There is still more than a month to go before this national festival of lying and evasion is over.

Can we bear it? Did anyone but paid professionals and obsessives stick it out to the last bucket of Thursday’s weird quiz show?

First the eyes glaze over, then the brain, then the whole body. The automatic checkouts at the supermarket are less predictable.


In an age when we can go on the internet to punish bad restaurants and hotels, oughtn’t there to be a way of punishing these people, too?

Imagine what would happen to a restaurant which, when you ordered steak, took an age to bring you a plate of lukewarm baked beans, accompanied by a platoon of spin doctors to tell you that this is what you really wanted, and to point out that the establishment next door was even worse?

I have an idea. At every future Election, there should be a slot, at the top of each ballot paper, in which we can put a cross against ‘None of the below’.

If enough of us did so (I’d suggest a quarter of those voting), the Election would have to be run again. Don’t worry about the wait. It is a fiction that politicians ‘run the country’. Belgium recently managed quite well without a government for 589 days.

The great thing would be that the big parties would by then have run out of money, and their slogans and rehearsed arguments would have worn so thin that we could see right through them from the start.

Normal human beings would be able to form new parties that actually spoke for them, and to fight against the dead, discredited organisations that currently keep their hold on us through the donations of dodgy billionaires.

I suppose that is why it almost certainly will not happen. But even so, I think most of us will be able to work out our own good ways of refusing to endorse the dead parties. But it will take a lot longer to bring them down, and I am not sure we have enough time.

Were we happier in those days of offal? 

The BBC tv programme Back In Time For Dinner doesn’t just have one of the cleverest titles ever. It is a more-than-usually-serious attempt to recreate the recent past, the day before yesterday.

This is sometimes the most remote time zone of all, because those of us who lived through it find it harder and harder to believe what we ate, how we dressed, how we furnished and decorated our homes and what we cared about.

We’re all so much slicker now, and are embarrassed and even baffled by what we used to be. So we wipe it from our minds.

Anyone over 40 who watches this programme, starring an attractively level-headed and humorous real family (the wife and mother is hilariously clueless about how to wield a tin-opener), will surely have at least one moment of amazed recognition of something forgotten.

And this evokes that other worrying thought that, yes, eating liver is absolutely horrible, but is it possible that in the days when we routinely consumed offal, and had never eaten out in our lives, we were happy and didn’t know it?

Save teachers: bring back the cane

Could it have been the abolition of corporal punishment that led to this state of affairs?

Could it have been the abolition of corporal punishment that led to this state of affairs?

A series of sad stories emerged last week about the wretched lives of many teachers in state schools – subjected to false accusations by pupils, and sometimes by parents, too, harried pointlessly by the commissars of Ofsted, abandoning a job in which they had hoped to do good and found only bureaucracy and drudgery.

May I make an alarming suggestion? Could it have been the abolition of corporal punishment that led to this state of affairs?

No, I’m not keen either. I’m just worried by the possibility that it may actually be necessary, whether we like it or not. It wasn’t that it was used that much.

And those who felt it most were generally the sort of boys (it was usually boys) who didn’t care what anyone did to them.

This is how deterrence works. Incorrigible troublemakers volunteer to have examples made of themselves. The calculating opportunists take note, and stay on the right side of the rules.

What mattered was that it made the teacher a figure of individual authority, in charge of the classroom and the corridors.

Without authority, there can be little teaching, as we have since found out.

Successful state schools work because charismatic heads or teachers are terrific bluffers, giving the impression that they are to be feared while knowing in their hearts that they have no real power.

Most of the time, the children see these poor, cowed civil servants, burdened with inspections and national curriculums, and they correctly work out that, if the State doesn’t respect them, they don’t have to either.

It hasn’t worked. It never will work. Dare anyone put it right?

Depression isn’t to blame – drugs are

Since last week there has been a stupid chorus of psychiatrists and commentators, telling us not to ‘stigmatise’ people who suffer from depression.

This is their moronic reaction to the concerns of people such as me, who are worried that the suicidal killer pilot Andreas Lubitz was taking powerful mind-altering drugs, whose effects on the human brain and body are too little known and which need to be thoroughly examined.

Do you see the difference? I am not worried about Lubitz because he was depressed. I am worried about the drugs that he was prescribed because he was depressed.

Even now, we only know the name of one of these medications, the potent tranquilliser Lorazepam, known to make some of its users suicidal.

We refuse to look in the right direction. This is because the importance of the issue and the widespread correlation between such drugs and self-destructive behaviour are still not grasped by the authorities or much of the media.

Almost every major plane crash has led to reviews that have made flying much safer. The destruction of Germanwings Flight 9525 looks like being the first which will not do so. Please stop talking about stigma. It’s the drugs, stupid.

The other night on Question Time, I may have assisted at the beginning of a new romance. 

On air, the ultra-politically correct commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown suddenly realised (partly thanks to me) just what a Blairite liberal Chief Whip Michael Gove actually is.

She said she wanted to hug him. And, as I can now reveal, as soon as the cameras were switched off, that is exactly what she did.

A very happy and joyous Easter to all my readers, not least to the very kind Muslim young man who, seeing me beside the road in the drenching Manchester rain, failing to hail a taxi, went miles out of his way to drive me to my hotel.