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Tuesday 11th November 2008

Len Freeman | 18:29 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Here is Robert Morgan with details of tonight's programme.

Baby P

Two men have been convicted of causing or allowing the death of a 17-month-old child who suffered dozens of injuries, even though he was being monitored by social workers. The boy's mother admitted the same offence. Officials in Haringey, in North London say three professionals involved in the case have received written warnings. The government has ordered a review of child protection services in England.
The case comes five years after the report into the death of Victoria Climbie detailed a "gross failure of the system" and "widespread organisational malaise". What happened to the 108 recommendations in Lord Laming's Inquiry?

Conservative tax cuts?

With the government due to make an announcement next week. David Cameron has unveiled the Conservatives' proposals for tax cuts to try to ease the economic downturn. He would like to encourage business to take on the unemployed in exchange for a slice of the money saved on benefits. Will this reduce unemployment and boost the economy? Jeremy will be talking to a senior shadow cabinet member.

Oxford Laboratory

Oxford University says the first animals have been moved into a new research laboratory in the city. Construction on the building was halted for more than a year point after protests from animal rights groups let to the contractors pulling out. Our medical correspondent Fergus Walsh is the only journalist to have been allowed inside to see the new facilities. Does this signify a turning point in the debate between animal rights and medical research? We'll bring together a scientist who does research on animals and a leader of an anti-vivisection group.


A new survey claims that half the population is unable to use the apostrophe correctly - is it time to scrap it?


  • Comment number 1.


    Surely we should scrap the half of the population that cant apostrophize?

    We need an excuse for an arbitrary cull anyway. As ignorance does not (quite) yet endow a right to life, enshrined in crass Euro-law, we should get on with it.

    This will cure overpopulation, raise the nations IQ and wipe out greengrocery at a stroke.

    I move.

  • Comment number 2.

    If it is true that half the population are unable to use apostrophes, their having never been taught; or were badly taught; or just too idle to learn, it is not reason enough to scrap it.

    Terry Clark, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France

  • Comment number 3.


    There are too many areas of 'civilisation' wherein the underlying animal nature of mankind is ignored. In sweeping terms: we commit crimes as animals and then try to apply cerebral justice. I could spell out some detail but I am not in a masochistic mood. Until we admit to our animal realities, proclivities and activities, the show will go on.

  • Comment number 4.

    Is it time for a report on what the Japanese stagflation experience can teach us - with special reference to the Treasury committee report.

    If populist tax cuts are used without a coherent strategy then they will achieve very little.

    At the moment the genuine failures of banking risk analysis and central bank regulation have not been fully analysed. Also with Obama not having made clear his analysis I question the timing.

    To save the goose steppers bothering I automatically assume that they believe ultimate power, nice uniforms, a planned economy, race hatred, invading Poland and pseudo intellectual arguments are the solution.

    As ever I don't.

  • Comment number 5.


    There is an irony here somewhere . . .

  • Comment number 6.

    I think the apostrophe is more useful when used to illustrate a possessive than an omission. The word isnt couldnt mean anything else, so the apostrophe here is really unnecessary in my opinion.

    Possessives without apostrophes look messy and no using them makes reading more difficult.

  • Comment number 7.

    If my memory of the events surrounding the death of Victoria Climbie is correct, following Lord Laming's Inquiry, training for the recognised qualification for Social Workers was increased from two years to three years. What next, make it long enough to complete a Ph.d.

    Terry Clark, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France.
    (Newsnight viewer since Day 1.)

  • Comment number 8.

    Baby P
    This case involved at least 3 case workers, who got WRITTEN WARNINGS, they should at the very least have been sacked. As for their bosses the"Officials" should also have been sacked and possibly prosecuted.
    Really just another bunch of do-gooders who actually do no good. It is disgusting.
    I am now speechless!

  • Comment number 9.

    Tell you what - you work out the difference between a question mark and a quotation mark and I'll get back to you about the apostrophes.

  • Comment number 10.

    How does a funded tax cut work? If one channel of spending is reduced to fund a tax cut, which in turn is meant to boost spending is it not clear the net effect will be minimal? Especially if people just save the tax cuts (or repay loans). Tax cuts must be financed by new money (borrowing from the Bank). In present circumstances That should not create the risk of inflation normally associated with monetary expansion( since the money supply is falling and ). And in any case, inflation needn't be so bad as recession (we need another Norman Tebbitt, ready to stamp on the unions if they look for pay rises, which would turn inflation into an inflationary spiral .)

    How does paying business to employ people help? Recessions are not about shortage of jobs per se; they are about shortage of demand (and so shortage of jobs to satisfy that demand). If the govt. pays business to employ people to reduce unemployment (so their wages will be spent to boost demand) they might as well pay people to dig holes and fill them in again (which would not create the problem of overmanning that blighted the economy pre-Maggie-T). "Modern Conservatism" seems as loony as old lefties (and green squiggles). I won't say what I think of the two chumps they have in charge (Dopey Dave and George "rabbit in the headlights" Osbourne). Mind, compared to Ali-D they seem like the dynamic duo!I wish I were religious, so I could pray.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why do we need to boost the economy?

    If we concentrate on the important ecological and social issues and fulfill those, surely the economy will just fall into place whatever it does.

    Haven't we got everything the wrong way round?

    Surely its more important what businesses do rather than how many they employ.

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 12.

    Now we are all Keynesian. Or are we?

