Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Mail goes strangely quiet on "elf N safety" and "com-pen-say-shun"

The damning narrative verdict on the death of Charlotte Shaw probably came too late to be included in today's Littlejohn ramblings - maybe he'll mention it on Thursday, although I suspect he'll give this one a miss. Likewise, the Mail seems to have overlooked the demands of the namby-pampy nanny state for improved health and safety rules.

Charlotte Shaw was the 14-year-old Devon girl who drowned on Dartmoor three years ago. As the inquest heard this week, the teachers who were supposed to be supervising Charlotte and her friends were not properly qualified. The coroner also complained that Health & Safety Executive guidelines for state schools running outdoor trips are not automatically made available to their private counterparts.

This is why health and safety is important - because it saves lives. Every time a cretin like Littlejohn or an anonymous "Daily Mail Reporter" calls for the HSE to be scrapped or makes up a story about "Elf N Safety gone maaaad" it chips away at the credibility of both the organisation and the whole concept of health and safety.

Just 10 days ago the Daily Mail was celebrating the fact that school trips were to be freed of the "stranglehold" of red tape. A quick search of the Mail online archive reveals a steady stream of articles calling for "more danger" in schools or demanding that we stop "mollycoddling" our children in the name of health and safety.

There is obviously a balance to be struck between risk and the benefit kids get from getting out and about, but the Mail and its ilk consistently portray the very idea of "health and safety" as some terrible invention of killjoys that should be done away with. The tragic death of Charlotte Shaw shows exactly what can happen if this approach is taken to its natural conclusion, which may explain why the Mail hasn't published an outraged editorial attacking the coroner for destroying good old-fashioned fun and attempting to wrap our children up in cotton wool.

I also see that Charlotte's mother is suing her daughter's school for negligence. What are the odds that in Thursday's column Littlejohn will complain about her being a money-grabbing ambulance-chaser in search of com-pen-say-shun?

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