2nd January 2009 at 00:00

"Who's to blame for making Britain the wreck she is today?" wonders Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail scribbler whose new tome proves the pen is mightier than the sword.

Well, he reckons it's 50 people and lists them in alphabetical order. Education is a running sore for Mr Letts (pictured), who bashes former education secretaries Kenneth Baker and David Blunkett, and the current incumbent, Ed Balls.

Mr Baker left "numerous grotty stews", while Mr Letts assesses Mr Blunkett thus: "In a rare triple whammy, David Blunkett helped cock up immigration, law enforcement and education. What a guy!"

Former Tory education underling Rhodes Boyson is in there as well, as is Charity Commission head Dame Suzi Leather, who provokes particular ire from Mr Letts. Recalling the time she was asked whether she was a "Quango Queen" and replied she didn't know what that meant, Mr Letts offers a definition: "unelected harridan who draws her money from the public sector and sticks her nose into other people's business."

But it is his critique of Mr Balls that teachers might want to read. He looks "permanently surprised", while his Labour MP wife Yvette Cooper's decision to stick with her maiden name is described as "a wise call". But that doesn't stop Mr Letts lumping them together: "Form filling, cost incurring, pointless job creating; that's the Ballses for you," he rails. "This deadly duo are just getting into their stride."

The book is called 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain, by the way.

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