    The background to the tax cuts debate is that for once all three parties in the UK, and Obama in the US, are to a greater or lesser extent committed to the same principles: those behind Keynes’ ideas. In essence these add up to various ways of boosting (consumer) spending to compensate for the downturn. In this context the main alternatives can be:

    1. Automatic Stabilisers: these were probably the most important solutions Keynes proposed, and they have been built into the financial systems of most nations ever since. Even the Tories, as per Osborne’s recent statement, believe in these; not least as they already exist and hence are politically ‘cost-free’. As they are now taken for granted almost nobody in the media actually discusses the details behind them and, in fact, they are almost ignored. They are, however, still the most powerful antidotes to depression. As they are so widely accepted they will probably be the starting point for Gordon Brown’s global crusade.
    2. New Infra-Structural Investment: the idea here was that resources which would otherwise be wasted in a downturn could be reassigned to desirable capital investment (such as the TVA in the 1930s). The wages of those re-employed would help re-inflate the economy, where they were generally going to the lower paid in the construction industries, whilst still being desirable investments over the longer term. As traditional Keynesians, Labour have backed such an approach, but the Tories still dislike any state spending; even of affordable house-building which is so urgently needed . The problem for any infra-structural approach, however, is that it takes time to work; though Labour, now rather quiet on the subject, are trying to bypass this by bringing forward existing programmes such indeed as housing. These, too, may feature in Brown’s global campaign.
    3. Tax ‘Reductions’: the main remaining tool is for the government to give money to individuals. As is obvious from the headlines, this is the flavour of this week; and, as it is with such things, it is wrongly now seen by the media as the main (indeed only) factor. However, this is at least where the most distinctive differences between the parties are to be seen. Labour, having given up Brown’s prudent rules, seemingly are to use tax cuts funded by borrowing. For once Gordon Brown is honest about the cost; as he needs to be! They will, though, at least give the money to the less well off. Besides being progressive, something Labour had forgotten, they also fulfil Keynes dictum that the poor will spend such money, as re-inflation demands, where the rich will save it.

    The Tories, on the other hand, apparently want to continue with tax cuts for the better off to put into savings, under the guise of helping small business, exactly as Keynes would have opposed. More crucially the Tories are one of the few groups who strenuously oppose fiscal measures based on borrowing; though, to be honest, their rather fragmented ideas are not so obviously self-funding as they claim, so they too may be offering a fiscal stimulus. The biggest criticism they face is that they are merely tinkering with the problem, not least in bribing small employers to take on extra labour (a policy which will no doubt be seized on by the already expanding firms as a free lunch, but avoided as too risky by most others who might make it fiscally neutral), where only dramatic moves will work. Initial reports suggest that even business, the main beneficiary, has failed to be impressed with them. Another problem is that the key to their strategies, their Shadow Chancellor, is no longer trusted even by his peers in the Tories. At this morning’s news conference he hid in a corner like the class dunce. Unfortunately, confidence is all, in beating recession.

    The most interesting ‘new’ ideas may, however, be coming from the Liberals. They too want to fund tax cuts, though possibly larger ones than anyone else. Their main addition to the debate is that they propose to fund large parts of these by taxing the rich. This at least looks like it could be less costly, and could even be fiscally neutral as Vince Cable claims, but whichever way they are very definitely anti-deflationary. This approach is also genuinely progressive (as is Obama’s version in the US), a concept which we (in pursuit of Thatcher economics, even by Labour) have abandoned for the past few decades; with some cost to our society, which has been bribed by the irresponsible credit boom instead. The key fact, however, is that, largely unreported by the media who delight in dissing them, the Liberals have recently been well ahead of the curve. This is because they have the best economist in the form of Vince Cable; who is also the clearest exponent of any front-bencher on the subject. Not least, at the time to the hooted derision of the other parties, they started talking about tax cuts months ago and advocated a 2% cut in base rate weeks ago; long before the two other parties latched onto these ideas. No wonder the Liberals are starting to once more climb in the polls!

  • Comment number 13.


    "A new survey claims that half the population is unable to use the apostrophe correctly - is it time to scrap it?"

    We seem to be scrapping everyting else.

  • Comment number 14.

    Surely it is time that half the population of Britain learned how to use apostrophes, not time to abolish apostrophes. Enough dumbing down!

  • Comment number 15.

    Abolish the apostrophe? Why not! We have lived with the grocers' apostrophe informing us his shop is open on Sundays' and of course all understand the meaning, albeit cringeingly ...
    But why not focus on teachers to educate children to understand and apply our magnificent living language?
    This, of course, presupposes that our teachers have themselves experienced the pleasures of having their inquisitive and fertile minds drawn out instead of having been bored witless and ultimately shut down.
    I was involved in ITE (Initial Teacher Education) for many years and I was ashamed of many colleagues who were incapable of constructing a sentence let alone recognising a student who was similarly challenged.
    The last time I investigated, the reading age of the adult population of the UK was 8.2 years. The readability index of our national newspapers ranged from 7.0 to 12 years and it is not rocket science to identify the papers in range.
    However, the readability of colleagues handouts and papers was consistently over 17+ years. They might as well have been writing in an obscure form of some long dead language for all the information that was provided and or ultimately subsumed.
    If they who teach teachers are incapable of transfering learning about the structure, grammar and syntax of the language with which the majority of the world communicates it is no wonder that those foreigners who learn our language are able to speak and write it in a way that puts the majority of our population to shame.
    Perhaps Salman Rushdie should be appointed to become the Language Tzar in the Department for education (note the lower case 'e') or whatever it is named these days...

  • Comment number 16.

    #3 Barrie

    Jurassic Park

    Reptilian brain, important in environmental psychology, cognition etc.

    Reasons for greed territory etc. The mess the world is in?

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 17.

    The BBC's coverage of the Remembrance Day Parade included an on screen caption that read: "WW1 veterans laid reefs at the Cenotaph".

    The absence of any explanation or apology suggests the BBC doesn't have a problem with the caption.
    If this is a demonstration of the standards of literacy among staff at the BBC you might not be best qualified to discuss punctuation.

  • Comment number 18.


    As half the population is below average educabilty, and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it, perhaps we should scrap education too?

    Not long ago, concern was expressed in the press about the high frequency of adult illiteracy and innumeracy. But since ~16% of the population has an IQ of 85 or less, is that surprising? What is surprising is all the fuss about changing this. How? Again, unsurprisingly, adult programes don't work.

    Again, unsurprisingly (as it's a brain-gender 'female' area of work) "in a study by the Society of Professional Journalists, 58% of job applicants interviewed by broadcast news directors lacked an adequate understanding of statistical materials"


    If one prefers apples to oranges, is one a fruitist?

  • Comment number 19.

