Published in February 1999 issue of Prospect Magazine
According to the bestselling book, women are from Venus while men are from Mars. If this is true, Venus may be more peaceful but it also has more currencies. Two recent polls show that the gender gap is still a powerful factor. A Gallup survey found that 47 per cent of men backed the bombing of Iraq, compared to only 8 per cent of women. But according to an ICM poll, women are more eurosceptic. The “keep the Pound” campaigners have a 32 per cent lead among women, a 12 per cent lead among men. The recent white paper on public services outlined more than 500 objectives, listed by department. These targets, it is claimed, are “SMART”-specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed. Fine, but are they smart, too? For example, the Home Office is pledged to make 59,000 asylum decisions next year, a rate nearly twice that of the current year. Whether or not the decisions made will be correct isn’t mentioned. Where does crime really flourish? In places tightly monitored and controlled by security-minded state officials, such as prisons. Crime is much higher inside jail than outside. According to Home Office figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats, the annual crime rate outside is 0.09 crimes per head, compared to 0.7 crimes per inmate inside. If you want to give your child a good start in life, call him/her something unfashionable. According to research at Nene University College, Northampton, students with unpopular, old-fashioned names tend to get significantly better degree results. This could be down to the “spotlight effect”-the Alberts and the Ediths are spurred to success because their names make them stand out. So call your son John-once the most common name for boys, its popularity has declined rapidly and figures from the Office for National Statistics for 1998 show that it has now dropped out of the list of the top 50 names.