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.

28 thoughts on “Melanie Phillips’ dishonest attack on Rory Weal

  1. How does she come to the conclusion that Labour repossessed his home! Such mindless crap! This is showing the strain the right are under when they have to resort to desperate articles like this. Is it wrong to hope that the likes of Phillips et al. Will one day fall on the safety net of the welafre state and see what it is really like? Mind you the Daily Mail seem to be pro-benefits whenever the middle/upper classes are concerned. Just look at their outrage when the tories slashed child benefit for high earners.

  2. But whatever the ins and outs of Phillips it’s a PR own goal for Labour. His posh accent first suggested as was not as it appeared. All Ed’s great talk about circles of power and insiders rings hollow when a privately educated millionaire’s son somehow gets a prime spot at the conference

  3. I expect no better from the DM, they employ idiots with warped views on life to whip up a scandal where none exists! Typical rubbish.

  4. Please stop calling Melanie Phillips a journalist when she’s clearly a columnist. It’s offensive to actual journalists to be tarred with the same shit that she flings on to the page.

  5. I was sent this link by a friend. Thank you for your very reasonable and cogent dismantling of Ms Phillips’s article. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. From having heard her relentless negativity on Radio 4’s “The Moral Maze”, I would say that (as a former left-winger, like Peter Hitchens) she is tortured with self-hatred, which she has turned upon the world. A very sad person. Unlike Rory Weal, who has provided one of the few reasons to celebrate this week.

  6. The point the boy was trying to make was that ‘it could happen to you’ and if it does, the welfare state ought to be around to help you which it was in his case and a good thing too.

    The alternative, presumably, is the workhouse.
    People like Ph8illips, Hitchens etc ought to remember ‘there but for fortune’ and hope it’s still around when they’re old and senile and they’ve run out of savings…

  7. The comments are interesting.

    Mel Phillips’ article makes a series of points which may or may not be correct.

    Here is the response: “She is a shit human being”.

    Normally I would have ignored Mel. But when I see the emotionalism of that sort of answer, my antennae tell me she might have something worth saying.

  8. Lazy and shit journalism from the mad harpy. Again. The “if true” interjection, like her use of “apparently” in the bollocks piece about the BBC “banning” the use of BC and AD, is just shorthand for “I can’t be arsed to check the facts”. I’d love to know how much she gets paid for spewing out this hate-filled drivel.

  9. I am surprised not when the DM or Melanie Phillips write something demonstrably false, but when they write something factually acuurate. The DM isn’t a newspaper but the published prejudices of Paul Dacre, and Melanie Phillips not a journalist but a mouthpiece.
    I look forward to a like-for-like press corrections system, just so every other day the Mail will have “You know that outrageous stuff we shouted about yesterday? We made it up” plastered across its front page.

  10. Isn’t it funny? Whenever someone she approves of is called a bigot, such as a pro-gay death penalty preacher, she screams about “IT WILL SOON BE A CRIME TO BE A CHRISTIAN! THE GAY AGENDA WILL CALL ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THEM A BIGOT OR A ZEALOT OR WORSE”

    And yet here she is, calling a teenage boy a “zealot” and a “bigot” and a poster boy for a “mantra of hate” for wait for it… saying something she doesn’t agree with. Mad Mel seems to exist in a parallel universe where only her double standards apply. She’s a bullying lunatic who despite having a comfortable lifestyle where plenty of people fawn on her bigoted views, but that’s not enough: she wants to feel like a victim too and that her lifestyle is under attack because she can’t legally force people to follow her life choices as well.

  11. One look at the above comments tells you the pedigree of contributors we get here. Take one at random: ‘Melanie Phillips isn’t a journalist’. Mind numbing stupidity. I bet you would have considered her a ‘journalist’ in the 70s when she was a socialist (and much more obtuse) reporter.

  12. @ Hoover and Gareth.

    How about you ignore the few abusive comments here and actually read the article? Or is your defence of Phillips that someone said something nasty and that completely negates the lengthy article written by someone else?

  13. “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?”

    No, it may well be by his comments that he maybe even somewhat resentful that his father invested, possibly remortgaged the roof over his and his mothers head to subsidise a struggling business in a market place already full of many similar!

    When he says he owes the fact he is here to the safety net of the state, he is being outrightly honest, had it not been for that, then he would possibly sleeping in a gutter somewhere or possibly have already died of hypothermia.

    Maybe he resents the tory policy of borrowing against homes as a financial asset to fund pet project businesses whilst still trying to get all they can out of the system.

    Oh by the way useless snippet: It is illegal under UK law to charge a person to secure a job (it does not specify how that payment is made, deducted from earnings etc… but actually under UK law it is illegal to be paid to find someone else work… a strange irony)

    Its also illegal to charge a person in advance to secure a property! hmmm…

    On a lighter note: it is also illegal to commit suicide, though I think its loosly in
    the section of the law dealing with tax-evation

  14. I just read the link from Vaughan at 7. Do the writers of the Daily Mail not know what the term “repossessed” means? Seriously, it doesn’t matter how much the banks were able to sell for , and whether that amount is more or less than your average UK home. The money goes to the bank, to pay off the loan. The only benefit the family would get from that is one less bill debt.
    Phillips is a shit. Not for her right wing views, but for her dishonesty. You can disagree with anything, but your arguments should be honest.

  15. I found this demolition of Phillips while researching her recent appearance on Question Time. I have always seen her as someone who stimulates debate by her ‘challenging’ views.

    However, having seen her argue against decriminalizing drugs, in a calm, author active, and coherent way, I suddenly realise how dangerous she is.

    From now on I would like to dedicate a significant part of my time to find any way possible to discredit her. And what I have read on this blog only makes me more determined.

    Melanie Phillips is a dangerous woman because she comes across so convincingly. Check the facts and you quickly find that her ‘facts’ come from the wildest finges of right wing lunacy.

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