    Obviously Lord Laming's 108 recommendations fell on deaf ears, and as a result of gross negligence by the social workers, a 17 month old child has been tortured and killed. Who on earth recruits these social workers? What are they meant to be doing? Do these so called "reviews" actually do anything at all? Perhaps all social workers should be replaced by nurses or doctors who can spot the signs of abuse, as the social workers seem to be useless.
    I'm not against cutting taxation - and if it reduces unemployment, then surely it is a good thing.
    Scrapping the apostrophe......what next? :p

  • Comment number 20.

    Re #7 - I have to wonder just how much training a social worker needs to recognise that a child has been used as a punchbag?

    The officials that I have heard on the news, and read about, seem to me to be quite smug and complacent. Their attitude, as revealed, seems to be 'the operation was a success but the subject died', as here is their evaluation of their performance:
    "An internal inquiry by Haringey's Local Safeguarding Children Board ... found "numerous examples" of good practice in the case although there had been "weaknesses" in information flow."

    (Are they trying to say that the real problem is they don't have enough computers? Or is this about, ta-daa, ContactPoint!)

    Watch for the first official or politician to try to use this to justify ContactPoint (formerly the Information-Sharing Index). Remember they're going to try to make some political advantage out of the prolonged torture and subsequent murder of a helpless child who they repeatedly let down, and in my view tortured even more with false hope.

    As to ContactPoint itself, it wouldn't have helped. Here are a few extracts from ARCH

    "4. The government has given the impression that the IS Index is about ‘child protection’, but this is simply not true. Ministers have repeatedly talked about Victoria Climbie and used words like ‘at risk’, but the usual meaning of ‘at risk’ has in fact been changed. The government has re-defined it as being ‘at risk’ of committing crime, of failing at school, of becoming pregnant in one’s teens, or of becoming ‘socially excluded’. It no longer means ‘at risk’ of abuse or neglect. The IS Index would not have helped Victoria Climbie. Her death came about because several practitioners failed to interpret correctly the information they already had.

    5. Many experts have argued that the IS Index will make it less likely that a child at risk of abuse will be noticed because the warning signs won’t be noticed when there is so much other, trivial information being logged and monitored."

    Don't let Bev Hughes get away with some guff about a 'review of child protection services in England'. The focus for investigation and action should be precisely on the problem, and Haringey and Bev both have proven past form which now demands a reckoning.

  • Comment number 21.

    90 yeras ago today the guns fell silent. Over many previous decades I have taken friends, family and foreign visitors to the permanent 20:00hrs Menin Gate Ceremony at Ypres/Ieper in Belgium.
    The thousands of names inscribed on the gate's walls are there as no burial place is known for those men of the British Empire.
    During the programs televised during the last ten days there have been many scenes showing tombstone inscriptions recording that the interred remains are 'unknown'.
    On Sunday I viewed the Cenotaph with one thought. It was this: Today, with our ability in DNA sampling and recognition abilities, would it be too much to ask that those soldiers, 'known only to God', be identified to their relatives?

  • Comment number 22.


    Forget the literacy figures. The statistic one rarely hears is the increase in overall mental instability of 'population UK' (see, I can do Newspeak).
    The state of need of a newborn human is manifestly absolute, while its most reassuring 'rescue', from expulsion into 'Hell', must surely come from the mother whose tissue it shares, and whose body it recently inhabited?
    Yet we have seen fit to devalue mothering and fragment nurture. We are sowing a wind that will out-do anything climate change can offer by way of whirlwinds.
    Never mind fruitists JJ (some of us are defiantly so) it's the fruitcakes we have to watch out for!

  • Comment number 23.

    BABY P.

    I am a qualified social worker and over the years I have voiced my concern in relation to the quality of social work training that is taking place. Social work programmes and the quality of teaching needs to be raised in order to produce social workers that is both competent and confident in their practice.

    It is ok for Lord Lamming to be blameful in relation to social workers but when does the government or elitists who have direct access to the government actually ask the social workers in the field about the obstacles and difficulties that they are facing. Unless the government are prepared to listen to social workers then there will continue to be many more cases of injured children that have fallen through the net (and are not necessarily reported to the media) since the current political thinking in social work is geared towards number crunching, performance indicators, feeding back to the government statistics and more politics. This then makes grass root social work a thing of the pass. There were times when I did not see families for over a week because I had to spend the whole of that week completing paperwork, statistics and putting information on the computer since we are supposedly working systems which is paperless.

    Social worker needs to return to being radical and proactive and similar to the NHS Local Authorities need to reduce the level of middle and higher managers and reinvest in its flagging social work practitioners (probably some of those middle and higher managers would return to being in the field since it appears that they have forgotten what it is like to practice in today’s climate of fear, political pressure and unrealistic targets).

  • Comment number 24.

    BABY P.

    I am a qualified social worker and over the years I have voiced my concern in relation to the quality of social work training that is taking place. Social work programmes and the quality of teaching needs to be raised in order to produce social workers that is both competent and confident in their practice.

    It is ok for Lord Lamming to be blameful in relation to social workers but when does the government or elitists who have direct access to the government actually ask the social workers in the field about the obstacles and difficulties that they are facing. Unless the government are prepared to listen to social workers then there will continue to be many more cases of injured children that have fallen through the net (and are not necessarily reported to the media) since the current political thinking in social work is geared towards number crunching, performance indicators, feeding back to the government statistics and more politics. This then makes grass root social work a thing of the pass. There were times when I did not see families for over a week because I had to spend the whole of that week completing paperwork, statistics and putting information on the computer since we are supposedly working systems which is paperless.

    Social worker needs to return to being radical and proactive and similar to the NHS Local Authorities need to reduce the level of middle and higher managers and reinvest in its flagging social work practitioners (probably some of those middle and higher managers would return to being in the field since it appears that they have forgotten what it is like to practice in today’s climate of fear, political pressure and unrealistic targets).

  • Comment number 25.

    Mistress76uk (#19) "Who on earth recruits these social workers?"

    Why do I get the impression that you really aren't taking on board the broader message? Ask an Islington etc school Child Protection Officer what happens if one calls say Haringey at 4:45pm with a case.

    Look into N London (and Inner London generally) demographics.

