The Philpott case is horrific; so is the attempt to hijack it for any political purpose

5 April 2013

4:15 PM

5 April 2013

4:15 PM

The sorry truth of the Philpott case is that almost nothing can be learnt from it. Everything would be so much simpler if there were clear public policy conclusions that could be drawn from the horrors of this case. But there are not. How could there be if we’re expected to mine a case like this for meaning?

It is almost always a mistake to draw firm conclusions from extreme examples of any given phenomenon. The perils of the small sample size should be well enough understood by now to make this clear. It is even dafter to presume too much on the back of a monstrous case such as this.

A recap: Mick Philpott had spawned no fewer than 17 children by at least five different women. He did not work. Instead his family relied upon the safety net. Some estimates suggest that he accrued the equivalent of a pre-tax working income of £100,000 a year from “gaming” the benefit system. He came a cropper when a plan to frame an ex-partner and regain custody of six of his children (and the benefit payments that come with them) went awry. A house fire set by Philpott ended in the most appalling circumstances, killing six of his children. He was convicted of manslaughter this week and received the sternest sentence the court was capable of meting out.

A horrific crime and a horrific individual. But hardly – though mercifully so – typical. That lone fact should be enough to make one wary of drawing too many conclusions from this ghastly story, far less ones that should dictate future government policy.

This is a story about the safety net. Just not the story you think it is. As Hopi Sen says:

How did a man with a conviction for repeatedly stabbing his partner and her mother, who had recently cautioned for beating his wife, who was facing a court case for aviolent road rage attack, whose partner had recently left him and who was trying to manipulate the police into arresting her face, so far as we know, no family intervention, so long as the children went to school and did not appear mistreated? It is not as if the control, violence and obsessiveness that marked Michael Philpott’s relationship with women were hidden from society. They were displayed in plain sight, on national TV, his record known in newspapers, and yet we, collectively, did little but stare and sneer.

Michael Philpott may have profited from the safety net but it didn’t catch his children. There were many failures here and if none of them excuse Philpott or reduce his responsibility, it is also true that the “system” plainly failed too and that there should be many officials in many public agencies pondering their consciences this week.

But, look, it just isn’t true that there are huge numbers of feckless people breeding as often as they can so they may produce feral children to terrorise nice Daily Mail reading neighbourhoods while spongeing off a welfare state that, by god, is too generous by half. Over to Daniel Knowles:

To begin with, it is […] a tiny problem. Though most of them seem to end up in newspapers, in 2011 there were just 130 families in the country with more than ten children claiming at least one out-of-work benefit. Only 8% of benefit claimants have three or more children. What evidence there is suggests that on average, unemployed people have similar numbers of children to employed people. So despite Tory fears, it is not clear at all that benefits are a significant incentive to have children.


Welfare is a complicated business. That the system can be “gamed” is not in doubt; that does not mean millions of people are doing so. The public may favour welfare reform but the public also massively over-estimates the extent of benefit fraud.

This is not surprising. Many people know someone on disability benefits who nonetheless is still able to lay five-a-side football once a week. Or they know a kid who shows no interest in work and seems happy to see if he can parlay his giro cheque into something better courtesy of Joe Coral or Victor Chandler. And if you know one person who seems to be idling, it stands to reason to suppose that there must be millions more such stories out there.


Since many of the fabled “hard-working families” are feeling the pinch it is also natural that you’d find increased resentment towards those who are perceived to be loafing on benefits. Hence backbench Tory MPs (and UKIP) argue that people on benefits should not be allowed to purchase tobacco, alcohol or lottery tickets. There is a lot of this petty (but telling) authoritarianism about. It’s not enough to be poor or unfortunate you must be miserable too. Or at least denied even small pleasures. (Incidentally, many “hard-working families” would like to be able to work a little less hard, thank you very much. Must life be this tough?)

The labour market is not divided into two camps with the always-in-work on one side of the river and the permanently-excluded on the other bank. On the contrary, there is plenty of traffic between them. People move in and out of the workforce. Many people on benefits, of course, only require them for a short time. Many people, too, are only on benefits because they have been unlucky. It wasn’t their fault their factory closed and they’ve been out of work for six months.

I regret to say that this kind of rancid authoritarianism has even infected the Spectator. Douglas Murray, for instance, thunders that “people who have no job and no prospect of getting one and yet have more children are bad and selfish people.” Perhaps they are. Should abortions be compulsory in such circumstances? Should there be a minimum income threshold below which you are not permitted more than one or, at a pinch, two children? How do you determine who has “no prospect” of getting a job?  As Douglas says “exactly how this should be done can be debated”. I suppose it can! Welcome to Beijing-on-the-Humber.

