Melanie Phillips’ dishonest attack on Rory Weal

One of the main criticisms of the welfare state I seem to hear about is that it rewards the idle, whilst punishing the hard-working who ultimately have to fund the system through direct and indeed indirect taxation. It is a point made by Ed Miliband in his speech today, in which he wants his new society in general to reward hard work and social responsibility whilst punishing the workshy and feckless. What most people do agree on is that the welfare state is a vital safety net for those that fall on hard times, in particular those that have contributed for years into that system.

Step forward the 16-year-old Rory Weal who gave a speech at the Labour Conference today. The Telegraph reports that:

the son of a company director, [Rory] had enjoyed a privileged upbringing before his parents split up following financial trouble in 2008.

He was a pupil at the independent Colfe’s School in Lee, south east London, but had to leave after his father’s City-based employment agency, Jonathan Weal Associates, went bust…

His family lived in a £500,000 home in Chislehurst, Kent, until it was repossessed and his mother Elaine, 43, an administrator at a cleaning company, separated from 53-year-old Mr Weal.

Rory Weal spoke of this experience today in his speech:

two and a half years ago the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed. We had nothing, no money, no savings. I owe my entire well-being and that of my family’s to the welfare state, that is why I joined the Labour party but that very same welfare state is being ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious and right-wing Tory-led government.

I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net.

It is very clear, Rory Weal was living the life of a privileged young man, but he then experienced – along with the rest of his family – what it was like to lose everything, but to be saved by the safety net offered by the welfare state – a system his parents had obviously paid much into over the years. He has now realised the importance of such a system because he realises that any family, no matter how successful one minute, can find themselves at the mercy of what the government has (or indeed hasn’t)  in place for them in tough times. All very reasonable, irrespective of what your personal political view may be.

You might think.

Then in steps Melanie Phillips to tackle the temerity of this 16-year-old boy for daring to voice his opinion: ‘The Labour mantra of hate finds a new star in 16-year-old Weal’. Leaving aside Melanie’s need to tar anyone with an opposing view as a ‘zealot’ or full of ‘hate’, she goes on to take wildly out of context his words in order to make her case against him.

Let’s just repeat that, a seasoned journalist writing for the Daily Mail (which does have a genuine ‘mantra of hate’) not only feels the need to aggressively shout down a 16-year-old boy, but also has to use completely dishonest tactics to do so. Yet according to Phillips he is the posterboy of the ‘Labour mantra of hate’! Phillips’ writes:

Rory Weal was hailed as a hero for saying something that should have chilled the marrow. For he said:

‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state.’

In the real world, what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state.

Worse still, it would appear that in the mind of 16 year-old Rory Weal he has never gained any benefit to himself from anything other than the state. [Emphasis is mine]

How can a highly-paid journalist dare to write in brackets ‘if true’ when a quick Google search would show her that it wasn’t true in the slightest and that before needing to turn to the salvation of the state his parents were independent, wealthy and paid an awful lot of money into the system which would eventually save them.

It’s just unbelievable that Melanie Phillips is paid to be so lazy, so underhanded, so utterly wrong on every count. She is one of the elite few national journalists still happy to repeat the ‘Winterval’ myth even though it was debunked years ago and today she demonstrates that even when arguing with kids she’s happy to lie to defend her own warped worldview.

Melanie Phillips continues to remove any shred of context regarding what Rory Weal actually said:

No mention, note, of what he owes to his parents’ own efforts for his well-being.

Indeed, to him they appear to have made no such contribution since he told us that he owes his ‘entire well-being’ to the welfare state.

To Rory Weal, all good things appear to come from the state – and so anyone who dares suggest otherwise is vicious and right-wing. Is that not terrifying?

Words fail me. He owes his ‘entire well-being’ right now because the safety net saved him from destitution when his family lost everything – not because he and his family have spent their entire life suckling from the teet of welfare dependency you insane woman. Rory Weal did not imply that ‘all good things appear to come from the state’, what he implies in his speech is that if it should all go wrong and you find your life suddenly reduced to nothing, who else can possibly help you – and who will help people in future if the welfare state is destroyed?

What is terrifying is that Melanie Phillips isn’t some kind of Brass Eye parody, but an actual human being that genuinely believes these things.

And still she continues:

He also complained that, after his parents divorced,‘ two and-a-half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed’.

But two and a half years ago it was of course Labour that was in power.

So Rory Weal was blaming the Tories for a series of actions which were in fact taken by Labour governments! This boy will indeed go far.

MELANIE! For the love of truth! He wasn’t blaming the Tories for repossessing his house, he wasn’t blaming anyone for repossessing his house. Rory simply pointed out that after it was repossessed he and his family were saved by the welfare state and it is this that he is now worried the Tories will destroy.

Someone needs to have a word with Mad Mel. She is supposedly a seasoned professional and here she is smugly and triumphantly finishing an article attacking a 16-year-old boy with a put down that is complete fiction and only serves to highlight how incredibly blinkered and stupid she is. The Daily Mail seems to be abandoning any semblance of editorial standards with this attack. It’s just a pathetic, dishonest, embarrassing mess from start to finish.