The Vidal Sassoon Treatment.

by Harry on May 4, 2008

Among the depressing pieces of news from London this week (depressing except for opponents of organised sport, who have, more or less, been guaranteed that the 2012 Olympics will be a lot of fun) — a BNP candidate, Mr Richard Barnbrook, was elected to the Greater London Assembly. So, how should he be treated?

One option is what you might call the Vidal Sassoon treatment. This involves gathering together large numbers of trained killers and street-fighters, physically busting up meetings, and brutalising fascists whenever one bumps into them. In this documentary (still online, and well worth a listen), one member of the 43 Group recalls encountering one of the ideologues of the British Fascists on a bus, holding onto the bars, and kicking him off with the full force of his body. (A TV documentary is on youtube here, here, and here).

Tempting as it must be, in these less violent days, in which the police are probably less tolerant of gang violence than they once were, this treatment is probably not the best option. I hope, though, that Assembly members can agree to send Barnbrook to Coventry — allow him full free speech rights, and exercise their own by refraining, ever, from speaking to him or looking him in the face. He should be a pariah, and should be made to feel like one. Better (legal) suggestions are welcome.



Carter 05.04.08 at 8:27 pm

You could hit him with your purse then tell the cops it was an accident.


Jacob 05.04.08 at 9:06 pm

Or just throw your Koran at him and then run toward Mecca hoping that you can catch one of the 72 or so virgins before it’s too late.


Laleh 05.04.08 at 9:35 pm

What’s absolutely fascinating is that the BNP is claiming to have set aside their anti-semitism, and reached out to the London Jewish community in order to stoke Islamophobia (the Jewish community thankfully by and large rejected their approach):

What this depressing episode tells me though is how much Islamophobia has come to resemble old-school European antisemitism…


dilbert dogbert 05.04.08 at 9:46 pm

Glad you ended the post will a call to reject violence. The guys you are dealing with will raise the level of violence much beyond what any tea sipping liberal will tolerate. I tell friends who long to kick some idiot in the balls to remember who shot JFK, RFK, MLK and many others. Your opponents are armed and dangerous.


Bob B 05.04.08 at 9:50 pm

It is possibly worryingly easy, I fear, to gain a misimpression from the reference to the street fights of Vidal Sassoon in Harry’s thread starter that widespread antisemitism was rife, or at least latent, in London in the aftermath of WW2 when such impressions, whether explicitly or implicitly conveyed, are remote from the truth.

A personal insight comes from the fact that I was born before the war in inner London and lived there through the war and the aftermath. In June 1944, a V1 flying bomb had dropped down at one end of the road where I lived then and in January 1945 a V2 ballistic rocket landed at the other – altogether, the V1s and V2s killed almost 9,000 Londoners, according to official statistics.

A close boyhood friend in my secondary school years was from a German refugee family who had settled in Britain shortly before the war. Later, there were other friends from refugee families and then girl friends. At no time was I aware or made aware of any antisemitic sentiments directed at them or myself. Least any here think I have a peculiarly narrow or prejudiced perspective, I can invoke Sir Jonathan Sacks in support:

“Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, told the committee that Britain was manifestly not an anti-Semitic society: ‘It is one of the least anti-Semitic societies in the world.'”,,2-2346373,00.html


otto 05.04.08 at 10:34 pm

The previous and possibly future method for managing these characters is to have a FPTP voting system so that these sort of voters are kept within the Tory coalition.


Michael 05.04.08 at 10:54 pm

I think a “cordon sanitaire” is the only way of dealing with these types. We used to have the far-right Centre Democrats in parliament here in the Netherlands. They were totally ignored. A comparable situation exists in Antwerp.

They should be allowed the freedom to talk and we accordingly take the freedom not to listen.


Laleh 05.05.08 at 12:12 am

Sadly, “the freedom not to listen” doesn’t extend to politicians (particularly gallingly in Labour) or to pundits (particularly the “decents”) whose appeal to “the white working class” has incorporated much of the BNP’s anti-immigrant and (specificially) anti-Muslim rhetoric without attribution…


Bob B 05.05.08 at 12:51 am

C’mon, I appreciate the concern and the advice but let’s get a perspective on this.

Please, have a watch of this BBC news clip about: London – The Great Divide

Just one of the many differences between London and the rest of Britain is the report in the clip that 40 per cent of London residents were born abroad. 40 per cent.