Not that Douglas Murray is alone in this. David Davis suggests child benefit should be limited to the first two children in any family. You can tell this is an idiotic idea because it is enthusiastically endorsed by Bernard Jenkin. As Freddy Gray says, there is something distasteful about the relish with which it is suddenly fine and dandy to express your revulsion at the feckless poor and their irresponsibly large families.

No-one disputes that there are pockets of British life in which welfare dependency has become a real problem. It needs to be addressed. But, again, there is something unpleasant, even vile, about the eagerness with which many commentators (particularly on the right) are using the Philpott’s horrific and by any standards unusual case as an excuse for fulminating against the revolting poor.

Philpott might have acted differently had the welfare state been constructed in a different fashion. He might also have acted differently had social services or the police performed their duties more effectively. He was a “product” of their failure too. Oddly, George Osborne and others seem less concerned by that failure.

No-one approves of Philpott (and Labour’s response to it may well be daft) but though the Daily Mail may have gone too far this week it was scarcely the only paper to do so. The Daily Mirror marked this week’s benefit changes with a cartoon showing Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith hammering a coffin shut on the poor. Now there’s a difference between a cartoon and the Mail’s clumsy attempt to blame Philpott on welfare but, in terms of the hysteria involved, the difference is more of degree than kind. Not that the tabloids are the only blatts at fault. The Guardian has been fond of asking Do cuts kill? 

Too much, much too much. This hyperbole and competitions to see who can be the most outraged do none of us much good. We lose all perspective. It is, again, true that too many British families too often have to rely upon the state for support. But these are not all feckless or hopeless or otherwise useless families. Not by any means. And it is silly to suppose they must be just because they are down on their luck.

There’s nothing wrong with judging and condemning Michael Philpott’s lifestyle but, for god’s sake, that’s an easy case. Or should be, anyway. Most of the time matters are far from anything like as clear-cut as that and a blanket condemnation is not necessarily likely to do anything more than prop up the accuser’s own self-regard.

Douglas Murray concluded his post with this storm-warning:

However, as the war against Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts has shown, this country appears unwilling to make such basic judgements. It often seems that we are going to have to hit the bottom and break completely before some people realise it needs fixing at all.

Oh, for god’s sake. Again, yes, there are real problems. There are parts of Britain that remain shamefully deprived. There are parts of the country in which social alienation is rampant and parts in which integration is nothing more than a pipe-dream. All of this is dismal and worthy of attention.

But let’s not go too far. Society is not in imminent danger of collapse. British society is, in some respects, an impressively relaxed yet cohesive thing. In most places we rub along reasonably well most of the time. That’s not so modest a claim as it may seem.

And, though the newspapers will rarely tell you this, in many ways life in Britain is getting better not worse. It really is. We’re always being told that we’re all drinking far too much but, actually, alcohol consumption has been declining for the last decade. Sure, too many teenagers and young men spend too much time brawling in our town centres and sure there’s too much loutishness. Nevertheless, crime is falling. In England and Wales it is 30% lower than it was ten years ago. Homicide rates (in England and Wales) are half what they were at the turn of the century.

As for families? Well, there’s good news there too. Though fewer couples are choosing to marry, the divorce rate amongst those that do is now at its lowest since the 1970s. But what about all those teenage girls getting pregnant so they can waddle to the front of the social housing queue? Well, guess what, there aren’t as many of them as there were either. Teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales were last this low way back in 1969.

Broken Britain heading for the abyss? No, not really. I wouldn’t say we’ve never had it so good but we’ve also had it much worse than this in the past. The best response to the Philpott horrors might be to note that nothing straight was ever made from the crooked timber of humanity. Using this horrific but wholly atypical case as the basis for rethinking something as complicated as the welfare state is a kind of madness. No wonder it’s widespread on Fleet Street and at Westminster.

But, again, boring though it is to say so Philpott proves almost nothing about anything.



Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • First L

    130 families on benefits with more than ten children.

    That’s a minimum of 1,300 children being exploited by their parents then.

    130 is 130 too many.

