Boris on Any Questions, Radio 4, 22.9.06

Nick Clarke chaired this week’s Any Questions from Hanbury, Worcestershire

The panel:

JACQUI SMITH MP, Chief whip

BORIS JOHNSON MP, Shadow Higher Education Minister

CHRIS HUHNE MP, Lib Dem Environment & Rural Affairs spokesman

QUENTIN LETTS, Daily Mail parliamentary sketch-writer

Question 1

Does the panel think that the United States needs to bring its diplomacy out of the stoneage?

The Chair clarified the question as referring to Richard Armitage from the State Dept., quoted by the President of Pakistan that Pakistan would be bombed into the stoneage if they didn’t co-operate after the 9/11 attacks.

CH thought that US diplomatic outfit “extremely good” but there was a question as to the leadership from The White House. He thought the current US policy extremely anti-diluvian towards the freedom of manoeuvre that countries can have. He wished we’d been more independent in drawing to the attention of the White House the long term damage US foreign policy on Iraq and, more recently, the Lebanon, had caused.

Boris thought that, as far as he knew, the quote by Mr Armitage had been denied. He stated that the fact is, it’s the kind of thing you can imagine someone from the Bush administration saying and that “that is the terrible truth”. This does feed into the kind of anti-Americanism which is sadly on the rise. Boris thought it a “great shame” that the Bush administration, by the use of that “cowboy language” at the beginning of the War on Terror did provoke international disquiet, and in the minds of a lot of sensible people in this country is starting to feed suspicions and anxiety about America. Boris thought that would be “tragic”. But there’s no doubt that things that do come out of the Bush administration do feed into that caricature. “If they want our support and they deserve our support” said Boris, “they have to be a little bit more diplomatic in the way they engage the rest of the world’s sympathy.”

JS agreed with Boris and reminded everyone that Bush wouldn’t always be President.

QL thought Richard Armitage looked like a wrestler and that his diplomacy seemed to match his appearance.


Question 2

Is fear of offending the Islamic Community negating the long accepted principle of freedom of speech for the vast majority of British people?

Boris thought John Reid “wasn’t mincing his words” and could be parading his wares for a leadership bid. It struck Boris that what Reid was saying was elementary, that if you know your children are extremists (Boris informed a delighted audience that he “obviously checks [his] children regularly”) then it is your job to discourage them from any extremist actions. If you think they are about to commit a criminal act and can’t dissuade them then it’s your job to enlist the police. Boris thought that what Reid said was no more than “robust common sense” and could have been directed at all of us.

When prompted by the Chair, Boris reminded us that there had been a bill introduced and passed by the Labour government to stop anything construed as religious hatred and that he thought it a very poorly drafted piece of legislation which captured all sorts of pronouncements we might or might not want to say. Boris asserted that this attempt to erode free speech arose from a desire to appease those who claim to represent the Muslim community.

JS hoped not.

QL alluded to the Pope’s controversial remarks and thought the reaction to them satirical – ‘if you don’t apologise for saying we’re aggressive, we’ll kick the —- out of you’. He thought there was very little religious about the people who shout about these things. He wished the media wouldn’t attach labels to such people as he thought “Bearded nutter” rather than religious more appropriate. He also thought services from mosques and synagogues should be broadcast to allow us to better understand them.

CH remembered Miss Evans, who was arrested reciting a list of names outside the Cenotaph, and Walter Wolfgang, the pensioner forcibly ejected from the Labour party conference. He thought the Religious Hatred Bill far too “cavalier” with the protection of freedom of speech and that the blasphemy provisions should be repealed.

Boris questioned offending ‘bearded nutters’ and thought that “the way these things are construed is very important” especially when charities complain about infringement of human rights – there is the possibility they can call us hypocrites.

Question 3

Ming Cambell or Charles Kennedy – which star will burn brighter?

Boris revealed that “Ming is an ardent Spectator reader”, that the Lib Dem’s have got to be able to believe two things at once – their “policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it. Kennedy brilliantly portrayed that character.” He was worried that Ming would split the atom as such but added that thankfully, “Ming continues to incarnate muddle”.

CH thought that Ming had a good conference, and made a good speech. Their policies on tax and global warming were not like the conservatives hugging huskies. He asserted that the Lib Dems had re-drawn the political map of GB and that both stars would burn extremely bright. QL thought Kennedy made a boring speech and made no apology for history. Also that it would be physically dangerous for Ming to try and “sex himself up” – he explained by referring to ‘The Arctic Monkeys’ and immediately informed Boris that this was a pop-group.

Question 4

Does Labour have control of its leadership battle?

Boris declared that “the whole thing is mystifying, the whole thing is absolutely ludicrous – he should go AT ONCE. I don’t care who they bring on but anyone called ‘Johnson’ would be good” He then asked JS: “Do you agree Jackie, with your cabinet colleague Jeff Hoon, that Blair should go before May?”

JS chose to turn this and similar questions into a party political broadcast for the Labour party and answered “Given a Prime Minister who has been unprecedentedly honest” but was interrupted by a loud flock of laughter from the room and was forced to end with ‘The Prime Minister will make the decision when he thinks it is right’.

Question 5

Panel, panel, in the hall, who is the greenest of them all?

CH started with an indictment of the government: “If setting targets is the way to solve problems, we’d be the best run country in the world” which gained loud applause. He went on to state that green taxes in Nordic countries ease income tax and that carbon emissions are up under this government. He then questioned whether Cameron had any significant policies on this issue.

Boris answered that David Cameron had put this issue at the top of the agenda and that the broccoli tree-doodle was “worth every penny” (laughter). Boris thought it had turned into a “greenier than thou competition” and asked Chris why he had reneged on their agreement in the gas-guzzler on the way there? (laughter) CH claimed that the Tories hadn’t produced one single idea. Boris countered by stating that George Osborne had put together a program which basically increased taxes on bad things.
JS attempted superiority by declaring that Labour had put into the Climate Change Levy “what you’ve just started talking about”. She continued by stating that the energy review in the summer considered sustainable energy and investing in renewables generally but was reminded that David Milliband actually cut budgets on things like flood defences.

