Monday, May 28, 2018

If Damian Hinds really wants to reverse the teacher staffing crisis, here's what he needs to do

The bell finally goes. I dismiss the class; breathe a sigh of relief and slump into my chair, exhausted, head in hands, ruminating on the events of the school day. I’ve had to break up a fight; deal with the fallout from an earlier assault upon a Year 7 pupil; phone the home of a notoriously surly parent who – surprise, surprise – spat venomous abuse at me for having the audacity to question her daughter’s behaviour and, lest I forget, taught four lessons, as well.
I now have to gather myself before attending two back-to-back meetings with concerned parents. When will I get the chance to mark books and plan lessons? I worry, before angrily considering Damian Hinds’ latest pronouncements.

According to our Education Secretary, his top priority is the staffing crisis in our schools. He’s concerned that we’re failing to recruit and retain enough teachers. He isn’t wrong. In my school, for example, we have an acute staffing problem. Nobody wants to work here. And if you think we’re unrepresentative of the country at large, you can think again. I’ve worked in lots of different schools over a 15-year career. They’re all the same.
But why? I hear you ask. Why is there a recruitment and retention crisis? Well, where do I begin? Our workload is unmanageable. To paraphrase our Vice Principal, each teacher is doing the equivalent of two jobs, that’s how stretched we are. I am a Head of Year – a position in which one would expect to teach fewer lessons. Not a bit of it. I have a full timetable and teach thirteen separate classes, seven of which I share with different colleagues. I now teach more lessons than I did before my promotion.
In addition, the behaviour of our pupils is atrocious – a factor that immeasurably adds to everyone’s workload and general stress levels. We spend a huge amount of time dealing with feral children when we should be marking books, planning lessons and, yes, spending time with our more respectful, hard-working kids.
Misguided school leaders have spent decades encouraging their staff to view children – even those with criminality etched into their souls – as infallible. This Rousseauian philosophy conspired with the social and moral revolutionary movements of the 1960s to challenge and erode the authority of the teacher. Children were not to blame for their misdeeds – they’re pure and innocent – it was society, controlled by corruptible and corrupting adults, that was at fault. This philosophy still endures, as is demonstrated by my school, day-in, day-out.
Violent children are never excluded. It’s never their fault, you see. They’ve been corrupted. The result: chaos, a Hobbesian nightmare as children fight for their survival, the bullied recoil in fear and us teachers, bereft of authority, suffer physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis.
So, Mr Hinds, you want to reverse the staffing crisis? Then deal with the above. Force Ofsted to scrutinise school behaviour policies, encourage schools to protect their teachers, even urge them to permanently exclude violent pupils if necessary. And crucially, penalise them if they don’t.
Extend the Free School policy to encourage the birth of new units for violent and psychologically disturbed children, thereby reversing Blunkett’s cruel inclusion policy and relieving the pressure on mainstream schools and educators. These kids need to be helped by specialists. Lastly, and again through Ofsted, penalise senior leaders who create unnecessary work for their teaching staff. That should make trigger-happy head teachers, all too prepared to pile task upon task, think twice.
Sorry if I appear cynical, Mr Hinds, but this could and should have been done years ago.
First published on The Telegraph website on 11th May

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Corbynistas are responsible for our crime epidemic

Violent crime is up. Police numbers are down. There must be an inverse correlation between the two, surely. It stands to reason. Cressida Dick, the metropolitan police commissioner, certainly thinks so, as does Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor. 

