Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Mick Philpott, his wife Mairead Philpott, and Mark Mosley are repugnant human beings. The deaths of six children in a fire started by them with the objective of blaming Mick Philpott's ex wife and thereby gaining custody of the four children he also had with her, has rightly appalled the nation. It is to be hoped, given the unspeakably horrific nature of this crime, that the Philpotts and their co-conspirator, Mosely, receive their just deserts in prison. Indeed they should die there, which is why the relatively light sentences they have received are difficult to comprehend.
However, George Osborne's attempt to exploit the horrific deaths of these six poor children, joined in the attempt by the ever disgusting Daily Mail and other sections of the right wing press, in order to whip up support for policies that will harm the welfare of hundreds of thousands of poor children up and down the country, is an obscenity.
Not only is it obscene it is further evidence, if any were needed, that driving the social and economic policy of this government is an abiding contempt for the poor and working class people which borders on hatred. How else to understand the vicious assault being waged on the public sector, public services, and welfare state on the one hand, and tax cuts for millionaires and a glaring lack of political will when it comes to dealing with tax avoidance and evasion on the other?
For make no mistake, we currently have in this country a government of rich, privileged, and privately educated sociopaths whose primary objective is the transference of wealth from the poor to the rich, using the economic crisis as a pretext. The cynical way it has set about pitting the able bodied against the disabled, employed against unemployed, young against old, non-immigrant against immigrant has been carefully calibrated to weaken any and all resistance to this process. Yes, the inescapable fact is that not only has the government's response to the economic crisis failed to steer the economy out of recession, it has helped to deepen the recession by further reducing demand while refusing to invest in order to meet a growing crisis of private investment. But it would be grievous mistake to misinterpret this as the product of mismanagement or incompetence. It is not. It is nothing less than a class war.
Poverty is a crime from which flow many other crimes. If anybody requires proof of this all they need do is take themselves along to their local Sheriff Court or prison on any given day. There they will see that the overwhelming number of people there are of the same demographic. Violence, alcohol and drug abuse, anger, despair, hopelessness, low self esteem - these are the symptoms of poverty in our society. It is not the other way round, as the likes of Osborne et al would have us believe.
This is why it is imperative that we understand Mick Philpott and his wife not as products of the welfare state but as products of a society in which levels of inequality and poverty have reached Dickensian proportions. According to Oxfam, in the UK 1 in 5 of the population is currently living below the poverty line - a figure which is likely to get worse given the policies and ideology driving those policies on the part of the present government.
The assertion that the Philpotts are somehow representative of people living on benefits is as ludicrous and outrageous as the assertion that Harold Shipman is somehow representative of members of the medical profession, with the chancellor's attempt to draw such an association nothing less than a hate crime. It is every bit as offensive as asserting that the July 7 bombers are representative of Muslims. The question society needs to ponder is how it has become acceptable - the new normal, if you will - to hold such bigoted views of the poor?
Drawing the wrong conclusions from the horrific deaths of six poor children will have grievous consequences for the plight of thousands of other poor children. In a civilised society their welfare would automatically focus the minds of our politicians and people in positions of influence and authority. But we don't live in a civilised society. We live in a nation in which barbarity and cruelty has gained mainstream acceptance and resides in the hearts of those charged with organising and running the nation's affairs.
Ultimately, given the power which the likes of Osborne, Cameron, and the rest of the government wields, their ability and willingness to harm thousands children with their relentless assault on the poor, they should have been standing in the dock alongside the Philpotts.
They are just as guilty.