    • Tryst46

      130 may seem a big figure but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of families in this country now. I also wonder if immigrant families are included in that figure since British families keep it to 2 or 3 while those from other countries are used to having loads of kids. 10 kids is not an unrealistic figure in an African family but it still constitutes a huge child benefit payment. Alone, that is probably more than most minimum wage earners pay check. Add unemployment benefit and other allowances like housing benefits etc and they are better off by far than most working people.

      • First L

        The 130 10 child families on benefits refers to white welfare beneficiaries. Immigrants can’t afford to bring 10 kids over here. Large families occur in African countries and other third world places because of the high rate of infant mortality and the fact that the kids get put to work from about 4 years old. Small families are symptomatic of first world countries, so the fact that such large families exist in those kinds of numbers (130 is a lot!) shows that we are actually regressing.

        • Tryst46

          Keep telling yourself that. I personally know of several immigrant families with over 7 children and more on the way. None of them work so it’s benefits all the way. They may not bring that many children over but it doesn’t stop them having that many when they get here and benefits only serves to encourage them to do so.

          • First L

            I’d happily bow to that understanding. I was pointing out that even the most irresponsible woman wouldn’t drag 10 kids across Europe. However once they are here and on benefit tourism they will start pumping them out like the rest. Send them home.

  • Shane Latham

    This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read,indeed.Shane Latham

  • DonnaTxx

    A good well reasoned article up until the last few paragraphs, crime has not gone down, this is mere Govt propaganda. Crime is appearing to go down but only because the police fiddle the stats (This is well documented)

    We are £2.3 BILLION in debt, with no way out, the Govt won’t arrest the banksters responsible because the financial sector fund the Tory party, we keep borrowing and borrowing to fund a welfare system that has got out of control, just like the NHS, but you just haven’t noticed.

    Once people cannot afford to feed their kids or heat their homes THIS is when the problems will start; the Govt can’t keep hiding the dire situation we are in forever.

  • fourbanks

    Alex you make a good point. Their are many evil people in society some poor some rich some even happen to be in charge of their governments with vast wealth.
    You also have had people with wealth like Jimmy salvile who had a great personality and a friend to many including the royal family but we don’t say that everyone in the media is a paedophile do we ?

    What we have here is an evil person like this country has always had throughout it’s history like most countries have had nothing more nothing less and nothing at all to with benefits

    • Tryst46

      Actually, it’s an extreme left wing view, there’s nothing right wing about it. Only the left wing would condemn millions of people based on the actions of a single person, the same way they import cheap labour by saying that the British people are lazy. Not changing that view when all the imported labour is content to sit on unemployment benefits forever, more so than the British people ever did.

  • Peter Thompson

    You were doing so well until you used the word ‘spawned’.

  • Dogsnob

    “… but we’ve also had it much worse than this in the past.”

    When? Please tell us when it has been worse than this.

  • Bill Kenny

    Oh dear, when faced with an ugly reality Mr Massie retreats to the usual bien-pensant drivel. So sad so predictable.

  • John Court

    This article amounts to a call for inaction. When politicians make arguments like this to justify not doing anything it is just laziness. If there is a problem we must fix it, and if there are lots of problems we must fix them all rather than bemoaning the scale of the job.

    Your main points seem to be:
    1. The system failed and is failing (I suggest we cut it back).
    2. Some people are clearly taking advantage, but there can’t be many of the and it’s all a bit tricky so let’s not bother. (I suggest we get on with fixing it).
    3. People who can afford children have about the same number as those that can’t. (I would call this a problem that needs to be fixed).
    4. It’s not pleasant to have people telling other people how to live their lives (well if they are working and paying for the privilege, surely the electorate and their government should have some say).

    We need to get on and fix the problem, and Douglas’s article highlights the problems and encourages action. Your article downplays problems and encourages the status quo. At your most dynamic we get “All of this is dismal and worthy of attention.”, hardly a call to arms.

    • Rampat

      I take it you also believe in ruthlessly curbing the power of the capitalist bankers and the super rich whose reckless speculation caused far more damage than any welfare fraud?

      • John Court

        If reforming the banks will help the economy then let’s do it – I think everyone is agreed on that. We should be doing it because it will help, not as a punishment. Changing the welfare system will help, that’s why I’m advocating it.

        • Tryst46

          A knee jerk reaction. Let’s cut welfare despite it causing many people to become destitute. Whether you like it or not, it is a punishment and you would be punishing the many to curb the few. What about those who had kids while they had a good job but no longer have a job thanks to the incompetence of the government? This is no different to the bedroom tax to prevent the single people hogging two bedroom council houses after their kids have left home. It would be fine if there was a vacant single bedroom place to offer them but no, they have to pay the tax or make themselves intentionally homeless.