We’re in the midst of a crime epidemic, nominally due to the Government’s - and, in particular, Theresa May’s - short-sighted cuts to the policing budget - a decision that’s unavoidably led to a reduction in police numbers. Indeed, the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by over 20,000 since 2010. In the year ending in December 2017, moreover, ostensibly as a result of these cuts, there was a 22 percent increase in knife crime and an 11 percent increase in offences involving firearms. Violent crime’s certainly on the up. Since the beginning of the year, London has even seen more homicides than New York. No mean feat, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But is it really caused by a reduction in police numbers? I have my doubts. According to Home Office data, there are now more police officers per capita than during the 1960s. There are 462 people for every officer in contrast to 807 in 1961. One could be excused for thinking that, based on this measure - and based on the intuitive assumptions of negative correlation espoused by such luminaries as Cressida Dick and Sadiq Khan -, crime must have decreased during this period. After all, both proportionately and in terms of total numbers, there are now more police officers on the streets than there were back in 1961, right? Wrong. 

Crime has risen exponentially. In 1961 there were only 806,000 recorded crimes compared to 5.2 million in 2017. When one considers both the statistical and anecdotal evidence - in which people old enough to know recall going out and leaving their front doors unlocked - the general trend of rising crime since the late 1950s is irrefutable. On average, there were 1 million recorded crimes committed annually throughout the 1960s, rising to 2 million in the 1970s and 3.5 million in the Eighties. Even if we allow for the more rigorous recording of crime as a partial explanation for these statistical differences, the general trend is hard to ignore.

For homicides, moreover, a crime for which recording methods have not drastically altered, the growth in cases is clear, despite an increase in the number of police officers. If indeed there is a negative correlation between the number of police officers and the volume of crimes committed in England and Wales, we haven’t seen the evidence to support it yet.

So, if it isn’t the evil Tories and their inhumane, vindictive cuts, what is responsible for the recent spike in crime? 

In my view, this question is a distraction - a distraction used by liberal-leftists to score cheap political points and divert attention from the real causes of soaring crime rates over the last 50-60 years. How can we possibly draw meaningful conclusions from a recent development that could be an aberration? Such conclusions invariably lead to misguided responses that do more harm than good, after all. 

No, we need to look at longer term trends in an effort to get a fuller, more accurate picture - trends that show, notwithstanding a relative decrease during the late Nineties and Noughties, an increase in crime over the last 50-odd years. 

As mentioned above, this is not the result of having fewer police officers - numbers have actually risen. Neither is it the malign consequence of increased poverty levels. Both relative- and absolute-poverty have declined since the 1950s. 

It seems to be, all things considered, the unique product of an increase in family breakdown, a concomitant rise in drug misuse and the stubborn refusal of our betters to adequately punish and deter offenders. 

Seven out of 10 prison inmates come from broken homes. According to a recent study, moreover, children from such homes are nine times more likely to end up in prison and significantly more likely to abuse illegal drugs. It is therefore no surprise that since the Sixties, as the number of broken homes has inexorably risen, so too has the number of recorded crimes. 

In addition, prison - when eventually offenders do get there - has ceased to be an adequate deterrent. Inmates have televisions, games consoles and relatively short sentences. They have unfettered access to illegal drugs, too. In short, they are treated as victims rather than criminals - that’s why our reoffending rates are so high.

These causal factors are the progeny of the irreverent, subversive Sixties - a decade that challenged conservative attitudes, traditional values and the rigid social boundaries that accompanied them. Moral and cultural certainty was replaced by the creed of non-judgementalism, through which different ways of living were deemed equally valid. Christianity became an anachronism, abortion was legalised and divorce, that enemy of societal stability, was made more accessible and acceptable for unhappy couples. 

In addition, anarchic, nihilistic rock-stars encouraged drug misuse as an act of rebellion against old, crusty fuddy-duddies and their suffocating conventionality. And our justice system, in the vice-like grip of a revolutionary ideology that still endures today, endeavoured to stop judging criminals by normal standards of behaviour. Henceforth, they would be seen as unwitting victims of their unique socio-cultural and economic circumstances. They are casualties of an unjust society, driven to criminality by desperation and despair. As a consequence, only in the most extreme cases would long prison sentences served in austere conditions be fair.  

