Yvette Cooper—who used to live next door to me at Balliol—was responsible for a government campaign to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. According to the statistics collected, its effect seemed to be to make things ever-so-slightly worse and then ever-so-slightly better. These days there’s a whiff of desperation about the issue. Today I discover via Backword Dave that Stephen Twigg—who was in the year above me at Balliol and remains one of the nicest blokes there is in a nasty business—is the schools minister who launched the anti-bullying campaign whose child supporters themselves became victims of bullying.
Teenage pregnancy and bullying are extraordinarily difficult and deeply embedded problems in this country and I doubt if even the cleverest government initiatives could reduce them much. Setting the media up for conspicuous disappointment stories isn’t good politics though; it makes it harder to persuade people to pay for further attempts. I also suspect that, if Balliol graduates are going to try to re-engineer society for the better (as tradition dictates), it might be useful to encourage them to get real jobs first and meet some ordinary people—that is, not journalists, politicos, or academics. I write this as someone who has spent his life trying to avoid both a real job and real people whenever possible.
Boris bloody Johnson’s one of ours too, and Michael Jackson’s spiritual advisor (no, seriously). Of course Balliol turned down Blair and Clinton, didn’t it…grumble, moan, grunt, mumble… There’s always Hitchens, C to be proud of, I suppose. And these hot chicks.