Friday, November 30, 2012

Bonnie Greer claimed yesterday she is one of the "voiceless people" and yet she is on Sky News Press Preview airing her views on every topic you can imagine.

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 23

"...set high standards; monitor whether they are being achieved; provide excellent teachers who improve their teaching throughout their careers; ensure well-trained, well-selected principals or headteachers; and then reorganise the system’s structure so that it becomes a dynamic driver of change rather than a static bureaucracy – a driver of quality rather than an enforcer of compliance. John Hattie has probably done more than anyone else to summarise and make practical the evidence on each of these elements. His most recent book Visible Learning for Teachers is a masterly synthesis" - this all sounds very laudatory until one reaches the bit about dynamic driver of change.  Who is in charge of this dynamic driver?  What is the change that is being driven? 

I don't wish to be alarmist, but where is the democratic oversight of all this? 

"Increasingly, a science or quasi-science of effective delivery in government is emerging. A number of countries around the world have adapted and refined the approach developed by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) in the Blair administration and demonstrated real progress – Malaysia, Ontario in Canada and the California state university system are just a few examples in APEC countries. In the US, the Education Delivery Institute is supporting more than a dozen state education systems in the adoption of this proven approach" - this is very depressing.  Government as process, implemented by political technocrats (or technocrat politicians if you prefer).  I thought Blairism was thoroughly discredited?

"High Tech High is one such island – a network of schools that was and is ahead of the pack in the global move towards a 21st-century education. Through project-based learning and community internships, students take on real-world challenges and come up with innovative solutions, rather than focusing on rote memorisation of concepts. Teachers are empowered to create forward-looking, innovative lessons to inspire students. The incredible results speak for themselves: 100 per cent of graduates are admitted to college, 35 per cent of college-goers are the first in their family and 30 per cent enter the maths or science field (compared to an average of 17 per cent)" - not convinced by this I'm afraid.  What do you think?  It sounds wonderful, but a network structure is hard to control democratically (parents will be easily bamboozled).  Project-based learning is all too easily disconnected from the thousand-year continuum of of Western culture.  Empowered teachers means what exactly - whose power are they being given?  Who is deciding what are the "real" challenges in the world?

http://www.hightechhigh.org/

George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying
















Have just finished reading George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

It is a strongly autobiographical work describing how someone from the upper-middle class rejects capitalism and consumerism and voluntarily joins the dispossessed - living in squalid bedsits and lodging houses, doing semi-skilled work, half-starving when his money runs out at the end of the week.

The experience of grinding poverty is horrendous, and it is a measure of Orwell's skill that he is able to make the reader mentally inhabit the world he is describing.

Eventually the main character is redeemed through romantic love and rejoins bourgeois society.

"Gordon Comstock" is a type that is familiar today - the comfortably well-off, Oxbridge-educated right-on Labour activist who is longing to be classed as one of the workers (satirised in the 1990s by Pulphttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTMWgOduFM ).


















Did you know that George Orwell was pro-Life?  When Gordon Comstock's girlfriend becomes with child (after a sordid tryst in grimy sheets in a Lambeth lodging house) she raises the possibility of abortion.  The suggestion is rejected as disgusting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 22

"Among the most promising experiments in education today are the developments in hybrid schooling, which combines great teaching, great technology and much more independent learning. However, it is important to note that technology alone and not integrated into the learning day rarely results in improved learning" - possibly the best educational technique is that of the personal tutorial where a student has to work independently on a piece of work and then defend it on a one to one basis with a teacher who is a specialist in that field.  The tutorial system works extremely well at the more academic of the public (independent) schools.  Obviously to extend this system into state schools will require a great many more good-quality teachers, but there is no reason why the teaching profession cannot be expanded if it can be proved to generate national wealth in the way this report suggests. 

"...teachers become enablers, activators, connectors, facilitators, mentors and challengers as well as sources of expertise" - this sounds like a shirkers charter to me.  The difficulty with non-traditional forms of teaching is the tendency of teachers to just coast along doing the minimum.  If the activities are non-traditional how will the students and their parents know when they are being short-changed by the more lazier members of the teaching profession?

"...education reformers are seeking to design a system for 20 years ahead, teachers struggle with the present and parents remember the system of 20 years ago: the conceptual gap is therefore 40 years – a major communications challenge which governments and educators often underestimate" - this emphasis upon "experts" planning for the future sounds sinister I'm afraid.  Where is the democratic accountability?  The United Kingdom's state schools are in the mess they are currently in because of the "education reformers" who destroyed the old system in the 1960s and 1970s and gambled everything on comprehensives which brought everything and everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

Rank hypocrisy from Bonnie Greer






Bonnie Greer has the nerve to say that she is one of the "voiceless" people.

And only yesterday she had her comments on the Palestinians picked up by Stella McCarthy MP and shown to Shadow Foreign Minister Danny Alexander during the course of a House of Commons debate on possible British recognition of a Palestinian "state" !

All this is recorded on Twitter.  Rank hypocrisy from Bonnie Greer I'm afraid.  "We the people" indeed - not since Marie Antoinette dressed up as a shepherdess has class solidarity been so thoroughly undermined.

A constitutional safeguard to free speech














Apropos the Leveson Report, according to Jon Snow the report advocates a constitutional safeguard to free speech.  That would be worth having given the erosion of the common law right to free speech over the last forty years.  It might be worth watching Channel 4 News this evening.

Who will pay for the baby boomers







Progress (one of the more lively of Labour think-tanks) is asking who will pay for the baby boomers.  This is predicated on the supposed demographic shortfall in future taxpayers.  This in turn is ignoring the fact that future (smaller) generations will gain an inheritance windfall from dying "boomers" as more assets go to fewer children and will have more money to pay higher taxes.

But assuming Progress is right to scaremonger about a "demographic timebomb" they are overlooking the fact that cloning technology is available to close the gap (and will certainly be used by countries such as China to solve their own demographic shortfalls).

This is not to endorse the Frankenstein science of cloning - I am absolutely opposed to it.

But in an irreligious society where secularism is triumphant all morality will become relative and thus cloning will be made palatable.

Unlikely the Anglican Church will be able to stand against it.  As the women bishops episode demonstrates, the Church of England is under almost overwhelming pressure from secularists.  And if the Anglican Church, with all the state powers and privileges behind it, is unable to stand against secularism there is little hope for less influential groups such as Roman Catholics or Muslims.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 21

"Wen Jiabao, the (then) Chinese premier, said in August 2010: ‘We must encourage students to think independently, freely express themselves, get them to believe in themselves, protect and stimulate their imagination and creativity’ " - if this is genuinely the policy of the Chinese government there is little to fear from the emergence of China as a superpower - we are used to thinking of China as a threat to the West, but it is conceivable that Chinese influence may be beneficial to mankind.

