This is the front page of tomorrow’s Daily Mail, one which cynically exploits the tragic death in 2011 of six children in a house fire started by their parents and their parents’ friend in a bid to get a bigger council house. The man, Mick Philpott, was a thorougly unpleasant character who, it now turns out, had previously been jailed for seven years in 1978 attempting to murder a previous girlfriend by stabbing her (and also wounding her mother). He had previously appeared in the media demanding a bigger council house because the one he occupied (with his children, wife and then girlfriend, whose departure appears to have triggered the Philpotts’ crime) was too cramped; he also appeared on the Jeremy Kyle show, in which a stream of seemingly inbred low-lifes shout at each other over petty disputes.
However, the Mail attributes his behaviour to “Welfare UK”, at a time when there have been savage cuts aimed at the poorest: to take just one example, a couple I know have seen their rent more than double as a result. Doubtless some of their readers will have their qualms about the benefit changes of this week expunged by reading of Philpott’s exploits. The system may well have enabled his sordid lifestyle to some degree, but the fact is, he was an immoral degenerate and would have been whether he gamed the welfare state or scammed other people (most likely women, as he did anyway). As I saw someone posting on Twitter just now, he no more represents welfare claimants than Lord Lucan represents the wealthy. Much as I do not like paying for the lifestyles of people like Mick Philpott — none of us do — it is better than the alternative. I have several friends who rely on the welfare system to make life liveable, because they and/or their partner or children are disabled, mentally ill or, in some cases, both. If they could not get help from the state, it would have to be from friends, until they fell on hard times themselves or get sick of them. It keeps people from being put in “homes”, ending up on the streets, or being trapped in abusive relationships. Maybe with a man like Philpott. Think about it.
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- Mark Littlewood: making the War on Welfare personal
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