THE most shocking news of the week, and possibly of this Parliament, was that the government is looking to criminalise people showing “emotional cruelty” towards their children. This ‘Cinderella Law’, as it was immediately tagged in the press, would seemingly seek to outlaw parents who deny their children affection. Can people be compelled into giving love? Surely in itself this would represents a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 8 and the Right to respect for private and family life, which sets out that, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life”. If nothing else, a test case would be interesting: after all, Cinderella didn’t turn out too badly, did she?
STILL, at least this lunacy met with some concerted opposition. The BBC reported, “A succession of Conservative backbenchers attacked the plan, saying it was an example of the ‘nanny state.’” Jacob Rees-Mogg was one who objected, “As the government may be taking away a freedom from the British people oughtn’t it to be more certain of its ground?” whilst Robert Halfon added: “Conservatives believe in freedom and the best way to stop people smoking is through education and not by banning things.” Er, hang on. No, those views were actually in response to Public Health Minister Jane Ellison’s plans for plain cigarette packaging to be introduced. Though it’s easy to see how the matters could get confused.
TO the great Clegg-Farage debate, and it was intriguing to hear the UKIP leader talk about the supposedly forgotten interests of “the white working class”, in proper French National Front style. Granted, he did so in the manner of a TV naturalist showing you the plight of some insects on the savannah, but still. When the golf club saloon bar joins hands with the miners’ welfare club, you’ve got something cooking. (And from the smell of the pot, it’s a selection of dusky foreigners sprinkled with gays.)
FARAGE missed one easy opportunity to have a populist pop however. If he’d only come out against this immigrant Saharan smog everyone’s been complaining about all week, surely there’d have been easy approval points on offer. Next time Nige hey?
SO Britain’s finally handed over the command of its military operations in Helmand, as the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan continues. It’s worth remembering that one of the reasons Tony Blair gave as justification for the initial military intervention was to restrict the influx of heroin to the UK from the region, since when it’s actually soared. We’ve all seen American Gangster – it’ll be interesting to see what happens to supply now.
“PRESSURE On Cameron To Bar Scots At Next Election” screamed The Times’ front page on Thursday. With Tory MPs wanting the Picts banned from Westminster elections if they vote in favour of independence later this year, the West Lothian question just got a whole lot more interesting. Only now it’s more like: “Are we sure the Conservatives aren’t deliberately sabotaging the ‘no’ campaign’s chances?” Given all the electoral advantages Scottish independence would hand the Tories, perhaps such thoughts are not actually so far-fetched.
DAVID Cameron was in the headlines elsewhere this week, linked to suggestions of a pre-election pledge to curb deeply unpopular on-shore wind farms. “This might be done through a cap on the onshore turbines’ output, lower subsidies or tighter planning restrictions,” speculated the Guardian. No hint that current wind farms will be scaled back though, which is jolly convenient for multi-millionaire Sir Reginald Sheffield, who in 2011 was reported to be earning up to £350,000 per annum from a publicly-subsidised wind farm located on his estate. Sir Reginald’s daughter is Samantha Cameron, wife of the Prime Minister. Nice work if you can get it!