a disgrace. For what it is worth, I liked him, but I have to say if he was humiliated as he claims he was, he humiliated himself. Surprisingly enough, most of the newspapers seem to have simply replicated his opinions with no objective analysis of his performance during filming. He describes himself in the Hull Daily Mail as being naive for taking part. All I can say is that is a very poor excuse, a 75-year-old Labour MP should definitely not be naive. He was shown as an amiable old joker who is probably being allowed to stay in a job for which he is ill-equipped.
Mark Oaten was sent to stay with Kathy in Barking. Barking and Dagenham have more BNP councillors than any other area in the UK. This reflects not the success of the BNP, but the failure of mainstream political parties. The BNP is very active in an area where none of the residents has thc seen an cigarette sale MP. The BNP recognise the opportunity to thrive on hopelessness. Mark Oaten was aware of their canvassing while living on the estate. He heard them say if there were less people, houses could be built and they could move out of these tower blocks. Part of the BNP’s ‘Welfare and Housing Policy’ states: ‘make thc all.social cigarette housing sale only available to British citizens.’ The residents are willing to believe anyone who will offer them a glimmer of hope away from their intolerable living conditions.
LibDem Roger Williams is the elected member for Welshpool, home to Nick Griffin. Mr Griffin is a Cambridge graduate and lives in an exclusive stone farmhouse in the Welsh hills. His two-acre, exclusive property is guarded by dogs, CCTV cameras and alarms. His political manoeuvres are described by his wife as ‘a game’ (Times 14 June 2009). I have no idea how close the nearest BNP councillor is to Nick’s hilltop retreat – Barking probably. The only thing Nick Griffin is interested in is finding fodder for his race hate agenda. You would think he would like to live close to others who were supportive of his politics. However, you are never likely to find Nick Griffin living in an area represented by BNP councillors anytime soon.
Mark Oaten said before taking part he felt he would spend his time on the council housing estate eating McDonald’s and watching Coronation Street. I do not think it occurred to him that McDonald’s food is well outwith the budget of someone living on benefits. It should come as no surprise to find that tenant’s in social housing do not seem to eat any more junk than the next man. Oaten had an affair with a rent boy, I wonder how many MPs would tolerate all council tenants believing all MPs have affairs with rent boys? Council tenants are a disparate group of individuals, with varying abilities, concerns, thc experiences, views cigarette and sale capabilities – and Kathy was no exception.
Mark said he associated home with being ‘.a safe place, it’s about a garden’ Kathy has neither safety, nor a garden or even space in which to move. Mark was critical of Kathy not using the common land surrounding the tower block to exercise. He went out running amid the poo, needles, unbelievable traffic noise and threatening surroundings. He admits in his interview on the Channel 4, Tower Block of Commons webpage, that within a day or two he was sharing the lacklustre reticence of Kathy who rarely left the flat. He was filmed lying face down on the grass outside crying. Kathy pointed out that was his response after one day and predicted in a few days he would be looking for a noose.
The first day on the estate Mark was cruelly taunted by passing males about his dalliances with rent boys. It does seem that this incident was possibly engineered and had some connection with the production team or possibly the BNP. It seems incredulous that on an estate where no one had seen or met a reputable politician, they would recognise the MP for leafy Winchester. A place far, far away, eighty miles south-west, a place with no tower blocks and no BNP councillors. A place where politicians lived in mould-free bathrooms, with swimming pools in the garden and a place where they can afford to eat McDonald’s junk food, at the expense of the taxpayer, should they choose to.
Mark moved on to a new host, Sloane and her husband Mark who have five children and three cats. Mark went supermarket shopping with Sloane who spent A£150 on food thc cigarette sale and nappies for the children. Sloane then spend A£42 on cigarettes and justified it by saying we all have our addictions. Obviously, anyone would question why someone on such a limited budget would spend so much on cigarettes. I suppose it would be so much easier if we could decree that people who could not afford addictions did not have them – but thc it cigarette is sale not that easy. Sloane, fed up with Mark’s criticisms, checked up on Mark’s expense claims as an MP and was astonished to find he claimed A£116 for two irons and said ‘are you taking the piss?’ Sloane said he could have bought an iron at Argos for A£14.99. Sloane said she thc cigarette thinks sale Mark is a sweet guy, but a Jekyll and Hyde when he can claim so much money to live, while condemning her. Mark did not seem to cope with the accusation of being likened to the dual personality in RL Stevenson’s novel; Sloane has possibly unwittingly hit a nerve.
