Proud to be plebs

Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell denied calling policemen in Downing Street ‘plebs’. The term has its origins in ancient Rome but was also used as a badge of pride by members of the workers’ education movement in the early 20th century.

— The League of the Plebs grew out of a power struggle at Ruskin College, the institution founded in Oxford in 1899 to provide opportunities for academic education for trade unionists, and later alma mater to John Prescott.
— In 1908 a group of students, supported by the principal Dennis Hird but opposed by the governing body, protested that the education on offer was too timid, and began lectures in Marxism.
— The purpose of the league was to take radical education out to the workers, and the league became especially active in south Wales.
— The League of the Plebs was absorbed into the National Central Labour College in 1926. The league’s magazine, Plebs, however, continued under that title until 1970.

How badgers die

Inline sub2


The government issued the first licences for badger-culling. What are the
population dynamics of the badger population?

Estimates of population quoted by Joint Nature Conservation Committee:

1975 35,000
1988 216,000
1995 250,000
2005 288,000
Estimated numbers killed on road each year 50,000
Estimated numbers killed by illegal trapping 10,000
Number that could be culled in the
department’s cull
3,000
Defra’s estimate of reduction in TB cases which could result 16%

Jumping into danger

The American Academy of Paediatrics said that parents should be actively discouraged from setting their children up with trampolines at home. Just over 100,000 trampoline injuries are picked up a year by the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. How do people injure themselves?

Hurt themselves landing on trampoline pad 42%
Fell off 26%
Came into contact with frame or springs 19%
Hit other jumpers 10%
Hurt themselves while getting on or off 4%

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated