Archive - Sunday 5th December 2004

Sunday 5th December 2004

Illiberal Scotland

The BBC reports: Parents who fail in their responsibilities are to be forced to attend counselling sessions and could face prison. The education minister said a parenting order pilot scheme will get under way in Scotland next April. As I have commented before, the Liberal Democrat influence on the Scottish Executive has not had the effect of curbing Labour's authoritarian tendencies. That is a pity.

All Day Breakfast

I'm currently on a train, eating an all day breakfast ciabatta - so called, of course, after the journey time from London to Edinburgh when there are Sunday engineering works.

Public and private lives

Most of the people who are rooting for David Blunkett to keep his job are doing so on the basis that we should maintain a strict divide between politicians' public and private lives. If the people who are using this argument really believe it, then they do not understand how politics works. To the simple-minded politics is an easy business: you agree a programme for government, you put it to the people in the form of a manifesto, you are elected and you implement that programme. This is the view of politics that Tony Benn and his far-left supporters held in ...

Identity cards

Visit the N02ID (that's how young people write nowadays) site here.

Parents and teachers

Sometimes it pays to read carefully. A report in Friday's Guardian had the introduction: Parents claim victory against controversial school scheme that takes money - and influence - from private sector. Yet early in the article there was a quotation from "Linda Taaffe, the deputy secretary of Waltham Forest NUT, who helped mastermind the campaign," which makes it legitimate to ask whether this campaign was being fought in the interests of parents and children or of teachers. There is a tendency among many Labour and Liberal Democrat activists to assume that whatever is good for teachers - and the teachers' unions in ...


What's happened to Polidex?

Seasonal schlock

If, like me, you find the sound of Johnny Mathis's rendition of 'When A Child Is Born' brings on severe constrictions of the lower bowel, then here is some seasonal cheer. "If I hear 'Frosty the Snowman' one more time," says Maureen Dowd, "I'll rip his frozen face off." Amen to that.

Science under attack

The fight to save Swansea University's Chemistry Department was put into context today by an article in the Sunday Times that predicts that almost a third of physics departments face closure because of student shortages and funding cuts. The article records that 18 physics departments— more than 30% of the total— have closed since 1997. Twenty-eight chemistry departments have closed in the past nine years. The plan to close Exeter’s chemistry department prompted an outcry from scientists last week while the Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto handed back his honorary degree to the university in protest. By 2010, there could ...