  • Comment number 26.

    newsocial-worker (#24) "There were times when I did not see families for over a week because I had to spend the whole of that week completing paperwork, statistics and putting information on the computer since we are supposedly working systems which is paperless."

    Rubbish. The systems are there to improve accountability and risk assessement/management. The problem today is one of quality of staff recruitment, training, attrition/retention just as it is in probation, the NHS etc.

    What drives this is our changing demographics.

  • Comment number 27.

    Child abuse is a very complex subject with respect to what authorities should do, and who should do it.

    I know of one case of child abuse that the police covered up. It was connected with the Domestic Violence Unit.

    As JJ will know. Men and women are treated different. The DVU was there to prosecute 'men'. I think at the time NSPCC stats were that 49% of child abuse was committed by women.

    The police DVU were not going to do anything about child abuse by a woman. The police were not going to anything about the abuse as this would not be good PR. If they were seen to be charging women etc it would detract from their 'brief' of dealing with men. The child continued to be abused.

    I know of another case when a paedophile ring was uncovered. This could have been sorted years before, but it was allowed to continue due to 'oversights'. This never came out in public.

    Child abuse very often continues because the supposed authorities 'turn away' for whatever organisational reasons.

  • Comment number 28.

    JadedJean @#25 I suspect they will "be in a meeting" at that hour of the day (ie, out shopping).

  • Comment number 29.

    Baby P

    Wasn't Haringey one of the boroughs that used to proudly proclaim in their adverts for all staff "We Welcome Diversity"?

    With diversity comes diverse cultures, standards - and values.

    Perhaps it's time to analyse deviant behaviour according to different groups of society. We will never be able to do this openly and with transparency unless we can first suspend political correctness.

  • Comment number 30.

    What a fantastic interview by Jeremy tonight on the welfare of children. Paxman at his best!

  • Comment number 31.

    Baby P

    I have been shouting at the TV in my frustration as I hear yet another Central Government Director , sitting in his ivory tower saying that social workers are not doing their job properly.

    If he actually had any concept of the decisions that these people make on a daily basis and the conditions in which the do so, and how much (quite rightly) that they are required to justify each decision he may change his arrogant tune slightly. (I love the way he suggest that all social should be offered time off and sabbaticals. Nice idea....but back in the real world it just means less people doing the same amount of work)

    The Dcsf are the ones that change the legislation every few years and expect all staff to be re-trained. In the left hand (of the Dcsf) knew what the right hand was doing,m these changes may be aligned and heading in the same direction, but often they are not well thought through and involve more constant change than many people are happy with.

    This was a tragedy, but all crime cannot be stopped not matter how hard we try. The best we can do is protect the majority of those that need it, but 100% sadly is not realistic

  • Comment number 32.


    See my question to you on Paul Mason's blog last week


  • Comment number 33.

    Mistress76uk (#28) The charitable explanation would be shift change-over, but you are probably not wrong.

    To what extent it's down to 'wear and tear' (aversion driven escape/conditioned avoidance) is moot.

    Newsnight covered this well.

    Barry Sheerman, as usual, did a good job tonight.

  • Comment number 34.

    Yet another child dying at the hands of the social services. Baby P..oh can`t be named for legal reasons...utter utter disgrace.

    Seemingly in this word, us humble beings need a degree in caring.

    Get rid of the system and allow people that truly care and will fight for the children in danger.

    Employ the people that know, have lived and understand the life these children and abusers have been brought up in.

    Employ the people that will take the children in there arms and make them safe "without a legal document...the wait is to long".

    Social services..hope you`re proud

  • Comment number 35.

    The lack of sackings for the case of baby P, god bless him, is an absolute disgrace.

    what exactly does it take for an incompetent 'professional' to be dismissed from office?

    all we ever get is:

    a) apologies - oh yes, terrribly unfortunate, regrettable, errors of judgement (sounds so tame doesn't it? like hanging a picture, got it a bit squiffy, sorry about that)

    b) a barrage of jargon - parent-focused blah, blah, workforce at the heart of government strategy

    c) obfuscation - an incredibly narrow but sensitive something or other - no, a baby used as a punch bag actually, seen 60 times and with a mother arrested 3 times - weren't these details on the case notes? did anyone read their paperwork before seeing the poor baby?

    d) passing the blame (in this case to neighbours and parents)

    e) overwhelming support for fellow professionals - closing ranks you might say

    supposing a firm of builders made multiple errors of judgement of this magnitude? d'you think somebody might get a bit more than a reprimand?

    the doctor who missed the broken back should be SACKED, the case worker who didn't look beneath the chocolate should be SACKED

    in fact, the whole of Haringey b social services should be asked to clear their desks, there are plenty of people looking for work who could surely do a better job to spot a baby with mass bruising and broken bones, you can usually tell just by looking at the demeanor and listening to the voice, did anyone actually look at baby p or were they busy writing more notes that no-one was going to read?

    made mistakes, will do better next time, but in the meantime will continue to syphon off public funds for doing nothing

    no-one who saw baby p should ever work in the public sector or with children again and don't anyone talk to me about booze britain, broken britain, evil hoodies and benefit scroungers again when our so-called moral responsibility is represented by professionals totally lacking in any awareness of the world around them, as ye sow, so shall ye reap, go weep

  • Comment number 36.


    Even the BBC, with wall to wall IT gimmickry, managed to mend-one-screw-one every time they attended to this blog.
    At the latest 'improvement', the thread postings counter died and composing in Word (using cut and paste) now fools the blogbrain into turning some script adjuncts into question marks, willy nilly, after sending. And there was all that trouble with live links too. Good 'ere innit!

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps a sideline but I read a programme preview about a king "who predated the pharaohs " . I understood that to mean he was a predator then realised that it meant pre-dated.
    Punctuation does matter whether an apostrophe or a hyphen simply because it can affect the pronounciation - and hence thye meaning - of the written word.

  • Comment number 38.

    Half of the population cant do lot's of thing's but its' no reason to abandon them. I think we should keep apostrophe's as' it at least helps' those that do use them.

  • Comment number 39.

