Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Education for Democrats

"It is now almost universally accepted that British education is facing a crisis." This is the fortieth anniversary of the first sentence in chapter 1 of the Institute of Economics Hobart Paper by Alan Peacock and Jack Wiseman arguing for a system of vouchers, bursaries and loans that would give parents the freedom to choose between private and state schools and colleges.
The crisis remains but the authors ideas in Education for Democrats have had a gradually accelerating political impact.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

6 March 2004

Labour Party chairman reported to police

Following Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party Conference at Inverness on 28 February referring to shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin as a 21st century Fagin and his failure so far to apologise for it, his action was reported on 1 March to Scotland’s Northern Constabulary by Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup to determine whether it was in breach of the Public Order Act.
Mr Hartup commented: “The use the term Fagin, Charles Dickens's archetypal evil Jew, in McCartney’s laboured but offensive description dragged political debate into the gutter. Mr Blair should take McCartney’s speech off the Party website immediately, demand a public apology from him and should it not be forthcoming sack him. Mr McCartney claims to be anti-racist and as chairman of the Labour Party he should be well aware that in a widely reported January ICM poll 11% of respondents disagreed strongly with the view that a Jewish Prime Minister would make an equally acceptable Prime Minister as a member of any other faith. McCartney’s scripted keynote speech, however, plays even if he doesn’t understand or intend this, to these very prejudices. He has made himself part of the problem. ”
Mr Hartup also reported Broxtowe MP Nick Palmer to Nottinghamshire Police on March 1 following a report in the Mail on Sunday on 29 February that a month after the World Trade Centre atrocity as part of a Taliban satire he posted on his website and e-mailed a substantial series of racially and religiously offensive ‘jokes’ to up to 1400 of his constituents.

Mr Hartup commented: “Were Mr Palmer, for example, a prospective police or prison officer he would surely be deemed unacceptable and if a serving officer no doubt sacked. Should even a schoolboy distribute such material it would have to be recorded as a racial incident. Does Parliament have lower standards? Should his unfortunate constituents be made morally complicit in his anti-Arab and anti-Islamic ‘jokes’? The Prime Minister must demand from him a public apology and remove the whip should he not give one.”


1. Mr McCartney’s speech can still be seen on the Labour Party’s website at http://www.labour.org.uk/speeches/
2. ICM poll can be seen on http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/reviews/2004/jc-jewish-poll-jan-2004.htm
3. Mr Palmer’s justification can be seen on http://www.broxtowelabour.org/ Here he explains in Jokes row explodes where he believes the line should be drawn: that Ann Winterton’s shark joke was unacceptable but that his own contribution was not.
4. Gerald Hartup reported Ann Winterton MP to Cheshire police for her train ‘joke’ in May 2002. In 1992 he instigated the prosecution of Cheltenham racist Bill Galbraith for his behaviour during and after the selection of Conservative Party candidate John [now Lord] Taylor for the then Tory marginal seat of Cheltenham won and now held by the Liberal Democrats.

Further information: Gerald Hartup contact as above

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Make cooking instructions transparent

I don't know about you but I'm cooking a small shoulder pork joint for lunch today from Tesco. The instructions on the outside of the packet tells me that it takes about 90 minutes to cook and that the full cooking instructions are on the reverse. They are but I can't read them. How so? Well the instructions are written in about 2 point and can only be read by someone with perfect vision in natural light. Is Tesco short of space? Not at all. The instructions only take up about 40% of the available space. The rest is elegantly blank white space. Normally I don't need reading glasses but I've had to find them to perform this simple domestic chore. I'm now going to drop Tesco a line but I thought I would share my anguish.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

13 March 2004

This is the blog of Gerald Hartup. I am the director of a London [England] action orientated think tank Liberty and Law. I have an almost thirty year background in pressure group politics. I was the director of the Freedom Association until 1999 and a Conservative councillor on the London Borough of Southwark from 1986 to 1990.