Some of these developments were undoubtedly liberating. For example, single parents and women who had chosen to have abortions were no longer harangued and insulted for their choices. However, there was an altogether darker side to them. As divorce rates increased, so too did childhood angst, adolescent drug abuse - promoted by influential celebrities, remember? - and criminal activity before, ultimately, incarceration at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Non-judgementalism and soft-sentencing encouraged further criminality, as well. It was a radical social and cultural shift, driven, aided and abetted by leftist hardliners like Jeremy Corbyn.

Not that you would know. With the help of the mainstream media, such individuals have hidden these inconvenient truths and constructed a new, fanciful narrative in which crime was under control until the Tory Government’s reckless cuts to the police budget. To fit this ahistorical claptrap, they focus on a short term relative spike in crime, from which it’s impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions concerning causation. It’s one great big red herring.

In the real world, crime has been on the increase since the 1960s, despite a significant rise in police numbers. Furthermore, it has increased because of the liberal non-judgementalism espoused by people like Corbyn and the right’s craven surrender to their intimidatory wailing. When will a Tory politician stick his or her head above the parapet and say so?

Monday, May 7, 2018

I suspect that powerful interests have covered up the circumstances surrounding Ann Maguire’s death

Ann Maguire was a dedicated teacher, utterly devoted to the children in her care. She had worked in the teaching profession for over four decades, had a loving husband, two grown-up daughters and, after the death of her sister 30 years earlier, selflessly raised her two nephews as her own. She was a good person who clearly cared about others. But tragically, back in 2014, she was brutally murdered by a disturbed and deranged pupil. She was attacked and stabbed seven times in her classroom, as she marked another pupil’s work.
Since then, disgracefully, her bereaved husband’s attempts to find out about the circumstances surrounding her death have been met by a wall of silence. A secretive internal report was followed by an inquest in which the coroner refused to interview the killer’s friends and classmates – quite an omission when investigating, among other things, whether the murderer had evinced any signs of what was to come in the weeks and months leading up to the crime, I would suggest. 
Needless to say, both concluded that the school was not to blame in any way for Mrs Maguire’s tragic death; it had not failed in its statutory duty to protect her welfare at work; in short, there’s nothing to see here, guv. 
This, I’m almost certain, is utter hogwash. Over my 15-year teaching career, I’ve worked in lots of different schools, and, without exception, in every single one of them, senior leaders and school governors have failed in their duty to protect their staff. Teachers are assaulted with impunity. Sometimes we’re even blamed for the assaults we suffer, as though we’ve somehow aggravated and antagonised our attackers. 
In the real world, you’d be forgiven for assuming that violent pupils are permanently excluded in an effort to protect their peers and, of course, us teachers – we’re humans too! But you would be very much mistaken. Pupils who attack their peers and teachers are rarely permanently excluded. They may experience a week in isolation or, in some schools, a brief suspension, but they are, as I say, rarely permanently excluded.
So teachers and pupils are expected to run the gauntlet, day-in, day-out, anxiously awaiting the next outburst from our more violent charges, with not so much as a whisper of protest. If we do, we risk attracting the opprobrium of our senior leaders and, in my case, our CEO.
I currently work in a school that refuses to exclude pupils, no matter how violent. Indeed, our most severe punishment is a brief spell in isolation. The result: anarchy and chaos, a brutish Hobbesian nightmare as children, unprotected and fearful, fight for their survival. 
Others simply leave, hoping that their next school will be different. Last week, a pupil was forced to leave after being attacked a second time by an unrepentant thug. His parents, understandably, chose to move him. The alternative was to throw him to the wolves. The trouble is, his new school will probably be no different – at least we’re honest about our no-exclusion policy. As a head of year, since September, I’ve admitted several new pupils desperate to escape violence and bullying in their previous schools. To my shame, I am prohibited from telling them that our school is no different. If anything, it’s probably worse.
One of my colleagues, moreover, has been absent for the last seven days. He was attacked by a pupil who repeatedly slammed a door into his back. Astonishingly, the pupil was back in school the very next day. Another deeply disturbed boy has physically attacked his peers and two of my colleagues. He also keeps threatening to stab us. He really is a tragedy waiting to happen. God forbid, if the worst should happen, and he was to maim, hospitalise or even kill someone, the school would be responsible. It could not honestly say that the warning signs weren’t there, could it?
I suspect that Ann Maguire’s school had a number of warning signs before her tragic end, too. That’s why they’ve seemingly done everything to obstruct a thorough, transparent investigation – an investigation that would not only expose the school’s failings but start a nationwide conversation about the abject failure, no refusal, of schools to protect their staff and pupils from violent thugs. 
Such a conversation would reveal the widespread incompetence of senior leaders and education trusts – in thrall to discredited progressive ideas that proscribe the punishment of poorly behaved pupils – the inadequate nature of our organisational structures (in short, we need more special schools for violent and emotionally disturbed children), the failure of the unions to protect their members and the egregious state of Ofsted’s inspection regime. 
When you consider these myriad failings and the vested interests that their exposure would harm, a cover-up seems eminently preferable for everyone involved – everyone, that is, except Ann Maguire’s family.
First published on The Spectator Coffee House Blog on 10th May 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

