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Tuesday 27 December 2011

Rage Of The Hefferlump

Not only does he edit the Mail Online RightMinds section, an e-dustbin of right leaning why-oh-why ranting and frothing, the appallingly pompous Simon Heffer also contributes posts to it, typical being today’s piece on “the rise of pernicious laws that criminalise the law-abiding” where he argues badly against three laws as he cites Civil Liberties, but not Human Rights, as key.

The Hefferlump is not happy about rules regarding getting children into particular schools, such as parents having to reside in the catchment area. So those who mislead the authorities, he argues, should not be prosecuted – full stop. Whether anyone has been so prosecuted he does not tell: instead, readers are told “the state disgracefully does not provide good schools in many parts of the country”.

So there you have it: a right leaning pundit in a Government bashing paper suggesting that the state should be the provider of the best schools. Heffer’s less than excellent column continues in a similar vein as he rants about speed limits, telling that the state “zealously prosecutes those who drive past speed cameras in 70mph zones in open country at 80mph and are doing no harm at all”.

Quite apart from missing the fact that speed limits do not come with complicating terms and conditions – which would make enforcement vastly more expensive and give those who can afford to go to law more of an ability to get off any charge – the Hefferlump makes a basic mistake: it is most unusual for anyone doing 80 to get charged. You need to be driving at around 90 to get a ticket.

Moreover, how one can say that excessive speed is “doing no harm at all” indicates an inability to take on board one basic message: the phrase “speed kills” means exactly what it says on the tin. Heffer is ranting for the sake of it, and leaving facts at the door. He is especially strong on this when attacking the RSPCA, which he declares “has become a leftist front organisation”.

This is because the RSPCA does not do what he would prefer it to do over the subject of fox hunting. In support of his urging for the ban on this activity to be overturned, he rambles on about how foxes can kill small farm animals, and how they can get into houses if the occupants are foolish enough to leave doors and windows open: he is telling us to “look over there”.

Fox hunting does not effectively control the fox population: none of the behaviours that Heffer ascribes to the animal are constrained by having a pack of hounds pursuing one to exhaustion and then literally tearing it apart. Some Mail readers may not see through this tired and fact-free bluster, but this latest addition to the ranks of the Dacre dinosaurs will win no converts while trousering his over-generous fee.

Look for changes in RightMinds over the coming year. Or less folks looking in.


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, "Speed kills", a deliberate and disingenuous oversimplification that clearly marks someone out as either ignorant or vehemently anti-motorist. You know you haven't got a hope in hell of objectively showing just why 80mph on a motorway is in any way dangerous, so you try to get round it by using a two-word, debunked soundbite and then swiftly moving on. It's not going to work.

Please stop using safety to justify speed cameras when the real reason you like them is that they make driving more unpleasant.

Tim Fenton said...

Unlike the anonymous commenter, who was clearly of less than perfect courage, I am posting my reply in my own name.

I would challenge that person, and indeed anyone else, to demonstrate any ignorance or anti-motorist sentiment on my part. I own and drive a car, and have been qualified so to do for over 40 years. I have also seen my fair share of the effects of excessive speed, and would rather I did not have to see any more.

I have no especial liking for speed cameras - that's a crude and dishonest slice of projection. And don't come on here bandying about words like "objectively" when you're not about to produce anything remotely objective.