"in the 20th century... the goal of a school system was to sort children out – the minority who would go to university, fill the professions and go on to lead the country, from the rest who would work in manual, skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled jobs. With that goal, a school system needed to provide high academic standards only for a few, while the rest needed the basics. Much of the trauma surrounding contemporary education reform has its roots in the need to abandon this outdated model
" - this sounds like an exercise in double-think!  Education in the United Kingdom has dumbed down to the extent that semi-skilled office workers educated in the 1950s and 1960s have far higher standards of literacy and general education than most of today's university graduates.  And today the professions (all sectors) are crammed with the off-spring of the elite (from both left and right) whereas in previous decades the grammar schools provided a route for ordinary people to enter the professions.

"The 21st century, by contrast, demands that ...all need a standard of education that will enable them to adapt and change as they respond to the constant dramatic shifts in the global labour market" - not sure I like this reference to a "global labour market".  Are we going to see the emergence of a global elite moving around the world and paying minimal tax, while at the same time a class of global serfs is used to drive down working class wages?  Where is the democratic consent in this model?

"In That Used to be Us by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum:  the world increasingly will be divided between high-imagination-developing countries, which encourage and enable the imagination and extras of their people, and low-imagination-enabling countries, which suppress or simply fail to develop their people’s creative capacities and abilities to spark new ideas, start up new industries and nurture their own “extra”’
" - the United Kingdom is already a high-imagination country, but we continually fail to take full advantage of innovations which tend to be "sparked" here and taken to production overseas.

"...success is a matter of hard work, persistence and good coaching (10,000 hours of deliberate practice being the key to reaching high levels of performance) rather than some special gift
" - I have read this before but not entirely sure it can be true.  Where are the examples?  10,000 hours if you divide it up into forty-hour weeks roughly equates to five years.  A 3-year university course plus two years post-grad study will take someone to minimum competence level but not really to "high levels of performance".

A common resource the benefits of which should be shared with everyone







If the United Kingdom does have thirty years' supply of shale gas (presumably off the coast of Lancashire) will we behave towards Scottish people in the same way that the SNP behaves towards the rest of us? 

Or will it be a common resource the benefits of which should be shared with everyone irrespective of geographical proximity? 

The road to London and New York lies through Gaza






https://twitter.com/OwenJones84

It is interesting to observe how keen the British Left is on Palestinian statehood.

I have no view on whether a Palestinian "state" would he helpful to the Middle Eastern situation.

I do however think it is odd that committed socialists, who usually proclaim an internationalist ideology, should in the case of the Palestinians advocate a nationalist solution.

Surely the Left should be calling for the Palestinian proletariat to join hands with the Israeli proletariat in defeating the forces of oppression on both sides?  Ridiculously naive that argument might be, but at least it would be consistent with their previous statements on nationalism.  Instead we see this pro-Palestinian opportunism (which one suspects is just a way of attacking Israel for no other reason than that Israel is a Western ally - The road to London and New York lies through Gaza as Lenin might say if he were here, which thank goodness he is not).

A few more references:






https://twitter.com/Bonn1eGreer 















https://twitter.com/KerryMP 

The above exchange is interesting in that it shows Bonnie Greer making comments about the Palestinians which are picked up by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy who immediately draws them to the attention of Danny Alexander (Shadow Foreign Secretary) during the course of a debate in the House of Commons about whether the United Kingdom should endorse the idea of a Palestinian "state".

What are we to make of this?

Why should Bonnie Greer be able to lobby her personal views at the highest levels of our parliamentary democracy?

Bonnie Greer was born an American and it is unclear how she came to be granted British citizenship or awarded the OBE or made a Trustee of the British Museum (a key establishment post).  Her position and status in the United Kingdom seems to have been entirely sponsored by the Labour party.  This is an example of why the Establishment has become so rotten - ordinary people cannot get near the Establishment, while at the same time the party political elite hands out establishment honours and sinecures to individuals who seem to have a very dubious commitment to the long-term interests of the British people.

The whole thing stinks.

 










https://twitter.com/BenPBradshaw 

Prime Minister's Questions 28th November 2012

Ed Miliband was more restrained in his style today, which made him appear more statesmanlike.  He should avoid wagging his finger, it does not look good.  The "rats in a sack" remark was unfortunate, and gave the Prime Minister an opportunity for a quick-witted riposte (about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair not able to tolerate each other).

The ad hominem attack he made about bluster and a red face was unworthy and did not add anything to his argument (in fact it rather detracted).

The red ribbons stunt in the doughnut area around the Leader of the Opposition looked contrived (when you are trying to make an impression, that is the impression you make).

Further along the bench was an interesting contrast - the disdainful smile of Harriet Harman with, next to her, the excited shouting and rude pointing of red-jacketed Angela Eagle.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 20

"School21 based in the east of London, near the 2012 Olympic Park and due to open in September 2012.100 School21, a privately run, state-funded school, founded by Peter Hyman, a former speechwriter for Tony Blair, has an engineered curriculum with particular emphasis on learning how to learn and developing thinking and questioning skills" - you used to see Peter Hyman interviewed on programmes such as Newsnight, but not recently (presumably he is too busy now?).  This school might be worth further study.  Presumably it is intended as a blueprint?  http://www.school21.org/news-and-events/

"...leadership in the sense of being able to influence those around you in the family, community, workplace or classroom. In this sense, leadership really is, or should be, for everybody. The challenge for a school or school system is to teach this quality which encompasses much of what sometimes goes under the heading of ‘21st century skills’ " - the idea of teaching leadership sounds disturbingly like the activities of Common Purpose.  And surely the left is not so degraded as to want to create political leadership schools on the model of the German napolas?  This seems almost Jesuitical in ambition.

"As traditional institutions, such as the family or church, break down, increasingly schools are the only social institutions we can rely on to inculcate in young people the values or ethical underpinning on which our collective future depends" - absolutely not!  The idea that we would surrender the "inculcation" of ethics to teachers is alarming in the extreme.  Can you imagine the sort of society we would end up with.

"The population explosion of the past 70 years, the rise of cities, especially megacities – many with extremely diverse populations thanks to the extraordinary and growing patterns of migration in the past half century – all demand that a shared ethical basis crosses the boundaries of culture and nationality" - I think the authors are falling into the trap of assuming migrants are just economic units acting rationally, whereas many of them (perhaps most) will be attracted to particular countries because of their national characters (America and the United Kingdom are almost overwhelmed by migrants desperate to get in, whereas very few migrants are clamouring to get into Russia or China). 

