Boy George was banging on in his Budget about the need to reduce public spending still further and balance the books. Good luck with that.
For all the Government’s best intentions, so-called public servants keep doling out money hand over fist.
Let me elaborate with the help of two seemingly unrelated stories this week from the Mail. At first they appear to have nothing in common, but all will become clear.
Never mind Cashing In For Christmas, thanks to the generosity of the welfare system, Marie Buchan (pictured with her children) must think Christmas comes every day, writes Richard Littlejohn
The first concerns a former lap dancer Marie Buchan, dubbed ‘Octomum’ because of her eight children, who has escaped eviction from her four-bedroom housing association home in the West Midlands, despite running up rent arrears of £4,000.
She blames the Government for not deducting the rental money directly from her welfare payments.
Birmingham’s answer to the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe is receiving £26,000 a year in benefits and, although she’s had a hysterectomy, says she is considering having another baby via a surrogate.
She recently treated herself to a puppy because she was feeling ‘broody’, so she doesn’t seem short of a shilling. But she’s worried that, with further Government welfare cuts looming, she could be forced to look for work.
Buchan, who employs an agent and came to prominence on a television ‘reality’ show, called On Benefits: Cashing In For Christmas, has no reservations about living off the taxpayer. She’s now 33 and started having children when she was 19.
More from Richard Littlejohn for the Daily Mail…
Her agent claims she is training as a mechanic and plans to start her own business if she can persuade ITV to film her. Believe that when you see it. What’s the betting she’ll still be living on benefits when she is a great-grandmother?
Never mind Cashing In For Christmas, thanks to the generosity of the welfare system, Marie Buchan must think Christmas comes every day.
But there’s one crucial question which no one ever seems to ask her: Who’s the daddy?
She isn’t described as a widow in any of the reports I’ve read, and there’s never any mention of a Mr Buchan, although in a magazine interview she did refer to a ‘partner’. But he doesn’t appear to be living with her.
So who — and where — is the father/fathers of these kids and how much, if anything, does he/they contribute in maintenance?
My guess is diddly squat.
If the Child Support Agency isn’t already on the case, then it damn well should be. Despite the progress made by the CSA, single-parent families are one of the biggest drains on the Exchequer.
This isn’t being ‘judgmental’ or intended in any way to stigmatise lone mums struggling to bring up their children in straightened circumstances. It’s a fact.
According to the latest figures I could find, single parent families cost the country around £50 billion a year in a variety of ways — that’s over £1,500 for each taxpayer.
Why the hell should the rest of us be expected to relieve feckless fathers of their responsibilities?
Marie Buchan is part of the Benefits Street culture. Our second story comes from the opposite end of the social spectrum.
A stay-at-home mum who gave up a career as a recruitment consultant has been awarded 90 per cent of her family’s assets in a controversial divorce settlement hailed as a victory for ‘conventional housewives’.
Jane Morris, 52, spent 19 years bringing up her three children and supporting her husband Peter, a software tycoon. When they split, she discovered she had been out of the workplace for too long and no longer had the potential to earn the kind of salary she had commanded before her marriage.
I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of this case, but the sums of money involved are substantial. At the time of the split, Mr Morris was earning £240,000 a year, the family lived in a £1.2 million home in Buckinghamshire and the children went to £30,000-a-year public schools.
Following the separation, Mr Morris went on a spending spree, burning through tens of thousands of pounds in fancy restaurants and on birthday parties and gifts for his new girlfriend. He enjoyed six holidays in nine months, including a week-long break in Italy costing £4,000.
He is now challenging the settlement and trying to overturn a six-month jail sentence imposed for failure to make monthly maintenance payments.
Now here’s the rub. Mr Morris says his company is facing insolvency and he’s flat broke. So, to his credit, he intended to represent himself at the appeal.
But when the case came to court, the judge, Lady Justice Black, adjourned it and told him to hire a legal aid barrister because his ‘liberty is at stake’.
So what? That’s his lookout. He’s an articulate, educated man, who ran what appears until recently to have been a very successful software development business.
