THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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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.

Comments

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Thud

As the proud owner of a new model baby girl I am already worrying about her schooling...will she even get the chance of an education such as your daughters? At the rate nulabour are decimating the country I have my doubts.

Tom Paine

Give me a break, MarkUK. As James shrewdly infers from limited data, I am a grown man. I need no compulsory lectures from government. Indeed, as government works for me, it should have the humility to offer no lectures at all. I elect it to administer necessary laws and to defend the realm. Everything else ought to be, as we lawyers say, ultra vires. If the school had bad fire safety and the people in that hall had suffered in consequence, I can assure you that private sector civil lawyers would have ensured that improvements were made in future. Indeed, as that has been the case since the school was built 150 years ago, I am pretty confident that it is reasonably safe now - and no credit to any jack-in-office waste of space H&S merchant. The only thing to give those people credit for is the continuing disastrous slide in Britain's competitiveness (and the continuing infantilisation of once-sturdy yeomen).

As for the falling death rate at work, has it occured to you that it's to do with the 'deskification' of the UK economy? That moving around a million employees out of production into public sector non-jobs might have that effect? With construction, easily Britain's most dangerous industry now that mining has gone, going into the biggest slump for decades, you can expect the government to take credit for even more more workplace safety. Perhaps if no-one worked at all, the death rate would fall more than "steadily?" Perhaps we should all join the 5 million plus "economically-inactive" on benefits? Their lives are famously healthy aren't they? Oh but wait, the life expectancy in Labour paradise Glasgow East (where almost everyone is economically-inactive) is below African levels, isn't it? Perhaps not then. When I thanked a German colleague for showing up to speak at an event with a bad cold, he just smiled and said "work is healthy." Damn right it is.

Do grow up.

Jeremy Jacobs

2,800-odd "new" laws. What a waste of time and space.

Jim Callaghan

I don't know if this can be blamed on Brown, Tom: I've seen it done at school plays throughout the NuLab era.

jameshigham

She has just completed her "A" Level exams and it was her last day.

You're not that old are you, Tom?

Colin Campbell

Congratulations Tom.

We are not quite so bad here, although the Rudd Government is planning to streamline business rules, with Elfin Safety one of the first up. Each state has a different requirement for the contents of a First Aid Kit, what bandages, what sizes, how many are mandated.

As for Kirkcaldy High we generally got a good kicking from them at Rugby and Cricket. We once lost a cricket match to them after being all out for 13. Bastards.

MarkUK

Please don't knock PROPER Health & Safety too much. The UK death rate at work has been falling steadily since the Health & Safety at Work Act came in. Spending a few seconds listening to a few words on fire safety is not time wasted. Ask anyone who lost a loved one in a fire in a "public" place.

Having said that, I have no truck with the Weary Willies and Moaning Minnies who cry "Elfin Safety" as soon as someone looks like enjoying themselves. No, hanging baskets shouldn't be banned. Kids can play conkers (and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)entered a team in the last World Conker Championships to prove the point! No, they weren't wearing body armour).

The HSE has a "Myth of the Month" on its website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/index.htm

H&S is not about stopping people doing things. It's about making sure people can carry on doing things for a long time to come.

Anyway, congratulations to your daughter. May the sun shine on her ambitions.

My younger one has just graduated from Lancaster University and is now going to do a Masters at Manchester.

JMB

Congratulations to Miss TP the Younger and to you for graduating from school fees. Will uni fees be cheaper or do scholarships take the sting out of those?

Here we call it the "brain drain" (maybe they do everywhere) as those educated at tax payers' expense in the Canadian universities beatle over the border to earn the big bucks and pay lower taxes, especially doctors and scientist it seems.

Of course my daughter did it too, although spending six years in university here and six in the States, but the job market is just so much bigger there. Plus she got married and the US is their compromise country between Italy and Canada so no one is totally happy but acceptably so.

Guthrum

Exhausting !

I am reading The Last Fighting Tommy by Harry Patch at present (a local lad living 15 miles away) I am at the early stage of his life, some of the things he got up to would have had the local authorities now impounding him and his mates, and prosecuting his parents. Back then the local bobby gave him a thick ear, rapidly followed by a good hiding from his father, that was the end of the story, no social workers etc etc. All of his school mates turned out well. Sadly all but Harry Patch and one other ended up as names on the local war memorial.

May I wish your daughter many happy days as she sets out on life

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