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I thought Councils were in charge of keeping open spaces clean and safe for use? Do we need an army of health and safety operators on our playgrounds? What would the cost be and how would it be funded?

Again, another scheme where the funding hasnt been specified, nor costings given. The Tory rule on sound public spending is going completely out of the window. Surely after so long of doing policy work, they would be getting to the stage where they can give some idea of the costs that they are pushing for and how it would be funded?

Could we please have something from Mr Willetts on the growing trend of marketing verbally provocative t-shirts for children. The times did an interesting piece about this over the weekend. T-shirts with slogans like 'Born to be a porn star', 'Hung like a five year old' and 'I like to be spanked' might amuse some unthinking parents but could act as a trigger to a sexual predator who sees a child wearing one of these. I'd like to see sexual innuendos banned from childrens clothing. Could David Willets look into this issue please?

Mr Willetts was on Radio 4 this morning extolling the cooperative qualities of vampire bat colonies, I kid you not. He was then congratulated by a fellow guest for his conversion to socialism.

Frankly however cerebral the man is, he is a presentational disaster and a gift to the media.

Here is a link to a sample of the type of t-shirts being sold to young children today. This has to be stopped.


Mr Willetts was on Radio 4 this morning extolling the cooperative qualities of vampire bat colonies, I kid you not. He was then congratulated by a fellow guest for his conversion to socialism.

Old Hack isn't kidding - this interview truly happened. What an extraordinary front bench we seem to be blessed with at the moment.

"David Cameron to unveil latest report from David Willetts' childhood inquiry"

Are we sure this is wise? I did not meet him until about 20 years ago and there were at the time no suggestions of anything murky in his childhood, -- BUT --- ?

Very funny Christina!

Re Willetts on Marr: I heard the interview as well. David Willetts wasn't advocating socialism, he was advocating the importance of community. Conservatism should be about the rich space between individuals and the state. Small platoons etc. It's the left who assume that everything that isn't individualistic has to be statist. As it has often been said: For the left there is no such thing as society - only the state.

As true Tories you should be asking yourselves, for each proposal:

Does this proposal enlarge or shrink the state?
Does it give individuals more or less power over their own lives?
Does it make them more or less dependent?

No on all three counts for this one - we've got greater public expenditure, more public employees, more micromanagement of peoples' childcare arrangements.

He also doesn't seem to get that the gangs often are the children. This simple division into children and gangs shows no depth of thinking.

Anyway, it's nice to see social democratic proposals, even if they will never be implemented.

passing leftie, its worth bearing in mind that in some areas a young boy can't simply opt out of being in a gang or the gang will turn on him. Its the same sort of mentality that drives sectarianism, if a young boy tries to live outside of the gang culture he gets treated as an outsider and comes under attack. To understand these gangs its important to realise that they are tied up with territory, much like gangs in the states. They see themselves as defenders of their community in many ways, it seems a perverse logic to outsiders but to them it is very rational. In a society where a young boy can struggle to find work or ends up in a low pay dead-end job the idea of making lots of money as a young D-boy seems like a way out, especially in a community where such behaviour is commonplace. It is as good as impossible for politicians to understand what goes on, it literally is another world. A few years back when I was doing security work I came across a kid slumped up choking on his vomit and had to stick my finger down his throat to free-up his airway, he was about eleven or twelve years old. Kids like this use drugs to escape a dead-end world, they live in urban eyesores, their schools are poor, they are surrounded by crime, they see drugs as a way to make money and a way to escape the pointlessness of life as they see it. Thats why the work of IDS has been so important, but even more must be done. The kids in these communities are just as important as kids living in affluent areas, we've got to improve their lives.

Why on earth is sue palmer advising Willetts on this.

She hates business and the market and uses her ideological leaning to make false claims about "commercialisation of childood".

Her fingerprints are over several several sections of this report which are anti industry and advocate greater public services and state involvement.

She isn't credible! And there is no way we will be able to build policy on the back of this as how could we realistically follow such an agenda?

There are several Aunt sallies raised in this paper without any recommendations of how to deal with them. Its "consumerist" nonsense.

I am surprised Willetts is still coming out to play after grammargate.

Tony Makara - thanks for providing that link - I could not believe that people make such things and that other stupid people allow their babies and children to wear them! I suppose if there were not a demand for these unpleasant things, then they would not produce them so I would urge all of you who have children or who know people who have children to boycott these products and if they see them on the child of someone they know (not a stranger or they'd cause a riot!), to comment that they don't find them amusing at all....

