Fleet Street seems staggered to hear that half a million under-35s are on incapacity benefit – as publicised by the FT yesterday. Even Xinhua, the Chinese government newswire service, follows up the report (socialism, but certainly not as they know it). The Daily Mail’s leader refers to “shocking new” figures - shocking yes, but hardly new as I pointed out yesterday. These figures have been printed quarterly, for at least a decade. No journalists took note. And today's count is the lowest since the current data series started in 1999. So our press is not startled because the figure is new. It’s just that no one seems to have noticed before. A mass of half a million souls – greater than the population of Manchester Sheffield, Liverpool or Leeds – whom much of the British media (and, needless to say, the dozy Official Opposition) seemingly hadn’t come across until now.
All this highlights the gap between the debate amongst the UK political/media classes and what is really going on in the council estates of this country. No wonder Gordon Brown has been able to get away with so much for so long.