If you’re still with me, I’m referring to the report today by the IFS which is saying that the last Government Budget was “regressive”. However, the government (of which my party is part of) are arguing that the budget is “progressive” and the analysis by the IFS was “impartial”.
So who’s right?
Actually – as in statistics, both are.
The IFS is right to point out that there are benefit cuts and housing rule changes which will have a bigger impact for low income families, especially if they don’t work. They are also looking at the full impact up to 2014.
The Treasury’s work is looking only at the impact up to 2012, but more importantly it includes the dynamic impact of tax changes (increased income tax allowance, economic growth) to change the poverty trap so it makes it more worthwhile for those not working to work, which will improve income.
So comparing the two analysis is rather like comparing apples with pears. The IFS doesn’t assume any dynamic changes and is over a longer period, but the Treasury does assume dynamic changes and over a shorter time frame.
For my previous comments on the Budget click here
As I wind down after another weekend of relaxation and recreation, I’m looking forward to this weeks episode of Sherlock Holmes. Brilliant dialogue, quite faithful to the original (I loved the way that modern Holmes deduces Watson is an Afghanistan veteran, almost exactly like the original), even if the plots are a little thin.
However, what struck me, about last weeks episode (The Blind Banker) was the villains were Chinese smugglers. Why is this a problem, you may ask? In itself it isn’t, and I must admit I’d given it no thought myself previously, but during the General Election a group of Chinese actors had asked for more pressure to have meatier Chinese roles on TV or even the theatre. Not stereotypes.
Is the problem that bad? Well the next day after Sherlock Holmes, the current BBC Radio 5 Live advert for the new football season was on, and the Chinese character was a take away owner, celebrating in his shop. It makes you realise that actually almost all Chinese characters on British TV are:
· An illegal immigrant
· Linked to the criminal underworld
· Or a take away owner.
This despite the evidence that Chinese students in the UK are amongst the highest achieving academic group, many working Chinese are doctors, lawyers (not to stereotype here either), as well as bankers, IT experts, fashion designers, teachers, graphic designers basically any job you can think of that exists. Yet there is none of this on British TV.
US TV, although not perfect, has been ahead of the game and much more reflective of its society. I’m not sure why this is, but Star Trek (multiple series), Qunicy, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Heroes at least have more mainstream Oriental characters than we see in the UK productions. There are more oriental TV presenters now with Gok Wan and Alexa Chung, but roles for actors, no.
What is the solution? Legislation or education? I’m not sure there is a simple answer, but I’d like to think that casting directors or scriptwriters aren’t deliberately ignoring the Chinese community, but more interaction with them and producers could do a lot to change how the Chinese are represented on British TV.
Maybe a place to start could be the BBC, which actually has a public remit. If it’s being reviewed for value for money and what it should deliver, then let’s review it properly and ensure its representative of the UK population in its production values.