QL thought we were all hypocrites – we talk about it then use more fuel. He stated that we can’t change the world by changing our own behaviour and that it’s down to China and India.

Boris tried to highlight this important point: “no, Quentin’s on to something here, we need to get the Chinese and Indians…” but was cut short by the Chair and moved on to another question.

Question 6

Truancy – In a week when truancy rates reached record levels, how would the panellists identify and tackle the causes, instead of the symptoms, of truancy?

QL thought the problem was down to poor teachers and a lost sense of order.

JS countered that Ofsted say we have the best generation of teachers, that truancy is falling and that it’s the parents responsibility to ensure children are in, and stay in, school. The government prosecutes parents as a way of dealing with the problem.

CH thought that the school system is poor at engaging children with practical issues.

Boris agreed that the Tomlinson suggestion should be supported and thought that teachers don’t feel they can exert authority, that they’ve lost respect. He also suggested that the Education Bill could include anonymity until any accusation against a teacher had been decided. Also that middle classes shouldn’t take children out of school for holidays.

Question 7

The last question asked the panel, as they were sitting in ‘St. Stephen’s, Ambridge’, which character in the serial The Archers they would be.

QL wanted to be Eddie Grundy, much to Boris’s dismay as he wanted to be Eddie Grundy but Boris then asked to be Eddie Grundy’s tearaway truant son and set an example by turning up for school.

Authors: Edmond Dantes & MCW

80 thoughts on “Boris on Any Questions, Radio 4, 22.9.06”

  1. The program was a cracker, if only for the contrast between two (OK let’s be charitable – three) razor-sharp wits and the dreadful Jacqui Smith, whose on-message twittering comprised little more than how Labour is “concerned about issues” and is “listening to people” and “addressing problems”. Less meat than a packet of Tofu.

    Delicious moment not recorded above when Boris tells Chris Huhne “that’s not what we agreed to say in the car”. You have to love him for it.

  2. Might as well be me instead of Just A Questioner!

    PaulD – I saw it:

    Boris thought it had turned into a “greenier than thou competition” and asked Chris why he had reneged on their agreement in the gas-guzzler on the way there?

  3. Under The Lonesome Night Sky

    By the roaring campfire
    I can see the sweat on his forehead,
    The embers glow over his stubble blue…

    I can feel the heat rising
    From the forests of his arms’ hairs
    And his hissing ‘snake’
    Under my loving touch…

    I can feel the warm soil
    In his torso’s fields –
    Rippling valleys across and wide
    Upon where my head rests now…

    Eliza, 25 Sept 2006, for my Boris with love…

  4. Eliza , is not I repeat not me . Mel please please back me up,I know its my fault but this is actually worse than my atempt to be awful and I do not want the blame.

    God help this poor woman

  5. We believe you Newmania, thousands wouldn’t.

    There’s tons of stuff to go at from the programme. I thought Boris made an excellent point when discussing the Bush administration “If they want our support and they deserve our support” said Boris, “they have to be a little bit more diplomatic in the way they engage the rest of the world’s sympathy.”

  6. Pathetic understatement.
    They *don’t* use diplomacy and *don’t* engage anyone’s sympathy, at the moment. And they can’t be arsed, either. Why else send Bolton to the UN?
    Ahmadinejad is hardly god’s gift to the world, but he is correct (along with Chavez) that the Security Council needs reform.
    The US admin and American citizens persist in seeing themselves as in headlong opposition to the UN (just read a few of their right-wing blogs) and fail to realise that the UN is only the sum of its parts – ONE of which is the USA. ONE: which comprises 5% of the world’s population.

  7. ‘Ahmadinejad is hardly god’s gift to the world, but he is correct (along with Chavez) that the Security Council needs reform’ (Impeach_Bush)

    Ahmadinejad wants to kick the UK and USA out of the security council, hardly correct from where I’m sitting. If any sort of refrom is needed it is members leaving where there is a severe conflict of interest (i.e. Russia leaving the room over Irans nuclear program, seen as they’re supplying the equipment for it).

    The pair of them are popularist nutcases. Whilst Chavez repeatedly calls Bush the ‘antichrist’ in staunchly catholic South America, Ahmadinejad’s ‘popularism’ in shiite Iran involves holocaust denial, organising a display of cartoons about it and holding a holocaust revisionist conference.

    Next time you’re checking US right-wing blogs, perhaps do a little google images search on ‘holocaust cartoons’ and check out the little bearded nutter’s idea of ‘popularism’.

  8. Newmania

    I can vouch for you mate – Eliza appears to be nothing at all to do with you – ok?! over and out…

    I enjoyed the programme and am only sorry I missed ‘Any Answers’

    Have I Got News For You should be even better if and when Boris can do it….

  9. I also thought the green issue interesting, espescially the “greenier than thou” remark, so true!

    Also when

    Boris tried to highlight this important point: “no, Quentin’s on to something here, we need to get the Chinese and Indians…” but was cut short by the Chair

    Which I thought was a shame, I would have liked to have heard more discussion on that point.

    I’m a big fan of going down the carbon neutral route and think Boris made an excellent point about it being a global issue and in terms of contribution the UK is passing wind in a hurricane. I’ll have to check out DC’s blog when he was in India.

  10. “Next time you’re checking US right-wing blogs, perhaps do a little google images search on ‘holocaust cartoons’ and check out the little bearded nutter’s idea of ‘popularism’.”– Steven L

    I’m well aware of what Ahmadinejad says, thanks. I don’t think you read what I wrote: “the Security Council needs reform”.

    Of course that doesn’t suit from where you’re sitting. The USA browbeats everyone, and the UK goes along on its coattails. Your response is utterly predictable.
    Unfortunately, a large part of the world does not quite agree with you. And none of us elected the USA to be the world’s police force – as far as I recall. Especially a corrupt one which bribes and browbeats other UN members to get what it wants.

    Allow me to quote Deepak Chopra:

    Looking even deeper, Chavez’s outburst has more disturbing implications for all of us, not just the right wing. He was accusing the U.S. of moral bankruptcy, a message that’s become enormously popular in recent years. He was defying our power, which other countries like North Korea and Iran also do with impunity. He was brandishing a new kind of power based on oil (Venezuela, the country that founded OPEC, has a keen sense of the power that oil-rich nations can wield), and also based on outrage. Without oil, every OPEC country would be as impoverished as its neighbors, and Chavez, speaking from the far left, represents the voice of the dispossessed. He hates America for being rich, for maintaining an arrogant post-colonial attitude, and for assuming that we are privileged in everything we think and do around the world.