We now have, for the first time, one BNP candidate elected to the London assembly. Wow!

The truth is that we are a very unfascistic people, especially Londoners, who have a long history of radicalism, which is why London, the south east and East Anglia were for Parliament in our civil war in the 17th century, while the north and south west were for the King. John Wilkes – Wilkes for Liberty – was one of our previous lord mayors of London.

Ever since our unfortunate historic experiences with Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector, and the Duke of Wellington, as prime minister, military men have found it difficult to make much headway in politics in Britain despite the empire on which the sun never set.

For entertainment, I sometimes watch Google video clips of Nazi troops doing their goose step ceremonial march to see how they compare with Russian, North Korean and Chinese troops also doing their ceremonial goose steps. Then I turn to watch the military precision of Trooping the Colour:



c.l. ball 05.05.08 at 1:38 am

I’m lost.

Marginal, racist candidate wins seat. That’s the way democracy works under PR.

Try to hard to make a pariah, and you may make a pseudo-martyr instead.

Sad to see that such a party garners so much support.


Thomas 05.05.08 at 3:43 am

I’m curious who dilbert (no. 4 above) thinks killed JFK and RFK.


joji 05.05.08 at 5:56 am

are you kidding? racism is alive and well in britain! giving the likes of mr richard a triple dose of vidal sassoon treatment would even be an understatement.

democracy, too, is alive.


abb1 05.05.08 at 7:59 am

According to wikipedia the guy got 70K straight votes and 130K second-choice votes. Refraining from looking at him is not a solution.


Bob B 05.05.08 at 8:49 am

“According to wikipedia the [BNP] guy got 70K straight votes and 130K second-choice votes.”

According to this, the BNP attracted a total of 130,714 votes for a place in the London assembly, which amounts to 5.33 per cent of the total votes cast:

Btw in the UK party colour conventions for the constituency map: red = Labour and blue = Conservative

To put the scale of the BNP votes into a clearer perspective, there are 5.5 million registered voters in London:


Bob B 05.05.08 at 8:57 am

If racism is so rife in London then how come the BNP has got only one member elected to the London assembly, and that for the first time last Thursday, when 40 per cent of London residents are reported to be foreign born?

For an assessment of the BNP gain posted on the BBC website:


dsquared 05.05.08 at 11:51 am

Wikipedia has to be wrong on that one; Barnbrook wasn’t in the final two, so they would not have counted his second preference votes. I think the figure 130k refers to votes for the BNP party list, in which there would presumably be significant double counting with Barnbrook’s personal vote for mayor.


Bob B 05.05.08 at 12:27 pm

Arguably, this popular but completely outrageous British comedy monologue provides a more accurate insight into how many of we Brits regard current inter-faith controversies:

Be warned – prepare to be outraged!


harry b 05.05.08 at 1:14 pm

bob b — one of the upsides of BJ becoming Mayor is the thought of hearing Brigstocke rant about himm for FOUR YEARS on the Now Show.


Martin Wisse 05.05.08 at 1:37 pm

If people were eager to argue the Vidal Sassoon treatment on fascists, at least they should be smart enough not to do so on the internets, as incitement to violence/murder charges often offend.

Apart from that, there’s no “one size fits all” strategy for dealing with fascists. When the Centrumparty got seats in parliament in Holland back in the eighties, mainstream politicians made sure to shun them, freezing the party out of normal politics, while more radical anti-fascist activists went for more drastic measures (like arson). That worked well then, but the simular “cordon sanitaire” in Belgium against Vlaams Blok/Belang hasn’t stopped their rise much.

Personally, I feel that the more it’s made clear that voting fascist is beyond the pale, that it falls outside the acceptable spectrum of politics, the easier it is to stop them. In other words: “if you have a fascist friend now is the time for your friendship to end”.

