A Blast from the Past

Tristram Hunt:

Now, I have no problem with a ministry of all the talents, but when the big tent ushers in the former Tory party chairman Kenneth Baker, the progressive consensus has truly lost the plot.

Young people today probably have little idea who Kenneth Baker is. (Curiously, this Wikipedia article doesn’t mention his major contribution to British Government, which was his prominent role in the early stages of the poll tax fiasco.) Perhaps we need a Museum of Britishness that could, among other things, explain his career to current and future generations? A gallery given over to the twists and turns of the Death to the Dogs crisis of May 1991 would be an excellent idea, for example, and children could be given free copies of the 1986 Green Paper, Paying for Local Government.

15 thoughts on “A Blast from the Past”

  1. Funnily enough he surfaced in the S.Telegraph’s travel section last week in an article titled something like ‘Why I love Burgundy’. Well I quite like it too, so i read on, and he generally behaved himself, and I was thinking maybe old-age had maybe him bearable, when he concluded what was simply a travel piece with (it’s not online so I’m writing from memory) ‘Of course much as I like France and the French I would hate to be governed by them’.

  2. As a child with parents who were teachers I’ll never forget him simply for “Baker Days”, a usage that hasn’t entirely gone out of circulation.

  3. Well, I recall Baker only too well, though I didn’t realise he was still alive. But the Death to the dogs crisis must have passed me by. Moreover, the phrase is currently a googlewhack to this post. Can you remind us, please.

  4. The press had been running stories every day about Rottweiler dogs mauling children and old people in the Spring of 1991. I doubt there was any reason to think Rottweilers were mauling more kids than usual in the Spring of 1991; that was just when it was decided that it was newsworthy. And there was this blissful, though brief, period when Government policy lurched from one extreme to the other — at one point Kenneth Baker was ordering the execution of whole categories of dogs, and the next day he’d be saying, no, no, we’ll just castrate and muzzle them. But each policy was presented as being firm, decisive, proportionate, etc., and then the policy would U-turn again. In the end we got the Dangerous Dogs Act, 1991, which I dare say is still in force. It was a very funny time.

    Rottweilers were the main target, with pit bull terriers in the #2 position, but “Japanese Tozer dogs” were always mentioned as part of the moral panic. I remember a comic TV interview with a woman who owned what was claimed to be the only Tozer in the country, which appeared to be a large, gentle creature who was no threat to anyone at all; and there the politicians were debating whether it should be shot (or something similar).

  5. The new Viz features ‘Patricia Hewitt’s Patronising Photo Casebook’, a sobering cautionary tale of the evils of teenage binge drinking which clearly shows that she’s picked up Baker’s baton.

    It concludes:

    “Mr and Mrs Robinson ignored my advice and paid dearly. Within forty-eight hours of giving their son a sip of wine, he had become a pissy tramp. So, you see, always remember to do exactly as I, or any of my colleagues in the government say. If any of the issues raised in this photo-story affect you, please vote Labour at the next general election.”

  6. There’s a bit of an unpleasant misogynistic tone in the latest Viz. Much more than usual – the Anne Widdecombe letters and the Fat Slags strip seem particularly bad.

  7. This has been under-reported, as it was merely one small episode in the saga of possibly the most incompetent live broadcast I’ve ever had the delirious pleasure of witnessing, but Kenneth Baker was on hand at the 1989 Brit Awards (yes, the ones presented by Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox) to present an award… and he came on stage to a chorus of massed booing.

    It was extremely funny, and almost certainly a major factor in the Brits being banned from going out live in subsequent years.

  8. Don’t forget that he confessed to Nick Davies of the Grauniad that he deliberately set out to make schools worse so more people would go private.

    Oh fuck, we can’t possibly have the buggers back can we?

  9. I forget the details but there were actually two Dangerous Dogs Acts in close succession – it was an early case of the Home Office multiple legislation mania.

  10. I’m concerned that the Pit bull requires a unique type of owner…these dogs, regardless of how ‘caring’ nevertheless have teeth, are still creatures not having moral principles and if they DO bite, won’t allow go. As in all animals…some have a tendency to be much more suseptable to instinctual behavior and time and time once again, this breed tends to perform just that.

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