    There seems to have been a sharp rise in the number of people using the apostrophe in plurals over the last couple of years. The A4/M4 junction Westbound carriageway now boasts large signs painted on the road declaring that the right hand lanes take to to the West whereas the left hand lane is marked "OTHER ROUTE'S", not once but twice in 8 foot long shiny high visibilty letters

  • Comment number 40.

    Seen outside a second-hand bookshop in Lymington:
    H.G.Well's Time Machine - 50p

  • Comment number 41.

    Brilliant Jeremy - as always!What a perfect example of why not to abolish the apostrophe by Professor Crystal. He asked Jeremy why the apostrophe shouldn't be placed in the dustbin - where would he put the apostrophe in the sentence "dotting the i's and crossing the t's?" Jeremy replied that if the "i" didn't have an apostrophe it would be an "is." POINT MADE!

    Also excellent debate on the preventable death of Baby P (50 visits and no detection of abuse!) and also on animal testing for medical research purposes.

  • Comment number 42.

    Recently seen outside a garden centre in London suburbs: "Xma's Tree's".

  • Comment number 43.

    I kid you not, I have seen the ultimate grocer's apostrophe. 'Twas in an auction catalogue - for a piece of photographic equipment, a "len's".

  • Comment number 44.

    Surely "The Parents Association" doesn't need an apostrophe as it is an association comprised of parents, as opposed to belonging to parents.

    I vote to keep the apostrophe as it seems like dumbing down to get rid of it.

  • Comment number 45.


    I am happy to say that all our daughters attended James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich. They were thus given a head start in the use of apostrophes which has always sustained them.

  • Comment number 46.


    There was no dinner in the house, so I ate the dogs.

    Or did I eat the dogs'?

  • Comment number 47.

    Constituent to local Councillor. You refer to the 'officers' recommendation'. How many officers are involved?

    Councillor. Well actually there's only one. I meant 'officer's recommendation'.

    This rather makes the case for keeping the apostrophe - and getting it right!

  • Comment number 48.

    getting bored waiting for my post to clear

    the ideology is in the apostrophe

    we are in danger of forgetting our ideology and that's a shame because it's a good one

  • Comment number 49.

    Try this for apostrophes;

    One of my parent's association with newsmen is wrong.

    Both my parents' association with newsman is tolerable
    The parent association of the Curch of England in Canterbury is excellent such parent associations are a good thing.

    The parent association's clergy in Canterbury are bigots

  • Comment number 50.

    Baby P

    I work with children every day at the sharp edge of need and protection. After many Years of experience I really do believe that some would be much better off with new families where they are able to meet with their parents, but their parents do not have the full responsibility for their future. Many of my parents (not through any fault of their own) lack interest and are unable to give their children the aspirations or support to get themselves out of the 'underclass' situation. There are many people in our communities willing and able to offer the love and support these children need in these circumstances BUT children's services INSIST they are better off with their existing families. WHY ? (Is it the cheaper option ????? ultimately and long term with the high level of mental illness in this country a resounding NO)...... Surely all of us involved in Children's services whether doctors, teachers, nurses, youth workers, carers etc we all strive to create 'Better Life Chances'......SO..WHY......does insisting that 'at risk' children remaining in the care of their mother 'OVER RIDE' this ? After years of experience many many children would thrive from being in a more stable family situation, with love ,support and surroundings with the added and additional support and understanding and contact with their paternal parents/parent being accommodated and recognised. Why do we persist in making children remain and live in situations where they are not wanted, where they are uncared for, where they are at risk, where they are in no way given any encouragement to aspire to something different for themselves ?????.......Children and their future matter... this means (ALL CHILDREN).....when will we learn the lessons?

    A parent who grinds their child's head into the floor and blackens their ear because they annoy them whilst watching TV in bed is not in a sound position/place to be a mother or parent (at that time)....why insist that they ARE a capable parent (when they have such deep personal needs)...There are so many people desperate to have children but unable to foster or adopt. Children MUST come first.......Have the parents with social workers of children who are patently or even suspected of being at risk ever been asked the question .........Do you think you are able to look after/love/care for your child at this time in your life ????????

    When will it be recognised that young people/adults/even older adults are concerned first for themselves and their own come the dependants.....You do not need to be a brain surgeon to understand this ....merely an observer of human behaviour.

    60 people were involved over a very short period of time with Baby P.....what was going on ?.......surely commonsense MUST prevail......Here we had a woman in complete emotional distress (for whatever reason).....and a child at clear risk.....Have we not woken up to a mother lying, a mother trying to cover up for her shortcomings??????

    As a professional I am truly sick and tired of filling in CAF forms on behalf of social services, arranging TAC meetings, being the lead professional....... providing much more care and support for parents than is currently on offer from our Childrens service team. I have the greatest admiration for what social workers try to do....but .....they are trying to do an IMPOSSIBLE job with their hands and their feet tied together.....The BANKS (who mess up the worlds financial system and our prosperity) in reality get more support than the REAL workers, teachers, nurses who daily apply 'plasters on boils' to keep our young and future society together.

    Social Care, Education and Health in the 21st Century MUST not be a Cinderella service. If we truly believe in the future of our children, this country and our world then we must address the REAL issues in our society NOW.....................Condeming the parents is not the answer....Baby P will happen again and again.......we MUST treat the is now endemic within our world societies and permeates media, finance, governments; like a disease, it has no boundaries....................

    I know there are many people out there like me with HOPE.....we can turn this around....but it requires Honesty, Energy , Drive and Perseverance. With clear recognition and support from Government that this is what is happening at 'GROUND ZERO'.....WE can be a leading force CHANGE forOUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE AND A CHANGE IN OUR WORLD.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh dear I have only one dog and he's eaten the apostrophe

  • Comment number 53.

    I do not accept the lazy premise of the argument that because most people are apparently 'confused' over the correct usage of an apostrophe, we should therefore scrap it altogether. I think that this is a fallacious and lazy argument.

    People are not usually 'confused' by simpe rules of English grammar and punctuation if they are properly taught about these things at the primary and secondary school level - as I was when the teaching of English sentence construction was considered to be an essential element of the syllabus! Unfortunately, nowadays, our young people are not being competently taught about these simple, relatively straightforward and important punctuation rules at school, and so as a consequence, they leave school ignorant and semi-literate, and unable to structure their sentences correctly, both orally and on paper.