But as long as the major parties keep making dog whistle appeals to the BNP’s electorate, the BNP will profit.


belle le triste 05.05.08 at 3:11 pm

have any elected bnp councillors in the uk converted victories into any kind of further momentum? the impression i get* is that to date they have indeed mostly found themselves isolated and powerless, unable to deliver anything to those who voted for em, bored by and alienated from the actual dreary quotidian of local council business, with no experience of the manoeuvring required for politics of this kind, and no gift (or taste) for debating specifics: essentially their background in anti-democratic politics undermines them at a practical as well as an ideological level, and their exposure to the machinery of government casts a fairly pitiless light (for onlookers inc.supporters) on their various uselessnesses — not all that many get re-relected; a handful have been so daunted by the encounter with real-life (if unexalted) democracy that they’ve quit the party and confessed error

*this may all be me in mimsy cloudcuckooland of course — but i’m old enough to remember the threat of the nf in the mid-70s and it was much more about violent domination of the streets combined with potential political gains based on widespread voter-panic; the domination was contested, the gains never emerged; the panic resolved in other ways


abb1 05.05.08 at 3:32 pm

The problem with this ’43 Group’ analogy is not that it offends, but that these days violent opposition to fascists by Muslims (assuming they are the main target) plays into the stereotype and thus is sorta counterproductive.


Alex 05.05.08 at 3:33 pm

That is roughly what happened; the BNP wins seats occasionally but very rarely defends them with success. More than one councillor lost their seat for non-attendance.

There are also a couple who were asked to stand at the last moment, and crossed the floor after meeting the party leaders.


Laleh 05.05.08 at 4:54 pm

I have to say, pointing out to diminshing antisemitism (as bob b does) and saying that all racism has disappeared in Britain is a HUUUGE fallacy. As Tony Judt would tell you, antisemitism has moved so far beyond the pale since the end of WWII that it is not surprising that bob and Jonathan Sacks haven’t seen any antisemitism.

Go ask the Muslims, or the afro-carribeans, of London and the rest of the UK whether racism has died and they will laugh in your face!


Bob B 05.05.08 at 6:01 pm

Laleh: “Go ask the Muslims, or the afro-carribeans, of London and the rest of the UK whether racism has died and they will laugh in your face!”

I certainly wouldn’t claim that racism is dead in Britain – or in London – but the selection of ethnic groups in that quote is illuminating. Why no mention of ethnic Indians, Sikhs or Chinese? Are we to take it that they don’t experience racism and, if so, why not?

What are we to make of these recent reports in the media?

“Government figures show only 15% of white working class boys in England got five good GCSEs including maths and English last year. . . Poorer pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds fared much better – with 36% and 52% making that grade respectively.”

“White working-class pupils are the lowest-achieving group in English schools because they have low aspirations and do not do their homework, an official study shows.”

Compare this, written by George Orwell about places in the north of England in 1936:

“The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a ‘job’ should descend upon anyone at fourteen. Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography. To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly.”
[Road to Wigan Pier, chp.7]

It seems that in some places male social values regarding education have not changed much in the last 70 something years.

Btw “WOMEN university students now outnumber men across all subject areas, from engineering to medicine and law to physical sciences.”
Link available.


George Panagakos 05.05.08 at 8:08 pm


richard 05.05.08 at 9:09 pm

bob b: relevance?

I imagine laleh just chose 2 ethnic groups that s/he knows face racism, to make a broader point. I confess, I too immediately thought “what about Indians etc etc” and then I realised I could fill up a lot of space filling in those etc’s without saying anything new.


Bob B 05.06.08 at 12:17 am


Different ethnic groups – including working class white boys – may experience discrimination for various combinations of reasons besides ethnic origins or skin colour:

“An ethnic breakdown of [2004] GCSE results in England shows that ‘black African’ girls are scoring higher grades than ‘white British’ boys. . . ”

I expect the many professional muslims settled in Britain – the doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, opticians, academics and the like – experience no more discrimination than professionally equivalent ethnic Indians, Chinese etc. Education attainment makes a substantial difference to life chances.

In the early 1980s, by chance, I encountered someone who had been recruited to research this in a town in the north of England. He had come originally from the south of England so the local economic and social circumstances were new to him.

What he soon noted was that in the 1960s and 1970s, the managers and owners of textile mills in northern textile towns had actively sought and recruited peasant families from rural areas in Pakistan to migrate to Britain and settle here in order to work in the textile mills. The motivation was, basically, to extend the commercial viability of the mills when competition from low-cost textile imports was increasing. Eventually, the textile mills closed anyway and that created economic tensions arising from unemployment and the competition for jobs with low-skilled indigenous workers. But there were also social tensions due to a whole series of cultural conflicts. Basically, migrants from rural areas, with their own distinctive religion, language and culture had come to settle in urban areas in a distant country where very different social values and aspirations prevail.