Labour: what next?

















In an interview for the UNISON magazine entitled Labour: what next the party's "policy guru" Jon Cruddas talks about "rediscovering working class roots".

It seems that a process is to be established (perhaps already is established) to communicate with potential voters, and narratives constructed around policies that are to be directed at working class communities.

There will be three themes based on rebuilding - rebuilding the economy; rebuilding society; rebuilding politics.

These will then be refined into specific commitments to be put forward at the next general election.

As a strategy it seems sound, but the problem will be in segmenting properly the working class - there is not one single monolithic group but many different sub-groups all capable of morphogenesis.  If you cast the definitions too wide you end up with clunky target audiences such as "public sector" that are effectively meaningless in strategic terms.  If you go too narrow you end up with a confusing mish-mash that is difficult to understand.

The second problem he will have is ensuring the quality of the narratives - you can have all the good policies you like, but if they are not presented correctly few people will buy them.  In the past Labour narratives have been abysmal.  Personally I think only poets should be allowed to write the final draft of a manifesto.

"So we've got to catch fire again, to rediscover that light on the hill, recapture that connection with people, both as consumers and as workers" - at the end of the day political success depends on a transfer of enthusiasm from the politician to the voter (and I thought the shining city on a hill was Ronald Reagan's imagery?).


Somalia

All I know about Somalia is from the film Black Hawk Down, and the book Waugh in Abyssinia.

No excuse for ignorance I know.

But it seems I have at least one reader in the country.

An established technique of Argentine politics











Article by David Robertson in today's Times saying that the Argentine government is risking a default which would "plunge Argentina's economy into danger" (The Times is usually restrained in its reporting, so "danger" should be regarded as an understatement).

Obviously if their economy is falling apart they will not be able to afford a war with the United Kingdom over possession of the Falkland Islands.

However unstable irrational governments tend to behave erratically, and it is possible that Kirchner administration may attempt a stunt to deflect attention from the economy and inflame popular opinion in their favour (this is an established technique of Argentine politics).

It is a complete mystery why such a civilised country such as Argentina, with a relaxed way of life and generally pleasant people, should be so continually undermined by its political leaders.

Monday, November 26, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 19

"Tom Loveless, in his book How Well Are American Students Learning?, observes that there is a negative correlation between students’ confidence in their mathematical abilities and their maths scores on the TIMSS, and an even stronger negative correlation showing that the less their enjoyment of maths, the higher their maths scores" - state schools do not teach self-confidence, whereas the British public (actually private) schools tell their pupils from the moment that they enrol that they are the best.

"...the belief that systems which ensure high standards in reading, writing and arithmetic inevitably do so at the expense of creativity, thinking, individuality and so on. Especially in Atlantic societies, this is put forward, often by teachers themselves, as an explanation for the poor performance of, say, the UK or US compared to Pacific Asia. It seems plausible at first sight, but it is completely untrue. For one thing, it would not explain why the UK or the US performs worse than Canadian provinces such as Ontario or Alberta" - again and again the evidence is irrefutable, we have lazy self-justifying teachers and they are impossible to get rid of.

"...the evidence shows overwhelmingly that when children are taught to think, and to reflect on how they are thinking as they learn their subjects, their performance significantly improves" - possibly, but one leading poet has said he cannot think, he can only feel.

Impose women bishops despite the vote against









Front page article in The Times today in which Ruth Gledhill reveals "secret" machinations by the Church of England hierarchy to impose women bishops despite the vote against last Tuesday.  I know clerics are unworldly but surely they must see that this sort of thing is provocative and counter-productive.  And although Anglicans are laughed at for being wishy-washy, do not underestimate the strength of faith among the traditionalists - we do not want to see self-immolations in Deans Yard outside Church House.

Personally I do not know enough about doctrine to say whether women bishops are legitimate or not.

I do know that parishes which objected to women priests were given assurances and promises that have subsequently proved to be worthless (I am thinking of St Michael and All Angels here).

Note:  William Fittall, secretary-general of the General Synod and the person who wrote the "secret" memo, was born to working-class parents, educated at Dover Grammar School and then Christchurch College Oxford and subsequently into the Establishment.


















Also in today's Times was a letter from the Rector of Caston making the point that if the vote to oppose women bishops was invalid then the vote to approve women priests must be equally invalid since the electoral process for both decisions was the same (you may need to click on the image to read the letter).

I know Holy Cross church in Caston - a beautiful building with a holy and numinous interior.  The village has many links with the early settlement of America.  Brass chandelier that came from Hampton Court palace.

New (Canadian) Governor of the Bank of England

Mark Carney, new (Canadian) Governor of the Bank of England, was obviously not educated at a British public school, although with teachers as both of his parents you could argue he was effectively tutored at home rather than at a state institution.

Elite institutions subsequently attended include Harvard and Oxford.

So one of the key institutions of the British state is now in the hands of someone from outside the Establishment.

Presumably he will now be co-opted into the establishment?  It will be interesting to see how that happens.  Mrs Carney is apparently a "progressive" but not sure if Canadian progressives are the same as British ones.

Pro-Occupy (but the Canadian Occupy movement is not the same as the half-hearted Giles Fraseresque farce we saw at St Pauls) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/bank-of-canada-head-calls-occupy-protests-entirely-constructive/article2202064/?from=sec431

Note - Having just seen the new appointment discussed on Newsnight, it does make me wonder if we are going to see the closed British Establishment replaced by a closed global establaishment.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stella Creasy







In her article Tanya Gold draws attention to the attacks by the left on David Cameron's background - if you recall, he is routinely denigrated for being an Old Etonian, and also for having once worked in PR.













Therefore I was surprised to read a full-page hagiography of Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy in today's Observer that mentions as a seemingly unimportant aside that Stella Creasy also once worked in PR.

If David Cameron's PR past makes him unacceptable to be prime minister then surely Stella Creasy's PR past equally disqualifies her? (the article was touting her as a future premier). 

http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=creasy

However you define the question of education comprehensives are not the answer













Over a cup of coffee this morning I reread Tanya Gold's article about the dominance of the public schools in staffing Establishment insitutions (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/23/eton-schools-inequality-elite-social-immobility ).