          So how are you going to fix the ones that can’t afford kids? Forced sterilisation after a certain number of kids based on their income? So what happens if later on they get a better job or win the lottery and can afford a hundred kids? Oh wait, they’ve been sterilised so they can’t have any more thanks to you.

          This is typical left wing thinking. Make people unemployed by totally wrecking the economy and then penalise them for being out of work. At the same time importing millions who have never paid a penny in taxes and give them unemployment benefits too.

          It’s far more effective to identify those who are taking advantage of the system and target them rather than hitting out at everybody. It may be more work but in the end, it’s a fairer system by a long shot.

      • Fergus Pickering

        This is an argument for not doing A because you have not done B. The two things are not linked in any way.

  • mikey7777

    WHAT ARE YOU CRYING ABOUT THIS is what BLACK CULTURE teaches the world HOW TO GAME WELFARE…where do you think it came from BLACKS ALWAYS TRYING TO GET A FREE RIDE contribute NOOOOOTHING…so whitey says can’t beat em join em LOSER LIBERAL AZZWIPES….blacks have been doing it for decades then teach illegals to do it ,,,there you go Obamas world BLACKIES WORLD…

  • Crumbs

    The statistical argument is not apposite. If there is a weakness that is being exploited, it should be sorted out. The numbers are irrelevant (though in practice they seem high enough for concern from where I’m sitting).

    • Tryst46

      Statistics: A way to show figures for what you want them to be rather than for what they are.

  • Maus

    At what point does a person’s “right” to breed indiscriminately interfere with my “ability” to maintain my financial solvency against the taxman so I may provide for my planned family?

    People on the Dole/Welfare should not be allowed to vote. Instead, as indigent wards of the State, they are provided for by the State and as such, voting constitutes a conflict of interest.

    • Tryst46

      Sorry but I strongly disagree. Especially when those who are unemployed have been left that way due to the incompetence of the current government. When there is already a shortage of jobs and companies are closing down creating even more unemployment, they continue to import more labour into the country to the tune of hundreds of thousands each year. None of these imports have the money to start a business so they are not creating employment, they are merely adding to the number of unemployed.
      If I was out of work due to government incompetence and was then told I couldn’t vote because of it, there would be a war between me and the government and I have no doubt many others would be standing beside me. Unemployed people have as much right to vote as anyone else, even for the hope that they might get back into work again if there was a PM with a spine in government again. The spineless morons we’ve been getting in government lately like Blair, Brown and Cameron are half the reason we are in this mess now. They are simply the EU’s yes men who need to grow a pair and do what’s right to get this country back on it’s feet regardless of how much the EU object.

  • Ruben

    You’re one of the only reasons I still read this silly tabloid, Alex.

  • alabenn

    “system” plainly failed too.

    What failed is people like you Mr Massie using any tiny detail to shift the blame from the real reasons.
    This man embarked upon this course because the financial rewards of the social security system were large enough for him to make a very good living from it.
    The system worked to well, it bought Labour the votes it craved and gave unthinking journalists a stick to beat any normal person who spoke against it.
    Nauseating hypocrisy emanates from the mouths of those who want to put this episode to bed, so that they can continue dreaming of the socialist nirvana that they think awaits around the next corner.
    The trouble is the nightmare is here and around the corner is another nightmare just waiting to happen and when they wake up there eyes will still not see because their minds are closed.

  • Rampat

    Mary Riddell, Alex Massie and Matthew Parris prove great journalism is by no means dead. All are liberal minded and humane writers working for conservative organs, oddly enough.

  • Rampat

    Absolutely brilliant journalism, Mr Massie. Acutely humane, judicious and well informed. It puts the lazy responses on the Guardian to shame.

  • oszolom

    Children’s death, especially so tragic and in so big number, must be describe in sensitive way. Anyone must choose his words very carefully. But only blight person (or Guardian reader) can’t see that this tragedy could happend because British state pays people for having children – more children = more easy money. In time welfare reform, it’s important case which shows how bad current system is, and where next system should go (no benefits for 4-th end more children).

    • Roberto Machado

      This tragedy happened because a man was evil. He would have been evil with or without the benefits system which benefits more working people than non-working people.

