PROGRESSIVE DISCONNECT

It should be a no brainer. The government is unpopular, the economy stutters along teetering between recovery and continuing recession, the Conservative Party’s core vote is seeping away due to its obsession with homosexuality and Europe, and anyone who believes a word David Cameron says is gullible enough to believe waterboarding is a popular Middle Eastern recreational activity.

The Conservative Party should by rights be heading for oblivion at the 2015 general election. However, they have a secret weapon which may yet save their bacon – the Labour Party front bench.

Yesterday Mick Philpott was jailed for life, and got off lightly. He was convicted of the killing of six of his seventeen children in an arson attack designed to frame his ex-mistress, make him a hero, and get the return of six slices of child benefit. It a healthier time he would be described as an evil man, a suitable description of someone who willingly endangered the lives of six children for ego and personal gain. As the judge said he is without a moral compass.

Philpott led what the BBC coyly describes as an “unconventional lifestyle”.  After serving a jail sentence of seven years for the attempted murder of a girlfriend whom he stabbed 27 times, he should have been a social outcast. Instead, he traded on his notoriety to become a minor TV personality, which further fed his outsize ego. Philpott also attacked another driver in a road rage incident, clearly a man unable to handle any challenge to his ego.

The bridesmaid at his wedding to Mairead was his then 19-year-old mistress. Both women were installed as cash cows in his taxpayer supplied house which Mick complained wasn’t big enough. Mick proceeded to milk both women for the child benefit each new baby brought, he also pocketed their wages from their cleaning jobs. Not only did Philpott father seventeen children at the state’s expense he was shrewd enough to play the system for all he could get. Although physically able to hold down a job Philpott lived a life of ease and idleness paid for by ordinary people who worked for their own living, and his.

This would have appalled the Labour Party which instituted the welfare state. At a time of very real austerity they created a system through which ordinary people who were confronted with the harsh realities of unemployment or illness could be supported until they got back on their feet and could look after themselves. It was not created to subsidise “alternative lifestyles”.

George Osborne was asked if this case raised questions about the welfare system which paid for Philpott’s “unconventional lifestyle”. He reasonably replied that the only one responsible for Philpott’s crimes was Philpott himself. A reply with which even the most fanatical progressive could agree. Osborne went on, however, and  remarked, “There is a question for government and society about the welfare state and the taxpayers, subsidising lifestyles like that. That debate needs to be had.”

Osborne did not suggest that Philpott was typical of those on benefit, he did not stigmatise all those on welfare as idle scroungers, he did not say that our welfare system caused Philpott to kill six children.

Nevertheless, cue outrage. Ed Milliband immediately issued a press statement condemning Osborne. Ed Balls, poster boy for playground bullies, blustered that this was “cynical” and a “desperate” act which demeaned the office of Chancellor.

Ed BallsCue Outrage

Ed Balls
Cue Outrage

Labour can be as out of touch with their core constituency as Conservatives. According to recent opinion polls, 64% of us think the benefits system “doesn’t work”; 78% think that if an unemployed person turns down a job, his benefits should be adjusted accordingly; and 84% believe there should be tougher work-capability tests for disabled people. Unsurprisingly such views are more entrenched among the poor than among the comfortable.

Unsurprising that is except to Guardianistas and other middle class progressives. Disconnected from those for whom they love to speak they are unable to recognise the simple fact, with the welfare state the more you have to do with it the less you like it.

The vulnerable know too well the soul-deadening and community-dividing impact that patronising welfarism can have. Unlike the Ed Millibands and Ed Balls of this world they know the reality of being sustained by the state, and it is miserable for ordinary decent people who want to be busy, independent and self-reliant. The only people who love the welfare state are represented by the Mick Philpotts and Polly Toynbees of this world; one group milks it for cash the other for political and emotional capital.

Yes, the Treasury loses much more through tax avoidance than it does through benefit cheats. The poor, however, do not live next door to people with offshore accounts in the Caymans, they are more likely to live near someone who is fiddling the system at their expense. They are the people who know that they may well need the welfare system and therefore want it reformed so that it can survive.

The poor know that offering “incapacity” benefits to the long-term unemployed encourages people to see themselves as sick and therefore quiescent, rather than as having been let down by an incompetent governing class. If the financial and therapeutic needs of individuals or families is being met, however inadequately, by distant untouchable faceless bureaucrats, why should they take action to better themselves or their communities? If you subsidise a certain type of behaviour, guess what, you get more of it.

By cocooning the poor in the all-encompassing embrace of the state, they are rendered unlikely to exercise their own initiative, in effect they are politically neutered. Who could love such a system, save those cushioned sections of society lucky enough never to have been mangled by it and who can make political profit from it?