“Racism” is a convenient portmanteau expression with negative connotations but we ought to probe and analyse the circumstances in which it is applied to see whether it is describing quite the same phenomena. This official report shows that different ethnic groups in Britain are characterised by very different levels of attainment in the GCSE school exams taken by 16 year-olds:

How come and – importantly – does it matter when unskilled manual jobs are rapidly going out of fashion? Why is it that, reportedly, exclusion rates from school are so much higher for, specifically, afro-caribbean male youths compared with male youths from other ethnicities?

One outcome of all this computer stuff is that using computers stresses literacy and numeracy skills. From report in The Economist in 2006: “Nearly a third of British adults do not have a basic school-leaving certificate. More than a tenth have no qualifications at all. A fifth are functionally innumerate and nearly as many are functionally illiterate. And the workers of tomorrow aren’t much better. One student in six leaves school unable to read, write and add up satisfactorily.” [Link available]

“Last year [2004], a report from [OECD] revealed that Britain came seventh from bottom in a league table of staying-on rates for 19 countries. Only Mexico and Turkey had significantly lower rates of participation for this age group. Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and Slovakia have marginally lower rates.” [Link available]


Joe S. 05.06.08 at 1:20 am

It all depends on the morality of the Conservative Party. If they ostracize Barnbrook, ostracism will work. If they do not, it won’t. Countries–such as France or Germany or somewhat Japan–with a responsible right-wing party have antibodies to fascism that the rest of us do not.


Bob B 05.06.08 at 1:50 am

“Countries—such as France or Germany or somewhat Japan—with a responsible right-wing party have antibodies to fascism that the rest of us do not.”

LOL! C’mon. How come Jean-Marie Le Pen as a candidate for the French presidency in the run-off election against Chirac in 2004 because Jospin, the Socialist candidate, had been knocked out in the first round?

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist and former finance minister, said he would support the conservative president, Jacques Chirac, in the second round because ‘It is the honor of our country that is at stake.'”

As for Germany:

“Sixty years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the right-wing, extremist National Democratic Party of Germany is attempting to shake up Germany with its confrontational slogans and mass demonstrations. Both the government and the opposition parties are alarmed — and at odds over whether to pursue a ban of the party.”,1518,339604,00.html

In Japan, there has been continuing political infighting since WW2 over how school textbooks describe events in Nanjing in 1937/8.

Somehow, in Britain we manage without having to make holocaust denial a criminal offence – because we don’t need to.


will u. 05.06.08 at 5:08 am

“WOMEN university students now outnumber men across all subject areas, from engineering to medicine and law to physical sciences.”

I’m a physics graduate student. My cohort numbers 33, of whom three are women.


Martin Wisse 05.06.08 at 6:56 am

What’s revealing is the use of the term “white working class”, as it usually signals the user as a stone cold racist.


Dave 05.06.08 at 7:56 am

@29, what do you call them then, Martin? Honky pig entitlement-addicts? Workshy scrounging scum? The embattled proletariat? FFS…


Great Zamfir 05.06.08 at 7:59 am

Will, imagine how many girls the other cohorts must have to make up the difference… Just fail your year, and move to another cohort.


chris armstrong 05.06.08 at 9:23 am

@27 – the Conservatives, I would bet, are going to steer VERY clear of Barnbrook. There’s nothing to gain from associating with him, and a lot to lose. They would be vilified if they dealt with him, and given that the BNP has just one seat, there’s just no point. This is not to say there’s (much) high principle involved – in the European Parliament the Tories are content to work with some dubious rightist characters, but there the choice there is between that and irrelevance – plus I suspect they bank on the idea that most voters ‘back home’ either won’t notice or won’t care who they associate with, within reason.

It was a very interesting documentary about the 43 group, Harry – it may have been the presentation, but the impression that came through was that their activities had a real, and positive effect, although some of the protagonists clearly weren’t so proud of the violence now, looking back.


Bob B 05.06.08 at 9:55 am

#29: “the term ‘white working class’, as it usually signals the user as a stone cold racist.”

Doubtless fascinating stuff. Presumably, BBC polls and surveys of the following kind, which refer to “white working class”, will all be banned in the New Order.

“A majority of white working class Britons feel nobody speaks for people like them, a BBC survey has suggested. Some 58% said they felt unrepresented compared with 46% of white middle class respondents to a Newsnight poll. White working classes were also negative about the past decade with 62% saying life had generally become worse in the UK.”


abb1 05.06.08 at 10:27 am

You, guys, think “white working class” is a meaningful category?


