The Daily Mail: How the poor die and how the rich die


In his 1946 essay ‘How the Poor Die’ George Orwell documented the dreadful conditions in which the poor suffered in 19th century hospitals. Not only did the poor live in a worse state than their wealthier counterparts, but they also very often died in loneliness and squalor.

PhilpottFortunately times have changed – thanks in no small part to the welfare state.

Some, however – usually those who have never accepted the welfare state – still dish out wholly different treatment to the dead as well as the living, especially when wrongdoing is involved and when political arguments can be advanced using a tragedy to damn an entire class of people.

The Daily Mail’s reaction to the tragedy of Michael Philpott’s multiple manslaughter of his six children is not only disturbing in its attempt to capitalise on the deaths of six young children for political gain, but it also shows the paper’s complete double standards. Today it reports:

“Michael Philpott is a perfect parable for our age: His story shows the pervasiveness of evil born of welfare dependency. The trial spoke volumes about the sheer nastiness of the individuals involved. But it also lifted the lid on the bleak and often grotesque world of the welfare benefit scroungers — of whom there are not dozens, not hundreds, but tens of thousands in our country.

A cursory look at the paper’s treatment of another tragedy, however – this time involving a Shropshire millionaire rather than a family on benefits – shows that, in the eyes of the Mail the poor go about dying, or in this case killing, rather differently to the rich:

“The businessman who took his own life yesterday after murdering his wife and teenage daughter was heavily in debt, it emerged today…Detectives believe the mild-mannered family man snapped as he struggled to cope with spiralling debts…Last night his sister Claire Rheade said: ‘It’s unbelievable – he doted on his family, he would never harm them. ‘He was a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.'”

I’ve looked back through the DM archives but have so far been unable to find a front page damning Hugh McFall as a “vile product of millionaire Britain”. And rightly so, for that would be absurd. According to the Mail, the poor die differently though.

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  • Alec

    The left are using the case for their political gain. That’s what
    James’s article is all about.

    Yadda yadda yadda. It’s about the DM’s use of the children’s deaths for their own political point. Even if it were reasonable and not fist-swingingly offensive, that is what he was responding to.

    Not a dicky-bird of approval for or defence of Philpott.

    I have no problem with “making a political point” about an editorial position which tempers it’s loathing of violent men who treated women and children as playthings depending on their income levels.

    Trying to say that welfare has no bearing Philpott’s decisions as an attempt to back up the excessive benefits that get handed out to the few who abuse it.

    No-one said here that. Stop question begging.

    There is no mitigation for blasting a woman and girl to death, no matter what income levels. If you note, I called both types murderers

    You’re not half as clever as you think you are. Yes you did, and went on to say that family annihilators like McFall deserve [at least some of] our sympathy. They don’t any more than scum like Philpott does.

    ~alec

  • Alec

    What would Sue and Francesca McFall have said?

    ~alec

  • Alec

    The left are using the case for their political gain.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, “the Right” actually does it.

    ~alec

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevenb2 Steven Berry

    Just to correct you: There are indeed thousands of people who will claim the
    maximum benefit entitlement, which very often means they have a large
    family without providing adequate means to support them themselves. The
    taxpayer then has to support these
    huge, economically inactive families, and that tax is lifted from many
    more working families who struggle by without benefits. The Daily Mail
    is not incorrect in pointing out that some people will ‘earn’ quite a
    lot of money on welfare – in the Philpotts case several thousand pounds.
    Hugh McFall isn’t described by the paper as ‘vile’, but then he didn’t
    have a previous conviction for murder, he wasn’t on bail for assault on
    an innocent motorist, he hadn’t concocted a plan to set fire to his home
    to obtain more state benefits, he didn’t previously abuse women, he had
    a job and supported his family. His criminal actions, while horrible,
    were as stated by his family totally out of character whereas for Mr
    Philpott they were most certainly not. I am not against the benefits
    system – I believe some benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance, should
    be higher. But I am not as blind as you to the fact that the benefits
    system can be ‘played’ and can provide a generous income for some. That
    must change.

  • Hollie

    I wish there was a paper written like the tabloaids but not full of shit. A lot of people around me cannot easily read the Guardian / Independent etc. I think this has a huge part to play in this. The only papers written for people with less time or reading ability or both are complete scummy shit. All my open-minded friends write for the Guardian or BBC. I wish they wrote for the Mail sometimes

  • Ben

    No comparison. The Guardian may well be left wing but it still supports it’s views with factual texts and trustworthy data sets, some being absolute gems such as ownership of US debt – interesting to know that we doubled our dollar reserves in 2008.

  • treborc1

    We are not blind the problem is those kids are here they are or were living and as such the country has a duty of care.

    The problem is finding him anyone who would want to employ him that is the problem, I’d not take him on.

