A Chancellor has to think very carefully before they comment on the issues of the day. How they do so says a lot about the character of their Chancellorship.
That is why I believe George Osborne’s calculated decision to use the shocking and vile crimes of Mick Philpott to advance a political argument is the cynical act of a desperate Chancellor.
Our main thought at this time should be about the six children who tragically lost their lives, and the others in the family who have been left to mourn their loss.
As Stephen Timms said earlier, millions of people, including pensioners and the disabled, people in work and out of work, receive benefits and tax credits. They will be as shocked and disgusted by the callous killing of these children as anyone else in Britain.
We should have a proper debate about welfare reform. And we should discuss what action needs to be taken to tackle the scourge of long-term unemployment including the need for a compulsory jobs guarantee so that people cannot languish on the dole for years and years on end.
But for the Chancellor to link this wider debate to this shocking crime is nasty and divisive and demeans his office.
George Osborne now needs to explain why he has chosen to comment on this case, and why he has sought to make a link between a terrible crime and the welfare system, when he has said nothing about the financial circumstances of those who commit other terrible crimes.