Soft toys and tears won't stop these horrors

When Baby P was alive, he wasn’t loved.

How ironic that in death he has become a fulcrum of competitive public mourning; an opportunity for all to show how much they really, really care.

The North London cemetery where his ashes were scattered has become a place of pilgrimage.

Hundreds have trudged there through the November sleet to pay tribute to a dead toddler many did not personally know.

Baby P grave

Mourning: Baby P's grave is now festooned with cuddly toys, flowers and tributes

While some weep and leave flowers or soft toys, others are angry.

They squarely blame Haringey’s social work department for the death of this child, and there is clearly a case to answer for his appalling neglect.

Social workers did not kill him, but they certainly let him die. So the demand for mass sackings and tarred heads on sticks is at fever pitch, just as it is in Sheffield.

There, a tyrant father managed to rape his two daughters repeatedly for 25 years, fathering nine children with them under the noses of the police and social services.

Such evil stops the heart. Yet in our scapegoat society, there is an increasing tendency to blame hapless social workers instead of the perpetrators of these vile deeds.

You will get no disagreement from me that illordered social work departments harbour inadequates who wouldn’t know one end of a non-accidental bruise from another.

Yet it must not be forgotten that they are up against cunning deviants; people who are determined criminals, prepared to commit offences against their own flesh and blood.

So spare them a thought, please. Yes, I, too, hate the fashionable social thinking that encourages social workers to leave a child with its mother if at all possible.

Does the crib have to be on fire before the baby is snatched to safety?

Yet these people are over-worked, under-funded and trying to do their job in a system and a society that is failing. We can’t blame them for everything, tempting as that may be.

Against this backdrop, the Baby P graveyard has become an unlikely shrine, the focus of much public outrage and tears.

Am I alone in finding this display of sentiment and anger rather troubling?

It is understandable that when something dreadful happens people want to pay tribute, but let’s be honest here.

In real life, many of us would cross the street to avoid Baby P and his low-life family.

A good number of these mourners must have been neighbours or associates of Baby P; were they totally blind to the evil in their midst?

Was the sight of a bruised, scabby and starving toddler eating soil in the communal garden not enough to impel them to do something?

Meanwhile, a tyrant father moved his misbegotten family from village to village, across county borders, to evade detection from social workers and the police.

Come on. If this weird family bowled into your community, with its odd dynamic of father, silent daughters and strange brood of children — some with serious congenital difficulties — wouldn’t you be suspicious?

Or would you pass by on the other side of the street, eyes averted?

Rather than scream at health workers who miss the bleeding obvious, shouldn’t we ask some harsh questions about our own neighbourly responsibilities, too?

Perhaps the truth is there is no such thing as community any more.

In cities and villages, people live in fortresses, under siege. No one wants to knock on the door in case they are thought of as a busybody.

No one pops in for a bag of sugar or bakes a cake for a new neighbour. Minding your own business is the order of the day.

But behind closed doors, this country is full of people who live in slums and simply can’t look after themselves.

There is no food in the kitchen — but there’s heroin in the living room and hate in their hearts.

They have no soul, no anchor, no religion and no morality. Bamboozling a hapless booby of a social worker is sport to them.

You know what? When I saw photographs of the social worker involved in the Baby P case, I thought she looked like she needed a social worker of her own.

For those of us who lead comfortable lives, I wonder if it is always appropriate to condemn others up against the rough stuff of society on a daily basis.

Failures such as Baby P and Mr X are inexcusable, of course, but the social workers, health visitors, police, housing officers, foster parents and Uncle Tom Cobbley all work under a system beyond breaking point and shadowed by true evil.

Meanwhile, in a North London graveyard, hundreds of soft toys are left as tokens of sympathy to a short and blighted life.

The button eyes of the teddy bears are unseeing, just like ours.

And in a street near you, the everyday family carnage that no one seems able to stop goes on and on and on.

High heels that mark a new low


Distasteful: High heels for young babies

High heels that mark a new low

High heels for babies? Who could think it was a good idea?

The new Heelarious range features leopard print and pink plastic crib shoes fashioned to look like stilettos.

The shoes are designed to let infant girls ‘channel their inner Carrie Bradshaw’, and have gone down a storm in the U.S., their country of origin.

In Britain, however, the reception has been frostier. No one under six months is shaking their booties here.

Many mothers are horrified, claiming that the shoes sexualise children.

They certainly look peculiar, and have unsettling emotional undertones, including a horrible resemblance to the bound feet of Chinese women.

My main objection is that, by putting them on your daughter, you treat her like a dolly, not a baby. It takes away the dignity of the child, which is insulting.

