Mark Steel: You have to work hard for a silver spoon

How's Cameron planning to stop the £90bn of tax avoidance we suffer?
  • @mrmarksteel

How can anyone match that? A Prime Minister born into canyons of wealth condemns the "something-for-nothing culture". He's like a great sportsman, a Messi or Usain Bolt, who's so far ahead, you can't imagine how to stop him.

Some might try to match him for admirably brazen hypocrisy. The Queen might have a go, starting her Christmas speech with, "This year, my thoughts turned to the fact that what makes me sick are these people who have extravagant celebrations on the anniversary of their jobs." Maybe an anti-European MP can try "Furthermore, these nations of Europe we are being asked to integrate with are incapable of scoring consistently from the penalty spot."

Or this is unfair, and Cameron did work hard to get his something. As he was born into it he must have performed all this graft as an embryo, putting in shift after shift and even doing an extra job in the evenings at Pizza Hut once he'd developed fingers, not like these idle poncing foetuses you get tugging on the umbilical cord every time they want something for nothing.

The category of loafers he's decided to target is people under 25 who claim housing benefit. But there's been no announcement yet on how he's planning to stop the something-for-nothing types whose tax avoidance costs around £90bn a year. So if housing benefit claimants are a priority, they must be swiping more than that. There must be groups of 20-year-olds claiming they're living in the Taj Mahal at a rent of 10 million quid a week, or Justin Bieber's signing on at a jobcentre in Stoke, and the Pope's let out the Vatican to a group of mates in a band who spend all day rolling joints and rehearsing in the Sistine Chapel.

The argument is that young people don't need housing benefit as they could move back to the room they lived in as a child, in their parents' home. This might make sense, only most 25-year-olds have ceased to be a child and are now 25. So the room they had with a bedspread with sea creatures on it isn't really suitable now because they might have moved away, or are married or have an engineering degree in a way that would have been less likely when they were eight.

You might as well ban 25-year-olds from using a library because they could go back to having books read to them by their mum, or insist they have no need for social security because if they're hungry, they can ask their mum to express breast milk, instead of expecting food for nothing.

So the Etonian Prime Minister with a millionaire stockbroker father, and a wife worth £20m as an eighth holder of a baronetcy, and a Chancellor who inherited £5m from his father's wallpaper company, are determined to stop these people getting something for nothing. You can try, but it's not easy to beat. Sebastian Coe telling the Dalai Lama not to look so smug. Josef Fritzl lamenting the decline of family values. No, it can't be done.