It is a cogent article, with some interesting statistics and conclusions.  Especially the killer admission:  The privately educated have an insurmountable advantage – when Labour abolished grammar schools they should have abolished private schools too, or not abolished either.  This is not to say that grammar schools were / are perfect, but when the system works they do provide an easily-understood sequence of stages whereby ordinary people can be recruited into the Establishment elite (and in the process make the Establishment elite more grounded in the ordinary population).

I went to a comprehensive school, and I cannot be sure that if the old system had still been in place I would have passed the Eleven Plus and gone to a grammar school.  But my experience does allow me to say that however you define the question of education comprehensives are not the answer.  The structure and ethos of comprehensives implies collective equality, and therefore the staff are "nudged" in the direction of not differentiating between one student and another (and too often this fuels the natural laziness of some teachers, bolstered by tenure of employment, to just coast along in their jobs without making much of an effort).

There is another aspect of public (independent) schools that needs to be addressed.

At the university I eventually, and after several false starts, went to about 60% of the students were from public schools.  Among these were several Old Etonians, one of whom I knew very well (and gave me the Eton coaster in the picture above), and another four I knew fairly well.  These Old Etonians were not the most intelligent people on the course but they were all, without exception, supremely confident.

State comprehensive schools will never give their alumni a sense of confidence.  If anything, they give you a sense of insecurity.  That however hard you work the odds are already stacked against you and the best jobs are already reserved for others. 

This will only change when all schools have the sense of mission that the public schools (and formerly the old grammar schools) have - that they are the best in the world. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Iceland

I am mesmerised by the Audience facility on Blogger which tells me where visitors to this site come from.

Currently (as I write this) there is a reader looking in from Iceland.

Iceland to me means Hrafnkels saga, and Take That walking through a bleak landscape (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=273eSvOwpKk ).

Secrecy is of the essence

Monday

The Institute's Director, Vijay Singh, called a meeting to plan the AGM to be held in February. 

This meeting is being called expressly to decide the Institute's future, with Alec Nussbaum from Head Office  presenting his Pathways for Change paper which will basically argue for abolishing the independence of the organisation and merging it into one of the Head Office departments.  He is expecting a simple afternoon meeting.  Unbeknown to him Vijay Singh is planning a two-day conference at which the Insitute's members will be "showcased" (horrible verb) the work of the Institute and sufficiently enthused so that when Alec Nussbaum addresses the meeting at the end of the Saturday session he finds his proposals voted down.

Secrecy is of the essence.
 
Tuesday

When I looked at my e-mails this morning there was a curt one from Vijay Singh asking for a review of communications this afternoon.  I wondering what might have impelled him to spring this surprise inspection on me.  He is prone to paranoia, so I was a little apprehensive.

A meeting in the morning with Abi Reed (Surveys and research manager) made me feel more confident - there are lots of positive things happening.  Abi Reed has a habit of making faces when thinking.  All the partitions on the ground floor have been removed apart from the Library area.

Library Assistant Gary has begun shaking hands with me when he brings round the post in the mornings.  This seems a silly thing to do as we have worked together for months now.  But I do not know how to stop him doing this without hurting his feelings (he is regarded as not very bright by most of the Institute's staff, and has become a sort of dogsbody).

The meeting with Vijay Singh went very well.  My list of current projects is quite impressive, even though I have not been working all that hard recently.  I have a knack of talking-up the work that I do, and I could tell that Vijay Singh was completely persuaded of the value of the work I was doing.

But so many notes to write up afterwards - I can hardly keep up.

Wednesday

We have been working on a joint campaign with the fund-raising department at Head Office, and it became clear this morning that they had double-crossed us (not mentioning the Institute in the appeals publicity that has gone out).  After discussing this with Vijay Singh I sent an e-mail to Terry Solomon (head of fund-raising at Head Office) declining to pay anything towards the campaign.  Vijay Singh wants to entirely sever all contact with Head Office until after the AGM.

Thursday

I went to the doctor in the morning to have the results of the recent tests.  "You've had pneumonia" he said matter-of-factly, as if it was as no more serious than a common cold.  The x-rays show some scarring on my lungs.

I got to the office by 10.30, feeling very sorry for myself.  A quiet morning.  I drank one cup of tea after another, half-heartedly looking at projects I am meant to be getting on with.

An afternoon spent checking proofs.

Friday

Spent the whole day rushing out a Newsletter aimed at the Institute's members.  There are only 150 of these, so I wanted to have it digitally printed, but Vijay Singh insisted that production had to be of the highest quality.

Apparently we are going to issue monthly editions of these newsletters (which are only four-pagers) until the AGM.

Questioning the validity of the electoral college that forms the Church of England general synod












Article on the front page of today's Guardian questioning the validity of the electoral college that forms the Church of England general synod.

Logically if this vote was invalid because of the flawed nature of the General Synod, then every decision taken by the General Synod under this system must have been invalid including the original decision to consecrate women priests.

They can't have it both ways.

NB - this is not being anti-women priests this is being anti-cant, anti-hypocrisy, anti-gerrymandering.

Half-page article by Zoe Williams in today's Guardian with lots of helpful advice about what Anglican feminists should do following the decision on women bishops.  The only problem with this advice is that Zoe Williams is an atheist (has self-identified as such in an interview on television).  So she is not exactly the best person to offer impartial sympathetic counselling.

Of course, she could be posing as a "friend" of feminist Anglicans, keen to help them maintain their Anglican integrity, and some Anglicans might be attracted by her arguments - but as Edith Wharton said:  I am sure the rabbit finds the anaconda fascinating.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/23/female-bishops-feminist-christians-defect

Friday, November 23, 2012

Polly Toynbee on the failure of social housing

Interesting article by Polly Toynbee on the failure of social housing:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/22/2013-boom-year-bailiffs-slum-landlords

However her analysis is incomplete.

Social housing was originally an intrinsic part of the welfare state and valued by all three political parties.

Post-war housing estates comprised sensible family homes to house local people (local to the Council area whose rate-payers financed them).

In the 1960s the implementation of social housing became degraded by the weird brutalist designs of egotistical architects.

Also in the 1960s and 1970s social housing became politicised by the Labour party who legislated so that people arriving in a particular council area could be given social housing as a priority on the basis of "need" (and typically this favoured demographic groups that tended to vote Labour - without going into details most people will understand where these Labour-voting large families came from).

In the 1980s the Tories responded by selling off council housing to demographic groups that on the whole tended to vote Conservative or by becoming property-owners started to think of themselves as Conservative.

Both politicisations were wrong, but Labour started it, and was by far the most guilty party in all this.

The situation will not change until social housing is paid for by local taxpayers who are happy that their money is going to provide housing for local people who have waited their turn and are the children of their community.