Sally Roberts, I really want to see the Conservative party being vocal over this. These t-shirts are in bad taste anyway but my great concern is how they could act as a sexual trigger to certain adults. I'm very worried how pre-teen children are being deliberated sexualized as part of marketing strategy. The 'Bratz culture' is another example of this too, girls are given dolls who are tarted up to look like prostitutes with attitude. These 'Bratz' dolls are not like the positive home and career building dolls of the 'Barbie' and 'Cindy' type. We all know that a young girl playing with a doll becomes the doll in her own mind, so its important that the child has a doll that promotes positive values. David Willetts would do well to look at the culture of inappropriate toys and clothing for children. Often parents just buy these toys and clothes because of powerful marketing and do not look too closely at whether these can have negative connotations.

I actually thought the radio interview was quite good. The point about vampire bats sharing blood was that even amoral creatures can be nice to one another - you don't need the state to intervene to legislate for it.

Tony Makara | February 04, 2008 at 12:41
its worth bearing in mind that in some areas a young boy can't simply opt out of being in a gang or the gang will turn on him.

I'm not disputing your points, merely saying that "protecting children from gangs" is sometimes also "protecting children in gangs"

Sally Roberts, check out this link too, its make up advertising aimed at the under tens. Notice the tradename 'Cherry' which is a slang term for a young virgin in case anyone didn't know.


Thanks Tony - yes I am aware of that particular slang...

The whole thing is horrible and I agree the Conservative Party should be doing more to highlight the problem. The Bratz dolls are very unpleasant but unfortunately they do seem to be very popular with their "target" marketing - goodness knows why!

From Cameron's speech: If we are to make Britain the most family-friendly country in the world, we have to live by the words of the African saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.”

He's recycling Hillary Clinton's platitudes now. I despair.

Surely this policy is in total contradiction to Chris Grayling's proposal to force all single parents of school-age children to look for work.

JohnC, very good point. Chris Grayling's proposals are anti-child, anti-family, anti-motherhood, and can only add to a child's sense of insecurity. What are mothers going to do with their four year olds when school isn't in session for eleven weeks of the year, surely a child of primary school age is too young to be left at home? That means the child has to go into a communal creche or has to be left with a child minder which is very expensive. The Grayling proposals fly in the face of claims that the party now practices compassionate conservatism. Taking mothers away from their children is 'Nasty Partyism' and must be dropped as a policy. The previous requirement expecting mothers to look for work once their last child had left primary school was perfectly fair, so why change it?

Notice the tradename 'Cherry' which is a slang term for a young virgin in case anyone didn't know.

I believe it is also the name of a popular fruit, in which context most people will see it. Nothing like a moral panic to get the Tory grassroots going, though.

They will help give advice to new parents, including on such basic matters as breast-feeding and bathing.
Sounds expensive and in the main unneccessary.

I think there are arguments for resuming charging people over a certain age for entry to parks and using the money to fund Park Keepers and perhaps where neccessary CCTV equipment, this musn't be a substitute though for increasing police funding and pay and increasing police powers and strength, additionally getting rid of liberal bureacratic requirements regarding human rights and record keeping - free the police to do their job and make punishments for yobs and terrorists tough and make it harder for them to get off on technicalities.

I read the comments above before the pdf of the speech and I do think some people are missing the point. The speech fits into the overall narrative of social renewal/responsibility and arguing the case that the state is not the solution. Two quotes from the speech highlight this:

"It means a SMALLER, smarter state doing a better job in helping parents" and in response to Labours Children proposals:

"Instead of honestly admitting that the state is only part of the solution, they continue to peddle the myth of an all powerful state that can remedy every ill"

John, I agree that the point is being missed somewhat. The situation is this: Children are playing outside much less that in previous generations. Much of this is due to a real or perception of anti-social behavior in public places (not usually gangs in the sense of LA however). By supervising these places children, and indeed young children can be left to have fun in peace. This is a great idea that should be piloted first to gauge the cost benefit. If this makes parks and play areas much more popular, then the costs involved will be well worth it. Lets be clear, this is a typical Tory policy as it's practical.

Passing Leftie: A Social Democratic solution would be to compel children to attend 'Social Cohesion & its Importance in Play and the Open Spaces Arena" classes who do not visit parks 1.2 days per month or alternately participate in sport deemed to constitute a team interaction in an open area 1.05 times per week. At these classes children from deprived backgrounds will get an extra incentive of an iPod if they attend at least 3 sessions.

Session 1: Social Mobility? What is it and why is it not necessarily a good thing in a park?
Session 2: The power of speech, how to collectivise support and organise a movement to compel the local football club to accept players from all backgrounds, not just the well-off.
Session 3: Conversation, the fight against exclusion, & its importance in ensuring opportunity for ALL on the swings.

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