Phoney Blair isn't a Philosopher King; he's an incorrigible nincompoop

I have to say: the self-appointed Philosopher-Kings of our age are, all things considered, a bit of a disappointment. Phoney Blair, for instance, Philosopher-King-in-Chief, claims to be a uniquely enlightened man of considerable erudition, tinged with a dash of urbane sophistication and the uncanny ability to header a football. He really is Narcissus-plus, ordained by God to understand things that us mere mortals cannot.

Since July 2016, this self-styled guardian of Kallipolis has gone into overdrive, desperately trying to reconnect with the plebs who voted to leave the European Union. Phoney is frantically running from television studio to radio studio, determined to change our minds but, failing that, willing to ignore our longing cries for self-determination and democratic accountability. You see, we don't understand these things, by all accounts. We don't know what's good for us. Philosopher-Kings like Phoney and his friends in Brussels are the only suitably qualified class of individuals capable of making judicious decisions. The rest of us are glaringly incapable. He's been to Oxford, after all.

Okay, Phoney doesn't say this in so many words, he's even happy to use the illusion of democracy to legitimise his actions when it suits him - as he did during his time in office -, but his thoughts, words and deeds since the referendum expose his previously hidden contempt for the electorate. We didn't know what we were voting for, apparently. He doesn't trust us, sees us as low-information halfwits and clearly regrets the extension of the franchise. How else can one explain his behaviour over the last 18 months?

But is this egomaniac capable of making decisions for us? Is he the Philosopher-King he purports to be? Well, judging by his track record, the answer has to be a resounding no. This is the man who gave us the dodgy dossier, mass migration and Gordon Brown's fiscal irresponsibility. Back in 2004, before the accession of ten new EU member-states, he reassured us - Remember?! -, based on his refusal to countenance temporary restrictions on migration from the new territories, that only a few eastern Europeans would make the journey to our shores - 14 years and 1 million Polish emigres later...

Honestly! How can he keep a straight face? And let's not forget his decision to give away Margaret Thatcher's hard-won rebate in exchange for reform of the CAP - something that - surprise, surprise - never happened. This bloke was a car crash, not an enlightened, wise philosophe.
Indeed, he's more akin to one of Plato's reviled sophists, more concerned with personal gain than any Socratic conception of justice. He charms and deceives, covets, courts emperors, rogues and potentates of all stripes before trousering their ill-gotten gains and filling his bulging coffers. In short, the man's a crook.
And now he has the audacity - as all crooks do - to claim special status, insult us and strive to reverse a democratic decision. Well, Phoney, I have news for you: you're not a Philosopher King; you're an incorrigible nincompoop. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Doomsayers like Hitchens need to stop sniping and support the Government's plan to leave the Single Market

Christopher Booker's weekly column in The Sunday Telegraph is a must-read - not only for his robust attacks on the climate change lobby and commendable support for the voiceless, unrepresented parents disgracefully separated from their children by overzealous and in some cases corrupt social workers, but also for his fascinating, fresh, unorthodox, albeit a little doom-laden views on Brexit.