Cleverly veiled and seemingly restrained lies





In a Progress article by Melanie Ward, Head of Advocacy at ActionAid UK, she implies that the General Synod on Tuesday exposed "ugly and deep rooted bias against women".

http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/11/23/women-and-culture-change-from-cofe-to-lwn/

This is at variance with the Guardian's Andrew Brown who did not mention ugliness and deep rooted bias but just told us how dull it was (and he sat through the whole day and was bored every minute of it).

Note of course that Melanie Ward does not actually claim in her article that ugliness and deep rooted bias were in evidence.  She is too clever for that.  But she certainly implies there was a bad tempered slanging match in which misogynistic statements were hurled across the chamber.

Lies Ms Ward.

Cleverly veiled and seemingly restrained lies.

But lies nonetheless.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Temper on the Today programme

Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, lost his temper on the Today programme this morning. 

Grammar School, a degree from London University, Fulbright Fellow, an academic career, numerous committees and fellowships (Honorary Fellow of British Academy, Royal College of General Practitioners,
Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh) and Bencher of the Inner Temple.

A textbook example of how grammar schools used to siphon ordinary people up into the Establishment.


The vote on Tuesday was, in its way, a mini-reformation

It is a little disturbing to see in the media reports that Tuesday's vote of the General Synod on women bishops may be either set aside or the vote carried out again until the desired result is obtained.

This is the sort of electoral jiggery-pokery that has so discredited the European Union (you will keep voting until you vote the way you are told). 

The vote on Tuesday was, in its way, a mini-reformation with the laity rebuffing the hierarchy of black coated priests.  For the hierarchy to keep on about the votes of the diocesan synods (as Bishop "Tom" Butler did on Thought for the Day this morning) may be unwise and invite scrutiny on how valid those diocesan votes have been.  Normally a constitutional vote of the kind we saw on Tuesday would effectively place the issue off limits for a generation.

To the argument that women priests are feeling hurt and disillusioned one could say welcome to the club - large areas of the Anglican laity have been feeling hurt and disillusioned for many years about the way the Established Church has given in to every trendy modish fad that has come along.

Now it seems a line has been drawn and the demands of the secular world held at bay.

The position of the refuseniks has been to say to the hierarchy:  you commit as much heresy as you like so long as you do not insist we join you.

No doubt there will be a lot of pontificating by atheists and non-Anglicans that the Church of England should now be dis-Established for its audacity in resisting equalities legislation (you will probably see an example of this arguing on tonight's Question Time with all sorts of socialists and atheists and anabaptists piling in to give us their views on how wrong the Anglicans are).

To the issue of disestablishmentarianism one can only say bring it on.

Dis-Establishing the Church of England will be such a fundamental change in the constitution that it would be inconceivable (and invalid) without a national referendum in England.

And I am confident that such a referendum will oppose disestablishment and reassert England as an officially Christian country - all the tests of public opinion suggest this will be the case.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Driving home from work I listened to PM on BBC Radio 4.

They did a sort of secular Thought for the Day with an atheist philosopher telling us what to think about women bishop's.

In a brazen example of chutzpah this person quoted scripture to us.

This was an atheist doing this, completely unqualified in theology.

Would they allow any old man in the street to go onto the radio and interpret the law for us?

Would the PM programme allow a "philosopher" to give medical advice?

An atheist is qualified to talk about atheism, not religion.

Is this the same Rachel Reeves

The women bishops vote has caused a great deal of comment on Twitter, mostly of the I am gutted variety.





Above:  Rachel Reeves MP is of course entitled to have a view.  The Church of England is Established and it is perfectly proper for members of the Shadow Cabinet to have a view on the state religion.  One part of the Establishment scrutinising another part of the Establishment and all that.







Above:  but is this the same Rachel Reeves who was fasting for Ramadan back in August?  Can't she make up her mind on whether to be a Muslim or an Anglican Christian?  Or is she just a shameless opportunist rushing to give an opinion on every subject under the sun?

Presumably she will also be voicing her disappointment at the mosque in Armley on the lack of female Muslim clerics?

Or shall we add hypocrisy to her list of personal attributes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I don't like to see people being pushed around





Janet Royall, Labour Leader in the House of Lords, is stupid enough to ask in public who the laity are.  Presumably she doesn't understand that the clergy and bishops are the servants of the laity, not the masters.  Just as politicians like Janet Royall are supposed to be the servants of the people (not that you would ever guess from the way they behave).

I am open-minded on the subject of women bishops.

But I am absolutely opposed to the way some parishes have been bullied, lied to and and swamped with group churchwardens (who then target for closure churches in the group that don't go along with a particular trendy clique).

I don't like to see people being pushed around.

This is not so much a female vs male issue.

This is a young vs elderly issue.

And I don't like seeing elderly people pushed around.

The women bishops farrago

Bogus article by Andrew Brown on the women bishops farrago on the Guardian website:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/nov/20/women-bishops-debate-suicide-note

No explanations, no interviews, no interpretations.  He just told us he went to the General Synod, was bored, and concludes the Church of England has no future.  Perhaps he was so bored he fell asleep and then in a panic had to write his piece for a deadline?

Anyway, I have looked again to see if there is any information in the piece I might have overlooked.

There are fourteen repetitive paragraphs all of them saying how dull it was, how bored he was, how incomprehensible was the Synod.

And then it occurred to me that perhaps his piece was inspired by the Synod.  It is certainly a dull, boring and incomprehensible article (if you don't believe me click on the link and see for yourself).  I am judging it as journalism when perhaps all the time it is aiming to be a piece of performance art.





And heaven help us, even socialist atheist Owen Jones has an opinion on the subject (interestingly he uses the definite article and a capital C, so at least he is recognising the Established status of Anglicanism).

My fear is that it is going to be impossible to listen to Thought for the Day for the next month or so without an endless procession of earnest trendy inclusive clerics telling us how misguided the decision was.

And even now Giles Fraser is probably writing an admonitory lecture.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton















Have just finished reading Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton.

I find it impossible to praise this novel too highly.  It illuminates the world so that you see everything differently.  It also illustrates human nature so that you find yourself saying yes, that's exactly right, I have met those sort of people myself.

The book is about the life of a 39-year-old spinster living in a shabby-genteel boarding house in Henley over a few weeks in 1943.

Nothing happens and yet everything happens.  All of the human passions are laid bare (greed, hatred, lust, drunkenness, deception, cruelty, sloth etc).  It is a magnificent work of art.

