Blog Posts by Joe Wade

  • By Jacob Brookman

    The care of vulnerable children is an area most of us, thankfully, have little to do with in our everyday lives.

    But this week the issue was once more in the spotlight when figures emerged that show the number of children being taken referred into care is at an all-time high.

    In January, 903 court applications were made, a new peak in a number that has been steadily growing.

    So why are more and more local authorities taking this decision of last resort?

    The catalyst for the rise was the case of Baby P which first emerged in 2008. The tragic toddler suffered terrible abuse and revelations of his plight focused public attention on the role of social workers and the needs of vulnerable children.

    But it was principally social workers who bore the brunt of public rage. And yet among all the fire and the fury about why they hadn't intervened earlier there was also tacit recognition of the difficulties of dealing with such situations.

    Parenting is a touchy subject especially

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  • Crime figures and the effectiveness of the police

    Freedom of information data released this week revealed that the Met have spent £35,000 on calls to the speaking clock and £200,000 on calls to directory inquiries. This is a revelation as I had no idea the speaking clock was still going.

    Every computer clearly displays the time as do mobiles, which to my mind conjures the image of officers who know the time but are on the phone listening to the time sponsored by Accurist pretending to chase down leads while the Sarge watches. And who uses directory inquiries these days when the Internet supplies all the answers free of charge?

    All those 118 numbers are headed for the directory graveyard to be buried alongside Thompsons and the Yellow Pages. Plod didn’t get the memo though and keeps ringing them up and costing us cash. The money is less worrying than the implication that the police are more ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ than ‘CSI’. A Met spokesperson said not all of the police have Internet access, which is pretty bad in this day and age. What

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  • Why religion matters in US politics

    Mitt Romney, the man likely to challenge Barack Obama to become the president of the country with the most nuclear weapons, believes that in 1827 an angel called Moroni gave a man called Joseph Smith some golden plates that had symbols on them. There must have been at least a full dinner service worth of mystical crockery because the translations filled up a whole new Bible called the Book of Mormon.  Half of Mormons surveyed believe that Romney's faith is likely to count against him a survey revealed this week, with a third also believing they are more discriminated against than African Americans. Mitt's beliefs would count against him even more this side of The Pond. Tony Blair had to wait until he resigned as Prime Minister before converting to Catholicism because his spin master Alastair Campbell had commanded: "We don't do religion." Asked about a dozen times by Jeremy Paxman if he'd prayed with Dubya Bush, Blair evaded because he'd have known how deeply unappealing the British

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  • How to fix Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband photographs really oddly, from some angles show that he can look almost like Ross from 'Friends' but mostly he resembles the bastard child of Vulcan MP John Redwood and TV's 'Mr Bean'.  An odd appearance is part of Miliband's problem according to Conservative home editor Tim Montgomerie who feels that "Odd Ed" is a far worse label than "Red Ed" and is contributing to make the start of the year tough for the Labour leader, especially as he scored a -17 approval rating in a recent poll.

    Part of the problem may be opposition MPs didn't actually pick Ed, it was the union block vote that enabled him to beat his boring but symmetrically- faced brother David. Part of the problem for the adenoidal one is he has yet to prove the doubters on his own benches wrong, which is leading to increasing criticism and disunity from his own side. This week, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy called on Labour to accept most of the spending cuts so they appear credible on the economy and

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  • Why politicians can’t do pop culture

    Politics is show business for ugly people. Career politicians would never have had the time to claw a space for themselves in the Westminster rat's nest if they'd ever been able to pull. The restless energy required to stay conscious during excruciatingly dull meetings is expended elsewhere by average humans when they were having relationships and living life. This is a problem for Labour as the two top boys have never had proper jobs and are, let's be honest, slightly minging.

    A poll for The Guardian back in October showed that Labour is a clear 11 points behind the Tories on the economy. The country's finances are going to hell in a handcart but the public still reckon David Cameron and George Osborne are doing a better job than the opposition could, the poll points out that: "…despite the increasing connection between coalition cutbacks and rising joblessness. The credibility gap is even greater than it was for Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling in 2009, when Mr Brown was deeply

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  • Why do the French hate us?

