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Opinion: The Great British Bake Off boycott

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Opinion: The Great British Bake Off boycott

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: The Great British Bake Off boycott Opinion: The Great British Bake Off boycott

By Rob Gershon, a housing association tenant known in the Twittersphere as @Simplicitly, on the dark side to the popular BBC show.

I'm engaged in one of the smallest boycotts known to humankind, and you should be, too.

With #HousingDay rushing ever closer and Adrian Capon doing everything he can to promote positive stories from the real heroes of social housing - the tenants, dark forces are at work once again, undermining the lives of real people and the work of the entire social housing sector.

I'm not referring to the Policy Exchange report on 'sink estates', as politicised think-tanks seek to ape language used by housing association CEOs in the recent Guardian open forum on "Who Is Affordable Housing For?".

The untenable, wasteful, broken, failed, toxic, tenant-impoverishing "affordable" housing brand is finally beginning to hit a bit of a rough patch as there's a broader realisation that nobody can afford it.

No - the threat to tenants comes from a far darker, more insidious place: Cake.

Love Productions have been scouring the country in search of a place to make a sequel to the obnoxious first series of Benefits Street. Despite being turned away from a number of places, they finally managed to settle on a small group of people in a tiny subsection of one street, who now appear to be inaccessible to anyone other than Love House Productions, in Stockton-on-Tees.

The excellent @StocktonSaysNo twitter account has sprung to the defence of the town of Stockton and the majority of residents who live there, while Love Productions has retreated into the same bunker mentality it adopted for the first series of divisive, politicised, judgemental tenant-mocking television.

The local press have also stepped up ably to the plate, taking a rounded approach to defying the inevitable onslaught of criticism for the participants in the finished product. 

What has this got to do with Cake? The same crew responsible for encouraging a vehement public outpouring on twitter of vitriol directed at social housing tenants are also those who make The Great British Bake Off. Now, I'm a great fan of GBBO, and as a keen cook and a bit of a dab hand at pastry things myself, I've enjoyed previous series with relish, or possibly pickle - at the very least a degree of chutney - so it pains me to not watch it.

As the drama of the most recent series makes its way onto Newsnight, where clearly they don't have time to cover less pressing things like disabled people being forced to pay for the failings of consecutive governments, local authorities and housing associations to build enough houses through the medium of bedroom tax, the plight of the people not deemed controversial enough to appear on series two of Benefits Street will remain unheard.

I've made no secret of the difference that @CouncilHomeChat made to my life - at a time when the rhetoric of BS (Benefits Street) and 5H1T (How To Get A Council House) brought forward a wave of hostility and misunderstanding from the general public towards me, and my fellow social housing tenants, the Council Homes Chat Twitter activity was like a lighthouse of hope and reality in a sea of poorly chosen language and ignorance.

The very same people who choreographed this outrage, make the Great British Bake Off, and I can't.... no, I won't support them in that project while they seek to demean and undermine people who have often arrived in their situations through no fault of their own.

Love Productions are clearly revelling in the opportunity they've been given to manipulate the opinions of their audience in their latest culinary competition. Are you going to sit idly by while they drag another town through their editorial muck?

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