I’m sure he’s perfectly capable of arguing his own case.
And if not, tough. He should have thought about that when he was frittering away a small fortune on luxuries. He must have known he’d need money for a lawyer somewhere down the line.
But when push came to shove, he was too skint to hire a proper brief. So the judge decided that we should pay his legal fees anyway.
Goodness knows how much that is going to cost. At least five grand, as a basis for negotiation, I shouldn’t wonder. Still, when it’s public money, it’s nobody’s money, so what the hell . . .
Legal aid is one of the biggest rackets out there, which is why the Government has been trying to hack it back. It has been costing us £2 billion a year, more than any other country in Europe.
It was introduced to give the poor access to justice, to provide them with a defence in mostly criminal actions. Legal aid was never designed to supply barristers to businessmen with millionaire lifestyles who find themselves on the rough end of a nasty divorce.
Similarly, the welfare system was supposed to be a safety net, not an endless source of money for women like Marie Buchan who breed like rabbits. Nor was it set up to allow fathers to impregnate women and then leave them holding the baby.
Boy George was banging on in his Budget about the need to reduce public spending still further and balance the books. Good luck with that
But we live in a world where the people in charge of our public services continue to lavish money on the undeserving with cavalier abandon. We’ve ended up with a system which bankrolls a selfish mother-of-eight and forces an expensive barrister on a businessman who didn’t ask for one.
Now you understand what these two stories have in common. This is what Boy George is up against when he pledges to balance the books.
Good luck with that.
No word yet from Scotland Yard on whether it intends to launch a full-scale inquiry into the sexual abuse of police recruits in the Sixties and Seventies.
A number of readers have emailed giving substance to these ‘historic’ allegations, which appear to be more widespread than we thought, taking in the Armed Forces and the education system. National Service recruits recall being forced to strip and cough rather more times than was strictly necessary, as well as having to bend over and touch their toes.
Others say they were forced to do naked star-jumps.
No word yet from Scotland Yard on whether it intends to launch a full-scale inquiry into the sexual abuse of police recruits in the Sixties and Seventies
One lady, who will remain nameless, remembers being told to strip to her knickers when applying for a job — as a teacher.
Mail reader Gordon Duncan applied to join the Met in 1967 at a police station in South London.
He, too, was ordered to strip. He says he had to stand on a mat with two footprints and bend down when instructed, as three examiners took notes.
While Gordon was still assuming the position, one of the examiners turned to the others and said: ‘He was here last year.’
I’ve heard of: ‘Put your trousers on, you’re nicked’ — but never: ‘Get your trousers off, you’re hired.’
Bungs in football? Surely not
South Africa won the rights to stage the 2010 football World Cup after bunging £7 million in backhanders to corrupt FIFA officials.
Well, knock me down with a feather, Clever Trevor.
An investigation has concluded: ‘It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA’s executive committee abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions.’
South Africa ‘offered a more attractive bribe’ than its nearest rival Morocco. You must be as shocked as I am. Corruption? In international sport? What is the world coming to?
This must have been a one-off. If and when they ever get round to scrutinising the bidding process which led to Qatar winning the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup, I’m sure they will conclude that the decision was solely because of the mega-rich desert state’s temperate climate and distinguished footballing tradition.
Had to laugh at the picture of Zara Phillips smirking at the antics of those two drunken slatterns at Cheltenham races, one of whom was poking out a pierced tongue and was last seen popping up in the back of Del Boy Trotter’s Reliant van.
Had to laugh at the picture of Zara Phillips (left) smirking at the antics of those two drunken slatterns at Cheltenham races, one of whom was poking out a pierced tongue. It reminded me that Princess Anne’s daughter helped popularise tongue studs when she had one fitted a few years ago (right)
It reminded me that Princess Anne’s daughter helped popularise tongue studs when she had one fitted a few years ago. Mind you, she was only following a well-established royal tradition.
Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert is said to have pioneered a particularly painful method of intimate piercing, which bafflingly remains popular to this day — and is rumoured to be sported by Newsnight’s Evan Davis.