The road to hell

I don’t think I really need to dissect this:

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… but I’m going to leave it here so I can refer back to it in the future when we find – to our surprise, shock and horror – that it has… well, I was going to say unintended consequences, but for the promoters of this initiative, I’m sure the consequences are entirely intended.

I’m sure there will be a few in Parliament who will valiantly seek to defang this ghastly piece of legislation, but there will be a silent many who have their misgivings yet choose to remain silent because anyone who speaks out against the inevitable injustice that this presages will be hanged, drawn and quartered in the court of the Twittermob.

So, I’ll come back when it has been shown that this leads to men being unjustly punished due to miscarriages of justice, and women behaving more overtly vindictively than before because they’re being enabled and encouraged to do so by the law of the land.

I’ll remind you of Blackstone’s formulation, which seems to have become a deeply unfashionable nostrum in our dark times.

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

Here’s another one that’s out of the window.

Lady Justice (Latin: Iustitia) is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.[1][2] Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance, and a sword.

To be reminded today of ‘Lady Justice’ sticks in the throat like a strap-on cactus.

In an age when the police and the prosecution services are truly under the control of the matriarchy, it is inevitable that men will receive unjust treatment, and the women responsible will go unpunished even when their perfidy is revealed.

AJ

UPDATE: I’ll lean on commentary that I agree with from Chateau Heartiste

Tyranny of the NIMBYs

First they came for the motor racing, but you didn’t speak out, because you weren’t a motor racing enthusiast.

Then they came for the chiiiiilldreeeen’s playtime. You’re fucking paying attention now, aren’t you?

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A school has reluctantly banned hard-ball games and reduced pupil numbers in outdoor breaks after neighbours complained about "excessive" noise.

Boisterous children have played in the grounds of Barlby primary school, near Selby in North Yorkshire, for more than a century, but governors say that modern legislation has forced the move.

Three nearby residents have complained repeatedly to Selby district council, and the school feared that a noise abatement order might follow, imposing more severe restrictions.

Well, look. I don’t have kids. Hell, I can’t even stand the grotty little sods. But I’m speaking out. Do you see?

Three people – fucking three! – complained about the noise of children playing. In a school playground. That’s been a school playground for more than 100 years.

And the school has to roll over because of stupid NIMBY-loving laws – probably brought in by Labour, but the other lot are just as big a bunch of cunts, so it’s a moot point.

Or perhaps the school could have had more robust legal advice? And just who are these three people who seem to be able to make the world bend their will? What is it I should know?

AJ

A postscript on the Invisible Finger and Twitter.

I refuse to believe this is anything but a temporary co-incidence, but…

There’s a road I’ve been using a lot recently. It’s a twisty and technical road, but it’s also a main thoroughfare for local traffic.

A couple of weeks back, I was frustrated to be stuck in a queue of traffic for the third time that week, behind a slow moving lorry. For reasons I can only speculate about, on each occasion it was a Sainsbury’s lorry. Plenty of other lorries use the road, but apparently none as slowly as the Sainsbury’s lorries, and it was starting to piss me off.

So I when I finished my journey, I tweeted @Sainsburys explaining in my exasperation, that each future occasion I got stuck on that road behind one of their lorries, I would abandon a trolley load of perishables in one of their stores.

Hyperbolic, of course, but maybe – just maybe – it got their attention. I followed that up with a couple more tweets and retweets, but I never received a response.

Nevertheless, in the last 7 business days, I travelled that route approx 10 times, and I haven’t seen a Sainsbury’s lorry, let alone been held up by one.

Like I said, pure coincidence. Isn’t it?

AJ

The Power of Twitter to Uncloak the Invisible Finger

This is a topic that many Twitter users have mixed feelings about.

It’s becoming increasingly common for corporations to dredge Twitter for mentions of their organisation.

For why?

Well, various reasons, I’m sure. It must have been a hell of a wake-up call to some of them, to see, in real-time, hundreds or perhaps thousands of comments every hour – many of which are likely to be sarcastic or vituperative. Such is the nature of Twitter as a medium.

