THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
David Davis: fool or hero?

Elfin safety school

I spent yesterday in the company of students and parents at my daughter's school. She has just completed her "A" Level exams and it was her last day. As this signalled the end of a major expense as well as a rite of passage for my daughter, I was very much in the mood to celebrate. It was uplifting to be in the presence of so many excited, optimistic young people setting out on their adult lives. You could have cut the parental pride into neat blocks and built castles with it.

I have become very fond of the school in the eight years my daughters have been there. It is the most efficient organisation I have ever dealt with in Britain (though I could wish that were a bigger claim). The staff are dedicated and enthusiastic and the students almost always do them great credit. Every time I visited, bright cheerful, polite young people swept away the images of British youth perpetuated by the Daily Mail. Although the school fees were the greatest single expenditure of my life, I do not regret a penny. Whatever may befall my daughters (and I hope it is nothing but good) no-one can ever take their education from them. It's also a remarkably portable asset if (as I fear) it may become necessary to make a run for the border someday.

I didn't know whether to be more amused or annoyed when, before the chaplain stood up to take the leavers' service which began the day's events, a prefect stood up and said she had some announcements to make. Then, under regulations I can't be bothered to waste time looking up, she gave us an airline-style introduction to where we could find the exits in case of fire and instructions on how to behave "in the unlikely event" of such an emergency. Just as we we sending our offspring off to be adults, the ludicrous voice of the British government intruded to treat us all like children.

Gordon Brown has smashed all previous records for legislative fecundity, his government having enacted 2,823 new laws in his first year in office. No doubt one of them required a nice young girl to waste breath in the imagined interests of "Health & Safety", while making all us middle-aged onlookers feel like rebellious teenagers. In that moment, I wished Gordon Brown were there. I and a few of the other fathers would have given the oily little tick a good kicking behind the bike sheds. Had his fellow-pupils at Kirkcaldy High been more diligent in this respect, our nation might have been spared a good deal of harm.