Letters: Osborne’s use of dead children is despicable

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 6th March 2013



It is despicable that George Osborne should use the deaths of six children at the hands of their violent, equally despicable father to make the case for benefit cuts.

Only 10 per cent of the benefits costs goes to out-of-work families, the rest to families on low wages which we, the taxpayers pay, to top up with working-family tax credits. Housing benefit goes not to the poor but to landlords who in many cases due to housing shortages charge exorbitant rents.

Benefit fraud costs 0.07 per cent of payment less than £1bn; tax avoidance costs at least £70bn a year. To effectively cut the benefits bill, the Government needs to make it mandatory for companies to pay their workers the living – not minimum – wages and bring in regulation of rents so landlords receive a reasonable return on their investment, not an excessive one.

Valerie Crews, Beckenham, Kent


I thought that human beings couldn’t sink much lower. Then I saw George Osborne, on television, using this in his warfare on the welfare state, which could result in the deaths of many more children than six. Using the deaths of innocent children for political purposes is cynical and evil.

John Tilbury, Tingley, West Yorkshire


George Osborne asks why the state is funding the lifestyle of evil people like Mick Philpott. One might ask him why the state is supporting the lifestyle of bankers and their like whose greed and incompetence brought the country to its knees, but who have been bailed out to a far greater level without any apparent change in their behaviour.

Geoffrey Payne, London W5


Nothing mitigates Philpott’s crimes, but very little mitigates George Osborne’s blatant class hatred, which contributes to the impossible circumstances in which people at the bottom of the social pile are condemned to scratch around.

If Philpott is a bit cleverer with money than Osborne, it’s not surprising. He did not have the cushion of millions earned by his family selling wallpaper. Perhaps Osborne could learn from Philpott that it’s smarter to pull the revenue in, to spend it and boost the economy.

David Penn, Kendal, Cumbria


It was predictable that Osborne should try to make political capital out of Philpott but wrings his hands over the wealthy tax avoiders who play the tax system for far greater gain. I don’t hear him calling for a debate in this, which has significantly greater potential to put more money into the coffers than many thousands of Philpotts could remove.

Geoff Griffiths, South Wingfield, Derbyshire


Another aspect of the Philpott story I find shocking is that this violent and abusive man could so easily find successive women so insecure that his control felt like “protection”. All commendation to Lisa Willis, who had the courage to leave and stand up to his threats.

Sarah Thursfield, Llanymynech, Powys


Philpott’s motive in setting fire to his council house may have been to get a bigger one while blaming his former mistress for the blaze and thus getting her into trouble.

Yet he was equally encouraged by his addiction to celebrity, fed over years by the media, with the assistance of celebrity figures such as Jeremy Kyle and Ann Widdecombe. There was even a local reporter tasked with writing regular stories about Philpott for the local paper.

Vaughan Grylls, London WC1


Mick Philpott’s welfare lifestyle may or may not have cost the taxpayer £100,000 a year, but with the average expense of keeping someone in prison estimated at an £50,000 a year, the cost of sending him, his wife and his friend to jail will exceed that by a wide margin. Criminals are supposed to pay for their crimes. Now, whether for banksters or other criminals, it’s the taxpayer who picks up the tab.

Simon Prentis, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire


Deport danger of Abu Qatada

Consulting my copy of Boswell, I notice that Dr Johnson is a little less sure of himself than Howard Jacobson (“Shoot the highwaymen and send Abu Qatada packing”, 30 March). Boswell quotes Johnson: “At the same time, one does not know what to say. For perhaps one may, a year after, hang himself from uneasiness for having shot a highwayman. Few minds are fit to be trusted with so great a thing.”

Boswell: “Then, Sir, you would not shoot him?”

Johnson: “But I might be vexed afterwards for that too.”

This passage cannot be used to support either the premeditated killing of Osama bin Laden, or sending Abu Qatada back to Jordan; also, rather than being “robust”, Johnson is tentative and thoughtful. Perhaps Jacobson could follow his example.

He might also consider the example of the Duke of Montrose in Boswell’s footnote: Montrose shot one highwayman who attacked him, but told his servant not to follow the other with the words: “No, we have had blood enough. I hope the man may live to repent.”

