“Bastards”: MP Hits Out After Tower Block of Commons

February 17, 2010 by  
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Labour MP Austin Mitchell has lashed out at Channel 4 and accused them of “trying to humiliate policticans” in their recent documentary Tower Block of Commons.

The programme has featured four MPs: Mitchell, the Tories’ Nadine Dorries and Tim Loughton, and Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten. They all spent a week living on a different housing estate and the programmes have shown how they engaged with local residents.

Three of the four programmes have already been shown and Mitchell has emerged less well than some of the other MPs because he was the only one to insist on having a flat of his own, instead of sharing with a resident. He also, on one occasion, left to have dinner with friends.

Writing on his website he said that the broadcasters and Love Productions (who made the show) were a disgrace and that he was persuaded to take part under false pretences.

“When Love Productions proposed four Channel 4 programmes to show what a dirty deal councils tenants – and particularly those in multi-storeys – get, I should have turned them down. All the smarter Labour MPs did, but naively I accepted. Here was a chance to put the case for council housing.”

“Big mistake. Love didn’t want to plead for improved conditions for council tenants but to humiliate MPs. It’s easy to show us as greedy (although they didn’t pay us), out of touch (though we knew more about the people than them) and incompetent (almost as much as their production techniques). They duly did so.

“So five MPs – and particularly me – were allowed to make fools of ourselves and council tenants were mobilised to do that, being helped to put their own case.(It’s) a disgrace. To Channel 4 for putting it out. To Love for its cynical distraction of the real story. To me for taking part in the first place. The bastards.

Both Channel 4 and Love have rejected the claims and issued a statement saying that it was up to the MPs to determine how they interacted with the tennants.