Bob B 05.06.08 at 10:37 am

Readers may be interested to know of this assessment of the potential economic consequences of continuing large-scale immigration by Professor Robert Rowthorn, professor of economics at Cambridge:

“The injection of large numbers of unskilled workers into the economy does not benefit the bulk of the population to any great extent. It benefits the nanny-and housecleaner-using classes; it benefits employers who want to pay low wages; but it does not benefit indigenous, unskilled Britons, who have to compete with immigrants willing to work hard for very low wages in unpleasant working conditions.”

A longer study of the subject is at:

Professor Rowthorn is author of several books, including: Capitalism, Conflict and Inflation (Lawrence Wishart, 1980). He is not widely regarded as being “right-wing”, rather the opposite, in fact.


Ginger Yellow 05.06.08 at 1:23 pm

“If racism is so rife in London then how come the BNP has got only one member elected to the London assembly, and that for the first time last Thursday, when 40 per cent of London residents are reported to be foreign born?”

Well, speaking as a foreign born London resident, it might be because many of them are WASPs.


Bob B 05.06.08 at 3:26 pm

Sure enough, resident Londoners come from all over.

Oop north, they knew how to deal with foreigners:

“During the Napoleonic Wars there was a fear of a French invasion of Britain and much public concern about the possibility of French infiltrators and spies. . . ”

But times change. It emerged during President Sarkozy’s recent state visit that with 300,000 resident French citizens, London is currently the 6th largest French city, equivalent in numbers of resident French citizens to Nice – but then Nice, appropriately, has a Promenade des Anglais along the seafront.

An impressive display of Britain’s military might turned out there, even without goose stepping, but I’ll bet the French residents of London don’t all speak English when they get home, despite Mr Blunkett’s injunction.

Perhaps one of the more significant issues is to wonder why so many folk from around the world come to London to live. Until about 20 years ago London’s resident population had been falling on trend since at least the 1930s – something which is relatively easy to document. Mrs Thatcher changed that and London’s population has been growing since.

The fact is that travelling on public transport in London – which I do almost daily – is a multicultural experience, as is a visit to any of the several superstores or pubs in my neighbourhood. What I notice is that most folk get along well and with a goodly sprinkling of ethnically mixed couples.

Btw I live in what was the Saxon heartland of England. At a place about five miles away from my home, seven Saxon kings were crowned there before the Norman conquest of 1066. About a mile away, the archaeologists uncovered the foundations of a substantial Roman villa. The local parish church is part Norman and the manor house nextdoor, with a great hall dating back to the 14th century, once belonged to a Norman family. About four miles away are the ruins of Nonsuch Palace, built by Henry VIII and intended as the finest palace in all Christendom. There’s a bricked up cave about 200 metres away which – according to the London Encyclopaedia – contained evidence of human habitation going back at least to the middle stone age. The neighbourhood contains the span of human history.


Bob B 05.06.08 at 3:50 pm

The most reliable official data on the ethnic make-up of London comes from the Census of 2001:

The admission of 10 additional states to the EU15 in 2004 and by a further two in this year will have changed that make-up somewhat but I have no firm data to hand.

This, from the Guardian in 2005, claimed more than 300 languages are spoken in London:

“Altogether, more than 300 languages are spoken by the people of London, and the city has at least 50 non-indigenous communities with populations of 10,000 or more. Virtually every race, nation, culture and religion in the world can claim at least a handful of Londoners.”

The Times of India on 14 November 2006 reported:

“LONDON: The British capital counts more people born in India than any other country among its foreign-born residents, official figures for this thriving metropolis of 7.3 million people reveal. Indian-born Londoners numbered 206,000 in the three months ending June this year, said the Office of National Statistics (ONS) . . ”

In all, WASP hardly seems a remotely accurate description of Londoners.


harry b 05.07.08 at 1:46 am

george’s comment got hung up in moderation, so most of you will have missed it. Here it is:

Re 23 & 24…

Rumours of anti-semitism’s death (in the UK) seem a bit premature.

And by police figures, Jews, proportionally, are four times more likely to be attacked than are Muslims.



Bob B 05.07.08 at 9:28 am

I suspect that most if not all recent manifestations of violence towards jews in Britain relates not to causes indigenous to Britain but to the continuing conflict in Palestine.

“Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, today delivers an unprecedentedly strong warning to Israel, arguing that the country is adopting a stance ‘incompatible’ with the deepest ideals of Judaism, and that the current conflict with the Palestinians is ‘corrupting’ Israeli culture.”,2763,781113,00.html

In British academia, perceptions of the Palestine conflict have probably been much influenced by Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001). Avi Shlaim, who holds joint British-Israeli citizenship, is professor of international relations at St Anthony’s College, Oxford. This perhaps provides a fair, readily accessible insight into his assessment of Israel’s predicament in Palestine.


chris armstrong 05.07.08 at 10:23 am

It would, in a kind of perverse way, be comforting if anti-semitism in Britain was predominantly a response to conflict in the middle east. But I can’t quite accept the idea that most of the shaven-headed idiots who spray swastikas on gravestones give a stuff about the plight of the Arabs in Palestine. I suspect that a good chunk of them would more happily spend their down-time listening to Griffin on the evils of Islam. But this is only an anecdotal view, and some empirical evidence on this would be very welcome.


Bob B 05.07.08 at 11:21 am

Are we really sure that the incidence of the desecration of jewish graves and synagogues is more prevalent than the desecration – by arson or vandalism – inflicted on churches, cemeteries and war memorials?

“Most fires in churches in the UK are caused by accident, not arson. The insurance group Ecclesiastical recorded 64 incidents of arson in UK churches in 2001 with a total value of £4.1 million, and 67 incidents in 2002 with a total value of £1.1 million. By comparison, 1,450 incidents of accidental damage by fire were recorded in 2001 with a total value of £4.3 million, and 2,439 incidents in 2002 with a total value of £5 million. However, the cost of arson tends to be far greater. The average cost recorded by Ecclesiastical for the years 2001 and 2002 was £2,400 per accidental incident, and £40,000 per incident of arson.”

Sadly, in these times there is much wanton vandalism. In my locality, the polycarbonate panels in bus shelters are subject to periodic epidemics of destruction. It would perversely comforting in its way if this was motivated by some coherent, if malevolent, ideology but I rather doubt that it is. The motivation is probably more akin to that which led to the murder of that young woman “because she was dressed as a Goth”:


abb1 05.07.08 at 11:43 am

But I can’t quite accept the idea that most of the shaven-headed idiots who spray swastikas on gravestones give a stuff about the plight of the Arabs in Palestine. I suspect that a good chunk of them would more happily spend their down-time listening to Griffin on the evils of Islam.

If that’s true, then what appears to be anti-semitism here could be just a symptom of general xenophobia, and Jews may not necessarily be the preferred target of the perpetrators. If Laleh in #3 is correct, then it could be just a bunch of hoodlums who didn’t get the memo.


Bob B 05.07.08 at 12:26 pm

I readily concede that the could be some truth in a hypothesis that prevalent arson attacks on schools in Britain could be motivated by unbridled hostility to education among some social groups:

Recall that report in The Economist of 7 December 2006: “Nearly a third of British adults do not have a basic school-leaving certificate. More than a tenth have no qualifications at all. A fifth are functionally innumerate and nearly as many are functionally illiterate. And the workers of tomorrow aren’t much better. One student in six leaves school unable to read, write and add up satisfactorily.” [subscription required]

With the continuing relatively low stay-on rates in education or training compared with most other affluent countries, Britain is unusually well-endowed with unskilled young people – on the evidence. Unsurprisingly, Denis MacShane, previously a New Labour government minister, doesn’t see fit to mention that factor but try the chart in that piece in The Economist of 26 August 2006 on “No end of them” [link available on request].


Bob B 05.07.08 at 2:27 pm

On desecration, one of our local war memorials was badly vandalised shortly before armistice day on 11 November last year. The memorial was speedily repaired in time for armistice day commemorations as the result of generous action by a local craft builder supported by local philanthropy. Subsequent police inquiries established that the memorial had been vandalised by a cow-boy jobbing builder for the sake of some of its paving stones which were used on a contract job in the locality.

I mention this here to show that there was, in fact, a basically straight forward venial motive for an act of vandalism that had understandably led to speculation as to more sinister motives, including mindless xenophobia. As a fact, over centuries past, many historic ruins of castles, abbeys, cathedrals and even Stonehenge have been cannibalised for their stones.

Comments on this entry are closed.