This week, as a pragmatic eurosceptic, he continued to rail against the Government's approach and support the Norway-option. He argues that we should adopt membership of Efta when we leave the EU, thus remaining in the European free trade area, and goes on to claim that, should we take this eminently sensible option, we'd benefit from not having to abide by 80 percent of the laws made in Brussels. Apparently, he adds, most of the other 20 percent emanate from other supranational bodies like the WTO, meaning that, outside the Single Market, whether we like it or not, we'd still have to follow them anyway.

As I say, at first glance this all sounds eminently sensible. Peter Hitchens certainly thinks so. But it fails to acknowledge one important drawback. The free movement of people is a non-negotiable, unquestionable pillar of the Single Market, along with the free movement of goods, services, and capital. Macron himself admitted as much on Sunday morning's Andrew Marr show. Membership of Efta and full access to the European Single Market can only be granted if we continue to accept the free movement of people, he said, albeit not in these exact words. 

This is unacceptable to the British people. Perhaps the most important factor in our decision to leave the European Union was the desire to control our borders. Should we indeed join Efta and continue to accept open borders, many, including myself, will justifiably question the point of voting to leave in the first place, particularly if we still don't possess the most basic function of any sovereign nation: the power to decide who should and shouldn't enter one's country. When one considers this reality, Efta is clearly out of the question. 

But why is Christopher Booker, normally so forensic and judicious in his analysis, in denial about this? He's either kidding himself that Macron doesn't mean what he says, or views free movement as a price worth paying for the avoidance of what he refers to as a pending economic catastrophe. Either way, he's in denial.

First, from Donald Tusk to Jean Claude Junker, Angela Merkel to Emmanuel Macron, our antagonists are very clear: there will be no access to the Single Market without the free movement of people. We should believe them. Secondly, I suspect the British people, especially those forgotten, working-class Brexiteers struggling to make ends meet, with nothing really to lose, would risk a short-term economic shock for the pull of greater sovereignty and tighter border controls, even if Christopher wouldn't. They've been through the catastrophe of seeing their wages depreciate for years, after all, crushed under the sheer weight of an over-supply of unskilled labour from the continent. Christopher's 'long queues at Dover' seem like a small tremor in comparison, I wager.

For me, though, Peter Hitchens' position is particularly difficult to grasp. He's been both eurosceptic and against mass, uncontrolled immigration for as long as I can remember. But when he gets what he's always wanted, withdrawal from the EU, he complains about the way in which the decision was taken. He's opposed to referenda, apparently, because unwilling politicians can be left enacting policies they passionately disagree with. Sound familiar? He, of course, has a point here. But if we'd waited for a conventionally elected, eurosceptic government to withdraw from the EU based upon a manifesto promise, we'd still be waiting...and waiting...perhaps until 2118! Peter, you've got what you wanted in the only way possible. Stop moaning about it.

Moreover, after years of railing against uncontrolled immigration, how can you now support Christopher Booker's Norway-option? It means the continuation of open borders. This really is a contradictory position to take. The Government, for all its faults, is implementing something that you said you wanted: Brexit and an end to the free movement of people. Give credit - and support - where it's due.

Doomsayers like Christopher Booker and Peter Hitchens need to face reality, stop sniping and get behind the Government's plan to leave the Single Market.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is it me, or is Alastair Campbell the most loathsome creature on Earth?

Alastair Campbell is surely the most loathsome, objectionable character on the planet. I’ve just had the misfortune to witness him, on the Sunday Politics show, attempting to bully and intimidate the phlegmatic and unflappable Gisela Stuart during their debate on the merits - or otherwise - of Brexit. It was nothing short of a disgrace. He interrupted her incessantly – interruptions that, to her considerable credit, she calmly endured and insouciantly swatted away. This further highlighted the brutish mediocrity of her half-witted interlocutor.