    I was first taught about the correct usage and important function of apostrophes during my last 2 years at primary school. The lessons that I learnt then have remained with me and continued to serve me well in my written communication. The correct usage of the apostrophe is no less 'confusing' than the rules governing when one should use a full stop, a comma, or capital letters in a sentence. So I appeal to those silly intellectuals (like the professor who appeared on the programme tonight) to stop cheer-leading the 'let's continue to dumb down everything that involves some element of intelligent thinking' tendencies in our society, and instead advise people that once you know its simple rules, using the apostrophe is NOT confusing at all.

  • Comment number 54.

    #32 I want to scream

    Saw the link on Paul's blog before it was moderated, so clicked your profile. It didn't surprise me you'd come across The Club of Rome from your comments.

    I haven't put a link anywhere to the core work. You will know the derivatives. Too many to bore the rest of the blog with here.

    The core work will change your perception of reality. I seem to remember a line by Bob Dylan "if my thought dreams could be seen..

    Try that link you poets who visit here if you haven't heard it. Highly recommended!

    What I am going to do with the core work is use it to drive a global environmental project forward.

    The core work is part of the pack referred to.

    You have every reason to scream. The situation is far worse than any of the current climate models. (I worked on the original set up of the UK model part of the UNEP IPCC Nobel) and beyond The CofR work.

    Which is why for the common good we are getting people interested in:

    Celtic Lion
    Our Option

  • Comment number 55.

    Congratulations Jeremy!

    Your verbal use of an unnecessary apostrophe just minutes after the item when you asked for examples of the fatuous use of the grammatical mark should win the top prize.

    In your final item you said: “The QE2 left on it’s final voyage…”

    Surely you should have said: “The QE2 left on HER final voyage”?

    Kindest regards

  • Comment number 56.

    If there is a "D" in the day the goose steppers will mention IQ, race etc.

    Nobody suspects that "political correctness" is code for allowing BNP activists and their ilk to speak more hatefully without being prosecuted on inciting racial hatred charges.

    They are just propagandists and so should not be taken seriously.

    There will always be a field in Derbyshire that is forever BNP - whilst the farmer supports the BNP.

    After that nobody wants them so far as I know.

  • Comment number 57.

    RE: Apostrophes?

    Here is an example of where an apostrophe changes both the sound and meaning of a sentence.

    Have you seen James skip?
    Have you seen James' skip?

    So I think they are important.


  • Comment number 58.

    Ref apostrophe - On the day I have tried to assess if I can offer to help Adults to read in my locality, you come up with this! I have never stopped shouting at "Brahmsziz" on BBC Radio3, in my opinion it is the misuse of an apostrophe changing the 'sound' that is written Brahms's, when reading his name it is Brahms' music etc., the use of it in this line of poetry - 'A line is spelled out with each breath that's sucked in'. . whereas 'that is' or thats (don't agree with you Jeremy that it should go!) in the line, would not support the 'inner life' of the poem's rhythm and metre. Simeon Potter way back last century predicted the degeneration of the English Language. So let's not go black & white -grey areas hold reason and understanding? If so, that apears to endorse a view that learning not to say "Brahmsziz music" when one would not write it, would indicate there is 'correct usage' which that is not? - I wonder if anyone else has been shouting (though no one can hear) at 20 years of "Brahamsziz?

  • Comment number 59.

    It's a sad day when professionals' 'errors of judgement' go unpunished. 'Twas nobody's fault but theirs that Baby P's injuries went unnoticed. So surely, there's a case for dismissal? I'm flippin' annoyed that a Dr who's earning tens of thousands doesn't spot a back that's broken - what's his massive salary for? What's going on in t'UK these days? Is it simply, 'All in a day's work' for them? Gi' me a break!

    If, as is being said, it was believed that the injuries were accidental then why were the following routes not taken:

    a) medical assessment for dyspraxia
    b) occupational therapy to ensure the home was free of sharp edges etc.
    c) a case for negligence for allowing so many accidental injuries to occur
    d) childcare support to increase vigilence in the home, or nursery day care

    I fail to find any excuse for the negligence of all professionals involved. I suspect that some of the front line social workers were in no doubt about what was going on but felt that it was not in the interests of their careers to challenge the decision made by the supervisor early on, that the injuries were accidental. That sort of head-in-the-sand attitude did not create The Enlightenment nor build Britain. We can and we must do better.

  • Comment number 60.

    err, thank you mods, not quite sure where your line is, but thanks anyway

  • Comment number 61.

    Pensioners Flood Hell.
    This was on the poster advertising a local newspaper. One might agree with the statement, but it might conceivably have meant something else. Two something else's - or two something elses...

  • Comment number 62.

    Surely it should be:

    "Dot your Is and cross your Ts" with no apostrophes at all, but using capital I and T as proper nouns for the names of the letters rather than the letters themselves.

    Paul Carey

  • Comment number 63.

    ABUSAGE (on spotting 'usage' above)

    When wanting some juice without seedage
    To my sieve and its use I paid heedage
    The instructions for use
    Said: "Just sieve the damned juice!"
    Of "usage" there just was no needage.

    I'll get me coat.

  • Comment number 64.

    Barrie and I Want to Scream

    As we don't have a joke of the day, well apart from:

    The economic situation.
    GB getting all the countries of the world to solve it.
    Children dying and 'more training' being the solution....

    Let's have a track of the day

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 65.

    thegangofone (#56) "Nobody suspects that "political correctness" is code for allowing BNP activists and their ilk to speak more hatefully without being prosecuted on inciting racial hatred charges."

    This person is not a BNP activist, just someone who studies and writes about group behaviour. If indigenous British people (or French, Germans, Italians, or any other group) behaved the same way that this group does, they'd be called racists and subversives surely? If race or skin colour was the issue, why is there no hostility to British Chinese or American East Asians?

    It must be something else surely. Might it be unacceptable, undemocratic behaviour and hypocrisy? Shouldn't such hypocrisy be exposed and challenged?

  • Comment number 66.

    There are two sisters. One marries someone against her parents wishes. Her father makes his will. In it he says, "Because of my daughters conduct I leave everything to the cats home".

