A lesson for free – life isn't fair

That’s the sentiments one of the thugs spray painted somewhere yesterday. So lets take their viewpoint a little further. I heard on numerous occasions many students parroting the lines of we are going to be the lawyers, the doctors of the future. (Not convinced seeing some of the students but that’s another matter).

So what you are saying is that you are going to be the relatively well of rich of the future, so seems the right and just thing to do to make you contribute for an education which according to yourself, will take you into a profession whose pay will make you relatively well off.

Yeah but no but yeah but.

What they really means is not make the rich pay, but make anyone pay but them. Protestations of education should be free never recognises something free has a cost. Make the worker on the minimum wage pay for something they aren’t benefiting from. Sounds oh so fair. But then we all know we should use the phrase fair. Here is a lesson that everyone can have for free. No fees no taxes needed. Life isnt fair.

Reports of my death have indeed been exaggerated

It appears as though my podcasting partner Mr Iain Dale has been on TV (the media star that he is) suggesting that Tories who believe in Michael Howard’s prison policies have all died. Now now Mr Dale, I hate to tell him, but they are very much alive and kicking. Iain may have become a bit of a wet liberal on this issue in his old age (we love you really) but at one level prison very much works. When people are locked up they cannot commit crime against the law abiding majority. Yes rehabilitation is essential, but so is protecting the public. But what about community sentences. We hear prison doesn’t work because people return to crime. Well guess what they return to crime when having served a community sentence, and while at large are also able to commit crime when they should have been locked up.

Yes, much can be done to improve the effectiveness of prison (sort the drugs problem, increase literacy etc), but I for one don’t want to hear people aren’t being given the sentence they deserve because there are no more prison places. I stood on a platform of increasing the number of places for inmates, as I may add did Iain in 2005, and I still support such a policy, along with Michael Howard, Phil Davies… and I suspect the majority of the British public.

Hattip @Tortorian for title of blogpost

Update:- I agree with many of the sentiments made by Iain here, Where we may differ is I think a custodial sentence is appropriate for the perpetrators of some of yesterdays actions.

One area where I feel sorry for students

I am not predispositioned to feel sorry for the student fraternity. Why? Well its all personal experience. I went to University. Did I learn much… well maybe. Then of course there is my wife who left school at 16 who has done rather well for herself.

There is however one area where I do feel sorry for students and would be students. That area is the advice from parents, teachers, and indeed Governments of all colours that has been along the lines that a degree will lead to a better paid job, with all the benefits which comes with that. I’m afraid I was no longer convinced of that, and with the possibility of a rise in tuition fees I become less convinced by the day.

Why you may ask. Well I don’t know what the average student debt is. The figures aren’t particularly relevant. All you need to do is add that figure to 3 years worth of salary forgone that a school leaver could possibly have earned. Then you have the difference between an employed student who obtained gainful employment at 18, and a newly employed graduate with debt at the age of 21.

The argument has always been that over their lifetime the person with the degree has a much bigger earning capacity, but I just don’t think that is true. With the proliferation of degrees of varying qualities, yes some will, but not all graduates will be doctors lawyers or high earners. In which case surely the best advice as a teacher, parent or careers adviser is to consider alternative options.

The problem is that there may not be many alternatives and higher education has become the default option. The idea a degree is going to lead to that higher salary just can’t be true, and we are selling our students down the river telling them it will.

PMQs – 8th December 2010


If you missed Prime Ministers Questions today  can listen again by clicking the play button above.

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Ahem.. Ken Clarke, Prison does work in some respects

I have to say that the issue of prisons is one issue which divides myself and my podcasting partner on The Seven Days Show, Mr Iain Dale. I am very much of the mind that in its most simplistic form, prison works. When inmates are locked up there is no opportunity to commit crime.

Aha – but thats not the only purpose of prison people say. Maybe not, but for me it comes above rehabilitation, no matter how important that may be.

Critics of prison say that recidivism shows it doesn’t work? Yet what they don’t really talk about is that there is recidivism with community sentences too. So the recidivism argument really shouldn’t be used as an argument against prison, when the alternatives can be just as bad.

Then there is the deterrent argument. Some (such as Jonathan Aitken today) suggest prison won’t act as a deterrent. Err OK….. One answer is to make it so. The second argument is that if taken away someone liberty is no deterrent, a community sentence certainly isn’t.

Then there is the pledge on knife crime which has been abandoned. Sorry, but it will only be a matter of time when someone who would have had a custodial sentence who will commit some sort of crime with a knife that involves the loss of life and we can all imagine the headlines.

I’m with Michael Howard on this one. For the law abiding majority in this country, in many respects, prison works.

Fighting Bull

I don’t get enough time to read books as I would like, however over the weekend (well actually over one evening) I read Fighting Bull by Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, as I’m hoping to interview him this week.

There aren’t many factual books that are real page turners, however this one certainly (for me) fits into that category.

If you want to know more about the leader of UKIP, the ups and downs of the party, and what I would describe as a warts and all portrayal of the Euro Sceptic movement then this book is well work a read.

“Green” Climate polices: probably unnecessary; certainly ineffectual; ruinously expensive

Roger Helmer MEP has written a superb blog on “Green” climate policies. To listen to what he has to say in a Tory Radio podcast click the play button below.


Seven Days Show Episode 51


The latest edition of the Seven Days Show (episode 51) is now online.

In the show this week we talk about the numerous student protests; whether there is an alternative to “direct action”; can any Lib Dem Minister be allowed to vote against Government policy; what EMAs are and whether they are needed; Howard Flight and his views on benefits; Godfrey Bloom MEP; John Major and his view the coalition could become more permanent; Wikileaks; Phil Woolas losing his appeal; David Chaytor and more expenses stories; and finally the failed World Cup bid.

To listen to the podcast click the play button above.

Subscribe to Tory Radio on Itunes  here

Snow joke

The snow has been with us for 7 days now and I have to say, whilst it all looks very nice it really does drive me to distraction. Firstly why have schools been shut when the roads are distinctly passable? Health and safety I hear you say. There is nothing better than creating an ice slide in the playground as a kid, and it’s something everyone should do.

Then why on earth do people have to use it as an excuse not to turn up to work. Granted some people just can’t get there, but when I was turned away at a mobile phone shop because the chap was closing at 1:00pm to “get home” when there wasn’t a snow flake in the sky I think some people are just taking the Michael as they say.

Then of course there is the driving. Why do people feel the need to take their care on the road with about 10 inches of snow on the top of the car that is just so helpful when it flies onto your car if driving behind. Or what about the car who feels the need to drive inches from your rear bumper when there is two inches of ice on the road? Or maybe cars that don’t think having their headlights on is helpful.

So there you have it. Snow is lovely to look at, but it really is no joke the way some people act when it’s around

PS:- Not sure the theft of snowmen should be a priority for locally elected police commissioners. What do you think?

PMQs – 1st December 2010


If you missed PMQs from1st December click the play button above to listen again.