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Thursday 4 April 2013

Mick Philpott – Mail Bingo

[Update at end of post]

Every so often, a story comes along that ticks so many boxes on the checklist of moral righteousness that occupies an unfeasibly large part of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre’s brain that the Daily Mail unleashes itself in an unstoppable rage of mock horror. Everything it had been trying to frighten the readers about for so long had happened. It certainly looked that way with Mick Philpott.

Who are you f***ing calling aggressive, c***?!?

Philpott was an aggressive and controlling thug for whom work was as frightening a prospect as he was to the Mail. So he got his wife and mistress to do that for him (that they worked is not apparent from the Mail outrage, but without the tax credits that came from working, the paper would not have been able to reach its benefit total of an alleged annual £60k). But Philpott was also fundamentally stupid.

So when he came to stage a house fire in order to frame his mistress, who had understandably had enough of him and his overcrowded house, Philpott came undone. The fire quickly spread beyond any kind of control and ultimately killed the six children trapped within. Philpott, his wife, and an accomplice have been convicted of the children’s manslaughter.

Thus the green light for Dacre and his hacks to go nuclear. “Vile Product Of Welfare UK” thundered the headline, as the Mail went into why-oh-why mode over Philpott’s sharing of women and use of drugs, both of which are anathema to the straight-laced Vagina Monologue. It was, the copy proclaimed, all down to the benefits system being a soft touch. The Mail had told you so.

This was what the culture of entitlement was all about, and Paul Dacre (University College School and Leeds University) quickly got A N Wilson (Rugby School and New College, Oxford) to tell readers that “Whole blocks of flats, whole tenement buildings are filled with drug-taking benefit fraudsters, scroungers and people on the make” before venturing out for luncheon.

But, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. An unorthodox lifestyle is not in itself illegal. What the Mail calls “depravity” is not confined to social housing, but the paper’s righteous attitude towards it often is. And Philpott was not, unlike for instance Fred West, intending to kill anyone (West was, of course, not on benefits, so the Mail could not tick quite so many boxes).

No, Philpott was just an idiot who overreached himself, and now he is facing a long stretch in a place where child killing never goes down well. Meanwhile, the Mail can continue to rail at aggressive and controlling males, under the less than benign editorship of, er, an aggressive and controlling male. What a difference that million and a half notes a year makes.

And the Philpott story justifies frightening the readers, so that’s all right, then.

[UPDATE 1645 hours: the Judge's summing up, before handing down a life sentence with a 15 year minimum term for Mick Philpott, can be seen in full HERE.

Note that due reference was made to Philpott's "callous stupidity". He was also told "You have no moral compass". What the judge did not do, though, was make any reference whatever to the UK's welfare system as any kind of reason for Philpott's past behaviour, so it will be interesting to see how the Dacre hacks spin this to match their prejudice.

Meanwhile, there are more than five million recipients of in-work benefits - such as the tax credits and child benefit paid to Philpott's wife and mistress - but no other reports of multiple manslaughter of children. I'm sure the Mail will have a suitable explanation for that tomorrow]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Presumably the five million people you mention are too smashed on skunk and strong lager to do more than change the channel on their plasma screen TVs. Unless they're rioting to get new trainers. Or breeding to get that extra £13.40 per child per week. They do it during the ad breaks in the Jeremy Kyle show, you know.