Today, dozens of campaign groups rushed to defend Oxfam’s advert attacking government austerity for ‘forcing more and more people into poverty’, claiming complaints about politicisation were an attempt to ‘silence legitimate debate’. In a free country, pressure groups are part of the fabric of our democracy. But, if they choose to be charities for ‘public benefit’, they must remain independent to justify extensive tax breaks. Oxfam sounds like an echo chamber for the Labour Party – and taxpayers aren’t there to subsidise that.
Like the Hollywood blockbuster it was mimicking, Oxfam’s ad mixes fact and fiction. It conjurs a tempestuous image of The Perfect Storm of ‘austerity Britain’, ‘starring: zero-hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts, unemployment, childcare costs’.