Monday, July 14, 2008

Crazy ideas signal the end of an era

When governments are in terminal decline, policy proposals start becoming increasingly bizarre. Remember John Major's much-derided suggestion of a "cones hotline", for instance, back in the 1990s? People could ring up if they saw traffic cones on the road that had no business being there. Wikipedia helpfully reminds of the phone number, although I somehow doubt there's anyone at the other end now. Unless, of course, former Prime Minister Major has time on his hands between cricket matches.

Yesterday's suggestion from Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that young offenders should go on guided tours of accident and emergency departments is one of the barmiest things I have heard in recent years. So barmy, in fact, that it's been pretty much dropped within 24 hours. How exactly would it have worked?

My first observation would be that my local A&E department is full of young offenders anyway, so they don't need to be on a government programme to observe its workings at first hand. My second would be that they could easily wait five hours being triaged before even getting to meet a victim of knife crime.

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