Today’s Daily Mail website has an article which ticks many of the boxes its readers are perceived to want ticked.
The headline in fact tells you the story, and, knowing the Daily Mail, one can predict the tone of the piece and of the comments.
However, on reading it, there is a tiny reference which seems to have been missed, both by the paper and by the vast majority of the 176 commenters (as at the time of typing this piece).
The article states “She also boasts that she finds it easy to run her huge household and has enough spare time to go to the park or the beach near her home in St Martins, Guernsey.”
Absolutely disgraceful – imagine having 14 children and still having time to go to the park or the beach! Mind you, Guernsey is nice…
Wait a minute. Guernsey, that’s in the Channel Islands?
The Channel Islands are not part of Great Britain, though they are part of the British Islands as defined in the Interpretation Act.
Does this make Joanne Watson “Britain’s most prolific single mother”? No – because she does not live in Britain!
Anyway, it’s still a disgrace, says the Daily Mail, that this woman has all these children paid for by the taxpayer. Surely the benefit budget is stretched too far already without these additional burdens on the state. And she has spent this money on a breast enlargement operation and on a sunbed!
Look at the story – her 15 year old daughter who is expecting is going to receive supplementary benefit and child allowance as well as all the money she gets herself.
A drain on our taxes – terrible!
But, wait another minute, supplementary benefit does not exist in the UK any more by that name, and “child allowance” isn’t a term used either. Why has the reporter made this silly mistake?
In fact it is not a mistake. Guernsey has its own benefit system, http://www.gov.gg/ccm/navigation/social-security and is not part of the UK benefit system at all!
So this story is, in fact, about a lady who does not live in the UK and does not cost the British taxpayer one penny!
The commenters are even better than the article in missing the point though.
One, from Canada, says “No wonder England is declining.”
Another, from Australia, blames New Labour!
Yet another Australian commenter says she is delighted she did not come back to the UK.
China’s policy of population control is praised, and a good few people seem to feel that workhouses never did anyone any harm and we should have them back.
There are also some who state that this is the type of thing that makes them want to leave the UK (and move to Guernsey perhaps?)
Interestingly, a few commenters make the pint I have above, namely that Guernsey is not part of the UK. These however all seem to have substantial numbers of red “dislikes” marked against them.
And finally Mark from Coventry says “In one article, you capture virtually everything wrong in the UK today.”
No Mark, in one article, you capture virtually everything that is wrong with the Daily Mail and its commenters.
I can’t work out if the reporter (a) did not realise himself about the differences between the UK and Guernsey or (b) was not bothered about them in case they got in the way of the story.
I, of course, am merely pondering the matter. No criticism of the reporter in question is intended or implied.
UPDATE – a quick Google Search reveals that, in October 2010, there was a long and sympathetic article about this family and the fact that Joanne Watson was about to be married again. The piece had an entirely different tone, praising the lady for her “neat as a pin” house and her organisation etc.
The paper that story was in – yes, you’ve guessed it – the Daily Mail!