"It was not for him to know that between these two women there existed a feud almost unparalleled in boarding-house, or indeed feminine history - that one of them walked against the wind in De La Rue sunsets with evil, all but murderous thoughts, yet remained blameless in character."
I know all the argument about Amazon dodging tax in the United Kingdom and how we should all boycott them.

Also I am not wild about the way Amazon sucks up customers that would normally go to real bookshops in real communities.

But over the weekend I discovered that I can find books on Amazon for as little as 1p (plus £2.80) - these are new books, not second hand.  And in an hour of weakness I went through my list of books I want to read (which I've been adding to over ten years) and ordered all of the ones that are selling for less than £1.  Because my list goes back years many of the books on it are now being remaindered.

Twenty-six new books will arrive in the next week.

To be added to all the other books waiting to be read.

I feel appalled at what I have done.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 18

2012 OECD article, Knowledge and skills are Infinite – Oil is not, suggests that nations which had wealth in natural resources, such as oil or valuable minerals, invested generally in consumption and not in education systems to build the skills and knowledge of their citizens. By contrast, those who invested for long-term skills have reaped tremendous benefits in economic and social welfare - it is not natural resources that underpin wealthy societies; wealth always comes from superior social organisation.

The early fading light
















On the drive back I went through a very remote part of the county and stopped to photograph this exquisite manor house and church.  Too dark to take a closer look.  The early fading light means that probably I will have to stop these excursions until about March next year.

Twenty-three from this tiny village

The village consists of a little square of eighteenth-century buildings, widely spaced and well laid-out around a small village green under graceful trees.

The sky a hard bright blue and the winter sun dazzling, although it was very cold.

First glimpse you get of the church is of the astounding height and beauty of the tower and spire.  Close-to the building is even more intriguing.  The exterior is very decorative, which suits such a large building.  Pevsner praises the "lacy flying buttresses".  Across the front façade empty niches with gothic canopies alternate with plainer niches filled with figures of saints, with battlements and pinnacles above.  Rich arcading binds the ensemble together.

The churchyard has been allowed to become overgrown with trees and bushes, so that there is a sense of walking through a jungle to reach the south porch.

The heavy key turns easily in the lock and the door opens into a space vast and cavernous but at the same time so perfectly proportioned that one immediately feels the harmony created by the masons.  The central aisle has great twelfth-century columns that have capitals of foliage with among the stylised leaves grotesque heads peeping out with pug noses and gaping mouths.  The east window is a powerful 1899 Christ enthroned in majesty, surrounded by the company of Heaven including animated angles swinging censors and fabulously-robed Archangels (St Michael a sturdy non-nonsense figure).

At the end of the south aisle I entered the Lady Chapel.  Above the altar was a ledge supporting a richly painted and gilded statue of the Virgin and Child.  Behind this statue was a stained glass window that seemed to date from the 1920s, to judge from the pastel colours and shingled hair-styles.  The composition was on the theme of Christ healing the cripple, with the words Take up thy bed and walk.  All the figures were fashionably slim.  Above the tableau hovered an angel arranged in the air as if he were lying on a divan in a pose of impossibly languid elegance. 

I sat down briefly to read the church guide (just a photocopied sheet, although well-written).  Sun streamed in through the clear glass side aisle windows.  The sunshine brought out the pale colour of the stone, which was a shade of white honey.  It was so peaceful and soothing to be there that I didn't want to move again.  However, I became aware of my lungs filling with cold air, and I knew that if I stayed too long in the place my illness would return.  I got up to leave.

In the corner by the door was a display of old photographs from the grammar school (now closed) with uniforms that changed as the decades passed.  Substantial war memorial - brass plates upon heavy wood surrounds with classical pilasters and egg-and-dart ornamentation.  Hundreds served in the Great War and twenty-three (twenty-three from this tiny village!) died. 

Belarus

At this very moment people in Belarus are reading this blog.

This is what I find so fascinating (although it must be fairly commonplace for people with big sites who number their readers in millions).

Belarus to me means Shtetl by Eva Hoffman, which I read about ten years ago.

Other than that, I know nothing about the country - correction, having become motivated to find out more about the country I would quite like to see the Mir Castle complex.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We intend to create one complete database - the past week at work

Monday

General meeting this morning at which the Institute's Director Vijay Singh warned us that Head Office is watching us and looking to see if we made a slip (which is ironic given the nature of much of our work).

All the morning I spent on accounts - raising requests for purchase orders, checking quotes, filing old documents.

Embarrasing realisation that I should have been at a course in London today.  I had completely forgotten.  Luckily I was able to book myself on the same course in December, so no real harm done.  

Tuesday

A meeting with Marcia Walsh (Deputy Director) and John Johnson (IT) to discuss database integration.  They were quite respectful and listened to what I had to say, which made a change.  Rather than many different databases of opinion-formers we intend to create one complete database.

Scandal unfolding about attacks on Head Office by a former chief executive.

Wednesday

Not a great deal for me to report on at the management meeting.

I have begun to prepare a supplement, time-consuming but a major step forward.

Thursday

On the way home from work I stopped in the village to vote in the PCC elections.  At first I thought I had gone to the wrong place as the playing field pavilion, where the polling booth is located, was deserted.  No cars, no people.  I went into the pavilion - creaking wooden floor, large area that doubles as a bar on match days, wall covered with photos of football teams (also black marks that looked as if numerous footballs had been kicked against the wall over the years).  Two polling staff gave me a voting slip and explained how I had a first and second preference.  I only voted for one candidate (Conservative).

Friday

I asked Vijay Singh about the former chief executive of Head Office and he told me:  "The slanging match has reached a point where I will have to walk away from it."

Major charities are very much part of the New Establishment


















In a democracy such as the United Kingdom government (and opposition) policy is heavily influenced by lobbying.  A cynic might say that most politicians are apolitical on most issues and they just adopt whatever policies seem most popular.  Lobbying organisations, if they are any good, seek to deliver "gift-wrapped" policies fully developed and market tested so that all the parties have to do is adopt them.

It goes without saying that some lobbying organisations are good and some are bad (and a few are very bad).

Very prominent among lobbying organisations are charities, and major charities are very much part of the New Establishment.

I am a member of the RSPB, which is a very prominent conservation campaigner.  A million other British people are members.  Charitable status precludes party political positions, but inevitably charities must get involved in politics to a certain extent.

A million members gives RSPB a lot of power.

On the whole RSPB has proved to be an entirely beneficial organisation, but there are many other charities seeking to have influence in every single aspect of government policy.  People who work for the charitiable sector are quite capable of usurping the influence of the charity and directing it (often in very subtle and imperceptible ways) to party political ends.  My point is that these are institutions and they need to be scrutinised as such.




















