Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Mary Ann Sieghart Gets It

Any needless death is one too many. Put like that, it's hard to disagree. But then we might as well cut the speed limit to 2mph or ban cars altogether. In fact, let's all live in padded rooms, be fed by drips and never venture outside the house.
Don’t joke about such things!
But our lives, though longer, would also be ghastly. We'd be tempted to slit our wrists if only we could find something sharp enough.
Indeed. It’s like the old joke about the man who gives up all pleasures – he doesn’t really live for ever, it just feels like he does…
Of course it would be lovely if no-one died at all. But at what cost? If we were to cut the drink-drive limit as Sir Peter suggests, and keep the current sanctions, we would have some of the toughest laws in Europe even though our roads are among the safest.
But unfortunately, that’s quite likely to be the case, with the NuPuritans in charge…
By all means test drivers coming out of pub car parks. Or follow the example of New York, which is fitting ignition locks into the cars of convicted drunk drivers – the car won't start until the driver has blown into the tube and proved he is sober. What the Government shouldn't do is make the lives of the rest of us more miserable.
Well, yes. Unfortunately, the government hasn’t learned yet that that’s what it invariably ends up doing.
I put this argument about not cutting the drink-drive limit to a senior Labour politician the other day. She looked horrified. How could you oppose a move that saved lives? It was the same logic that led her Government to pass the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. Just look at the name and see how crazy you must be to think safeguarding the vulnerable was a bad idea. In fact it was one of the worst ideas to have come out of the last Government.
We must do it for the children! Even if, by doing it, we all get treated like children.
This is the law that treats warm-hearted adults as potential criminals. You can't now help the teacher on your child's school trip or listen to other children read in the classroom without being vetted first. Remember the wild-eyed feminists in the 1970s who proclaimed that all men were rapists? Now we have legislation based on the idea that all adults are paedophiles.
The lunatics did take over the asylum after all. Not democratically, either. No-one voted for them.
It's not just insulting to adults; it's also dreadful for children. Not only will their fun be curtailed, as many fewer grown-ups will now be prepared to put themselves forward for football coaching, school trips or Scouting. They are also being led to believe that adults can't be trusted and have less-than-generous motives.
Undoubtedly, that’s a valuable lesson. Some adults do indeed fit that profile. The Righteous, for a start…
… what a shame if the very people who are needed to make the Big Society work are deterred from helping out.
And yet, iDave doesn’t seem to have grasped that nettle, does he, Mary?

Could it be that the ‘Big Society’ concept is just all marshmallow and hot air?
There are few improvements to our lives a Government can make that don't cost money. Here are just a couple. Don't follow Sir Peter North's advice on drink-driving, and repeal the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. While you're about it, change the law to make it harder for people to sue public bodies after accident or injury. Then, perhaps, public swimming pools will dare to reinstate diving boards and allow parents to bring more than one child for a recreational swim. And adventure holidays will allow youngsters to have proper adventures.
All sound changes.
David Cameron talks about wanting people to take more responsibility. That must surely entail allowing them to choose what risks they want to run. If a mother is confident that she can cope with two or three children in the pool, that should be her decision, not the local council's. If a school is happy to trust its parents to help out in the classroom, it should not be prosecuted for not checking their criminal records first.

Both parties in the coalition say they care about personal freedom. In that case, they should resist any extra encroachment on the way we lead our lives – such as raising the drink-drive limit – and peel away some of the bossier layers of legislation bequeathed by Labour.
To ministers faced with the horrendous task of finding 40 per cent cuts in spending in their departments, this may seem like an unwelcome distraction. Who has the time or energy to start worrying about repealing laws and regulations when there is a spending round to prepare for?

Well, it's precisely because of the cuts that this exercise needs to be done. The coalition can't only deliver bad news. It needs to find the odd good story with which to cheer us up. These additions to our freedom are not only cost-free – they also have the chance to make our lives, grim enough at the moment, just a little bit better.
I can’t think of anything I’d rather see happen.


Clarissa said...

Nor me. I just wonder if I'll live to see the day...

Anonymous said...

just so you don't miss it Julia -

well worth watching, a classic example of a broken system where the police are niether willing, able, encouraged or supported in preventing or tackling crime.

Anonymous said...

and you know that had the guy fought back, injured his attacker and survived he would have been arrested.

The Cowboy Online said...

The thrust of the article I agree with but, oh dear, some of the comments being made. It isn't just the legislator making our lives grim, there seems to be an appalling willingness for it among some sections of our society as well.

Mick Turatian said...

The British Heart Foundation doesn't get it.

I'd always imagined that this was a charity engaged in promoting medical research.

But in the wake of today's government announcement that funds for playgrounds are to be withdrawn, Betty McBride, their policy director said: “When only one in 10 youngsters get enough exercise, playgrounds can provide a cheap, fun and easy way for children to get active outdoors.

So 90% of children ostensibly don't benefit and 10% may or may not be using these playgrounds.

“In light of this, the decision to stop work on new playgrounds is a worrying example of a knee jerk reaction to cost cutting.

No, the way you describe it, it sounds more like common sense.

“It’ll end up costing society more in the long run as we continue to fight against childhood obesity.

So, donors to the BHF need to be aware that they are footsoldiers in the fight against childhood obesity rather than medical research.

Rather than whine about the withdrawl of funding for (by their own reckoning) under-used facilities, the BHF should employ CRB-checked heavies to follow fat children home, confiscate the cutlery and break all the plates.

Clarissa said...

And thus have the parents pick up a dinner that doesn't require crockery or cutlery at MacDonald's?

Not sure you've thought that one through Mick.

Mick Turatian said...

Clarissa: Quite right but then, you see, the war becomes one not against abstract child obesity but against the stupid/lumpen/chav/underclass parents who overfeed their children with fast food.

Should the BHF run camps to re-educate parents of fat children? Or sterilise them?

Or should the rest of us campaign against charities that lobby and pontificate outside a narrow remit being able to claim gift aid which is taxpayers' money, after all.

JuliaM said...

"I just wonder if I'll live to see the day..."

Me too... :(

"just so you don't miss it Julia"

Ah, cheers! Have downloaded it. I remember the case well, but I don't remember reading anywhere that one of them later committed murder...

"It isn't just the legislator making our lives grim, there seems to be an appalling willingness for it among some sections of our society as well."

Oh, indeed. That's how they get away with proposing this nonsense.

The letters page of any newspaper is enough tto make you wary of your fellow man!

"So, donors to the BHF need to be aware that they are footsoldiers in the fight against childhood obesity rather than medical research."

Damn, and we made a donation in my father's name too :(

"...should the rest of us campaign against charities that lobby and pontificate outside a narrow remit being able to claim gift aid which is taxpayers' money, after all."

Yes, most definitely. It seems even the ones that start out with good intentions end up corrupted.