    Perception is reality, and millions of people agree with him. The neo-conservative policy of owning the world has been disastrous, and yet the American public has been slow to give up the idea that we have a right to own the world. Global dominance has been our birthright since the end of WW II and the Cold War, when “freedom” became the slogan that justified anything America did abroad.

    We need to wake up and realize that we are a long way from standing for freedom today. By interfering in other countries’ politics, backing reactionary regimes, selling arms on a massive scale, spreading environmental poison, and forcing our will through military means, the U.S. occupies the moral low ground in the eyes of the world. These are facts, and although there are other, more positive facts to counter them, Chavez spoke the truth in emotional terms. The best thing America can do to reclaim the high ground is to stop trying to own the world and begin to shape ourselves into a friend that the world can turn to without fear and outrage.

    http://www.intentblog.com/archives/2006/09/owning_the_worl.html

  11. Here’s another quote for you Steven:

    “I suppose, in the end, we are supposed to lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty in the dungeons of “black” prisons, under the fists of US Marines, on the exhaust pipes of Humvees. We are warriors, we are Samurai. We draw the sword. We will destroy. Which is exactly what Osama bin Laden said.”

    [Robert Fisk, writing on the new ‘code’ of the American soldier.]

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14993.htm

    Meanwhile, have you seen the documentary, “The Doomsday Code”?

    You can watch it here (it should give you nightmares):

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15032.htm

  12. Dear Boris,

    My left-wing friends tell me that your blog lacks a ‘new logo’ comment. Not that their suggestions are ever useful, and I worry that I’ll end up in jail, or Labour’s angry asylum in Liverpool, for the post-punk generation. I shall attempt it. Twenty-first century Conservatives are not renowed for great promotional material- I have read that my former schoolfriend Karl Andrew Mennear accompanied his 2005 ‘Mennear’s Mailing’ election leaflets with a photograph of him laying a wreath outside a post office (Mennear’s Mayerling?), however this cannot be true- but finally a professional has taken charge. There were at least two clever moves by Cameron over the new ‘Castle of Otranto’- using a cartoon tree, as a real one might have reminded voters of those in the grounds of Witney’s previous MP, and allowing it to leak early to be met by a dribble of ridicule over a few days rather than a trickle all at once. There may be a problem with election expenditure, though, as other parties will be able to save by not having their hired clowns change out of their green wigs and blue eyeshadow when following Conservative candidates around, and the posters may suffer, but at least Cameron is supporting a greener Britain, in cartoon form- isn’t it more usual to complain that the Americans are using all the petrol?

    Curse my spiteful nature. I too have heard Drake’s drum summoning us to England’s defence, and unlike our Pitt the Younger I cannot avoid the call by translating this into diehard support for the decimal pound. Unless I am very wrong Labour virtually designed their concrete machine stronghold of Newcastle around decimalisation and Europe, so campaigning for Edward Heath’s version of sterling was almost bound to end in tears, glass opera houses and bent arts grants- or was that bent science grants? Yet we Englishmen must do something- and it may prove difficult to campaign against exorbitant DTI expenditure on pot plants using the new symbol. Perhaps you could add something to the tree. There’s the ‘phonics’, apparently a symbol of eternity that lays an egg once every thousand years and not, as also seemed credible, an expression for Blairite educational policy- however I have heard that it is already being used by a third party. Damn, missed a good opportunity there. If you wanted to steal Labour’s clothes instead of the Green Party’s, how about one of the new items of police equipment that kids are taught about by some uniformed wannabe TV presenter before they learn to add double figures- a mobile, maybe, or a pro-ID lobby circular.

    When confronted by some awful, risible decision I use the ‘monkey method’ to test whether it could do better. I usually select a page at random from one of my reference books for the suggestion, but it was dark and instead this time I grabbed a complete works of Shakespeare. I went ahead anyway and this was the choice:

    “Why, our battalia trebles that account:
    Besides, the king’s name is a tower of strength,
    Which they upon the adverse faction want.
    Up with the tent!”

    This suggests some tower ruined in a great battle lost to the invaders through treachery- which may also give the impression of stability, but in the wrong manner. Still, at least if the GB colours aren’t retained, the readers of Mennear’s Mayerling will be grateful, as his party piece was once a lurid story he got from his homosexual friend Christopher about jilted Geordie gays jimmying torches up their arses. Or was it his sinister Catholic lawyer friend Michael who used to tell that story? Perhaps his readers should avoid the northeast for a few years while they get used to ‘tree-sums’, just to be sure.

    Best wishes, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want any ‘phishing’ tips for the education section,

    Yrs as ever,

    ‘Anecdota’

  13. Off subject but if anyone wants to help I have been asked to contribute ideas to a speech about problems children and parents face for Tory Conference by a chum( who has none , no mortgage and no economics background …but nice chap) these were my jottings

    DO PLEASE IGNORE ME AND CONTINUE IF YOU LIKE but there are some women out there and I thought it was subject you should be giving the speech about if anyone ……………………….

    `That is an insight into the political process ( anon). This subject revolves , in
    reality around both parents working and the opportunity cost of children
    at all ( HENCE BIRTH RATE OF 1.7 AND POPULATION IMPLOSION )

    Take underclass and immigration out of the equation and people are simply
    choosing not to have children or if they do , far to late. This is true of
    me and all my friends and the thing about the UK I most dislike

    Absence of Mother
    To few siblings , to pressurised
    No time

    I would take the demographically typical family of 1950 and compare with a
    typical family now , both at work very old and one child. Much is better obviosuly but focussing on the family much is also is worse

    So there is an economic back drop ( Tricky for you eh anon ?) and a
    political dimension ..taxes on young adults are huge and growing ( Loans
    as well) and the credit system doesn’t work . What can the government do ?
    As a Conservative I would say basically give us our money back and leave
    us alone but simplistic as it sounds there is a lot in it. At least start to think about how the government might remove impediments rather than invent new laws. Laws have failed
    Policies to support the family obviously but ANOTHER STORY

    `Meanwhile 6 children by 3 fathers paid for on benefits ( lured not
    benefits dependency. For them obviously even worse and ..

