Friday, November 18, 2005

If your horse got a stone in its hoof

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

Knives are out

A late entrant in the Conservative leadership stakes emerged at defence questions. He was quoted by Sir Peter Tapsell as saying “it is easy to get into Kabul, but much more difficult to get out”.

He makes more sense than David Cameron, who would say: “entering and leaving Kabul are both hugely important to many of the people whose support we need to return to government, but it would be unwise to make any specific commitments at this stage”.

And David Davis would say: “The seats we need to win lie outside our southern comfort zone. I know how to win them. And you can't get much further outside the comfort zone than Kabul.”

But I prefer the wisdom of the man quoted by Sir Peter. He was, of course, the Duke of Wellington. The Tory grassroots would really like to Bring Back Maggie. But if they can’t have her, I commend the Iron Duke to them as the next best thing.

* * *

Monday also saw the third reading of the Violent Crime Reduction Bill. While schools drew up plans to confiscate pencil sharpeners, Humfrey Malins, the Tory MP for Woking, was woking himself up about knives.

He calculated that 60,000 children carry knives in school. He claimed the Government should be deeply ashamed that the numbers have risen dramatically over the past few years. And he said “carrying a knife in school is a serious matter that should result in prosecution of the child”.

I sense you nodding in agreement, but hold on. I had a penknife on my key ring throughout my school career. You don’t have to go back very far to arrive at a time when every schoolboy expected to carry a penknife. And every Boy Scout had a more serious knife than that.

In fact the young Humfrey Malins was probably just the sort of chap you were pleased to meet if your horse got a stone in its hoof.

If something has gone wrong with society and is manifesting itself in a spate of violent attacks in schools, it has nothing to do with the availability of knives. And it won’t be put right by turning our schools into a cross between a secure hospital and an airport after 9/11.

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