Dear the BBC,

I recently watched your panorama show entitled ‘Back to the 70s?’, and found the quality of the programme to be very poor to say the least. It tried to paint a picture of life in 2012 being almost as bad and in some cases even worse than life during the 1970s. I found this viewpoint wholly inaccurate and in many ways untrue.

There are many reasons why the viewpoints in the show were in many ways a false representation of Britain in 2012 but before I get to that I would like to raise another issue with the show that has been nagging ever since I watched it, and that was the constant references to, and footage of Margaret Thatcher. For a show that spent so much time reminding us what life was like in Great Britain during the 1970s, it was most unusual for there to be so much footage of Mrs Thatcher, a woman who did not become prime minister of the country until 4th May 1979, which by my calculations means she was in charge of Britain for only 3.4% of this particular decade. Meanwhile Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, and James Callaghan who each spent a far higher proportion of the 1970s in power were not shown at all. It was also strange that images of Thatcher were shown when the show talked about the riots that took place during the 1970s, even though these took place before she even came into power. The show at one point also stated that Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party last time there was a double dip recession (1977), but whist it was able to mention Thatcher who was then the newly elected leader of the opposition, it failed to mention James Callaghan who was the actual prime minister at the time, so far more important figure than mere leader of the opposition. Strange.

The first part of the show focused on the area of Clapham in London, It was portrayed as a once working class area now overrun by middle class people, as the working class people could no longer afford to live there. What it failed mention was that whereas in the 1970s the majority of the population was considered working class, nowadays most of the country is considered middleclass. It is widely agreed as fact that one of the main reasons that the Labour party were swept into power with such a high percentage of the vote after the 1997 general election is because Tony Blair put so much effort into winning the vote of the ever increasing middle class population. He did this knowing fine well that the vote of the dwindling working classes who traditionally voted Labour would alone not be enough ever win power. Having looked at all this, the reason that the area of Clapham is mostly middle class in 2012, is not because the working class can’t afford to live there, but because the percentage of working class people living in Great Britain at this current time is far lower than it ever was during the 1970s. This part of the show concluded with an interview with a chief executive of an estate agents who went along with these claims that working class people could not afford to live in Clapham, he stated that “If a house costs £1million you’ve got to be wealthy to afford it”, very strange that this one million figure is used considering that having just looked on the property website I can confirm that in Clapham there are various flats available for little over £100,000 which is almost a tenth of the £1m figure mentioned, and flats are selling for a cheap as £80,000 within a three mile radius of area.

The next couple featured had to move away from Clapham all the way to rural Berkshire as they could not afford a house in Clapham meaning they had three hour round trip to get to work everyday. I find this couples claims highly suspect, as having again looked on rightmove I’ve found that a 3 or 4 bedroom house within a 3 mile radius of Clapham for example, will in many cases actually be cheaper than a house of a similar size in most parts of Berkshire. Because of this, like I said I find their claims that they had to move so far away to find affordable housing very dubious, and reasons hat they may well have moved so far away may be actually be down to lifestyle choices.
One of the claims that then followed on this programme which I have a problem with is the statement that the price of Rump stake had increased by 26% over the past four years, now I do buy rump steak now and then because I certainly like a good lump of steak, and I can assure that the price of stake has not increased by anywhere near as much as 26%! Yes, things are getting more expensive, but steak up by 26%, come on it’s not that bad!

Next up was an interview with a woman who was paid to give young adults careers advice who stated that young people are ill prepared for finding a job, claiming that they don’t understand what a CV is and don’t know how to apply for a job because they have never been taught. I found it very strange then to be told that these youngsters couldn’t get a job because there wasn’t any available as opposed to the obvious answer being that they can’t find a job because of the failing education system that has clearly not prepared them for the working environment or finding a job within that environment.

I also found it strange to find that this perceived lack of jobs was put down to the coalmines closing in the 1980s. Now I come from an area that used to rely heavily on heavy industries such as coalmining and shipbuilding and have found that over the past 10-15 years there to been abundance of jobs available in rising industries such as call centres, which seem have appeared all over the place, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of public sector jobs created in the 90’s and 00’s. And as for the girl who had to walk 7 miles to get to her nearest job centre as she couldn’t afford the bus fair, has she not been tod that the job centre publishes online all the jobs advertised? Her friend did talk of sending emails so I’m sure she would have no trouble getting internet access. This would no doubt save her from having to walk such long distances.

Inequality was next to be mentioned, the gap between the rich and poor having gotten so much bigger between now and the 1970s was talked about, but as far as I’m aware having a society where this gap is much smaller means reverting back to socialism, and wasn’t the socialist policies of successive Conservative and Labour governments the main cause of the problems during the 1970s? I was also disappointed that such easy targets as bankers and footballers where used to talk about inequality, and I also disagreed with the claims that footballers where far more in touch with the common man during the 1970s as I hardly believe that during the 70s the likes of superstar footballer George Best were even the slightest bit in touch with the common man. And as for saying that today’s politicians were also out of touch with the people on the street, this may well be true but its not as if the politicians of the 1990s and 2000s such as John Major, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown where any more in touch with people than those of today, and them being out of touch never seemed to be a problem when they were in power.

All of the above points show that the picture of hardship painted in this programme to be far from accurate. I find most of the claims in the programme to be very dubious or in some cases totally false. I understand that some people are struggling in this current financial climate, but the hardships claimed in this programme do not match the reality of Great Britain in 2012. I would suggest that Britain in 2012 is nothing like the Britain of the 1970s and that we do have much better quality of life than we did back then. This is especially clear, as near the beginning of the show an actor who grew up during the 70s was interviewed, and it was stated that in his house he didn’t have a proper bathroom and that the house featured a tin bath in the living room, if any home owner has standard of living as poor as that poor in 2012 I would be immensely surprised.

Many Thanks,

James M. Gowland

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