He really is an awful human being. He simply can’t accept the democratic decision made by the British people on 23 June last year. He’s fuming. This anger, though, is perhaps forgivable. One can’t switch off one’s feelings and debate doesn’t stop after one vote, after all, as he’s so keen on telling us. What’s perhaps less forgivable is his dishonourable aim to thwart the will of the people and use any means, no matter how unpatriotic and underhand, to do it. Just yesterday he advised the Irish Taoiseach to ‘play hardball’ against Theresa May, his country’s Prime Minister. Then today he had the audacity to say that he loves Britain. Who does he think he’s kidding?!

Gisela Stuart rightly asked him whose side he was on. Do you even want a successful Brexit? she enquired. It appears that his every intervention is designed to undermine Theresa May and make her negotiations more difficult, thus the outcome less favourable to this country. Stuart wistfully urged him to work with her in the interests of the country. He refused point blank - in a typically surly, petulant grunt. Like his fellow Remoaners - Clegg, Clarke, Adonis and Blair - he sides with our opponents in a determined effort to undermine the Brexit talks and get the worst possible deal for Britain. Only then, they perversely conclude, will the electorate change its mind, demand another say and this time vote the right way. In short, along with the rest of the Remainiacs, he is willing to damage his own country in a desperate bid to prove, to himself, if no one else, that he was right all along.

Of course, this all fits into a pattern of behaviour that screams Quisling. Whilst Director of Communications in Downing Street under Phoney Tony Blair, he contrived in the wanton destruction of our communities through mass, uncontrolled immigration – just to rub the right’s nose in it. It is no exaggeration to state that East London, where I live, has been ethnically cleansed of the white indigenous population as a consequence of his government’s policies – a government in which he wielded considerable power. It has become a country within a country.

And why? Because he despises Britain and wanted, with Blair, to radically remake it. It was to become a multicultural paradise, and, in true Marxist style, he was willing to break a few eggs to rustle up an omelette. What’s a bit of ethnic cleansing between friends? The folly and inhumanity are truly breath-taking.

Okay, I accept that the indigenous population of East London wasn’t violently forced to flee. But come on! If you love your community, why would you want to see it changed irrevocably by a massive, uncontrolled influx of non-English speaking, culturally alien foreigners? Indeed, why would you wish to stay and, in some places, hear the call-to-prayer five times a day? So really, in essence, these people were forced out, ethnically cleansed – not by the barrel of a gun, granted, but certainly by decisions made by Blair and Campbell’s Government.

To put it another way, when westerners encroach upon, alter and deface the habitats of ancient, settled tribes, forcing them to move on, it is rightly labelled as ethnic cleansing. Well, what’s happened in East London is no different, and the likes of Campbell are undeniably responsible. This wasn’t a small influx. It was a tsunami – a tsunami that, disgracefully, hasn’t been halted by the Conservative party - but that’s another story.

Campbell’s toxicity goes well beyond his obvious treachery, though. He’s also an amoral bully who’s willing to do anything to get his way. Just look at his treatment of Dr David Kelly back in 2003. This poor man was hounded by the attack dogs of the media, unleashed by Campbell himself, before, desperate, cornered and frantically hopeless, he took his own life.

This same blustering, quarrelsome, iniquitous, loathsome, emotionless bully was in full attack-mode today. Gisela Stuart deserves enormous credit for treating him with the contempt he deserves.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Victim-hood is Power

Counter-intuitively, ironically, being a victim is now incredibly empowering. If you can claim victim-hood at the hands of some, say, film producer, or perhaps an unshaven, slightly unprepossessing and uncouth male colleague or boss, even if you have no evidence to support your claim, in today's hysterical post-truth climate, you can have power over them. It's brilliant! And, as I said at the beginning, completely counter-intuitive. Nobody will suspect your motives. Of course, you do need to be a member of a designated, accepted and Guardian-approved victim-group first, but, if you are - perhaps you were born female, black, Muslim, disabled or gay (sorry, did I miss anyone out - I don't want to be lynched by the twitter mob) -, you've pretty much got it made. Shout 'Abuse!' or 'Discrimination!' and, for the most part, you don't have to prove a thing. You're automatically believed. Your targeted assailant is toast, finished!

