Monday, 13 February 2017
I, Daniel Blake - A Post Truth Film for Virtue Signalling Luvvies
Its inspiring isn't it really. Its so great that a lot of overpaid, self indulgent luvvies get the opportunity each and every year to wear nice clothes, eat nice food and then talk patronisingly about our lives and about how we should think. They then award themselves baubles for this fantastic exercise in groupthink.
Its inspiring because they award themselves for these paeans each and every year but over the last couple of years - and maybe this year too, it remains to be seen - their opinions and prejudices have been rejected at the ballot box again and again. They had scarcely got over the result of the 2015 general election when along came Brexit, although they could of course exalt in the utterly unelectable Chauncey being made leader of the Labour Party. Twice.
Last night though they were back in their echo chamber of self righteousness and awarded the execrable I, Daniel Blake as being the most outstanding British film of the year. Of course they did. This is the same industry after all that kept making and indeed still makes all of those godawful, historically inaccurate films about the miners strike, trying to rewrite history we can all remember as occurring entirely differently. Yet they have the temerity to talk about post truth politics and alternative facts.
I, Daniel Blake is a terrible film. It is Ken Loach at his most self indulgently sanctimonious and tendentious. It purports to tell a story about our benefits system and of people who fall through the cracks in it. Note that sentence - fall through the cracks. That is actually very telling. Any vast system like this has to have rules and regulations to administer it. Therefore, inevitably, there will be cracks and unfortunate examples of people finding themselves falling through those cracks. Yet Ken Loach seems to be claiming that this is an act of wanton cruelty on the part of the government. It is a glaring inconsistency, one that must surely be deliberate and deliberately mendacious.
And that scene in the food bank that so many found so evocative? It is a quite appalling falsehood; a calumny of the highest order. It just doesn't work like that. Food banks exist to help people in the few days before the benefits system kicks in and they start receiving money. But there are also systems in place to help such people anyway, in the form of short term interest free loans. The only real reason that food banks have grown in use in recent years is because of all of the coverage meaning that more people know about them. Now many people would have too much pride to go to such places at all and there is certainly not the levels of hunger as depicted in the film. If there is it is because people have made bad use of the money they are given. Gambling, smoking, drinking are the priorities of some people who can then head off to the food bank when the money is gone. There are loopholes in every system and here is a glaring one.
Loach's film is dishonest and sentimental. It is a party political broadcast for the virtue signalling middle classes who have no clue about how the working classes they mythologise and patronise actually live. We should know this because, as the results of elections and referendums show, they don't understand how and why they vote either. They prefer to think of working class, less well educated people as being in constant need of their sympathy and myth making.
Last week the BBC, the institutional face of the metropolitan sanctimonious classes, ran a series of reports about the NHS and the strains it is under. We all know that the NHS is under strain. But the BBC never asks why. Why is it that the NHS, under either party, is perpetually under this kind of strain? Remember all of the extra money that Labour put into it? All of the shiny new buildings it built? Its not that long ago. And no Conservative government has ever reduced spending on the NHS. It has grown every year, no matter the state of the economy. So why is it that it remains under strain?
Could it be that the NHS model is simply not fit for purpose? Could it be that the way we set it up, under the sainted Mr Attlee, was a profound mistake and that we are paying the price for that mistake 60 years later?
Except of course that the NHS is simply not as bad as it is being painted even if it could be a lot better if only it was run a different way. It is under strain for sure and struggles to cope with the queues that build up at this time of year. But those are just people falling through the cracks in the system, a system that is free at the point of use and is thus abused.
I visited my doctor last week. I needed an appointment as soon as possible. Urgent same day appointments are available if necessary but I asked for the next available normal scheduled appointment, although I didn't mind with which GP. I got one on the same day and with my own regular GP. In the modern, clean and pristine reception area there was a sign saying that the surgery was providing additional appointments for all patients for a period over the winter to help with added pressures. The waiting room was empty other than myself and one other patient.
On another occasion, a couple of years ago, I had to go at the weekend to see a GP out of hours. The nature of my problem meant that he sent me to A&E. This was during one of those big scares that tend to happen at this time of year when we were all told to avoid hospital if at all possible as there was a big crisis going on. What happened? Everyone stayed away. The hospital I was sent to was deserted. I have never seen an accident and emergency department so quiet. The staff were standing around with nothing to do. This suggests, you might think, that the pressures on such units are not all that they seem. Did the BBC investigate this?
So you see the BBC reports last week do not tell the whole story. There are issues for sure. But there is much that is right about the NHS. The same is true for welfare. You cannot have a system that gives people all that they need because that would be abused. When people need to claim benefits then they have to have a short period when their claim is being processed. There have to be rules because otherwise people abuse the system and there are plenty of examples of abuse of the system anyway. Neither Ken Loach or the BBC told the full story. They told a story that accorded with their middle class prejudices of the way the world is. Their version is an alternative fact.