    Two very different stories of family breakdown ,`I would stress this reality . There has been a lot of old rubbish in the press recently about Swallows and Amazons Edenic 1940s youth that is frankly insulting and as Cameron will no doubt be insulting our intelligence enough , Leave it

    AND people forget when they complain about a school with 8 languages that
    it equally has 8 languages for the non English speakers , none of this is
    Helpful but I wouldn1`t stress and I would bear in mind a lot of this is what people want , easy divorce eg is good don`t start this \I wish Suez had never happened nonsense
    Family under attack from housing market taxation benefits legislation net
    migration and now changed beyond repair
    STOP{BORING US WITH RUBBISH ABOUT HOW YOU USED TO MAKE CAMPS WITH STICKS
    AND PLAY IN THE WOOD AND TALK ABOUT THE POLITICS AND THE MONEY THAT HAVE
    RUINED LIFE FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY .

    There is nothing wrong with modern parents , computers , television divorce , and everything wrong with taxation and anti family policy
    OOOOO I could make this speech.

    AS I SAY PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER UNLESS YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE AN INTEREST .

  14. You won’t do well as long as you define parenthood as a subject of interest to women but not men. Got to think about appealling to a broader base, regardless of who will really be all over it. Maybe most men won’t give it a look, but you can’t afford to piss off any Dad’s Rights crusaders.

  15. RAIN COASTER- Not me, I just threw down a couple thoughts in a minute anyway. I thought given the Shadow Cabinet Member in question is a geeky man as are all his assistants a female perspective should be `added`. I am a devoted parent myself. Also you have already proved my point by providing s view that paradoxically will not occur to a certain sort of Conservative men who see the solution as going backwards not forwards into shared responsibility (?is it)
    Really don’t want to get into trouble and appreciate it’s a bit cheeky. But RAINCOASTERS POINT has implications that are most interesting and , without of course , wishing to imply men don’t have an equal right to a point of view they are already having a big say . Its all about inclusion Cameron for PM !!

    Thanks , and if not interested please just ignore.

  16. Have just read the transcript; does anyone have a link to the podcast? Would be very informative.

    The only thing I learned from this was that JS is an utter waste of carbon.

    Armitage has denied his “Stone Age” statement, but it was on the record and widely distributed and confirmed.

  17. Newmanis – it’s not really off topic: see Q6 above and the governments response:

    JS countered that Ofsted say we have the best generation of teachers, that truancy is falling and that it’s the parents responsibility to ensure children are in, and stay in, school. The government prosecutes parents as a way of dealing with the problem.

    This illustrates the governments attitude perfectly in that they are quite willing to not only prosecute but I think persecute parents for not having prescriptive families. Of course it is good to have children in schools and what I mean here is that the government is not at all prepared to take responsibility for their share of the social equation. They heap all blame on parents.

    People do NOT feel safe in the streets and headlines support this view of children being abducted even from their own gardens, so they play in their rooms on electronic entertainment (as we do) where they are at least safe. (a good overview of social change from Chrchill to Diana can be found in No, I’M Peter Hitchens’ book The Abolition of Britain

    Whilst I agree whith no-fault divorce the mechanism is unhelpful. The legal mechanism should be changed. There was a good prog on R4 where even top QC’s said the same. I suggest appraising yourself of the laws about this issue as there are a lot of myths. The law has recently or currently been changed to actively undermine marriage. The government is not helping the married family through either taxation or in fact any means.

    The government have many schemes, not only to encourage teenage pregnancy (PH can probably give you facts and figures on this) but to seperate the mother from the child afterwards – talk about State nurseries and CONTROL. Surestart is a case in point.

    Then there’s the NHS and social services – where parents are frightened to take their child to a&e just in case you don’t bring them back. And being accused of satanic rituals?? Whilst they ignore bruises from drug addict parents? Oh don’t get me started.

    So what do we want? Well actually you were spot on when you said

    As a Conservative I would say basically give us our money back and leave
    us alone but simplistic as it sounds there is a lot in it.

  18. newmania
    i think many young people (well the ones who have self responsibility anyway)are put off having children simple because of the expense. An average graduate can now expect to recieve approx. fifty percent of thier actual salary now due to student loan repayments etc and houses are extremely expensive for first time buyers yet first time wages are extremely low in general.

    Many graduates are leaving Britain so your friend might want to see if he can find out if they think they are more likely to have a family if they live outside Britain. Try looking on http://www.nusonline.co.uk to see if it has any info.

    Older people are now expected to work for longer which means that families cannot get grandparents to look after children so those who cannot afford nannies have to send them to what are basicly baby farms. This means that both parents have to work yet one parents wages will be used to pay mainly for childcare.

    Going back to the issue of emigration I think many people are simply disillusioned with britain and simply do not want to bring up their children here. And yes newmania immigration plays a big part in this. The governments refusal to deport foreign criminals is probably the main reason for discontent with immigration. Why would young people want to bring up their children in a country that allows in violent criminals and refuses to deport those that commit violent crimes here.

  19. Thanks all .All interesting perspectives .Myself I like RAIN COASTERS quick point because I didn`t see it coming. JAQ … the traditional Conservative woman in action, a thing of beauty in humble opinion .
    Excellent

    K you are a tough minded thinker and puncture the idea there is a specifically womans view for me . ( A good point in itself )

    Will pass all on , who knows perhaps we`ll spot something

  20. Oops, screwed up the podcast link but web page has the listen again feature embedded so no worries.

    How many out there can blog/feed cat/feed child/email AND make coffee at the same time? You’ve got to expect the odd glitch.
    Anyway, it’s all the fault of that liberal elite!

  21. ‘ think many young people (well the ones who have self responsibility anyway)are put off having children simple because of the expense. An average graduate can now expect to recieve approx. fifty percent of their actual salary now…’ (K)

    That’s only half the story as well. In my experience ‘average graduates’ also find that it’s over fifty percent harder to get laid than when they were a student.