 

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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6 Responses to PROGRESSIVE DISCONNECT

  1. John Allman says:

    “The only people who love the welfare state are represented by the Mick Philpotts and Polly Toynbees of this world; one group milks it for cash the other for political and emotional capital.”

    I love the welfare state. I would be in trouble without it. It is the means by which the LORD provides for my needs. I resent being told that, as one of “people who love the welfare state”, I am either like Mick Philpotts, or I like Polly Toynbee.

    My survival, by drawing on the National Insurance Fund into which I paid when I was able to work, in order not to die of starvation before my sixtieth birthday, is “milking” the state for cash, is it? Or am I milking the state for “political and emotional capital”, whatever that is intended to mean in practice?

    “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker”
    [Proverbs 17:5, NIV]

    • Campbell says:

      You have to use the welfare for the purpose for which it was intended. It is, as I said, “a system through which ordinary people who were confronted with the harsh realities of unemployment or illness could be supported until they got back on their feet and could look after themselves.” To ask that the welfare state is used for the purpose for which it was intended is not to “mock the poor or show contempt for their Maker”, but rather to ask for a system which is fit to support them in their need.

      • John Allman says:

        The poor, the underclass of which I have become a member myself, by God’s providence, who have good reason to love the welfare state, and to thank God for it every day of their lives, if they acknowledge Him at all, fell, you said, into two categories, those who were “represented” by Mick Philpotts, and those who were “represented” by Polly Toynbee. To compare me, a fellow lover of the welfare state, to either of these despicable people, to claim that either of them “represent” me, because I love the welfare state too, I consider to have been your downright mockery of me.

        I love the welfare state, and I claim to be a counter-example, that refutes your wild generalisation, that “only” the Mick Philpotts’s and Polly Toynbees of this world “love the welfare state”. Kindly repent of this inept and insulting generalisation forthwith.

        To respond to your red herring, the welfare state is not “intended” to benefit only “ordinary” people, but people in general, and particularly those with extraordinary misfortunes above all. It is not intended to benefit only those people who will one day get “back on their feet and look after themselves”, leaving those permanently unable to accomplish anything of the kind to die of the euthanasia of “useless eaters” by starvation or exposure whilst sleeping rough.

        Apparently, there are those in Scotland who profess to be born again, who don’t even know they’re born. Still, as a Calvinist might say, never mind, it was bound to happen.

        “… the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
        {Ecclesiates 9:11]

      • Campbell says:

        Many seem to have a real difficulty in separating the personal and emotional from the political and social. I love God, I love my wife and children, I try to love my neighbours and strangers. Whilst I am grateful it exists and have benefited from it I do not love a creaking bureaucratic system administered by ill paid and harassed government functionaries.

        You should be thankful that there are those who advocate reform of the welfare system. If as you claim you “love” the welfare system you had better hope that others do not have the same uncritical infatuation. If a welfare system is to be retained, which it has to be, then it is vital that it is reformed before it is damaged beyond repair as it is operating at unsustainable levels today. With benefits and welfare due to hit 13% of GDP this year it’s just unaffordable in its present form.

        The elites usually have fall back mechanisms for when they meet misfortune, ordinary people don’t. The welfare state was created for ordinary people, of whom I am not ashamed to say I am one. In fact most of us are; as Abraham Lincoln remarked, God must love ordinary people He made so many of them.

  2. Gilbert McGill says:

    Right on the money once again Campbell.
    Do you know you and I are of a different social class since earlier this week? It is, evidently, decided by the your income thus as you move from employed to retired status, unless your a Fred Goodwin type, your social class changes.
    God bless
    Gilbert

  3. Moth says:

    I would say that ‘the milkers’ weren’t always so. ‘The milkers’ are generally made (by the system) not born. The Job Centre people I experienced were cruel and unyielding. I know this must be because of the people they serve but blah blah. Any compassion they may have had, had been excised. However, in mitigation, they are only enforcing the rules. It’s at this point , I see people getting more ‘creative’ with the rules; it’s a matter of survival tbh . This indicates to me that the rules are wrong. My solution would be this: I would not withdraw benefits immediately. For several months I would continue to give housing benefit and council tax benefit and the other benefits which are received when on Job Seekers Allowance. The people would pay no tax in my world for 6 months. The transition between being on benefit and working is terrifying; it’s easy to fall into debt, at the mercy of the employer not sorting stuff out and the vagueries of the Inland Revenue. If the job goes pear shaped, then life is worse than if you had never tried to take the job.

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