It is very noticable how many Labour MPs, including Shadow ministers, feel obliged to give us their opinions about X-Factor.

You might expect it of a light-weight such as Stella Creasy, or a media manipulator such as Diane Abbott, but Harriet Harman?

Why should such a cerebral and intelligent person bother herself with flim-flam?







Who are Union J?  I have no idea.  Why are they worthy of comment by the political commentariat?

The Conservatives have won the PCC elections

Now that the results are in it is clear that the Conservatives have won the PCC elections.

16 Conservative, 13 Labour, 12 Independent.  Nothing for UKIP which is unusual considering they regard themselves as the inheritors of the Conservative "law and order" mantle.  Nothing for Liberal Democrats which is not surprising as a Lib-Dem crime enforcer is a contradiction in terms.

The turnout was exceptionally low, which suggests that the ordinary people are not worried about crime - apathy is generally a vote in favour of the status quo.

This is still a Conservative country.











Above:  Deborah Orr writing in today's Guardian.  Politicans overlook the fact that apathy about political issues is good.  It means that the electorate is not worried about anything.  Other countries may have queuing for hours at polling stations.  Not here.  To paraphrase Charles II talking about his brother James:  no-one is going to exert themselves to get rid of David Cameron just to put Ed Miliband in his place.

Shockingly anti-semitic















I had heard there was an anti-semitic cartoon in today's Guardian, but I did not see it until this evening when I sat down and read the newspaper.

The cartoon is shockingly anti-semitic, and shows a Jewish colossus manipulating British politicians as if they were puppets.




















It was like looking at a 1943 edition of Lustige Blatter.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Now or never

Israel attacks Hamas.

Iran comes to the aid of Hamas and attacks Israel.

America and the United Kingdom then has an excuse to attack Iran.


It reminds me of the alliances that led to the outbreak of the First World War.

Presumably it's now or never:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/world/middleeast/irans-fordow-nuclear-complex-reaches-capacity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

If not now, when? 

Costa Coffee Coronation Chicken















In theory I should dislike everything about this Costa Coffee Coronation Chicken sandwich, but actually it was delicious.

Maybe the fact that someone else was paying added to the deliciousness.

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 17

Pacific Asia: these are societies and cultures which place a high value on education... this belief that a poor person from a far-flung corner of the empire, through a combination of talent and hard work can make it into the elite - this sounds like an argument in favour of grammar schools.  But this is not quite what we have seen with the recent "handover" of power in China where only Communist Party members qualified for entry into the ruling elite.

Pacific Asian systems have often had long-term technocratic and strategic approaches to improving their education systems, with excellent civil servants in the lead- long-term policies on education are impossible while the political parties are unable to reach consensus or even to agree openly that the comprehensive system has failed (an admission of which would require embarrassing public apologies).

A mysterious country

Namibia is a mysterious country - cruel colonial (German) history, German architecture that could have come from the Effie Briest-era Baltic coast (plus some Rhineland-style castles), the enigmatic Reheboth people and the tragic Herero people, deserts with diamonds lying around any old how, the odd enclave of Walvis Bay and the Caprivi Strip, most fascinating of all the Welwitschia mirabilis.

If I had the time and the money I would go there.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not just the Arts Council




















Item this morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 about Arts Council metropolitan bias. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9769000/9769751.stm

The Arts Council is a classic establishment institution.  Quintessentially New Establishment, it has over nearly seventy years become almost Old Establishment (its luminaries decked with so many gongs and titles they appear positively ruritanian when gathered together).  It's power is enormous, but because this is soft power (cultural, influential, almost indefinable) most politicians do not take it seriously and so it slips away from democratic control.

For most of its history this did not matter.  The Arts Council was run by elitists, and although they may not subsidise experimental rock, they would not subsidise a Lloyd-Webber musical either.  Like almost all establishment organisations appointments tended to be by "buggins turn" which was undemocratic, but also uncontroversial.

Things changed with the rise of New Labour.

Not just the Arts Council, but almost all establishment institutions were filled with socialist placemen and place women (the Law Society is an excellent case-study that demonstrates how this was done - someone needs to record what happened there while it is still fresh in the minds of Council members).










"Socialism?  Don't make me laugh" says Owen Jones about the New Labour period.  This illustrates how subtle and insidious the Blairite cultural revolution has been - even New Labour's supporters (and Owen Jones was a supporter let us not forget) did not recognise it.  And broadly the socialist apparatchiks are still in place, long after the demise of Blair.

What is to be done?

In more ways than one Gordon Brown has been the antidote to Tony Blair.

The Brownite recession and subsequent austerity has driven cuts in public spending that are having a disproportionate impact on arts organisations, not least the Arts Council.  It is not clear whether the government is targeting these cuts ideologically, but I sincerely hope they are.  Therefore I quietly cheered when I heard socialist impresario Danny Boyle on the PM programme on Radio 4 bemoaning "the cuts" - if I had my way I would cut public funding to everyone and everything even remotely connected to Danny Boyle so that he found himself in the midst of his own personal pandemonium.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elections to be held tomorrow for Police Commissioners





















http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kevin-maguire-absurdity-of-the-police-and-crime-1433106

Kevin Maguire writes in the Daily Mirror about the elections to be held tomorrow for Police Commissioners.  He argues that because there is little public enthusiasm for the elections that they are "absurd".  He fails to mention how we got to this position.

In the past police services were controlled by the Establishment - Establishment figures would serve on the county council committees that controlled the police within their county boundaries.  Whether the councillors were Conservative, Labour or Liberal, they worked together to maintain an established idea of what policing in their area should look like.  Occasionally there was corruption and dissension, but generally there was common agreement.

This consensus has mostly broken down over the past twenty years.  The police leadership has become politicised, and many of the ordinary police personnel have gone through social training prescribed by politicians, resulting in their having objectives that are directed towards social reform rather than social policing.  The result is an increasing mismatch between what politicians (local and national) want the police to do and what local tax payers (who pay for the service) want the police to do.

Rather than tackle the politicisation (small p and capital P) of the police the Coalition government is giving local people the power to directly order their local police force to do what the people want (in theory).

It is an interesting case study of how the Establishment has failed in a key area of power and control.

Although it is possible we shall just see the Old Establishment replaced by a New Establishment - and in some cases Establishment figures are standing in the elections (John Prescott).

The smattering of half-hearted applause

Having listened to the BBC 90th anniversary simulcast on the drive home this evening I am afraid my main reaction was "when is this going to end?".