  • exile on euro street

    Mr Massie, stop being so sanctimonious. If a case such as this cannot be used to initiate a debate (or “hijacked” in your terms) on how government should act on social support then what can? Yes, it should encompass more than just welfare payments, but it needs to be had and shying away from it because the starting point is horrific doesn’t help anyone. You say almost nothing can be learnt from this case. Well, maybe, but it can act as a starting point for the much-needed forthright debate on the future of the welfare state in Britain and that is to be welcomed.

    • Noa

      But why shouldn’t Mr Massie, as a practising MacSocialista, seek to preclude any debate on a subject which exposes the hollowness of Labours doctrines, but most of all, threatens their welfare dependent voter base?

  • Macky Dee

    A man who has never had a job, vowed never to get one, has 15 kids, has his council tax paid, has his rent paid, gets money for his kids, and sets fire to his house HOPING TO GET MOVED TO A BIGGER ONE and be a hero at the same – ARE YOU SURE IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS BENEFITS (ie welfare state). I think the mixture of this vile man’s EVIL, and living a life whereby he has to do nothing, even the government never forced him to get a job… This MIXTURE of both things is what is wrong – AND THE GOVERNMENT CAN ONLY FIX ONE OF THESE THINGS – BENEFITS!

    • Anita Bellows

      Actually he had a job. When he attacked his girlfriend and her mother, he was in the army

      • Colonel Mustard


    • Kej Cat

      Please stop shouting! Working people also get child benefit and if they are low-paid, which many are, they also get housing benefit and council tax paid. Both his wife and girlfriend were working. I understood he actually set fire to his house to try and blame his ex who took away their children so that he could get them and (supposedly) their child benefit back? He was obviously a thoroughly horrible man who would have done this whether he was on benefits or not because he would have still been entitled to child benefit if he was working. If you blame this tragedy on the benefits system then what do you blame all the other horrific cases that have happened on, you know those ones who weren’t receiving benefits?

  • CrestovaWren

    I basically agree with you.

    But it is a bit galling to find out that there are people who have managed to have 5 or more children, supported extensively by the state: when we stopped at two because that’s what we could afford.

    We both work.

    We could afford more children, if we paid less tax.

    We’re not planning to chuck in our jobs though.

    • Roberto Machado

      Would you also be able to afford more children if you were paid more? If you would then you should get a better job and stop being so lazy and complacent.

  • Anita Bellows

    If the public over-estimates the level is fraud, it is because newspapers have been only too keen to relay the government propaganda. Might care to remember the DM title: 75% of disability benefit claimants fit to work after DWP (Chris Grayling) press release saying just that. And I am sure if I look in the Spectator, I will find also this figure. Right wing newspapers seem to suspend their judgment when it comes to benefits and never question or investigate the figures.
    We know today that around 76% of people on incapacity benefit who have been reassessed by Atos are still entitled to their benefits, with a much stricter test, and that fraud is 0,7%. This public perception does not come from nowhere, it has been carefully nurtured over the years by successive governments and the Philpott case is another example.
    I am sure that neither Cameron or Osborne do believe the Welfare system breeds people like Philpott, but it is a too good occasion to miss fuelling prejudices .
    In the long term, there is no cost saving in the deliberate impoverishment of already poor people and there will be a social and a financial cost to pay.

    • Colonel Mustard

      More agenda.

  • mightymark

    Don’t often agree with Alex but this is the only intelligent thing I have yet read on this issue. Thanks.

  • gladiolys

    “That the system can be “gamed” is not in doubt”.

    And that it needs to be reformed is not in doubt, but neither so chaotically nor vindictively. I wonder if they actually talked to people on benefits about how the system could better meet their needs while weeding out the gamers? IDS day trip to Easterhouse doesn’t count.

    I’d have more tolerance for Osborne or Cameron wading in on this if they also worked harder to stop people gaming the tax system – corporately and privately. But they mumble something to give an appearance of this being so, and then reward those who have avoided paying tax by lowering existing rates.

    • Arthur Penny

      But they do and have – it is just that measures taken to close tax loopholes don’t make snazzy headlines in the newspapers.

      • Tryst46

        News is news snazzy headlines or not. I would rather read the real truth than the perpetuated lies we read in most papers these days. I doubt that much has been done to close the loopholes because it would affect the very people making those changes. I don’t believe for one minute that the government politicians pay every penny of their taxes like good little girls and boys despite being on the level of wages where their pocket change alone would pay a minimum wage workers wages for a whole year. They are on the fiddle as much as anyone and they will make sure that the loopholes they use won’t be closed.