  22. Newmania – oh well thanks a lot, I’ll just not bother next time and pop out for a perm and a shampoo and set whilst reading womans weekly shall I?

    Pardon me I have some knitting to do.

  23. Passed on comments as follows

    `Had an exchange of views and some interesting points made . You know ……. the more I think about the it seems to me as if this innocent little Baby kisser is actually Chile Hot ( to quote the judge ) you would be amazed how strong feelings are

    Some of the views, hope they are of interest if you follow up the links suggested it will assist . `

    All done with names and so on removed and sorted into seperate points. Re reading I must re thank JAQ for fabulous input

    Thanks

    Steven L anything you have to add will of course be passed on and treated with the great respect your mighty brain deserves . I cannot approve of your sexist assumptions however and would not be brave enought to be bandying about that sort of patronising ( to women ) matierial in this coven… I mean company, company of course. Sorry typo

  24. That re thank JAQ was written before I saw your remark

    I must re re thank JAQ and correct the impression you aren`t thanked enough.

    I need a drink and a fag and a chat about football

  25. The pernicious threat of drugs and the dealers who operate through schools is a major concern among parents in my district. In my own experience, schools effectively collude with these dealers to hush up their disgusting activities.

    When I complained to my, then, 15 year old daughter’s headmaster that my daughter had been offered drugs by a fellow school pupil acting for a local dealer, he totally stonewalled my complaint. With an eye on his \Nulab targets and his school’s pending special status, told me that I could call in the Community Police officer if I wished, but would be wasting my time. The head suggested that the CP would be reluctant to investigate because around half of the 16 year olds at the school -and most others – use drugs at some time and it was out of the question to take action against so many young people.

    I was astounded to find that he was correct. When I complained to the police I was quite brazenly told that the problem was too overwhelming for them to take any action on my complaint. They were simply not interested.

    K and jaq are right, a whole complex of such problems undermines our children’s education and lives. A return to law and order on our streets, support for the family and restoration of our, formerly functional, UK value system would impact on so much else, including our children’s schooling.

    While it’s essential to a free society that we cherish the right to law abiding, free expression and alternative lifestyles, the focus of our protection must be mainstream values. The erosion of such values under Nulab is one of their most damaging and pernicious strategies. I detest them for it.

  26. Newmania – oh yes all sweetness now :-/
    On the grounds that it’s never too late to say you’re sorry I’ll let you off this time. But I even went so far as to alert the ‘real’ man himself that I had recommended him as a source of facts and figures for you. And that to a chap who used me as a private whipping post! Honestly talk about walking over hot coals for your comrades! I hope this speech is going to be bloody good now. I’ll be watching – give us a link when you know.

  27. Newmania,

    Seen as you insist on something more intellectual/political how about this:

    This Labour government seems to think it is perfectly OK to expect parents to financially support their children until 25.

    Up-front tuition fees were means tested on parents income unless the student was over 25.

    Now they have finally made HE free at the point of entry again means testing for grants still occurs, assessing the income of the parents of an adult.

    At 18 you are allowed to drink, vote and get married without your parents permission – so why must you fill out an intrusive means testing form to decide how much top-up fees you have to pay?

    They say it is to help poorer students, but how? Means testing doesn’t take into account any savings the student has. It can only be the case that Labour still expects parents to financially support students until they are 25.

    The joint income threshold for liability for full fees is low and means testing does not take into account mortgage commitments or other essential expenditure, only income.

    Means testing cannot effectively scrutinise which parents fund give their children money and which do not. It creates unfairness and bias in the system against students from hard-working, two parent families.

    All students, who are usually fresh into adulthood at 18 years old, should have the same liability for top-up fees, be entitled to the same loan and should not be subjected to means testing based on the income of another adult who bears no financial resposibility for the payment of these fees, loans and in many cases has no financial relationship with the student.

    Why should the child of married working class parents graduate with more debt, and start working life with effectively a higher tax rate, than the child of a single working class parent or the child of non-working parents.

  28. I only know the researcher helping to write it ( was in Association young bright and on his way) but it will all go in the mix. we`ll see.Its David Willets actually and I `ll be interested myself to see how it goes I wonder if I can snag a pre transcript . Will ask .

    Looking at the passion of FLOS remark it strikes me that there is a lot in this for the Conservative Party .

    Whipping post ? I`ve heard the expression whipping boy ( took beatings on behalf of the prince)what a whipping post ?I think I prefer the previous `image` of JAQ to the permed one

    Insurance to be done must go but passing all on ( Steve)

  29. Steve_L said an excellent comment above and above that:

    That’s only half the story as well. In my experience ‘average graduates’ also find that it’s over fifty percent harder to get laid than when they were a student.

    Steven you could always get married and have children and never worry about having sex again.

  30. NEWMANIA – David Willets as in MP for Havant?? And I’ve just given PH as a source of info for this speech? – O H M Y G O D !!!! I’m going to die, they’ll kill me.

  31. Why ?Don`t understand .Worry not see below . oh well
    MESSAGE BACK
    `Unfortunately the way the conference is organised, Willetts will only be speaking for 7 minutes and has decided to do the speech without a text- but I have printed what you have sent me off to show him. The demographic point you raise is particularly interesting. Thanks!

    The theme of raising children is only going to look at children and childcare up to around 8yrs old. There will be a panel also, including Sue Palmer, who has written a book called Toxic Childhood.

    Right, better get back to it…`

    As have I.

  32. Which brings us neatly onto the education element of Question 6 (remember that?) and how teaching/education practice is affecting children today.

    Such as sex ed and citizenship – should these be taught in schools?

    And should assembly be abolished for fear of upsetting pupils (if I can use that word) of foreign extraction?

  33. Yes, indeed, welcome to the smokers den Paul … but if we’re going to talk sport can’t it be cricket? I find football so dreadfully uncivilised, not to mention tediously boring. I cannot muster up any interest in the game whatsoever unless I’ve placed a bet on the result.

  34. There are some things that cannot be changed. They are shall we say `immutable`
    1 Every time I open a wine box I squirt its contents on my trousers
    2 Any English team in any sport will under perform on the big day (Ashes looks very dicey to me)

    3Speed of light
    4 That our local; MP Emily Thornberry (Labour) has wangled a place for her children at a Grammar school.