Some customers have found their Twitter-fed gripes being responded to by the maligned corporation itself.

BT are the most memorable entrant in this category. Let’s all point and laugh at the Daily Mail’s take on the matter.

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Some of Britain’s biggest firms were last night accused of ‘spying’ on their customers after they admitted ‘listening in’ on disgruntled conversations on the internet.

The companies include BT, which uses specially developed software to scan for negative comments about it on websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

You just can’t parody that, can you? Software so secret, that the name of it appears at the end of every message sent.

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 Classified information hidden on Twitter, yesterday.

There it is – Debatescape.

And spying? Hell no. Anything you type and send using Twitter etc. is visible to the whole world, including the object of the comment. Ask Paul Chambers. (Incidentally, his appeal gets underway next week. Keep ‘em peeled.)

So what’s my point? Well it’s this: The Invisible Finger. A corollary to Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

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Fuck you, you corporate whorebags.

It is the invisible finger that consumers give to organisations that give poor service or value. It’s part of the market’s self-regulating nature. Reputation matters.

Via tools like Debatescape and Tweetdeck, Web 2.0 has uncloaked the invisible finger for all to see.

My experience that prompted this post was a moan I had, on Twitter, about Rightmove. Typically ribald, it read as follows:

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My point being, that if I’ve been receiving automated emails from some web based presence for months on end, I don’t want to have to dig out my password for the site, should I decide I don’t need to receive that email any more. Typically you just click the unsubscribe link in the email and that’s the end of it.

It’s life’s tiny irritations that erode the quality of one’s day. **

I was slightly surprised, though, to receive communications from Rightmove a few hours later.

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I responded, somewhat more politely, making the point as above. I would hope now, that fixing that irritation is on their developer’s to-do list.

In restrospect, all of the above considered, I should not have been surprised.

Anyway. Would I have been any more polite, had I considered that Rightmove would indeed have an employee reading and would indeed respond? Perhaps I would have, yes.

Although I was in a pretty dark mood earlier on. Way too much refreshment last night.

This is power, people. Use it well.

AJ

** As it happens, I was just being obtuse. I have an encrypted password database, where I keep all my passwords – a key internet security principle being the use of a different complex/unmemorable password on every site you use.

Think about it – if your Amazon account is compromised, most likely from within, do you really want those people to also be able to log into your Hotmail and Facebook?

Graduate tax ruled out – surcharges and levies ruled in.

This is really very tiresome semantic bullshit.

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Sounds reasonable on the face of it, doesn’t it?

Addressing senior vice-chancellors, he ruled out imposing a “full-blown graduate tax” after admitting it could drive top students overseas.

Well, that’s a relief. Because punit.. oh wait..

But he said the Government was investigating the possibly of a “progressive” funding system in which students take out loans to cover higher fees – and wealthier graduates pay them back at a more expensive rate.

Analysts have suggested that graduates with the largest salaries could pay for an extra two years or face stiffer charges than those on low incomes.

What. The. Fuck?

Can someone please explain to Mr “two brains” Willets that graduates with the largest salaries ALREADY PAY THE MOST TAX…. at 40% or even 50%. They and their employers also play more National Insurance contributions.

Out of their take home pay, they will pay out more VAT, fuel tax, alcohol tax and, perish the thought that even smart people sometimes like to smoke, tobacco tax.

And, as for ‘ruling out a full-blown graduate tax’… if it looks like a graduate tax and it quacks like a graduate tax, it’s a fucking graduate tax.

The inevitable unintended consequences will depend on the small print, but consider this: In the current jobs climate, a chap could easily come to the conclusion that going back to university for the final year of a bachelors degree would open him up to punitive costs that he’d avoid by quitting, with little or no downside, when you consider how worthless most 1st degrees are these days.

He may initially find it harder to get his foot on the career ladder, but he’ll be 12-24 months ahead of the fools who stayed on and finished their course, possibly emerging with a Desmond or a Douglas.

Same shit, different puppets.