Kathy’s house is neat and well kept therefore Mark was shocked to discover a seriously fungi and mould ridden bathroom. She was told by the local authority it was a problem with condensation, therefore a problem for her to control and not their responsibility. Mark photographed the mildew, fungus and mould-ridden bathroom and offered immediately to help her. Kathy cannot believe Mark will achieve anything as nothing has ever been done previously. She has been told for so long that she will be moved out of the tower blocks and that they will be pulled down. Mark came across as a genuine man and Kathy engaged with him and became politically active during his stay. Mark organised a petition to pull the tower blocks down and Kathy embraced the challenge wholeheartedly. It seems many groups are written off as not being interested and being apathetic towards politics. Mark managed to engage many residents in politics and they ran with the campaigns from the outset, managed, and addressed thc public meetings cigarette like sale consummate professionals.
Mark posted advertising signs on the walls to get tenants along to a meeting. He was told the local authority were taking them down to stop the meeting taking place. Mark suggested the council was afraid of of strength in unity, if the residents organised. Mark spoke to the warden at reception, who was nervous and said he could not be filmed, when questioned regarding what had become of the posters. Orchard Park is obviously a place were anything goes eg free for all violence can be filmed. Just don’t try to awaken apathetic voters and tenants, or your efforts with be activiely thwarted, even if you are an MP. Don’t try to tell me no one knows or cares what’s happening to these people, the minute they politically stirred they were stamped back down. This Orwell quote from 1984 sprung to mind ‘always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment.the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever’. This counter insurgency might have been enough to quell the residents had they acted alone, but Mark posted the leaflets directly through each letterbox. The residents ironically walked to the meeting place via Poverty Can Be Eradicated billboards. Councillor Robert Bailey from the BNP attempted to hijack the meeting, but was informed the issue is not party political. Mark is exhuberant at their organising, controllig and management of the entire process. Sloane was working with another neighbour on the campaign when police cars arrive at the estate. Two families are arguing over allegations of assault on a child. Local thc cigarette children sale tell Mark, who was very badly shaken, that similar events happen around three times per month. Events of this type were so common in overcrowded Glasgow tenements, they were given a name – a ‘stairheid rammy’.
In the final episode Barking and Dagenham Council’s Head of Housing came to meet those who had organised the perition. He explained his council have to pay A£20 million per annum to central government and this is the reason they cannot affort to knock down the tower blocks. This money paid to central government does not benefit Barking and Dagenham in anyway. The Head of Housing suggested the action group take up the issue with the Housing Minister at Westminster. The action group accompanied the head of Housing and he addressed a rally stating that Barking and Dagenham had the lowest average incomes in London yet they had to subsidise Chelsea and Islington by millions of pounds. The action group handed in their petition to Downing Street and were filmed on the step. At the end of filming the series all the MPs met and Nadine asked Mark if he had made a difference to which he unbelievably replied ‘no’. John Healey MP is the Housing Minister then joined the meeting and announced that a decision had been made to allow Barking and Dagenham to keep all of the rents they raised. This is a wondeful outcome for people like Kathy, who will hopefully one day have a garden, soem space and no mould in her bathroom.
Tim Loughton, Shadow Children’s Minister, was sent off to Birmingham’s New Town Estate. He said: ‘Birmingham has lots of tower blocks and no Tory MPs’. He went off to live with Natina 23, child Suri and Natina’s mother Jennifer. Natina, as far as I know seemed to work full-time and did not use drugs. Tim discussed Suri’s father and asked if Natina would like to be with him. Tim parents divorced when he was 12, father was a vicar and mother was church helper. Once again, it seems as if the problems magnified and associated with certain groups are found throughout society.