    It’s the sheer inevitability of it that enrages me so excuse me while I write a letter to the Gazette on this abso-bloody-lutely typical act of hypocrisy

  35. ‘Ashes looks very dicey to me’ (newmania)

    Have some faith, Harmison should be a handful at Perth for a start. When you’ve written your letter, why not pop over my little website and tell me why you think it’s ‘dicey’.

    I’m off to drink a bottle of wine.

  36. To flit to a subject that has never been tackled here:

    Welcome to the smokers’ den, newmania [Idlex]

    Would I be right in thinking that on this forum is a higher proportion of smokers than national averages might foretell? Stranger still that, when in exalted company, I notice that I’m usually the only one hooked on the weed.

    Theories please.

  37. Ah Mel you have made the huge ( and unusual) mistake of expressing an interest in anything I do. I was of course quite serious and this is the letter , I `ve got two in this week so its pretty much my personal publicity. I should as many as 3 or 4 people read it. I like to keep the tone cheap and nasty.

    There are some things that cannot be changed. They are shall we say `immutable` laws.
    1Every time I open a wine box I squirt its contents on my trousers

    2 Any England team in any sport will under perform on the big day

    3 That our local Labour MP Emily Thornberry will ,and indeed has, wangled a place for her children at a Grammar school.

    Why do we even bother to express surprise at this hypocrisy .What was Dianne Abbots excuse over in Hackney , that her children were `black` and would therefore be at a double disadvantage ? As it happens the only white person in my family is me and colour is not a factor when we consider whether we can stay here in the long term. Dianne Abbots `posh public school bolt hole is not an option.
    This is just one of the many ways Labour and Liberal Council’s have contrived to squeeze the middling sorts out of Islington but the most telling. The schools are awful, inexcusably awful and it’s about time someone said so. Nine years ago Tony Blair was saying `Education, education, education ` what bitter joke. You can get an A level by spelling your own name but not an education
    Look around you and what do you see? Barnsbury practically building a moat around its super gentrified Georgian area and by contrast rioting in the estates over the Summer. Does little Sebastian go to school with his neighbours , not likely ? Islington is the most socially divided Borough in London and the Coucil`s endless wittering about `community` is becoming difficult to listen to . I begin to doubt they care at all.
    They will win again though , we rage we campaign we argue but with 50% Social housing and 70% of those on benefits voting in Islington will always have a highly unusual pattern. In end what can we do but join the mass exodus from London`s inner cities. Oh no ,hang on a second I `ve got another idea. Why don’t I win the lottery and with a the odd million buy a spare pad in Camden near one of the desirable schools there ? Tony Blair’s adviser
    Phillip Gould gave me the idea having done just that .Except he didn’t have to win the lottery did he ; he is ,of course ,another one of Labour’s Hypocrite millionaires.

  38. I suppose I can vaguely justify that as being education related but I only hope anyone feels free to ignore me . It is to easy to copy over and perhaps inconsiderate ..

    You revenge is this , thanks you reprobates I have to drive the garage for ciggies. Damn your insidious suggestions

    Enough from me for a while I think but the stuff on family was fantastic and at least it did get under the nose of David Willets whose a pretty senior Tory.

    Cheers

  39. Sorry I can`t resist.Have you seen what is happening to Oil prices ? have you seen the price of oil/petrol in the US.

    US petrol
    Tiger Economy Industry/India etc.and outsourced West Industry in cheap Labour areas like Asia
    Air Travel

    The rest is all window dressing .I have seen Boris cycling. He and David Cameron know full well that domestic UK input to this problem is an utter waste of time .

    The answer to who is the greenest of them all is it makes no difference so who cares.

  40. Theories please. (PaulD)

    Perhaps it’s becoming a bit like masturbation: everybody does it, but not in public.

    I suppose there is some associated well-documented public health risk: somebody might get pregnant, or something. No doubt there’s an enormous BMA report somewhere.

  41. Idlex ( on smoking)

    , Perhaps it’s becoming a bit like masturbation: everybody does it, but not in public,

    In the US ,literally . Such is the lure of the forbidden that videos of women smoking have been available for some time.
    The opposite is also true , I have read `Juliette`Marquis De Sade and its amazing how boring riotous perversion becomes.

    This repetition is why sex in marriage is tedious ( see standard)and only strong social contraols can hold monogamy together

    It is breaking down

    Back to the family crisis , I `ll do that in three

  42. RAIN COASTER

    Nor would I but I was refferring to an article in the Standard not my own life which is paradise of attentive consideration and and rich invention ..
    …I like being married and intend to stay that way ( this time)

  43. If my theory is correct (that there is a disporportionately high number of smokers on this site) could it be that we have a problem with authority and are naturally attracted to a host who exhibits similar symptoms?

  44. Ma Cherie Amors lie outburst got me thinking about lies this morning . Here are some

    1)Speed cameras reduce accidents
    2 ) I didn’t inhale
    3) I didn’t say `Liar`..My cherie amor lovlier than ..
    4 Crime is going down
    5) Lynford Christie was a clean athlete
    6)About 15,000 Poles will turn up
    7) I did not have sex with that woman
    8) Read my lips “no new taxes ` remember that one . `Bush 1`
    9)David Cameron is Conservative
    10)Gordon Browns dead-child-weep interview was coincidence ( nauseating)
    11)We have any chance in the Ashes
    12 )Devolution saved the Union
    13)Margaret Thatcher was unpopular.
    14) I `m working late
    15 )`Oh oh oh oh ohoooooooooH Newmania you rock my world`
    16)Gordon Brown intends to
    a Devolve power downwards
    b Reform Public services
    c Comtrol tax increases

    17) Dianne Abbot would have sent her children to school in Hackney if they were white
    18)WMDs are aimed at us ( actually I `m not sure that was a lie)
    19) Reducing Taxes will destabilise the economy ( Cameron you twerp)
    20)Newmnia is half as clever as he thinks he is… I know
    21) Any domestic policy makes bugger all difference to the enviroment with Petrol in the US 2p per tonne , Labour outsourced to Asia for cost,and air travel politically impossible to tax

    So David Cameron`s bike . LIE!
    22) Our economic good luck will last forever
    23) Enviromentally friendly noises are reconcilable with requiring continued high economic growth

    Any more ? GREAT LIES OF OUR TIME ( not related to smoking)

  45. PaulD,

    The smokers thing is simple – we get addicted to things, we get cravings – you’re there checking the cricket news and you get a craving to pop over to Boris’s weblog and see what the crack is. Then you see something you want to comment about and your typing fingers start itching.