AJ

Whoring update

Regular readers may recall that last year I came in as the 22nd most popular Scottish blogger in the Total Politics blog poll. This was odd because I’m English and I live in England. I think my support for Scottish independence confused them.

Apparently, I came in at #13 in the Scottish list this year, which is a decent enough improvement, and puts me in the mix with some distinguished purveyors of porridge-based prose.

But it’s time to right this wrong, so I’ve dropped TP an email to ask them to put me in the right categories.

Of course, I should have done so earlier, but there we are. So maybe I’ll now turn up in the Libertarian blogs. Who knows?

Either way, thanks for the vote, folks :o)

AJ

The old gay wiffle test.

In a sense, this is fair enough:

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But it’s also easy enough to see the problem: Men (and, indeed, women) from Iran, Afghanistan, various African countries arriving here 2 by 2 claiming to be gay.

How would we scrutinise & validate these claims? Ask them to perform a piece of their choice from Mamma Mia?

The mind boggles.

AJ

All that is wrong

We’ve recently had the story of the Isle of Eigg, which provided us with a hilarious tale of ‘renewable energy’.

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Delingpole’s comment on that needs no addendum.

Not even that story was free of its mongnative dissonance, when three days later we read that the island’s project had won a ‘Green Oscar’. And let’s face it, this world is only big enough for ONE Green Oscar.

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And this brings me to today’s microcosmic climate comedy.

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For brevity. I’ll rehash the story a bit:

The rotary blades on the 30ft (9m) structure have struck at least 14 birds in the past six months – far higher than the one fatality per year predicted by the manufacturer.

Seagulls though. So what?

Headteacher Stuart McLeod was even forced to come into school early to clear up the bodies before his young pupils spotted them.

Oh, the glamorous life of a headteacher. I’m pretty sure that’s not in his job description, so I wouldn’t blame him for being a bit miffed.

School governors consulted seagull eyesight experts and investigated bringing in bird-scaring plastic owls to solve the problem, but to no avail.

Mr McLeod said they had tried everything to stop the carnage but had no choice but to shut the turbine down.

At least they’d enjoyed oodles of free electricity though, eh?

It provided six kilowatts of power an hour.

6kWh? So, when there’s actually any wind (see above), this thing can power 3 kettles, or about 12 computers? And when there’s no wind? Camping stoves and typewriters, I suppose?

Not exactly a return on their investment then. Oh wait, not to worry – it was OUR investment. Pffft, silly me.

The turbine, at Southwell Community Primary School, Portland, was installed 18 months ago thanks to a grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Because the school would never have put the stupid thing there in the first place if they’d actually had to pay for it and see that they achieved a return on their investment.

The cost-benefit analysis always seems to stack up differently when you’re spending other people’s money, doesn’t it?

AJ

Shopping bags will kill us all

Muahahahaa…

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The righteous and the hectors come unstuck again.

Professor Charles Gerba, who led the study said: "Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from bacteria such as E.coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled.

"Consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitise their bags on a weekly basis."

A poll revealed 97 per cent of shoppers who used eco-friendly bags never washed or bleached them.

Ah yes. As well as rinsing out containers for recycling, and separating paper and food waste, we’re going to be told to ‘sanitise’ our shopping bags.

I’ve got a better idea. Get a new carrier bag each time you visit the store. Burn the bag when you get home. Sanitised.

AJ

Sir Jock Stirrup placed far too much faith in Snatch

It’s good, but it’s no panacea. In fact, it’s probably not much good.

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I have featured this esteemed chap before, here.

UPDATE: Clip no longer available due to grabbing twats who have had unimaginable millions out of the compulsory license fee we have paid.

Sorry… wrong vid. Here:

Moral: Never put your trust in snatch. Even if your name is Jock Stirrup.

AJ

Body of Christ: That isn’t it, dude.

From the Huffington Post.

If we were the Catholic Church (Vermont branch), we’d probably have one goal when putting out our magazine: do not put this picture on the cover. Or inside the magazine. Better yet, we’d probably make it a point to never even take this picture.