    Did her mother disapprove of the marriage?
    Was the second daughter unfairly treated?
    Was there one very lucky cat?

  • Comment number 67.

    gordon's debt and more debt plan seems hell bent on basing his model upon AIG or Lehmans? Debt is just deferred taxation. it does not create wealth.

    he is ignoring job creation through establishing the conditions for business with growth potential. A feed in tariff has proven to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. yet he not only ignores it but has killed every bill that would bring it in?

    why is the uk one of the few countries without a feed in tariff? who benefits?

  • Comment number 68.


    northernscotopera (#50) SO..WHY......does insisting that 'at risk' children remaining in the care of their mother 'OVER RIDE' this ?

    Because a) in most cases (of 29,000 over 21,000 are subject to Child Protection Plans for 'neglect' or 'emotional abuse' meaning that physical or sexual abuse is a relatively rare CPP, leading most to conclude, on the basis of official data, that most 'at risk' children are (all things considered), probably better off with their biological parents and because b) in our muliti-cultural society, some groups still have far more austere discipline codes than are acceptable to others. Whilst the CPP figures are known to underestimate the number at risk, and although the trend is upwards as is violent crime, so too is immigration and population growth.

    As we seemingly want liberal, hands-off government, Social Services don't intrude into most people's lives if they can help it, if they did, no doubt many would label them 'nazis'.

    Whilst most people with experience in Child Protection know there are difficult risks to assess, and so sometimes get it wrong, and whilst it's true (as stated on Newsnight last night) that perfect risk assessment and management is a pipe-dream, this is a difficult, wearing area which, along with the management of criminogenic risk and behaviour in our schools, won't be solved by part-time Supernannies or by witch-hunts when tragedies like this occur. Some people who have children shouldn't, some who don't should. The statistics are worse in the USA, where people have even more 'freedom'.

  • Comment number 69.

  • Comment number 70.


    How could we distinguish between one politician's 'can't' and many politicians' cant?

  • Comment number 71.

    I do believe that the misuse of the 'postrophe is an 'orrible hactivity and I can only say that I 'ave an 'ope, Yes admittedly an small hope that you will also take to task any, or preferably all of those hannouncement writers and the 'nouncers who persist in using 'an' before words such as 'orrendous, 'appening, 'opefull, 'appy, 'onerable, 'orrible, and other words that really should 'ave the leading 'aich pronounced by those who should, as part of their professional hactivities ensure that the 'H' is given its properly pronounced place at the start of such words as Honourable by those who should be harticulating the English words wi' proper diction.

    So - Yes, we need the apostrophe, and yes, it's even more useful in the correct place, where it can indicate plurals, and possesives.

  • Comment number 72.

    DEATH TO (not 'vive la') DIFFERENCE

    In 'Cider With Rosie' Laurie Lee tells the story of a local man who returned to the village, having made good, and bragged about his wealth in the pub. After a cold night, he was found dead in a ditch and it 'wasn't talked about'.

    As I posted recently, the animal in us is close to the surface. There is a common factor in a lot of child abuse that the Thought Police do not allow mention of, but its animal significance is stark.

    Every time we make (another) move away from Nature, we collect more angst.

  • Comment number 73.

    Apostrophe is not enough.

    Example: the phrase "the cat's home" can mean two different things, as the apostrophe could be possessive, (the home of the cat) or indicate an omission (the cat is home).

    So perhaps some of the confusion in 50% of the population manes we needs an additional punctuation character do remove this ambiguity.

    Since most computer keyboards have two "single quote" characters, I suggest that from now on, "the cat's home" and "the cat`s home" should have two clearly different meanings.

  • Comment number 74.

    #72 Barrie

    I am interested in what you are saying, this duality between man and nature is important.

    But I am unsure where you are going. Animal close to surface or moving away from nature.

    Could you expand or be less cryptic for those who admit to not inhabiting the verbal end of JJ's spectrum.

    Has anyone else now become paranoid about using apostrophes. Or is it just me?

    Steveta. I agree with the ambiguity. I finished English with a B at O'level. So do not profess and higher expertise.

    I have difficulty with it's and the its of it is. I can always get the possessive. Sometimes in the construct of the sentence in my head. It is, can be a possessive at times. So it is becomes a possessive it's. I will have to enquire.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 75.


    KingCelticLion (#74) We are like rats, just bigger with with more neocortex. Basic vegetative functions are run by the brainstem, the next level up is the emoting limbic brain (hippocampus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens, substantia innominata (the ventral or paleostriatum)). It's smell and other crude distance receptor dominated, i.e. all a bit reptilean. On top of that is the neocortex/neostriatum which is more discriminative in terms of distance receptors (vision/hearing), and output is finer motor behaviour via the neostriatum/extrapyramidal system and basal ganglia. All of this works together, and as we should all know, behavioural inhibition of immediate gratification hrough planning, memory etc mediated via frontal and other cortical areas separate most of us from our more distant mammalian relatives - most of the time. Some of us more than others.

  • Comment number 76.

    KingCelticLion (#74) Don't let our lack of a tail, long whiskers or funny looking front teeth distract you.

  • Comment number 77.

    #76 JJ

    Thanks for the neurobiology I
    touched on some of that in #16
    #3 Barrie

    Jurassic Park

    Reptilian brain, important in environmental psychology, cognition etc.

    Reasons for greed territory etc. The mess the world is in?

    As you point out that reptilian divide is important

    I'm interested in the animal below the surface and the angst of moving away from nature.

    The higher (post reptilian) parts do not seem to be represented in a social, cultural, civilisation, collective conscious mode of action.

    ie we are destroying the planet in an instant 'immediate gratification'.

    This seems to be being imposed on us by a relatively small group in politics, media, business etc. That have a dominant voice, but will result in the deaths of all.

    It seems that those and the dominant imposed culture is a manifestation of the more primitive parts of our evolutionary biological make up.

    'Leaders' that society acknowledges and their values, seem to be the most primitive and dangerous of impulses.

    We seem to have the wrong people ( values) at the top. Just as an example take Brown.