    Perhaps it’s just a higher proportion of smokers comment on the site, as opposed to read it.

    ‘Why don’t I win the lottery and with a the odd million buy a spare pad in Camden near one of the desirable schools there?’ (Newmania)

    You want to bring up your kids in Camden? What about all the junkies and crackheads?

    Seriously, I used to work around the Camden area, and am heading back to London in the next month or so to work around there again.

    Camden is a traditionally Labour borough, most people on the inside think they only lost the recent elections because of their stalinist parking controls. I can imagine you would find something to gripe about to the Camden New Journal every week if you lived there.

    The problem with Liberal Islington is that they never supported the ASBO. While they harped on about how it just moved on the problem, all the surrounding Labour boroughs went on an ABSO crusade, banishing all their crackheads to Islington.

    Having said that, in Camden you would have some proper old socialist dinosaurs to do battle with, like Frank Dobson MP. You’d also be able to pit your wits against a young crop of Blairite wannabee’s from Primose Hill and Camden Town in the local elections.

    I reckon you’d enjoy Camden in fact, you should move there.

  46. I was wondering if any of you could help me….

    I heard that there was a uk based website opening up similar to the American site ‘The Onion’. Do any of you know what it’s called?

    Cheers

    PS: PAUL D: For your records. I am a Boris enthusiast, an occasional lurker and a full time smoker (I am currently enjoying my last few months of being obnoxious and smoking over families in restaurants)

  47. Paul D- I think most of what you say is fair enough actually but the Social problems in Islington are not at heart to do with asbos or the lack of them .
    You may not have noticed but there is an upsurge of disorder in a lot of similar areas of London and the big fact is this .

    50% Social Housing (about 70% population). Of these 70% are on benefits and they living for the most part entirely separately from other elements .You seriously have no idea how bad it is getting . That is why Islington is one of two Councils point blank refusing to take any more ( and that’s the Liberals !) and are at war with Ken Livingstone consequently . I had a correspondence with James Kempton the Council leader on exactly this pointing out to him that fighting Ken would play very well in the Borough .I like to imagine he paid attention to myself and many others on this.

    That sort of Social mix which is not replicated in Camden is not amenable to asbo cures. Camden Schools are not all good but there are one or two very good ones obviously in the rich areas .

    Having said that you are right on the parking which was also a big issue in IZ ( where the protest vote went mostly to Labour weirdly ) . You may well guess that I have been whining non stop about this as well. I used to like Camden but I `m thinking maybe its time for Hertfordshire. They’ve just hot the 3% ceiling for benefits Social housing poor things.
    You clearly have some local knowledge though and will be very welcome . I can easily be found through the association.

    Interesting

  48. What, I’m welcome or PaulD is?

    I think you misread my post, the top bit was a note on smokers blogging habits, addressed at PaulD as he raised the issue.

    Then I went on to blog about Camden/Islington/ASBO’s etc.

    I’ll be down there in the next month or so, we can go for a drink if you like, you can tell me about Islington, I’ll tell you all about Camden.

  49. On September 27, 2006 02:48 PM, Newmania (aka Paul Newman) said:

    …thinking about lies this morning . Here are some

    9)David Cameron is Conservative

    Yet on September 11, 2006 11:54 AM, Paul Newman said:

    I am a supporter of David Cameron…there will be pressure on David Cameron to appear more `Conservative`

    These two statements are surely irreconcilable, aren’t they, Newmania?

  50. beady eyed Flo , yes I don`t agree with that one . He is obviously a Conservative and you have caught me waffling for effect.Quite right

  51. Newmania, that was Steven L commenting on Islington, not me, although I am happy to be associated with his remarks.

    As it happens, my son lives in Islington and will tell you similar stories. But the crime rate is nothing like as bad as some areas of South London, for instance.

    What amazes me is that in two years he’s never been asked to pay any council tax (which is just as well as he’s on a low income, having a start-out job from university. He’s already stretched beyond his means).

    Maybe, with 70% of residents on benefits, they just don’t bother to collect the rates any more.

  52. I am currently enjoying my last few months of being obnoxious and smoking over families in restaurants (Basarat)

    Welcome to the smoking den, and please receive the Brown Star of Glory medal.

    It is odd. There do seem to be a disproprtionate number of smokers here. But then, maybe the government figures on smoking are wrong?

    Now, wouldn’t that be an astonishing surprise!

  53. Where is he we need the help? Crime, that’s very deceptive but enough on Islington.

    I have a theory on sport in schools and competition in general which has been abandoned. At our office opening Boris said we need to allow failure back into early life. i.e. competition.
    It was a moderate and good humoured chat of course but I feel he may have missed a more subtle point.
    COMPETITION IN SCHOOLS
    Failure has never gone away all children know who is the strongest, fastest and cleverest (unless they have changed a lot)
    What has changed is that it has been made into a guilty secret so instead of learning how to cope with the fact that we can’t all win they have a fragile delusion of excessive pride which is undercut by a deep fear of the truth. In other words by not allowing competition you `fetishise` success. This leads to neurotic anti social behaviour and a terrible fear of failure, incapacitating and unhelpful to any accomplishment. This thought came to me when I saw the fear in the eyes of the England players missing their penalties but I have also noticed it from youth placements at our company from my brother’s school.
    . Discovering that you are not the centre of the world or, indeed all that special ,is not easy but it is such a childish fear that ,given daylight, we should all become properly amused at ourselves and `adult`. Growing fears in the dark has the most damaging consequences. Personally I `m not particularly talented nor a good example for my son in this respect but I would like him to be better than me.
    Across the board there is far to much empathy and not enough socialisation and the end of sports competition in schools is part of this. Its very easy to parody such thoughts so call them psychological developers and behavioural tools if it sounds more modern.
    Our most popular poet and most despised poet was capable of many different levels of technique and I would encourage anyone to read his later stories as utterly un jingoistic and proto Hemingway art lit . . Nonetheless `If `is a timeless accomplishment of versifying and I would love to quote it all. Two pertinent sections for everyone and David Cameron perhaps.