Tim became involved in a dispute with a man at the local shop about MPs expenses. Tim suggested that MPs are treated the same as everyone else over their expenses claims. I think while MPs hold this view resentment will grow. Tell that to a single mother who has been pulled from her bed, separated from her child and jailed for overlooking, or not being able to afford payment of her television licence. Rena, host to Nadine Dorries, lost her house because of an unexplained dispute over rent arrears. The money, support and infrastructure do not exist to replace what is lost when people at the bottom of the thc cigarette heap lose sale their homes and possessions.
Dave, Austin’s host could not pay the council A£80 to connect his gas cooker, therefore he had to live without. He is a trained chef and might reasonably be offered a one-off job to get the money to connect his cooker. However, such people are hounded by government media campaigns promising prosecution. There are inspectors; hotlines to report suspected fraud; posters; secret cameras and hidden surveillance; dedicated websites and expensive media advertising. The DWP claim to catch 232 benefit fraudsters every day, but there is no information if this is done via the systems they have in place. There is no information on whether the benefit fraudsters are aware they defrauding the DWP. Millions of pounds must be spent making sure people on benefits know they are being watched thc and cigarette sale will be criminalised should they try to augment their income in any way. Six million people claim benefits in the UK and 232 ‘cheats’ are caught daily. How many MPs did not abuse the expenses system? Yet, we will not have posters up in loos in the House of Commons and on radio, TV and newspapers warning MPs that we are watching them. There is no hotline to report thc suspected abuse cigarette and yet sale most MPs are demoralised and want to give up politics; yet most of them are cheats. Many have still not repaid expenses ruled by Sir Thomas Legg’s commission, which looked into the matter of repayments. There is no rush, MPs know they will not be frogmarched to jail and separated from their children. If MPs were treated like people on benefits they definitely would not stay in politics. The fear and oppression machine definitely costs so much more than the DWP will ever recoup. How does someone on benefits repay, for example the A£10000 excessive claim by Austin Mitchell, which he attributes to ‘gormlessness’? Are MPs not ruthlessly hunted because they have the ability to repay what they have taken.
Tim’s host 43-year-old Adrian works full-time and lives on Birmingham New Town Estate. Adrian was threatened with a knife in the stairway therefore keeps a stick in every room to protect himself. To investigate the source of the violenceTim went to meet Families For Peace, a group dedicated to raising awareness of gang violence and gun crime on families. Tim then met Jason, an ex-gang member and goes off with him to investigate the situation. This is very brave of Tim to do this, he travelled immediately straight into the heart of a potentially dangerous siutation. At the start of filming Tim said: ‘whether we will convince people that politicians are all normal people, I very much doubt’. He certainly convinced me that some politicians transcend normal, they have integrity and courage. Tim met gang members who were not keen to be filmed. Tim asked them to speak about postcode gangs, shooting, protecting the patch. Postcode patch gangs are absolutely ludicrous and should be treated as such if they were not such a danger to the community. The government has to smash, change, reform and educate this moronic mindset. Tim went out to meet young people, to discuss gangs, aspirations and the police. He suggested setting up a football tournament against the police. Tim went to the Young Disciples Group, run by Jason, and met young people learning to mix music and leanr about photography and media skills. Jason is now part of the solution and taking as many people with him as he can convert. Tim was sincere and wholehearted in his attempts thc to cigarette understand and sale solvethe problems. In the final episode Tim organised football tournaments and secured access to a local football pitch which they were not allowed to use previously. Tim then invited Jason to the Tory Party Conference as a speaker.
Nadine Dorries, the MP for mid-Bedfordshire said she would be surprised if she discovered anything about herself via the experience of living with a council tenant. She was sent to South Acton to live with host, single mum Micha and her sister Rena who is housed in temporary accommodation. Rena did not come to an agreement to pay her rent arrears and was evicted from her house with her thc children. Nadine cigarette looked thc cigarette sale stunned sale after listening to the story of the eviction. Rena has lost her house, which was re-let to recent immigrants; this situation is ripe for BNP exploitation. Nadine said she fears losing her job and ending up living back on a housing estate, where she had once lived. Nadine said life on a council estate was better than when she was living there. There were laptops etc., all financed by benefits. I do not know if the luxuries are all bought by benefits as Rena had worked up until recently. People on benefits have not necessarily lived on benefits all of their lives and have relatives, for example, not on benefits who might very well buy a laptop for a child. Unless, we completed an inventory, it is difficult to say what was paid for by benefits.