    He has young children yet wants to pursue a policy of growth and consumerism. Which will collapse the ecological systems of the planet. Resulting in the probable deaths of his own family. Primitive reptilian yet he is Prime Minister. Why?

    Is that one of the fundamental questions Barrie thinks we should not ask?

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 78.

    Conservatives New Unemployment Provision

    Well it was announced yesterday now.

    Limiting Government debt is very important , we don't want high taxes holding the UK back when the recession starts to lift.

    The plan to give £2500 for employers who take on new staff that had been unemployed for 3 months or longer is a good one, specially when compared to an unemployed person requiring £8000 (their figures) a year to sustain them on the Benefit system.

    Having had some experience of the Benefit Trap in a recession, I would urge them to also allow unemployed who take a part time job to continue to be able to claim housing allowance and mortgage interest benefit and council tax benefit.

    I had friends who could not afford to take a part time job because their housing costs would have eaten up all their wages , thus they preferred to stay at home with their young family's and claim benefits.

    Getting a part time job is not as good as getting a full time job , certainly the money is not as good, but having the unemployed keep their work ethic (getting up Monday morning and going to work, for example) is better for the country,for the person involved and his family than them losing it.

    Ignore my comments if this is part of their plan , but I did not hear it in the News Night interview last night, so I am assuming it isn't.

    Other than that I give the plan a B+.

  • Comment number 79.

    Animal tests...

    The New York Times, December 6, 1993, quoted sworn testimony of William Campbell, President and CEO of cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris USA:

    Q. Does cigarette smoking cause cancer?
    A. To my knowledge, it has not been proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer.
    Q. What do you base that on?
    A. I base that on the fact that traditionally, there is, you know, in scientific terms, there are hurdles related to causation, and at this time there is no evidence that - they have not been able to reproduce cancer in animals from cigarette smoking.

    All animals react very differently to the way humans do, eg.
    A dose of belladonna that would kill a person is harmless to rabbits and goats & Strychnine, one of the deadliest poisons to humans, is harmless to monkeys, chickens, and guinea pigs... there are many more examples of course!

  • Comment number 80.

    veganpanda (#79). Most research mammals react (behave) and are physically structured very similarly to humans. That's why they are used. That there are significant differences between animals is inevitable given genetic differences account for different species. For example, whilst pandas are fussy eaters diet varies within species too (even in humans cf. the incidence of primary hypolactasia between races). Failure to understand the similarities/homologies and differences is a failure to understand genetics and physiology, which in my experience, is where most of those who campaign against animal research are at their weakest. They campaign from a position of relative ignorance.

  • Comment number 81.

    Tipu Aziz makes out his work on those poor monkeys led to that mans cure for parkinsons when in actual fact the method he uses was developed on HUMANS in California in the 80's.
    He is a liar and a plagiarist. Practising human surgery on another species has always caused nothing but mistakes and tragedy.
    Mr Aziz must be paying that man a nice wage to demonstrate his affliction everytime he wants to pull the heartstrings. What I'd like to know is what happened to the little boy who appeared in the very biased 'documentary' a few years ago about his work. We saw no sign of him here.
    Modern medicine based on animal experiments is failing miserably. There are no cures just around the corner as has been demonstrated for the last 50 years.
    It's time for change. It's time to ditch vivisection.
    I begrudge my taxes being used to 'save' this white elephant and I begrudge paying my license fee to a corporation that should be unbiased but clearly is not.

  • Comment number 82.

    JadedJean said:

    "Most research mammals react (behave) and are physically structured very similarly to humans. That's why they are used."

    Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction. ~Charles R. Magel

    This is apart from that fact that vivisection is useless 'science'!

    Why oh why are more people suffering from cancer when cancer has been cured in mice for many, many years? I must add that cancers artificially induced in millions of animals is totally unrelated to human cancers! Would you eat the same food a mouse (or any animal) does, have the same allergies, etc?!!

  • Comment number 83.

    veganpanda (#82) 'Same', 'different' and 'like' are ordinary language words which easily go inscrutable referentially. Men and women are the same but different and most people are alike but different. It's vague language and not much use for serious talk. The laws of behaviour like those of bio-chemistry are invariant - what's problematic is language. Each of the sciences develops its own terms and one has to learn how to use them to appreciate their strengths and limitations.

    Yes, I sometimes eat the same food that mice eat. It has been very annoying at times as they tend not to be house-trained.

  • Comment number 84.

    Aren't we being a bit possessive about apostrophes?

    Sean. Thank cod for my spell checker!

  • Comment number 85.

    LOL, Jadedjean the reason 'scientists' use their own language is to hoodwink the public into believing that what they do is justified and relevant.
    In the case of animal experiments neither is true.
    Not one cure or medical advancement has come from poking around with animals only bad drugs, bad medical procedures and bad medicine.
    People like Tipu Aziz always quote the usual insulin, anaesthetics etc as being down to animal experiments which is fraud. Anyone who looks into the truth of these claims will find they were all founded on human trials and besides insulin is no 'cure'.
    The ultimate guinea pigs are the humans who offer themselves willingly and with ignorance to the men in white coats offering their snake oils.
    Vivisection is NOT about finding cures it is all about money. Follow the money trail and you have your answers in whatever language you choose.

  • Comment number 86.

    With regard to the tragedy of baby P.

    I work in what used to be called the caring profession. Although I admit that tragedies such as this and the one in Manchester today should not happen, the blame lays squarely with the politicians and civil servants (National and especially local) that instigate policies that remove the caring aspect of the job description. It is my experience, over forty years, that managers, in recent years, at higher levels have little respect for the concerns of their employees on contentious issues.

    I have personally experienced many occasions of being ignored when reporting suspected abuse of vulnerable service users. On the other hand public sector staff are constantly being disciplined for the most trivial of matters whenever an allegation is made against them.

    It is very easy to apportion blame to field workers but they are working under such restrictions and bureaucracy (often without adequate training) that they often feel as though they are the culprits. They are wrong if they do and wrong if they don't.
    Any one remember Cleveland?

    I will probably get another disciplinary for writing this.
    Sean Appleby-Simpkin. BA (Hon's) Professional Studies (learning disabilities)


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