The story of Shannon Matthews' disappearance - and dramatic reappearance, apparently alive and well, today - has confirmed the degree to which class is still the cultural register in our purportedly classless society.
Karen Matthews has acted appropriately throughout: she was waiting for Shannon at home; she contacted the police as soon as she had exhausted all the obvious locations. And yet, our eye is drawn to her poverty, numbers of partners, cans of lager going into her household. Everything about Ms Matthews' life has been up for scrutiny.
Owen Jones 2012:
What does it say about modern Britain when the pre-meditated massacre of six children is described as "an accident waiting to happen" on national television? In the early hours of last Friday, someone poured petrol through the letterbox of the Philpott household, unleashing a blaze that ended in one of the most appalling mass murders in our country's recent history. Whoever was responsible must have known the almost inevitable consequences of their actions. No rationalisations exist for this sort of atrocity.
But we rarely see this reality: it is intentionally hidden from us. The Government and much of the media divert anger from those who caused the crisis, to your "scrounging" neighbour down the street. And so we end with Carole Malone arguing that a family whose children died in a fire brought it on themselves. It is beyond shameful. And it must be challenged.Hey, it's almost as if refusing to draw value judgments about people who live self indulgent and parasitic existences is a flawed way of observing human life and that maybe feckless behaviour is indicative of not being nice people.