Mick Phillpott today began a life sentence for the "manslaughter" of six of hos own children. As a father, I cannot begin to understand the warped mind that could even for one second consider anything which would put children at risk to get at an ex partner. There are many aspects of Phillpott's domestic arrangement which I find quite bizarre and it is clear that he only really cares about one person - himself.
I've not bothered to read the press coverage of the case. I have no wish to ever consider this vile and repugnant man again. His mere existence makes me ashamed of my own humanity and for being part of a race and a nation that could spawn such a monster. But having said all of that, Mick Philpott holds a mirror up to each of us. When we look in that mirror what stares back? We rightly despise Mick Philpott for his actions. We recognise his scant regard for his childrens safety and wellbeing and it is easy to condemn his actions.
As I would hope that everyone agrees that killing children is as low and as despicable an act as you can get, we have to say, as we look in that mirror, how many children die in the UK for preventable reasons? Whilst Philpotts actions are clearly vile and evil, there were no warning signs that he was capable of such evil. There was nothing flagged up that said "Take action now to safeguard those children". We may have seen him on the Kyle show on TV and thought "there is something seriously dodgy going on", but no one would have anticipated the actions. It has been revealed that he had previously committed acts of violence against women, but this did not indicate a a threat to his children.
There are however all manner of things which we, as a society, accept that pose a clear and identifiable threat to children. Do you know what is the largest killer of children aged 5-15 in the UK? It is not Mick Philpott. It is not a nasty disease. It is speeding cars. The level of carnage inflicted on the youth of the nation is truly shocking, but somehow we are totally oblivious to this. If we read of a child run over and killed by a car doing 36 mph on a 30mph road near a school, do we condemn the driver or simply think "there but for the grace of God go I"? Because the truth is that every time we break a speed limit on a suburban road at a time of day when children are present, we run the risk of killing someone. No one ever gets into a motor car and plans to have an accident. No one ever plans to run a child over.
Before I wrote the Barnet Eye blog, before I knew of the shenanigans of Barnet Council, I regularly wrote to the local press about the policy of Barnet Council to rip out speed bumps. The previous Labour administration installed a whole host of traffic calming measures. When the Conservatives took power in 2002, they set about ripping them all out. The net result is that traffic accidents in Barnet have risen, relative to other similar London Boroughs. We are curiously myopic about the carnage of car accidents caused by speeding and careless driving. You may well say "how can the Barnet Eye possibly compare car crashes with the evil of Philpott?". I would respond by saying that given the massive number of children killed by selfish drivers trying to get from A to B a minute or two quicker, how can we possibly not take responsibility for our actions. If you have a car accident and hit someone because you were driving too fast, you were putting your own selfish desire to get somewhere slightly quicker than the law allows. If you kill or maim someone, you have done so because you are selfish. As a society we need to grow up and take responsibility. If everyone in the UK drove on suburban roads at or below the speed limit, then thousands of people would not get run over.
Now you may wonder what prompted such a rant. Let me tell you. This afternoon I was driving in Mill Hill listening to the coverage of the Philpott verdict. I, like everyone else was outraged at the details of the case. As I was driving I witnessed a speeding car nearly run a small child over. The car was probably doing 45 mph on a 30mph stretch near a (shut for holidays) school. A child of about 5 or 6 years old ran out in front of the car. As there was no oncoming traffic on the other side of the road, the car swerved and beeped and missed the child. I did not stop so I have no idea what the effect of the scare was on mother or child. What shocked me was that the car accelerated away from the scene, picking up speed to nearly 60mph before turning off. As I watched this awful scene, that all happened in the space of maybe 10 seconds, I thought "he nearly killed that kid and he didn't give a sh*t" given the way he sped off.
Now I don't know if the driver of the black mercedes who did that is a reader of this blog. I don't know if he gives a sh*t about anything or anyone else. What I do know is that someone who endangers a child for such selfish reasons clearly has a little bit of the "Philpott" about them. Whilst Philpott may well be one of the most evil men in the UK, each one of us individually has to take responsibility for our actions. I hope that the driver I witnessed today is a reader of this blog and feels thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
BTW I wrote this blog and then watched the News before proof reading it. On the news was a story where George Osborne seemingly attributed some blame for the Philpott case on the payment of benefits. Had I seen this before I wrote this blog, I may well have written a completely different blog. Osborne has shown what a completely clueless idiot he is with his comment. Being on benefits doesn't make people burn their own house down with their children inside, being a psychopath does. Did it occur to Osborne that maybe the reason Philpott was on benefits was because he was so evil and repulsive that he couldn't get or hold down a job. I run a firm and I employ several people. Each one undergoes an interview. In that interview process I try and ascertain whether that person is a team player, hard working, honest, reliable and likely to treat my customers with respect. If you didn't know about his arson, but had seen a few of the TV documentaries in which he featured, how many of those boxes do you think Philpott would have ticked?
Much as some of us may desire it to be different, we cannot deny anyone benefits because they are a repulsive individual with an unconventional lifestyle. If someone is so truly awful that they are unemployable, then they will have to live on benefits or starve to death. Removing benefits from the likes of Philpott would not make them any more employable. With millions on the dole, employers have the pick of who they want and the likes of Philpott will always be left on the bench. The only way that someone like Philpott would ever get a job is if the government compelled employers to employ the unemployable. No wonder the economy is in the state it's in if the Chancellor of the Exchequor can't figure that little puzzle out.