    So what do you do…. I’ve no problem stopping his benefits, but the kids… that’s another question

  • guido
  • winnie mandela
  • guardian reader

    he should have been executed for the attempted murder of his former girlfriend and her mother. this isn’t just a problem of benefits but of an ineffective justice system

  • Roy Will

    I wrote to my (Tory) MP saying he should lead a parliamentary protest at this front page, then wrote to the DM asking if my son on JSA would carry on to be a child murderer, as they imply. Waste of time, do you think?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ade.cirket Ade Cirket

    It saddens me when I see good people read the Mail, and saddens me even more when the believe the content. I think the Daily Mail front page is as vile as you can get, lets not dress this up quite simply someone has decided to use the death of six children by a sick man as a political football. As foe A N Wilson finding faith, I suggest he needs to look a lot harder, his views are not the same as I see expressed in my Church.

  • LB

    So Philpott was down on his luck eh?

    68 k a year in benefits for 20 years is 1.36 millions worth

    130k x 3 for a free pension is 390k

    20 years x 17 of 2k a year free health care is 760k

    Free schooling at 6k a year fr lots of kids.

    Politicians threw millions at Philpott.

  • LB

    More. Free schooling, free Heath care. The first is 6k a year. The second 2k a year

  • Marv

    Alec, i think “you’re not half as clever as you think you are.” The way you wonderfully miss the point more than once is almost poetic.

  • Alec

    I know what you are, but what am I?

    There is no way on God’s green earth “the Left” could use this for political gain; unless you mean they’re calling for increased benefits ‘cos of Philpott’s actions, which would be barking mad (and not happening).

    Osbourne, on the other hand, has both arguably gone beyond his ministerial brief as Chancellor and used it for political gain by arguing for reform/evisceration of the benefits system.

    Small wonder all you can come-up with is a casual, vitamin-free quip. That’s ‘cos SadButMadLad simply is speaking chocolate salty balls.

    ~alec

  • Democritus

    The £68,000 included wages from his wife and mistress who did pay tax and NI.

  • LB

    17 kids, 3 adults.

    Now add on 2K each a year – the annual cost of the NHS per person.

    Schooling, shall we say for 15 kids, at 6K a pop. Paid for by others. That’s 90K a year

    Then when they ‘retire’, that’s another 130K times 3 just for the state pension.

    On top is another 70K each for the MIG

    Then there is the HB for them.

    No doubt, we will have to pay to bury them too.

    A rough calculation shows they have received 4 million in cash and in services so far.

    Don’t worry Democritus, its only your pension they have received.

    Notice the current trend.

    1. State pension is welfare.

    2. Welfare is optional and we can means test it.

    [ie. Sod that you've paid lots of money for it]

    3. Cap on welfare spending.

    ie. Lets set the pensioners against the welfare claimant.

    4. Milk the rich.

    The rich pay for it all, but get nothing.

    5. When that doesn’t work.

    The middle class pay for it all and get nothing.

  • Democritus

    All children can get free state education. The NHS is free at the point of delivery. So everyone who has kids or goes into hospital is a scrounger?

    State pension comes from taxes and NI which this odd family had two bread winners paying tax and NI. So if one parent goes to work and the other remains a house wife or house husband they are scroungers?

    Housing benefit was paid for one home and two families IDS rents a one bedroom flat courtesy of the tax payer that costs more than £150 per week on top of all his dodgy expenses which he got drawn over the coals for.

    All my pensions are safe..
    50% of the welfare bill is indeed pensions and already our Chancellor is nibbling away at that by freezing the tax free element. State pensions are and always have been set nationally by government and are not means tested.

    The rich can look after themselves, they don’t need anyone to fight their corner. The middle classes get exactly the same from the state as everyone else does including pensions, schools, healthcare, uniformed security on call 24 hours a day, like wise with fire and ambulance and lots and lots of other things, not to mention that all those over 30 had free university education (except in Scotland where they still get it). Most importantly of all we all can sleep safely in our beds knowing that if North Korea decides to nuke us there’s an arsenal of nukes to fire back paid for by the tax payer.

  • nobby clarke

    war years, lav paper was on the sh- – house wall (newspaper))were the disgusting

    right wing tory rag belongs, also do the establishment, really think the bitches funeral is going to go without incident, in your dreams bulingdon scum

  • Edward James

    Still doesn’t justify the welfare state. Take from person A to give to person B based on a set of criteria – that idea can only promote a class system. It is also a violation of freedom … but I digress. And, based on simple evolutionary principles, welfare does create welfare dependency – those kids only existed (and therefore died) because of welfare. The other guy worked hard then snapped. Both are EQUALLY as bad, but the different emotional responses for the cases are justified by the circumstances. Papers don’t sell without emotion because sheep like you don’t buy them if they aren’t inflammatory. The paper is entirely justified in playing on the differing emotional circumstances.

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