The Philpott tragedy

I wasn't originally going to write anything on this blog about the tragic deaths at the Philpott household because the thought of what happened to those poor children still makes me feel physically sick. I am sure that most parents share that reaction.

But have changed my mind to this extent - I think that a debate which is calm and measured on both sides might help Britain learn something, provided it does not develop into misdirected anger.

Nobody but Mick Philpott and his accomplices was to blame for the death of those children. Nobody ON EITHER SIDE of the debate should seek to stir up anger against anyone but Mick Philpott and his accomplices.

Some people on both sides have gone over the top and need to calm down, but the fact that neither side of the argument should use these tragic deaths to score points should not mean shutting down the debate about the future of welfare.

An example of how not to discuss it on one side was given by those who ask questions like "Did Welfare turn Mick Philpott into a killer?" in a manner designed to infer that the answer might be yes.

But it was equally wrong for some on the other side to accuse anyone who wanted to learn lessons of trying to demonise everyone on welfare.

I have an equal and opposite disagreement with some of the headlines in newspapers like the Daily Mail and with Polly Toynbee's comment in "The Sun"

"Be outraged by Mick Philpott, but reserve some of your anger for George Osborne."

Ann Widdecombe, who had actually met Philpott and knows him a lot better than Polly Toynbee does, gave the best answer to this, in the Independent:

"Philpott saw his children as meal tickets and his women as possessions, and it is daft to suggest that those who observe this are branding the entire body of unemployed persons as child killers."

I don't agree with everything Ann wrote but you can read her comments, which are more balanced and a lot better informed than many contributions to the debate, here.

Polly Toynbee's comments quoted above were part of a piece in the Sun giving two contrasting views, one from herself and one from their former political editor Trevor Kavanagh, which you can read here.

Although I have disagreed with some of their headlines, the Mail published one of the most thoughtful pieces I have read this week about welfare, written by Brendan O'Neill, which argued very powerfully that those who suffer most from the welfare dependency culture are those trapped in it and compelled to live on it. You can read his article here.


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