Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Large Bare Patches On The Curate's Lawn

It's at times of disruption that you can note changes in the national character. I remember the tube and rail strikes of a few years back, when the British tradition of the orderly queue broke down and there were fights at bus-stops, presumably between the young and fit. The old or frail wouldn't really have been equipped for this system of seat allocation. Do people still queue in London ?

Now that you have to put your mobile, laptop and Ipod in your suitcase at an airport ?

"Looting and theft from luggage has increased at airports in the chaos after the terrorist alert."

I see the current system by which prisoners are released after half their sentence is too punitive for our tough Home Secretary.

"The Home Office is drawing up plans to release thousands of prisoners early, to free up cells in overcrowded jails.

Inmates in England and Wales could be released 10 days early under the plans.

The prison system is nearly full and has room for only another 700 inmates - hence plans to extend what is called the "transitional home leave" scheme."

There are parallels here with our energy policy. It was obvious in 1997 that, as the oil and gas ran down, we'd need alternative sources of energy, or else to cut consumption dramatically (don't get me started on Prescott's traffic pledge). But tomorrow was a long way off - why not pander to backbench/activist/Guardian prejudice and close all the nuclear plants ?

Something will turn up.

It didn't.

Silmilarly anyone in the Home Office looking at the stats in 1997 could see the need for a prison building programme. But that would upset the back benches/activists/Guardian. Anyway, crime's caused by a lack of social justice, isn't it ? We're pledged to fix that, so fingers crossed we won't need them.

Tomorrow's here and the prisons are full.

Meanwhile, the collection of sociology grads called the Association of Chief Police Officers are considering calling for the police to be able to hand out punishment without a court conviction. You know, the way they do for parking fines, not filling in a Statutory Off Road Notification, etc.

It's Pelagian government in action.

"Pelagian governments believe in Man’s perfectibility and innate goodness. As this fails to produce the perfect society, so do initially liberal Pelagians tend to turn towards coercion, more laws and greater police powers. Remind you of anything ?"


Charles Martel said...

from your "pelagian" link:

"discovered that learning the times tables by heart had been abolished"


you have to be kidding me. you are making that up arent you?

Laban said...

Not at all. Learning 'by heart' is now called 'learning by rote' amd is discouraged, being associated with Mr Gradgrind and 'the mere repetition of facts'.

The DFES have had a change of heart in recent years and don't mind it any more. But teachers who've been through training college in the 80s and 90s shy away from it like an alcoholic sighting a pink elephant.

Charles Martel said...

Funny you should mention Mr Gradgrind - i had to learn entire paragraphs of "Hard Times" by rote. ( irish leaving cert)

i can understand changing say, English Literature, from rote learning to a more interpretive learning framework - but something as basic as the times tables is a very odd thing to not learn by rote.

how did they do it so?


James Hamilton said...

People do still queue in London. At cash points, that can even organise itself into one queue for 3 cashpoints, with the person at the head taking the first machine to come free.
As for buses, it's less common to actually form a line at the stop (the shelter isn't long enough for that in the rain). Instead, there seems to be a kind of group memory about who'd arrived first (mixed in with who is old/infirm/carrying children). You'll get the occasional queue jumper, but I can't say I think things are any worse than when I arrived 16 years ago. On the tube, I'd say they'd improved.

Anonymous said...

If it was so obvious in 1997 when Labour came to power, was it not just as obvious a couple of month's earlier before the Conservatives left office?

While I agree that we need to build (more) prisons and, in principle, I'm in favour of nuclear power, it looks as though the present Govt is prepared to take decisions the last lot wimped out of.

Anonymous said...

...People do still queue in London ... buses ... there seems to be a kind of group memory about who'd arrived first (mixed in with who is old/infirm/carrying children). You'll get the occasional queue jumper

You must be joking.

Which part of London?

Try catching a bus from north from the main bus stop in Wood Green High Street (North London)...

James Hamilton said...

Anonymous - and you're always Anonymous, somehow -
I'm talking about the following places in London in which I've lived at various times since 1991.
Streatham, Gospel Oak, Chelsea, Earls Court, Peckham, Clapham and Sutton. I've also spent shorter terms in Camden, Finsbury Park, North Kensington (where I worked for six years, commuting by bus) and Bloomsbury.
The worst for queuing and general public behaviour on public transport has been Sutton.
My best experience was in 1991, in Brixton. I was completely lost, and at the wrong bus stop. An elderly West Indian woman whose accent I couldn't understand found out from me by sheer persistence where I needed to go to and led me ten minutes out of her way to the bus stop I needed.

As for you, you'll see what you want to see, and I'm sure it will always confirm your point of view, and good luck to you.

Alex Zeka said...

It is interesting to note that the Pelagian loves the police whilst the Augustinian loves the military. Leftists and libbos love to suggest that support for the two are intertwined and bolierplate political theory tends to parrot their line.

In reality, history's various anti-warniks also tended to be police state lovers (Lenin, the 60s radicals). Why this should be I do not quite know, although I suspect it has something to do with the rulers fearing either outsiders or their own people, but not both.