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

The Daily Mail's reaction today to the tragedy of Michael Philpott's multiple manslaughter of his six children is not only quite disgusting, but it also shows the paper's double standards:

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.

Fortunately 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.

98 Responses to “The Daily Mail: How the poor die and how the rich die”

  1. Robin

    I read the article and agree with everything else in it, but opening with a factual error is a bit offputting. How the Poor Die is inspired by hospitals in England, France and Spain that Orwell visited in the 1920s through 40s, y’know, when he was alive. And it’s Mr Cunteater, Sir, to you.

  2. Geoff Fordham

    I know nice people who read this trash. I despair of finding ways of showing them a different view of the world.

  3. Robert

    One man, a multimillionaire, who probably had a business and employees who he had to provide for and became massivley indebt trying to save his company and its workers. Another man, a serial abuser to partners, father to numerous children with numerous partners who doesnt work and scrounges of the state, not having to think about another persons income, burns his house down with his kids in it in an attempted plot againsy his ex partner to gain custody of his other kids…….Oh yeah, lets tar everyone with the same brush!!
    Just because a man is a millionnaire does not make him a bad person. He has worked hard for a living, provided work for many, and fell on hard times.
    The other is a sick, brutal, uncompassionate, waste-of-space, Jeremy Kyle celebrity, murderer!
    There is a clear distinction.

  4. Alec

    Not so much a straw man as a straw child with rickets, Robert. The author explicitly disavows any sentiment that being a millionaire made one a bad person. What he did say was that the DM’s use of the dead children (couldn’t even name/personalize them on the photo – unlike, say, the Daily Star – leading to the not unreasonable conclusion that they were the vile products) for political entertainment and description of them as a like farmyard animals bred was in contrast to the sympathetic description of a man whom we should not forget was a double murderer.
    A man, no matter how many people he employed, was selfish enough to decide that his wife and daughter could not live without him no matter what their views on the matter were. IMS, he was caught on CCTV making obscene gestures towards the cameras before torching the house.
    Your argument has internal problems as well. McFall wasn’t a successful businessman. He was a failed businessman who might have pulled through had he not wanted such a lavish lifestyle.

  5. thejollyroger

    What Philpott was appalling whatever class he belongs to. What the other guy did was tragic, whatever class he belonged to.
    But then it must be hard for some polyphemic readers to understand the difference when they view the world through a single tinted lens.

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