    This week France was threatened with losing its AAA rating and responded by stating that Britain should lose its first.
    Earlier in the week President Sarkozy had branded David Cameron and 'obstinate kid' and not because he refuses to use the toilet when he should (apparently desperately needing to urinate was a concentration aid during the EU negotiations last week. Imagine what he's holding in during really important negotiations.) Sarko was narko because of the veto Cameron deployed to avoid financial rules the rest of Europe was agreeing to.  Whatever! Really it's just the latest in a history of battles with our frenemies across the channel.

    A YouGov poll last year asked over 4,000 British and French people to identify common traits in the opposite nation. The British were fairly complimentary just marking the French down because they don't get anything done in August. On the other hand the French said we were no use at cooking or love and eat and drink too much, with a number of

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  • Week of striking and outbursts

    This week saw the biggest public sector strikes since 1979 due to pension cuts and salary freezes. Up to two million public sector workers went on strike, resulting in the closure of 62% of state schools in England and the cancellation of 6,000 non-urgent hospital operations. In total 135,000 civil servants went on strike, representing just over a quarter of the civil service. The Guardian lists: 'border agency staff, probation officers, radiographers, librarians, job centre staff, court staff, social workers, refuse collectors, midwives, road sweepers, cleaners, dinner ladies, paramedics, tax inspectors, customs officers, passport office staff, police civilian staff, driving test examiners, patent officers and health and safety inspectors.'

    [Related story: Clarkson public sector comments 'pre-arranged with BBC']

    Lined up against them was Jeremy Clarkson, speaking on 'The One Show', advocated taking strikers outside and executing them in front of their families. This he believes is

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  • Do the rich and famous need more legal protection?

    Last week the phone hacking inquiry was attended by lots of really rich and privileged people all boo-hooing about the fact that tabloid scum have been rifling through their bins. It's hard to feel too sorry for Hugh Grant. He's the multi-millionaire actor who's so bad to call him wooden would be insulting to doors (he's more like MDF), and someone who saw his profile rise higher because his ex-girlfriend had a fantastic figure that was amply exposed by a safety pin dress that was duly plastered all over the tabloids.

    Poor super rich Max Mosley objected to the classic News of The World headline about pictures and videos that appeared like one of the rag's truer headlines. It's not necessarily great journalism but it's often entertaining and informative (in a way) and pricks the pomposity of the rich, exposing their decadent, weird behaviour. The Leveson Inquiry has indentified 46 core participants, made up of celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and members of the public who have been

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  • Youngsters are forced into retail slave labour

    The number of unemployed young people topped a million this week, meaning one in five is now signing on. Access to university has been restricted meaning only the loaded are able to afford the fees. The BBC quoted the General Secretary of the University and College Union as saying: "Aside from the financial cost of consigning hundreds of thousands of people to the dole queue, we risk producing a generation with few prospects and little chance to alter their situation."   It is about the same cost to create a job for a young person as to pay for them to sit at home developing life skills like watching Jeremy Kyle, rolling spliffs and going to the shops in their pyjamas.

    The National Union of Teachers said the government were culpable and had damaged young people's life chances by abolishing the education maintenance allowance (EMA) that enabled poorer, higher education students to stay in college. In other countries where young people were out of work and couldn't study there have been

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  • Workers of the UK should unite over pensions

    This week public sector union Unison voted to strike on 30 November. Their 1.1 million strong membership includes dinner ladies, bin men and nurses who will be joining the members of other unions like the Public and Commercial Services union, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers on the day of mass action. Not all members voted to walk out, but across all the organisations the number of ordinary people who are going to lose a day's pay is much higher than the number who think spending billions on another Greek bail out is a good idea.

    The strike on the 30th is about public sector pensions. The coalition is raising the retirement age to 66, introducing a contributions increase of 3.2% and linking pension increases to the CPI rate of inflation, not the typically higher RPI. This benefit is now being used by the government and elements of the media to divide working people. "Those lucky public sector workers, their pensions are still more than you're

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