But alas, we’re not the Catholic Church (Vermont branch), and thus this magazine cover slipped past their editors and now exists. (via The Plaid Crew)

CATHOLIC-MAGAZINE[1]

I’m not sticking around for the blood of Christ…

AJ

H/T @OldHolborn

Laws Coverage: Redux

So, as predicted, Laws has gone.

An interesting debate, as it goes. Some views deserve special mention.

According to the Guardian, I mentioned, but glossed over, a likely cause of his error of judgement.

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Of course there was nothing to fear. But the human brain does not always work like that. And it is not hard to guess why. His mother is Catholic. Laws had a Catholic education. The news broadcast this morning, which reported his situation, went on to cover the Archbishop of Canterbury’s efforts to stop churches giving their blessing to gay partnerships. The world is less progressive than it sometimes seems from north London.

Ahh. Catholics. It’s a rather pluralist approach to sodomy they have, isn’t it? Apparently, it’s the ‘voluntary’ variety they object to.

This Graun piece also deals with the question of Laws’ motivation.

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The closet causes crises. It is an unhappy place to live and David Laws is not the first person who, on being forced out, immediately talked about the "relief" of no longer having to lie. It is tempting to blame Laws himself: a man who had the ability and determination to earn a fortune by the age of 28, and be in a senior government job at 44, is obviously no shrinking violet. Why wasn’t he able to take control of his life and be honest and open with his friends and family and be proud of his relationship?

Back in the blogodrome, Constantly Furious sees the case in black and white terms:

This furore is absolutely bugger all (oops) to do with Laws’ sexuality and everything to do – as always in the ol’ expenses scandals – about a genuine deadly sin: Greed.

As I mulled the case over yesterday, I did indeed wonder what the Telegraph’s motivation was. Tory Bear addresses this question head on:

One thought that TB can’t get out of his head is this whole affair reeks of a stitch up. Who tipped The Telegraph to the name of the landlord/boyfriend? Who might have know about the former Chief Secretary’s expense arrangements? Former deputy leaders and presidents of parties are privy to that sort of information about their MPs. Who is on internal party manoeuvres? Who is in cahoots to see the left of Liberal Democrats have a stronger voice? Who are more opposed to the right-wing Laws that the likes of Vince Cable and Simon Hughes, both rocking the boats behind the scenes. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, wielding his pink handbag of homo-hysteria, the rolling self-parody Iain Dale apparently hoped Laws would survive this episode because he’s gay.

What has become of Laws is, for all of us, a tragedy. We needed him to deliver the forthcoming cuts. Now we have a Scotsman doing it.

Have we ever tried allowing a Scotsman to handle the money before? And how did that work out?

Fred? Gordo? Al? Bueller?

AJ

Transparency: You’re doing it wrong

Your data isn’t safe in the hands of HMRC. Previously, they lost confidential details of 25 million people.

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Around 19,000 individuals were sent other people’s personal information in the post along with their annual award notice.

They each received one page of someone else’s tax credit renewal form which included a variety of different personal details.

These included names, addresses and dates of birth, as well as parts of bank account numbers, salary details and National Insurance numbers.

Another 31,000 people received the correct forms, although they were jumbled up in the mail-out, which started on Saturday.

One woman from Hyde in Greater Manchester said she had received a letter that included her neighbour’s earnings.

Geniuses. They JUST DON’T CARE about the actual and potential damage they do.

AJ

Anonymity for those accused of rape: One good reason right here.

Re this, you might well expect feminist harridans to be up in arms. You’d not be disappointed.

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No sooner have I left a left a comment under her blogpost, than a perfect illustration presents itself:

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A 21-year-old woman drove a man to suicide by crying rape and forced a second innocent man to consider taking his own life after falsely accusing him of a similar sex attack.

Despite being exposed in court as a serial liar, the law means the woman cannot be identified and can hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

A jury took just 45 minutes to clear medical student Olumide Fadayomi, 27, of rape and several jurors at Sheffield Crown Court broke down in tears when the judge then revealed the ‘victim’s’ history of crying rape.

And in an emerging theme, the CPS are also left looking like pig-ignorant vindictive functionaires.

