“Scrounger mum says I want baby number nine!”
I had a call this morning from Nick Ferrari’s LBC Radio show about a story in the Daily Star with the above headline. They wanted my comment on it.
I’m still not sure what my comment is to be honest.
It would be easy to say, yes, she gives single mothers and benefit claimants and all the rest of us a bad name… but I think it’s probably the paper doing that. After all, they have no doubt paid her for this article, and if they hadn’t found her, they would have found someone else to tell the same story. I don’t know about you, but if I had 8 kids and no job, and a journalist offered me a few hundred quid for an article 3 weeks before Christmas, I’d probably say “yeah ok, I want another baby and also a new house and an alien in the back yard to go with the giraffe your taxes are already paying for.” (extra points if you get the obscure reference to Mark Steele there)
I’m going to stick my neck out here though, and say that even if this particular lady is the scum of the earth, producing babies just to get benefits – she’s probably in the minority on that one. Most people don’t do that. In that way, this story is unrepresentative.
I think it’s easy to vilify this woman, and she’s obviously not doing much to help herself in those stakes.
But really, the comment in the piece about “why don’t they go after big business instead” is a valid point. Yes, the government could cut this lady’s benefits tomorrow and turf her and her 8 kids out onto the street… and their grand total saving would be £40k, maximum.
If they went after even one company that’s dodging taxes or a millionaire with a crafty accountant, don’t you think they might make a little more money that way?
Single mothers, benefit claimants, social housing tenants, people with lots of kids – they’re all an easy target for the media, but eradicating them is not going to suddenly change the country, the economy or even the street they live on.
And yes, saying she gets £30k a year in benefits sounds like a lot – but if you divide that up between her and her kids, that’s probably not a lot of money per head for food, clothes, Christmas. Yes, she has a lot of kids. Yes, that’s probably a bit irresponsible on her part, and certainly in her current situation to say she plans to have more kids (as opposed to “I’d like to, one day, if I can”) is a bit daft. But what can you do? You can’t make her un give birth, can you? You can’t euthanize the children so as to make her housing and benefit needs a little more tidy and convenient… though in all honesty I really wouldn’t put that idea past our current government.
It’s easy to get outraged by a story like this; after all, that’s what the aim of the piece is. But I think that’s just an easy win for all concerned. The paper can’t do a story about someone like me – gets her head down, works as hard as she can to provide for her child – because there’s no story there. Nobody would read a story about someone who works hard, pays their bills, doesn’t deal drugs, doesn’t rock up drunk for school pick up. But the sensationalism involved in “your taxes pay me £30k a year for my 8 kids and I’m going to have another! Ha! In your face, tax payers!” is too irresistible isn’t it.