Nadine moves in to live in South Acton with 69-year-old Ruth and her budgie, Tipsy. The Royal British Legion opposite Ruth’s house has been bought by Somalis and is now a mosque. Ruth has a neat and clean home, which Nadine compliments her on. Ruth went to the British legion every week with her husband Dennis. In some respects, it is not the fault of the Somalis, who bought an empty derelict building and now at least use it. Ruth’s complaints are the really loss of her husband, the loss of her social life and trying to cope with the unfamiliar alone. She complains of attenders at the mosque: bowing forward on their knees to pray, bending with their backsides in the air, praying outside, spitting, talking in their own language and parking on double yellow lines. It’s hardly in the same league as discarded needles and violence, yet all the residents, she says, have complained, officially, about the same trifles. Nadine meets Khalid who says 500-600 people come to to the mosque to pray. Nadine passes on the complaints about double yellow lines and blocking the outside pathways.
Nadine invited the neighbours and the mosque members to a barbecue. The barbecue goes ahead and a Somali woman, Anab, suggests Nadine wear conventional Muslim dress, which she does. Nadine is also with non-Somali residents, therefore I did not get the point of her Somali dress. Nadine was the only MP who was not offered high-rise uniform by her hosts. It was thc suggested cigarette sale to MPs that they dress in hoodies, trackie bottoms and trainers. High-rise female attire and grooming is apparent in a wide cross-section of society. There were the three-inch long nails and false eyelashes sported by homeless, unemployed Rena, but also seen in mainstream society by countless celebrity wags, for example. Men on the estate seemed to wear a wide-range of clothing including collar and tie outfits, therefore this aspect of the programme was probably unnecessary. Tim quickly reverted to his own clothes arguing he was a white middle-aged man. Wearing his Nike tracksuit accompanied by devil dog Tiger, Iain Duncan Smith looked the part. It struck me that people out of their usual environment, fit the new environment very quickly and look as if they belong. For the barbecue, Nadine went door to door and invited residents and shopkeepers. Nadine was concerned that only the residents or Somalis would turn up. Khalid finally met Ruth who was disarmed when she met members of the mosque face-to-face.
In the final episode Nadine went to stay with twenty-year-old Jonathan, who ‘underestimated thc the cigarette sale power of weed and did not know it was addcitive’. Potent words, which our politicians should listen to, however there is no point criminalising young people. Jonathan’s electricty supply is cut disconnected and and he he has to steal electricity from a socket in the public access. Nadine behaved wonderfully in this situation, she recognised Jonathan’s intelligence and potential. Nadine continued to help him after moving out. Jonathan spoke of his aversion to Tories and the difficulties trying to move between thc cultures from cigarette sale poor to rich as he had done during his education. Jonathan was invited thc to the cigarette sale Houses of Parlaimant and met David Cameron, he is now considerign becomign a local councillor.
The thc cigarette sale children filmed were enough to make anyone pray for a better future for them. Chanelle, the child thc cigarette who sale in 2010 said to Austin she was lucky to get shoes. The tiny girl who could make a microwave oven work by banging it with a hammer. Chanelle also explained about the effects of her house being flooded: ‘when you have water all over it makes brown bits’. A little girl in the street asked Austin what he was thc doing. He cigarette said making sale a film about Orchard Park and asked if she liked the place. She said there were bad people who assault other people. She said ‘I haven’t seen any drugs myself, but.’ I was horrified thc cigarette that this sale was the unprompted conversation of our 6-year-olds. These beautiful, normal children are possibly the future: druggies, prisoners and prostitutes if there is no intervention to change their lives.
How council estate residents live should be regarded as basic information about living the thc cigarette UK. sale The Home thc cigarette Office should sale perhaps redesign its Britishness Test to include fundamental information about all of its citizens, including high-rise and council-housing dwellers and make sure politicians are real-life aware and tested before we vote for them. Any government’s first duty is to protect its citizens, how can this duty function optimally, when politicians do not know such basic facts?