So who are the real victims here?

Look, before all you uber-feminists start foaming at the mouth and go into paroxysms of anger-induced screaming, I am not suggesting for one moment that Harvey Weinstein is innocent. And if he is guilty of these abhorrent and unjustifiable acts, he should be punished accordingly. But surely it is not outlandish to contend that trial by media and our lazy rejection of healthy scepticism will lead to perverse, worrying consequences - consequences that will be felt for many years to come. If claiming victim-hood is advantageous - perhaps to climb the greasy-pole or rid yourself of an unwanted colleague - don't be surprised if more and more people make false allegations. Why wouldn't they?

At the same time, don't be surprised if the Guardian-decreed perpetrator-group (also known as white men) doesn't recoil and withdraw from any potentially problematic social interactions. Let's face it, in today's #MeToo climate, you'd have to be a brave man to ask a female colleague out for a drink, or even compliment her on a new dress, pair of shoes or hair style. The future, especially for young men, is bleak, full of anxiety, self-doubt and confusion. It's also bleak for women who enjoy male attention and a bit of mild, reciprocated flirtation - the majority, I suspect. We really are entering a new epoch in which mutual suspicion between the sexes is becoming commonplace, fun and flirtation a thing of the past.

Just to reiterate: this isn't a defence of Weinstein. It's merely a warning that renouncing our critical faculties because an accuser happens to be a member of a recognised 'victim-group', will have, and does have, dire consequences. It can turn the so-called victim into the abuser as fairness, justice and due process are surrendered to virtue-signalling and emotion. Even more worrying is the fact that it's turning the 'victim-group' into the 'abuser-' or 'perpetrator-group'. The roles are being reversed as women realise the power they now hold over men - the consequence of their coveted 'victim status'.

Some years ago, I was accused of misogyny by a colleague. My crime: I said, during what I thought was a friendly conversation, that I didn't enjoy watching women's boxing. Not particularly contentious, or so I thought. But my colleague, a twenty-odd year-old woman, had other ideas. She hounded me, said I shouldn't be teaching impressionable young girls, and made clear that she couldn't work with me - the result of my obvious sexism. From that day on, I became very wary of her. She seemed both unstable and malicious.

More to the point, though, was the fact that she seemed to recognise my discomfort around her, and clearly enjoyed it. On one occasion, whilst I was working late, she came into my classroom and criticised a decision I had made earlier in the day. I responded, but she, as ever, was persistent to the point of being aggressive. I eventually said that I'd like her to leave my classroom - she just wasn't willing to listen to my point of view and talked incessantly. It really was exhausting, especially after a hard day's teaching. But she refused to go and stood in front of my door, blocking my exit. It was just me and her. Everyone else in the department had gone home. I couldn't physically move her, so I sat down to demonstrate my passivity. We continued the heated discussion - me sitting down, her standing up - before, eventually, she left, on her own terms, of course, after she'd said everything she'd wanted to say, fully aware that I was distressed by her presence throughout.

In hindsight, I was the victim of an abuse of power. Shockingly, she was using her status as a woman to intimidate me, knowing that, being a man, I couldn't very well accuse her, a woman, of intimidation and abuse. As I said, women are members of an approved 'victim-group', whereas men, especially white men, are seen as natural abusers.

No wonder everyone wants to be a victim. To coin a phrase with a slightly Orwellian whiff, 'Victim-hood is Power'. Just because it's Orwellian, doesn't make it, in this instance, any less true.