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England - slapping capital of the UK: Peter Rhodes on corporal punishment, Canadian issues and why Keir Starmer looks so worried

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

OUR changing language. Yes, I know it's a real word but I'd never heard it before.

Keir Starmer - anxious?

The God-botherer on Thought for the Day (Radio 4) referred to the faith of those who believe the end of the world is nigh. It is called Apocalypticism. Now, there's a real denture tester.

SOME of the victims of the black-cab rapist John Worboys are demanding that when he is freed from prison he should be excluded from London. And if the worst happened and Worboys struck again in the provinces, who would explain to the victims in Wales, Whitby or Wolverhampton that a rapist was unleashed in their midst to make London safer?

WHY was the normally cool Labour front-bencher Keir Starmer so agitated and anxious in his interview following the announcement that Warboys was due for release? Starmer's only involvement with the case is that at the time, nine years ago, he was Director of Public Prosecutions when it was decided to charge Warboys with only a dozen offences. His lawyers probably took the view that adding many more similar cases to the charge sheet would not result in a longer prison sentence. So it was a pragmatic, logical decision. The snag for Starmer is that in the intervening nine years sex offences against women have become centre-stage. Logic is not what it was. We now have a febrile culture in which a single ill-judged email or a wandering male hand ten years ago is enough to end a political career. Starmer knows that he will survive the current scandal - so long as nothing more happens. But what if Warboys is released and offends again? In the present climate, illogical and unfair though it may seem, Keir Starmer could find his head on the block. No wonder he looked worried.

BY the end of this year, smacking children will probably be illegal in Wales and Scotland. This offers some interesting business opportunities on England's western and northern borders. I foresee a string of cosy little franchises (Slippers-R-Us?) where Scots and Welsh parents can bring their errant offspring for a taste of traditional discipline and regale them with stories of how "we all got it in the old days and it never did me any harm."

MORE to the point, when slapping is banned across the UK, as it surely will be, what happens next? The approved alternatives to smacking, as preached by the great and good, are confining a child to its bedroom or confiscating its favourite toy. Or to put it another way, imprisonment without trial, and theft. One for the human-rights lawyers.

I REFERRED a few days ago to the state of British Columbia in Canada. Three Canadian readers point out that Canada does not have states, but provinces.

AFTER my recent item on prostate examinations, a reader tells me of a GP who uses two fingers, in case he needs a second opinion.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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