It was obviously a live broadcast as the introducer ostentatiously cleared this throat at the beginning.

Not sure whether the smattering of half-hearted applause at the end was part of the production or not.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Greetings from Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor















Have just finished reading Greetings from Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor.

After my parents moved out of London they briefly lived in Buckinghamshire (in Chesham!) and then took the family to Luton where my father worked as a welder in the Vauxhall Motors until he had a stroke (they gave him an easy job for about a year and then he took redundancy when it was offered).  We lived in one of the streets off Connaught Road, not all that far from Bury Park.  Three years of my secondary education was at one of the Luton comprehensives.

Therefore I had been hoping in this book to relive the Luton of my childhood.

What a disappointment!  Sarfraz Manzoor hardly mentions the town.  An occasional reference to the Central Library, a few mentions of the Arndale Centre, but otherwise nothing.  He lived his life entirely in a Pakistani bubble, as if the outside world did not exist.

It is a sobering thought that he and I must have frequently passed each other in the street, and yet the chances of our actually meeting were zero.  I faintly remember a store called Mr Doors (with front doors just leaned up against the front facade).  And he mentions Selbourne Road where my mother worked as a kitchen assistant in the Salisbury Arms.

But otherwise we could have been living on different planets.

What more graphic illustration of the failure of post-war immigration.

One of the themes of the book is "race" but Sarfraz Manzoor seems to be rather anodyne on this topic.  For instance, he talks about "the National Front winning local elections" but to the best of my knowledge the National Front did not win any elections in Luton in the 1970s, 80s or 90s (perhaps this is a little lie he has slipped in to exaggerate the racism his family experienced).  He also mentions being a Labour sympathiser, which in Luton is odd as it was the Labour Party that most resented the influx of Asians into the residential areas where mainly Labour supporters lived (one anecdote, told and retold, was that Asian leader Councillor Thakoordin was holding a meeting of a Labour Asian caucus in the Town Hall when a white Labour councillor came into the room, said "Here's Thakki with his Pakis" and threw a banana on the table).

The nearest comprehensive to where we lived was Beech Hill school, which was almost entirely Asian.  My parents would not consider Beech Hill and my brother and myself had to walk two and a half miles to Icknield High School each day (we were too poor to have a car, and there were no buses unless we went into town and out again).  Surprisingly our "white flight" from Beech Hill was matched in the Manzoor household by a brown flight as Sarfraz commutes, at the insistence of his father, to white comprehensive Lealands.

Mention the name "Luton" to people and they will react with a kind of fascinated horror, usually relating to "them".

However Luton is in fact a beautiful town - if you take the trouble to look.  It was mostly built in the 1920s and 1930s, and in its way has as many art deco gems as Miami.  The parish church is one of the greatest medieval buildings in the country (famous for the Wenlock Chapel).  Luton Hoo was, until recently, a great treasure house and still has some fabulous interiors.  Wardown Park with its Museum used to be a lovely place (no idea what it is like now).  The Central Library was able to offer my teenage self every book I could wish for, in a quiet and restful and studious environment.

So why does the image of Luton as a "dump" persist? (an image frequently underlined by Sarfraz Manzoor himself).

It's a question you can't answer without an immediate and intimidating chorus telling you how "bad" you are to even suggest such a reason.

But as a former Luton resident I do feel entitled to at least point out that 18% of the town's population ruined it for everybody else.

Governor of the Bank of England

The process of appointing a new Governor of the Bank of England is now under way.  This is an Establishment position like no other, with real power both official and unofficial, direct and oblique, cultural and conventional.  Anyone seeking to understand the British Establishment should look at how the new Governor "appears".

The new Governor is rumoured to be Paul Tucker, educated at a comprehensive, but also went to Trinity College Cambridge.  Although Oxbridge dominates the Establishment, Oxford probably bags more of the top positions than Cambridge.  But Trinity College Cambridge bags more top posts than any individual Oxford college.

Monday, November 12, 2012

IPPR report Oceans of Innovation - 16

"attach high value to the teaching profession. Indeed, teachers are revered. In Korea, a key part of the strategy over decades has been to attract great people into teaching by paying them excellently – and finding the money to do so by having large classes" - no discussion about the issue of teacher gender.  In the United Kingdom teaching has increasingly become a female profession and thus suffers from the relatively low value that society places upon female professionals.  I cannot imagine that teaching in Pacific Asia is a female dominated "velvet ghetto".

"the quality of the teachers creates a virtuous cycle with families, which across Pacific Asia are strongly committed to education and have very high expectations of their children" -  unfortunately in the United Kingdom the comprehensives are ideologically wedded to ideas of equality that mitigate against any parents wanting their children to do better than the norm. 

"In contrast to Atlantic societies, neither the schools nor the parents in Pacific Asia expect their children to do poorly simply because they are from poor backgrounds" - no discussion here about discipline in schools - is it as lax in Pacific Asia as it is in the United Kingdom? 

I'm afraid that the more I read the IPPR Report Oceans of Innovation the more I conclude that it is at best flawed, and possibly even deliberately misleading and ideologically biased.

The Dr Goebbels school of news management












It would appear that Owen Jones subscribes to the Dr Goebbels school of news management (accuse your opponents of doing the very same misdeameanour that you have been caught doing).
 

How many of Sally Bercow's 56,000 followers subsequently made a reference to Lord McAlpine

Lord McAlpine seems certain to pursue legal action against the Twitter users who libelled him recently.

This will serve a useful purpose in helping to establish whether "retweeting" (known as RT) is an endorsement or not, even if the Twitter microblog carries a disclaimer (typically expressed as:  Retweeting does not mean agreement).

Sally Bercow claims that she was just drawing attention to the fact that the Lord McAlpine smear was "trending".  Presumably the lawyers will want to establish how many of Sally Bercow's 56,000 followers subsequently made a reference to Lord McAlpine.  By apologising presumably she has admitted guilt.
David Lammy MP has just stood up in the House of Commons and said that the current crisis should not be used to undermine the BBC.

He entirely fails to see that the BBC has already been undermined by its very own staff.

Newsnight I'm afraid is a toxic brand (and I write in sorrow, as the programme was an unmissable part of my daily routine).

How the new Director General of the BBC "emerges"

It will be interesting to see how the new Director General of the BBC "emerges" in the coming weeks.  It will a case study in how the Establishment works.  School, university, work record, friends, affinities, values.

Apparently the head hunting firm tasked with drawing up a shortlist of candidates is run by an Old Etonian (not that I am opposed to Old Etonians).

I think I can guarantee that the new Director General will not be from Luton.