One of the enduring aims of the political left is to seek to continually grow the size of the Welfare State. The child poverty industry has become quite an effective propagandist tool in this regard and true to form the BBC swallows and then regurgitates several myths. As this story over on the BBC’s Scotland news site proclaims, child poverty could be assisted if means testing was abolished. I bet. It then repeats the claim that a mere £4 billion a year – what a bargain – would help ease this awful problem in Scotland, where 250,000 children are living in poverty. (That’s almost one in four of all Scottish children living in this dire state) You should check out the report – it only puts forward arguments in favour of all imagined neo-Dickensian squalor. Just one problem – it’s deeply flawed.

For starters, the political left have changed the definition of child poverty to one that is no longer absolute but relative. A family is thus considered to be officially poor if it is living on less than 60% of Britain’s median (average) level of household income. This economic sleight of hand sets up an endless narrative in which the stormtroopers for socialism can gripe just how unfair it all is and how we need to redistribute income to those that they define as needy. If the UK median income was £100k tomorrow, poverty would then be located at £60k. Who in their right mind believes this to be a credible formulation? Of course there is child poverty, we see the terrible images of kids starving in Africa and frankly it is insulting to suggest that because some UK families can’t afford two holidays a year or the latest computer game, then they sunk in poverty.
The BBC should seek comment from those who do not buy into this socialist dogma and who are quite able to challenge it – but it does nothing of the sort. Instead it allows the child poverty industry a very public platform from which it can pump out this socialist propaganda. The drip drip drip of bias comes in many subtle forms.

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  1. Graeme Hunter says:

    PANORAMA. In last night’s episode(still available on the BBC iplayer “Making the drivel unmissable”, Jeremy Vine stated at the very end of the programme, “Some experts are predicting a 35% drop in property prices in the next five years” Who are these experts. How can the BBC justify making some bold statements without referring to the source. Scaremongering and sensationalist drivel. He also stated immediately before this that house prices have fallen across the country. What country, “England” or maybe perhaps United Kingdom.

    Well take a look a look at where it is clearly stated that Scotland house prices are still rising.


  2. Graeme Hunter says:

    Apologies. Now reposted on General BBC related Comment thread.


  3. The Fat Contractor says:

    Releative poverty is a nonsense. Nobody starves in this country through ‘poverty’ and that’s because of the Welfare State. Without it, even a median national wage of £100k, people would start to starve, simply because the price of food follows the cost of wages. That’s assuming all wages rise to cause the median shift of course and not just mine.

    So it is important to keep an eye on poverty and the Welfare State is a necessary evil. If only to stop SWMBO from feeding the masses brioche through the estate gates …


  4. Phil says:

    “price of food follows the cost of wages”
    Is that actually right? The proportion of income spent on food has surely fallen over the last couple of centuries, or am I utterly bewildered?


  5. Martin says:

    Ah David. Be careful, you are sinning againt the great Polly Toynbee.

    If you are not careful the BBC will put a Fatwa out on you for that


  6. moonbat nibbler says:

    The article is very poorly worded, the claim is £4bn for the whole of Britain (0.3% is of British GDP not Scottish)!

    It would be unimaginable that the BBC would publish any laissez-faire, wealth creating, report without a left-wing riposte. Yet, when it comes to wealth-destroying socialism its all one-sided propaganda.


  7. MarkE says:

    If “poverty” is represented as a percentage of median income, the easy way it could be eliminated would be if all incomes were the same. This puerile interpretation of equality would probably find favour with Beeboids in theory, but only if the elite (ie they) were to be exempted.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall they day they tell Woss his income is being cut to the same level as every other Beeboids’.


  8. backwoodsman says:

    Has the realisation dawned on you, that most of modern societys’ ills , semi literate , ill disciplined children, fed rubbish diets by workshy feckless parents, all pretty much stem from the beeboids tireless promotion of their own brand of ‘socialism lite’ ?


  9. Phil says:

    The Beeb site records the (Labour) leader of Glasgow City Council saying that things have improved in the ten years since Labour has been in power. The BBC doesn’t question the fact that Labour has been in power in Glasgow for over 60 years, and that its version of klepto-socialism has been in large part responsible for ending wealth creation in the city.


  10. Typhoo says:

    Didn’t you describe Scotland as a socialist sewer David? They’re trying to put their house in order since devoloution. But I know you have a problem with that, in your defence of middle England. The scots are British people too, and fair play to them for making devoloution work in the interests of their people.

    I know the scam you refer to, but a quarter of a million children (in Scotland alone) isn’t anything to boast about for a country like Britain. Theres poverty in Britain whether its relative or not, but I think your beef here is not with the BBC report on its own, but with Scotland looking for more money, ie 0.03% of the GDP. Being honest thats your beef?