    `If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
    if you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;`

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! “

    A game of rugby or football can impart all these ordinary but vital qualities I only wish it had worked a bit better on me.

    And I think that’s enough of newmania for a good long time , I look forward to reading others thoughts on this or anything else.

  54. So true, Newmania, and thank you for reminding us of that poignant verse. Sadly it has little resonance these days.

    I refer you to letter in today’s Torygraph (pasted from website):

    SIR – My three-year-old is learning the alphabet using the “Letterland” system, as did his brothers. The letters all have names to ease recognition. The letter “C” has recently been renamed from “Clever Cat” to “Curly Cat”.

    I was amazed to learn that this is because the politically correct lunatics who hold power over our education under New Labour have decided that it is unacceptable to highlight cleverness. This largely explains the mess they have made of our education system.

    Kerrin Tansley, Guildford, Surrey

    I never know how much to believe these things. On the one hand, it is quite likely that some right-on educationist has spotted a crime; on the other, “curly” does describe the letter C more effectively.

  55. I watched the video of Clinton’s speech at Nulab’s Conference earlier. How effortlessly he charms an audience. I was looking for the ‘Clinton thumb’ hand shape that the former President uses with such powerful effect – and there it was, used all over the place in so many different shapes and movements to create a powerful range of emotional responses in the audience.

    Blair’s crude mimicry of Clinton – his (Blair’s) overly self conscious thumb and forefinger ‘pinch’ – which he attempts to use for subtler and less aggressive emotional emphasis than a jabbing or wagging forefinger – is so clumsy by comparison to the master.

    Clinton’s diverse range of, naturally fluid, handshapes and his famous ‘thumb’ movements are so very clever. Blair’s hand shapes look positively arthritic next to Clinton’s. But then he doesn’t have Clinton’s long and expressive fingers or manual dexterity – or Clinton’s intuitive grasp of the use of such symbolism. The movements must flow and be natural, as Clinton’s do, whereas Blair’s adaptation, like eveything else about the man, is false.

    Clinton uses his hands like magic cyphers, sending out a hundred nuances of pre-lingual, or subconscious meaning the whole time he’s speaking. His basic ‘thumb’ handshape – which Blair tries, unsucessfully to mimic – uses an ancient symbol for holiness or spiritulity. It’s a form used in Eastern/Oriental spiritual paintings or symbolic dances. This symbolic shape is replicated in sign language as the signs for peace, perfection and Jesus.

    It’s so simple, yet so bloody clever of Clinton to use this. I wonder if he was taught to do so – possibly Blair and Brown too, though, if so, it was wasted on Blair and could prove disasterous for Brown, as he gets his signalling back to front.

  56. At our office opening Boris said we need to allow failure back into early life. i.e. competition. (newmania)

    Is it competition that’s needed? Not in my experience.

    In my school days, I used to be a member of the school’s 3rd XI cricket team. We were all utterly hopeless players, and we’d be be driven by bus to some nearby school, singing all the way. Once there, when put in to be bat, we’d usually be all out for about 15 runs. The other school would then put on 100 runs, before declaring. After which we’d get back into the bus, and sing all the way back. Win or lose – and it was always lose – it was nice day out. Losing had no sting. It was water off a duck’s back.

    All this ended one day, when the team came under new management, and I was – as the team’s best bowler (which wasn’t all that good, as you might guess) – asked to become its captain, and told that our dismal record had to improve. I thought about this, and could imagine the long hours of batting practice that would be required, and the new grim seriousness of it all, and the next day I declined the offer. I didn’t want to become seriously competitive about it. For me, cricket was a game to enjoy for itself, and it was entirely inconsequential what the score was at the end of the day, and I didn’t want to lose the fun of playing it.

    I never played for the team again. I may have been the team’s best bowler, but I didn’t have the competitive spirit demanded by the new management.

  57. I can tell you that Bill Clinton has been practicing his speeches in front of cameras and mirrors since he was in grade school and very, very little is unscripted.

    Clinton is a masterful politician, one of the best the world has ever seen, but give Blair his due as well. He may have a stick up his ass by comparison, but he gives good speech. If he weren’t so good with the podium, he’d never have become Prime Minister, or, having attained it, never would have been able to hang on to it for so long.

    There is nobody at the top of Labour who can deal with a crowd as effectively as Blair can. When he goes (kicking and/or screaming) it is there that he will be missed the most, and I’m sure the thought comforts him. All the rest look like wooden soldiers or Ambien on legs in comparison. Blair will be loudly missed and praised to the skies, in large part because of this oration gap. They will feel the loss keenly.

  58. What good stuff.Missed Curly cat ,thumbs and much else .
    Idlex – I was not that awful at rugby but not serious enough. I frequently burst into giggles during the team talk .It went down badly

  59. FLO- Just re read your description of hands.Very nice .
    On Blair ( RAIN COASTER )for all his qualities being admitted in the right wing Press this week I cannot help but remember William Hague made him look second best on every meeting .

    I wonder if oration is the point any more William Hagues visual crime was being bald .
    What have we come to ?

  60. Hague did have a little too much of the ‘garden gnome’ look about him, but I think his main problem was that he didn’t speak in the (slightly refined) ‘estuary English’ accent that TB has. (Yes, as someone that’s Derbyshire born and bred I detest the current standard ‘sarf-east’ yob-speak that has become the lingua-franca, but it’s what the hoi-polloi seem to expect)… Hague’s Yorkshire accent isn’t the problem, his horrible nasal, whining speaking voice almost certainly is.

  61. Yes Mac is back

    but not quite fighting fit yet.
    The good news is he’s out of hospital and doing well.
    Speedy recovery Mac!

  62. Mac is one of the best bloggers on this site, or indeed anywhere, that has ever been. And he wrote poetry.

    And Jack Ramsey, Jack Target? and KevinB – where are you now??

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