Yet people are right to complain about the sex angle. The sexualisation of children is something we must always be on red alert about, especially at this time of year.

Two years ago, Tesco sold a pole-dancing kit in its toy section which encouraged little girls to ‘unleash the sex kitten inside’.

In recent years, Asda has been forced to remove pink and black lace lingerie, including a push-up bra, for girls as young as nine.

Next had to remove T-shirts for six-year-olds with the slogan ‘So many boys, so little time’ embellished on the front.

BHS and others came under fire for selling padded bras embellished with a Little

Miss Naughty logo.

Enough! This distasteful nonsense has got to stop.

Who pinched Speedy?

Last year, the Tasker family were forced out of their home by the floods in Hull. Now thieves have stolen the caravan which had been their temporary home.

The Taskers have lost all their possessions, £500 in Christmas holiday savings and their son’s pet hamster, Speedy.

It is surprising and rather wonderful, then, that it is the fate of the kidnapped Speedy that upsets them the most. Stealing a child’s pet!

What kind of brutes would do such a thing?

Heartache should have no place in our courts

Hannah Foster died a terrible death at the hands of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli.

After he fled to India, her family waged a courageous campaign to have this beast extradited and brought to trial in Britain.

At Winchester Crown Court this week, Kohli was given a minimum sentence of 24 years for Hannah’s rape and murder.

Hannah Foster's family

Pain: Trevor Foster, daughter Sarah and wife Hilary after the trial ended

For parents Trevor and Hilary Foster, and sister Sarah, it has been a wall of heartbreak. The triumph of the trial will never bring back their beautiful daughter and sister, or ease their sorrow.

Mrs Foster’s victim impact statement, read out in court, moved me to tears.

She ended it: ‘My darling little girl, may you now rest in peace.’

It was honest and searing, and depicted the family’s agony in unflinching terms.

Yet despite this, I still feel victim impact statements have no place in British courts.

They are relatively new in this country, an idea copied from the U.S. and introduced into our legal system by that arch-meddler Harriet Harman, when she was minister for constitutional affairs. Who else would dare!

The idea is that the statements allow the victim’s loved ones a say in court and make them feel included in the legal process.

They are read out by after the verdict, but before sentencing. However, they must not influence the tariff set by the judge.

If they have any effect at all, it is to favour the articulate over the less fluent, despite the fact that all parties feel the same depth of bereavement and loss.

That the bereaved are encouraged to write them to obtain ‘closure’ seems a fractured notion.

This is a courtroom, not a group therapy session.

Bolting on a new layer of emotional justice for a family already in shreds cannot be good for anyone.

Still, I do hope that it brought the Foster family even a little comfort.

Money? It’s wasted on witless WAGs ...

Carly Zucker

Galling: Carly Zucker

If youth is wasted on the young, being rich is certainly wasted on the stupid.

Down in the Australian jungle on I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!, a young woman who has gone a long way on a short attention span tells of the woes of being a WAG.

Carly Zucker, a personal trainer lucky enough to be engaged to multimillionaire England and Chelsea footballer Joe Cole, has been complaining about being rich and living in a big house.

‘It takes all day to clean it,’ she moans. ‘Money can be a burden, that’s why I got stressed.’

Carly, darling. Let me tell you a few things. Number one: It’s not your money, it’s Joe’s. Number two: Don’t worry about anything.

You’re just there to skip about between the multiple sofas in your posh Surrey mansion and let the lamplight fall prettily on your toned midriff.

Number Three: In these times of economic difficulty, when even the Queen is scrimping, it is not doing your public profile any good to be seen whinging about being paralysed by choice when out shopping.

‘I could choose what I wanted, but ended up indecisive,’ she said, in her charmingly inarticulate fashion.

When brains were being discounted at Primark, Carly must have been last in the queue. I’m not saying she’s dumb, but I’ve got something growing on my shower curtain that is more intelligent.

For everyone scraping and budgeting this winter, her gripes are rather galling.

Kate Moss is covered in cuts - decorations fell on her head? What was in that box? Six life-sized reindeers?

Her manky-looking boyfriend has a black eye the size of a flying saucer.

The scraggy couple say they sustained their injuries when a box of Christmas decorations fell on top of them.

What was in the box? Six life-size reindeers and the star for the top of the Trafalgar

Square tree? Honestly.

The pair look to me as if they have been scrapping on the floor of a filthy pub after ingesting 20 vodkas too many.

They seemed to have decked each other, rather than decked the halls with boughs of holly.

But obviously I am wrong about that, fa la la la la, la la la la…

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