John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire


Jacobson is persuasive that we should ignore the judiciary and deport Abu Qatada. He’s an unpleasant fellow and it would be only a small infringement of a legal process that recognises him as a danger.

And there may come a time when it is a handy precedent to ease the removal of anyone else the authorities might think sullies this green and pleasant land. It is just that I’m left a bit worried. Might someone who encourages erosion of the rule of law not be a greater threat to me than Mr Abu Qatada?

David McDowall, Richmond, Surrey


The main argument used by protagonists of Trident renewal is opposed not only to unilateral nuclear disarmament but to multilateral disarmament as well.

The case used to be made that it would be useless at best for Britain to discard nuclear weapons unilaterally, but should use them in the bargaining in negotiations towards world nuclear disarmament. That one seems to have been discarded after the Cold War.

Now the case made is that Britain must retain nuclear arms for ever, not because of identifiable threats at present but because the future is uncertain and “you never know what might happen”.

But that’s not quite true. One thing which can definitely be predicted is that if the existing nuclear powers insist on remaining nuclear armed (and they do), in the end, most other countries will join them (as more and more are doing), in a world where everyone is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, all pointing at one another. Is this really a world in which Britain will be safer?

Roger Schafir, London N21


Trident replacement will not cost £100bn, but £3bn a year for about 30 years, a very different thing, and less than 0.5 per cent of annual government expenditure, and less than 1 per cent of big, ring-fenced budgets like the NHS, education and pensioner benefits.

Scrapping it would make no discernible difference to the overall position of the welfare budgets, but would permanently cost us many thousands of hi-tech jobs, one of our few centres of excellence in advanced manufacturing and our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

People might desire all those outcomes because they favour unilateral nuclear disarmament and neutrality per se, but the supposed financial benefits are nonsense.

R S Foster, Sheffield


Mr Cameron thinks that North Korea’s belligerence proves we need to replace Trident, so rogue states led by slightly insane tyrants will be deterred if we can threaten nuclear retaliation.

What kind of insanity is deterred by the retaliatory threat of nuclear weapons but unmoved by the devastation that conventional weapons would wreak?

Only ridding the world of nuclear weapons makes nuclear war unlikely.

Stephen Hoyland, Lancaster


If we need nuclear weapons because of the threat from North Korea, the threat to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea must be greater. Shouldn’t we ship some nukes out there pronto? Could that calm things a bit?

Francis Roads, London E18


Stone me! Who’s got all the tickets?

I tried to buy tickets for the Rolling Stones’ 6 June concert in Hyde Park. As a Barclaycard customer, I had priority before 23.30 on Thursday. When I logged in about 20.00, the only tickets left were “hospitality” ones, costing upwards of £700. Now, on a certain “online auction” site, there are numerous tickets at vastly inflated prices. Can someone please explain to me how this process is fair to all? Are laws being broken?

John Schluter, Guildford, Surrey


Fine the directors

No doubt SSE deserved to be fined (report, 4 April). But it seems that fine will be paid either by the customers of SSE in higher bills or by the shareholders through lower dividends. Neither makes sense. If a company is guilty of an offence that any competent board of directors should have known about, then the directors themselves should pay the fine, lose all bonuses paid during the relevant period and stand for re-election at the next AGM.

THC Noon, Tiverton, Devon


Jump too far

Malcolm Howard (letters, 5 April) would need a wonder horse to clear 40 fences. Red Rum looked as if he could do just that, and one of his conquerors, L’Escargot, a class horse with a light weight, looked as if he could go round again. In recent times, Ballabriggs couldn’t do a further 40 paces at the end of the race. Still, I’ll be happy if my selection clears all 30 of the fences.

David Lyons, Stockport, Cheshire


Aiding lunacy

So the Government is sending Pakistan a team from our Revenue and Customs to help them collect their own taxes, because so many people there, including politicians, are failing to pay up (letters, 5 April). Our overseas aid policy is not altruism but lunacy.

David Ashton, Shipbourne, Kent


We’re no awa’ ...

“As I sip on my pint, wary of the fact that it’s barely midday...” writes Will Coldwell as he investigates tank beer at a Balham hostelry (5 April). Good grief, what has happened to the proud traditions of British journalism? The exploits of Lunchtime O’Booze are clearly just a distant memory.

Stephen Dodding, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore

People drink to shut out pain and stress – arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?