If I told you I’d seen aliens would you give me a front page Daily Express?

Actually, maybe you would, but only if I claimed the aliens had told me that I could live a life of glamour and excess on benefits.

Never mind that it simply wouldn’t, if I believe it to be the case then you’d report it right? And report it as proof of the benefits system being far too generous? Those little green men in my imagination sure are insightful aren’t they?

I can only assume that this would be the case because on a day when other national newspapers are running with stories about food poverty the Daily Express chose to run with a story about what one woman has advised her daughter to do with her life.

Is their angle that it’s terrible that this woman and her daughter have somehow ended up thinking that their only choices are minimum wage or benefits? No, of course not.

Is it that they are upset that minimum wage is so low that benefits are actually an equal alternative? No, of course not.

Is it that this mother is put off work as she sees her friends slaving away at minimum wage jobs and missing out on their children? No, of course not.

It is, yet again, demonising those on benefits.

I agree wholeheartedly that this woman is misguided in choosing benefits over work, because long term working has way more advantages. There is a chance of improving life through work, it sets a good example to her children, and would maybe give her the boost she needs to develop some aspirations, instead of just giving up. I do also wonder about how she’s figured her daughter would be better off with more children. I am on benefits and I have two children, I am definitely not better off than I was with just one child. It’s not like two children costs less than one, far from it. And I know I’m one of the “lucky” ones because I am disabled, I am slightly better off financially. Though much of that gets swallowed up by the extra money I need to spend on my disability.

I can’t imagine raising multiple children on jobseeker’s allowance. I imagine I could do it, just about, but it would be tougher than it is now (and it’s already fairly tough). It’s not a lifestyle I’d wish on anyone.. oh ok, maybe on those in government who are thriving on the lie that it’s a cushy life, and those journalists who feed the lie with non-stories like this one.

Maybe then we wouldn’t have people’s opinion reported as though it were fact. This woman may believe her daughter’s life will be better with multiple children on benefits, she may also believe her daughter will just get handed a council house. But the actual facts show that there is a council house shortage, that benefits are not in line with a living wage, and that being on benefits has many disadvantages.

This story is about as useful as running a headline story on how someone believes that dinosaurs didn’t exist and that fossils are an elaborate hoax. Why is the belief in generous benefits more likely to get a headline than the dinosaur hoax line? It’s all part of an agenda, doesn’t matter if it’s true, just treat it as if it is and it’ll spread. And it does.

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