The Daily Mail ran a particularly lurid headline this morning, concerning the case of Mick Philpott, the Derby man who was yesterday found guilty of the manslaughter of six of his children, who died in a fire.
The essential problem with the Mail’s front page of course is that the children’s deaths and the circumstances that caused them are not actually a product of the welfare state.
But without a doubt, the spectacle of a man like Philpott being able to father seventeen kids by five women and send the bill to the taxpayers without doing a day’s work himself is, in its own right, an important and indeed topical news piece.
Nonetheless the newspaper has drawn shrieks of indignation on Twitter, as it always does. It seems to me that, unedifyingly sensationalist though it undoubtedly is, the Daily Mail provides a useful public service. It is a sort of social media idiot magnet, that draws out of the woodwork people who will happily become apologists for any cause, no matter how vile, in order to align themselves against the publication they love to hate.
My own view is that the British welfare state is probably the single greatest crime perpetrated by a nation state against the totality of its people. Apart from being a black hole for taxpayers’ money, it contributed in no small part to the world-owes-me-a-living culture which did so much to export our jobs and industries abroad in the ’60s and ’70s. More importantly in the present day, it has created and sustains a self-perpetuating benefits underclass which is a reservoir for crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Mail has at least provoked public debate about that, at the very time the government has embarked on a mission to set things right.