  11. David Vance says:


    Absolutely agree. Socialism would turn paradise into hell.


    The 250,000 is a scam. The measure of poverty is a scam. It’s all a scam and yet the BBC parrot it as if it were in any way true. It’s not – this is cheer-leading for socialism and will not pass. As for my beef, I am a vegetarian these days….!


  12. Hugh Oxford says:

    Brilliantly written. My family would be “poor” by this criteria. I must get my family taken out of this statistic.


  13. Heron says:


    There’s a difference between absolute poverty – where the poor cannot afford the most basic provisions such as food, water and a roof over their head, with what you are referring to, “relative poverty”, where people are forced to survive on just one family car and only one holiday.

    It is the State’s responsibility to eradicate absolute poverty for those who want the basics (i.e. not those who want to live on 5 cans of special brew and a couple of lines of coke), but not the State’s responsibility to ensure a luxury lifestyle for all. Occasionally you just have to let people get on with it.

    Who knows, maybe not everyone wants to be told what to do by Polly Toynbee and the Beeb all the time?


  14. Arthur Dent says:

    Polly Toynbee and her editor both contribute to the number of children living in relative poverty, since they both have earnings well into six figures. If, for example, their earnings were to be reduced to five figures then the median income in the UK would fall and fewer children would find themselves below the magic 60% of median income line.

    Simple really, if all those champagne socialists took a pay cut they would magically lift children out of relative poverty.


  15. Diogenes says:

    Nothing in the modern political narrative angers me more than this grievous abuse of the word poverty.

    By this measure Monaco is the poverty capital of the world.

    By this measure the quickest way to take children out of ‘poverty’ is to repatriate Abramovich and Mittal.

    It seems to be justified by the fanciful notion that people are made unhappy by the visible wealth of others.

    It has nothing to do with poverty and everything to do with jealousy.


  16. The Fat Contractor says:

    Phil | 05.02.08 – 10:19 am |
    “price of food follows the cost of wages”
    Is that actually right? The proportion of income spent on food has surely fallen over the last couple of centuries, or am I utterly bewildered?

    The producers and sellers of food have costs, such as labour, which they pass on to the customer. The more labour costs the more food costs. (yes I know it’s a simplistic statement but it’s generally true).

    This is why the redistribution of wealth never works. If we were all millionaires we wouldn’t be equally rich we’d be equally poor.


  17. Ron Todd says:

    Brown likes to complicate everything. Why can we not just increase the amount people can earn before paying tax, rather than have a system where most working familes both pay tax and recieve benefits.


  18. Phil says:

    But what happens when labour becomes spectacularly more productive, as it has over the last 200 years, and the wage component declines as part of the overall food cost? (Yes I know there are transport and packaging costs, but these tend to be the result of people being able to afford them in the first place.)


  19. p and a tale of one chip says:

    “price of food follows the cost of wages”

    “yes I know it’s a simplistic statement but it’s generally true”

    It’s really not true at all – because labour costs are such a minimal part of overall food costs. In this country wage inflation has been running at +3-4% for a while and only this year has price inflation in food come back to the market.

    Far more important on food costs are the mechanisation of agriculture, the factory processing of foods and the growth of price competitive, cost efficient supermarkets.

    Price inflation has come back to food recently, but that is almost exclusively driven by energy costs and rises in commodity costs.


  20. Joe (The Netherlands) says:

    Hi David,

    I have read the BBC article and I really am at a loss as to why you are attacking the BBC?.

    I really cannot find any bias in the BBC reports, it has not tried to spin the story, if anyone is trying to spin the story it is you, I am no lover of socialist dogma, however, it is this dogma that I believe you are really attacking in this blog.


  21. tomski says:

    “Polly Toynbee and her editor both contribute to the number of children living in relative poverty, since they both have earnings well into six figures.”

    If people weren’t forced to pay for a TV licence they might be in a slightly better state too…


  22. Nick says:


    4th para of the story: “An estimated 250,000 children in Scotland are living in poverty.” 12th para: “In 1997, the UK Government set targets of halving child poverty by 2010 and eliminating it altogether by 2020.”
    As eliminating relative poverty is only possible by making everyone have the same income, this must refer to an absolute measure of poverty. The Scottish Affairs Committee’s report refers to absolute poverty, and this difference is not pointed out in the report. So it’s either bias or poor reporting.


  23. Nick says:

    Dammit, I meant the SAC report refers to relative poverty…


  24. Cool says:

    Child poverty is not a scam. There are poor people. Look at baby P. :