  • gladiolys

    “I for one am not interested in the politics of the Philpott case. “… and then you make a political point. Nice one, Mr Chuzzlewit.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      But only in your misguided imagination. My point was that I am not happy paying for lazy and irresponsible people who dehumanise children.

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    Let us get something absolutely straight Mr Massie, I for one am not interested in the politics of the Philpott case. What I do object to is lazy, feckless people who choose to ‘commoditise’ their children by treating them as ‘animated luncheon vouchers’ and an enhancement to their personal cash-flow. That is morally reprehensible and as a taxpayer I am sick of being forced to pay for such people.

    • Rich Greenhill

      What then, Mr Chuzzlewit, is your proposed solution? Starve wayward families into submission? Confiscate their children? (at further great expense and, on past evidence, risking other kinds of harm in the unpredictable hands of state “care”) Sterilisation?!

      We need a caring state, but not a nanny state – still less Big Brother breaking up families in the absence of a very clear threat to the children. In Philpott’s case, the court indicated that, despite the egotism, masochism and desperate stupidity of their parents, the children themselves appeared to have been looked after. Extraordinary but, according to the judge, true.

      Hindsight is 20/20. But if every family as outwardly unconventional and dysfunctional as Philpott’s were starved out or forcibly split up, our country really would be overrun – by carehomes overflowing in anything but care. Six lives saved, perhaps, but only by destroying thousands more. And the absence of a welfare state (in our country’s past and elsewhere to this today) coincides with families which are larger, not smaller;life is plentiful when it is cheap.

      Society is built up brick by brick, person by person, day by day. Beat it down to reform it in your own image, and you beat the humanity out of us all.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Thank you for your initial suggestions all of which are fatuous and I presume meant to be ironic and to emphasise your own deeply felt humanity. I would like to see a welfare environment where the vulnerable are cared for but is not open to exploitation by the callous, wicked and greedy. That does not seem terribly controversial to me but no doubt it is further evidence of my desire to oppress the poor. As is argued in another article, having children should not be an easier decision for those on welfare than for those who are at work. That seems to me to be a better formula for a fair and cohesive society.

      • Ytongs

        “Hindsight is 20/20”. The only reason hindsight is 20/20 is that the “debate” as it is loosley called is instantly closed down by the usual left wing tactics, remember immigration? Mention the word and “racist” was thrown at you. The left will always try to close down any such discussion and the current one is no different.

        The only time it is possible to concentrate minds is when something horrific happens.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I don’t think Mr Philpott would have fathered 17 children if he hadn’t seen it as a career choice, do you?

    • Simon Hunter

      I paid some taxes n I’m sick o’ scroungers –
      those landlords gaming benefits on loungers,
      those *ankers with their stash in offshore places,
      those feckless tnucs who curse our poor men’s faces.

    • beatonthedonis

      Are you also sick of being forced to pay higher taxes because others avoid them – up to £70bn a year’s worth? Are you sick of your savings and pension being devalued by money printing, while a few people profit very handsomely from it? Are you sick of the national debt being almost double the headline figure if you include the bank bailouts, and that the banks are still paying their staff billions in bonuses?

      I’m not saying we shouldn’t address abuse of the benefits system. I’m just saying that there are equally pressing priorities.

      • Ridcully

        What evidence do you have that you are “forced” to pay higher taxes because others avoid them? Do you believe that if the avoiders were paying what you consider to be their “fair” share that your own tax contribution would be lower? What is more likely is that the state would just eagerly gobble up the extra revenue and expand itself even further.

        • fla56

          if you can’t see that Sir Philip Green and Gary Barlow hiding so much money offshore means that the rest of us pay more tax then Huston we have a problem

          and do you understand QE’s theft of wealth?

          i’ll be impressed if you can even read this with that level of intelligence

          • Ridcully

            Well, perhaps I’m not quite as edjumacated as you clearly are, but I’m still capable of understanding that the more you feed the state, the more it demands.
            You may well argue that Sir Philip Green and Gary Barlow should “pay their fair share,” and that’s probably fair comment, but if you really believe that once the Greens and the Barlows started paying more, that your own tax bill would reduce then….no, I’m not going to sink to your level.

            • fla56

              there’s a difference between believe and expect

              i understand that under the current crop of highly corrupt career politicians this is unlikely to happen

              but i’ll vote for someone different who might make this happen

        • First L

          Quite true, and in fact our children’s children’s children will be paying insane amounts of tax to pay off the debt created by Gordon Brown.