Judge Patrick Robertshaw launched an astonishing attack on Crown Prosecution Service lawyers for making Fadayomi stand trial, simply to abide by the woman’s wishes.

He said:’The evidence did not, and was never going to, prove rape. The prime overriding consideration in the CPS’s decision had been merely that the complainant wished the case to go ahead.

‘It was little short of a craven abdication of responsibility for making an independent and fair minded assessment of the case.

‘It is quite astonishing these decisions are made by those who simply do not have experience of what happens in Crown Court because they never come into Crown Court. They sit behind desks and make decisions that result in this sort of trial taking place.’

You do surprise me. Not.

Meantime, Ms Williams, untwist your knickers, wake up and smell the coffee. Or pipe down.

AJ

Greeting fae Glesga

The penny hasn’t dropped for wee Tommy Harris yet.

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AS PLANNED, the new body overseeing MPs’ expenses is going the extra mile to make it as difficult as possible for us to do our job.

Good. Do you know why it’s good? Because it reminds you what we all go through when claiming business expenses, or undertaking any other routine admin activity.

Every organisation that has a thousand customer facing staff has 400 other people responsible for making it impossible for the customer facing staff to do their jobs. Making them unable to deliver on their obligations to the customer in a satisfactory manner. Just ask Obo.

Those ‘trolls’ or ‘business prevention officers’ are all on the company payroll to administer rules and regulations that emanate, directly or not, from government.

Someone, after all, has to be responsible for the 10,000 or so fuel receipts my company expenses team now receives every month, subsequent to a C&E/HMRC rule change around 2007.

Someone has to check that the sandwich I bought for lunch was bought far enough away from my branch office to be eligible for reimbursement. I once bought a sandwich 40 miles into a 200 mile journey to a customer site. My claim was denied. Had I bought my lunch at the next motorway services, I would have been reimbursed.

Tom continues:

I understand that the rule is based on a misunderstanding, or perhaps a deliberate misinterpretation, of a Customs and Revenue rule that people who work from an office based in their private homes can offset only a maximum of 85 per cent of their home phone calls for tax purposes.

I know all about that too. Misunderstanding, or perhaps a deliberate misinterpretation, of a Customs and Revenue rule is a battle I frequently have to do.

Last year, I flew to Glasgow, picked up a hire car, went to the customer site, did my work, returned the car to the airport and flew home.

I was taxed on this hire car as a benefit in kind, because the expenses monkey had either misunderstood the rule, or erred on the side of caution lest he be punished for a lax interpretation himself.

I know he was wrong, because I asked a tax accountant. If the hire car had been at my home address, in lieu of the car I already had an allowance for, it would have been a BiK. It wasn’t and it wasn’t.

I lost the battle, but won the war. I was never reimbursed, having been taxed at 40% on a hire car that was a logical and reasonable business expense, but it never happened again.

At a briefing held by Ipsa last week, a very senior, very highly-paid official (not being familiar with the scheme he’s paid to oversee, the only question from MPs he was able to answer was that he was in the “£80,000-£90,000″ pay band) was unable to justify this petty little rule.

I expect it frustrated you Tom, that his attitude was “and nor do I have to, sonny”.

Welcome to the real world.

As I said yesterday, as soon as you are abiding by the same rules as the rest of us, I’ll support any plea for a relaxation of the rules 100%.

AJ

Not my fault

So says this woman:

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Obviously, this woman cannot be held responsible for her marriage collapsing.

It was nothing to do with the dirty cow spreading her legs for some monkey.

Nothing to do with lying to, and cheating, on her husband, as well as jeopardising her marriage and family life.

No, it was the phone company. Who are responsible for her husband seeing her phone bill.

I hope she caught syphilis.

AJ

Sorting the wheat from the chaffinch

The only birds fooled by the organic food scam are the ones who watch Sex and the City and read bird-brained magazines.

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British researchers found that birds such as robins and house sparrows "instinctively" preferred non-organic seeds to the more naturally grown varieties as it appeared to provide them with greater nutritional value through the cold months.

