The editorial pages of the Torygraph were given over to a moral lesson on the deserving and the undeserving poor this weekend.
“Some people choose a life on the streets”, read an editorial in The Telegraph this weekend, attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to tackle homelessness.
In the editorial, the Torygraph unleashed, frankly, Victorian views on homelessness, claiming some were deserving of help, but others not: “more should be made available for the truly indigent and less for those who don’t need it”,
The dim and outdated views expressed by the newspaper were accompanied by an article which, in an attempt to score some cheap political points, wilfully ignored the scale of the homelessness crisis in the UK.
The article was entitled ‘Corbyn announces Labour will buy every homeless person in the country a house’, which, in an attempt to frame Labour’s response to homelessness as exaggerated and overzealous, was patently incorrect.
The right-wing newspaper conflated homelessness with rough-sleeping, one of which is much more prevalent than the other.
About 300,000 people in the UK – one in 200 – are estimated to be homeless according to the most recent estimates, whilst about 5,000 people are estimated to be sleeping rough.
Which figure did the Telegraph latch onto to attack Labour? Well, obviously the far smaller one.
Corbyn promised a Labour government would buy 8,000 homes for homeless people – this is actually just a drop in the ocean when looking at homelessness overall.
The newspaper’s editorial completely ignored the far higher 300,000 figure, and talked about homelessness as if it only affects a fraction of that:
“While the increase in rough sleeping is to be lamented, it needs to be put in perspective. The overall number is estimated at around 6,000 people, with about one quarter of them in London.”
It’s laughable that the Telegraph, a newspaper that thinks living on the streets is a lifestyle choice, should think it’s advice relevant. But using the homelessness crisis to score cheap points against Labour is low even for the this Tory rag.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.