When offered both varieties of wheat seed, they were able to discern between the two and ate up to 20 per cent more of the conventional grown variety than the organic.

A bird with a clue:

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A bird with no clue:

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Obvious when you think about it :o)

AJ

Pressure on Merkel spells trouble for UK

And it’s hardly surprising.

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Her conservative-liberal coalition was trounced in key regional elections on Sunday amid rising anger over the deal that will cost her country £19 billion.

The result stripped her government of its majority in the country’s Bundesrat, or senate, and her ability to pass reforms cutting public spending.

Yesterday (MON), Mrs Merkel was forced to admit her government would have to abandon planned tax cuts because of Germany’s payout to Greece and a new commitment to help other struggling euro zone countries as part of an EU bail-out agreed in Brussels yesterday.

"We’ve suffered a stinging defeat, there’s no way around it," she said. "Tax cuts won’t be possible for the foreseeable future. We see that in the debate about the euro, about the guarantees and much else."

Germany’s opposition Social Democrats yesterday vowed to use the chancellor’s new weakness to disrupt her government’s plans to reform health care and taxes.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Social Democrat leader, threatened to link new legislation to commit German financing to a euro bail-out with left-wing demands to increase taxation.

And we may not be in the Euro, but we’re still yoked to Germany, which has fallen into the hands of the lunatics:

In a development that threatens the City of London with extra regulation, Mr Steinmeier demanded tough European laws against "speculators" and for tough regulation of financial markets as the price for opposition support.

He told that his party is not against rescuing troubled euro zone countries but will insist on "instruments" to punish the financial institutions the German left blames for crisis.

"It is those who don’t do anything to regulate the financial markets and the costs of the crisis who fail on Europe," Mr Steinmeier said.

And the Lisbon treaty has provided the tools to allow this to happen.

As they say on Twitter, #thankyouGordon

AJ

Paul Chambers GUILTY! WTF!??

He was prosecuted under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for sending an “indecent, obscene or menacing” message.

The more I dwell upon this, the more I feel sick to my stomach. This country is ruined and there truly is tyranny.

My commiserations to Paul Chambers, and here’s hoping the sentence will be lenient, and not even a sniff of custodial.

More anon.

AJ

(Background here)

UPDATE: £1000 fine.

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UPDATE: With pledges of help with Paul’s fine mounting up on Twitter, Old Holborn is on the case of (i) finding out if Paul wants this help and (ii) getting it done.

Homework

A complete and utter departure from the day’s depressing decision deficit.

I can’t remember ever being assigned homework until I went to secondary school. I’d like to see you argue the the outcomes of my education were inferior to those leaving primary or secondary school today.

So, I’ve listened with horror as friends with kids have described the onerous burden of homework placed upon 5, 6 and 7 year olds at some schools. Inevitably, these activities require parental support and consume vast quantities of time, as well as creating mess, tension and tears.

I’d just roll my eyes, blame Labour and think ‘another reason to be glad I don’t have kids’. Under Labour, children have become the state’s conduit to unprecedented intrusion in home and family life.

So it’s nice to read some common sense on this:

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All essays and worksheets should be completed at school amid claims they put too much pressure on families’ limited time.

Eleanor Updale, author of the award-winning Montmorency series of books, said a typical 30-minute classroom task often took three times as long after being “subcontracted” to parents.

Amazingly, one of the teachers’ unions concurs:

Last year, the Association for Teachers and Lecturers called for all homework for primary school children to be axed amid claims young pupils find the burden too “upsetting”.

Although, the ATL may have their own agenda:

Dr Updale, whose Montmorency series of historical novels is currently being adapted for TV and won a Blue Peter award, said that schools themselves were often "victims of homework”.

“It needs setting, marking, policing and feedback, which eat time from the school day,” she said. “Cutting homework would reduce the burden teachers have to take home with them, diminishing the negative effect of their jobs on their own families.”

All in all, the more we (society, the state) move away from ideology and towards pragmatism, the better things will be.

Would that the current turmoil precipitate such an epiphany.

Hope is not dead after all.

AJ