Friday, 31 August 2012

Mitt Romney is a Mormon

One ‘M’ away from a moron, Romney portrays himself as the man who will put America back to work. He has vowed to create 12 million jobs. As a very wealthy tax-avoider he is in a position to know. Outsourcing several thousand jobs to the far east from the companies he bought, brought him increased wealth. How many of the 12 million jobs would be in call centres or crap food joints, part-time and very poorly paid?

He is also a Mormon. So what? Try this from Christopher Hitchens.

“The founder of the church, one Joseph Smith, was a fraud and conjurer well known to the authorities of upstate New York. He claimed to have been shown some gold plates on which a new revelation was inscribed in no known language. He then qualified as the sole translator of this language. (The entire story is related in Fawn Brodie’s biography, No Man Knows My History. It seems that we can add, to sausages and laws, churches as a phenomenon that is not pleasant to watch at the manufacturing stage. Edmund Wilson wrote that it was powerfully shocking to see Brodie as she exposed a religion that was a whole-cloth fabrication.) On his later forays into the chartless wilderness, there to play the role of Moses to his followers (who were permitted and even encouraged in plural marriage, so as to go forth and mass-produce little Mormons), Smith also announced that he wanted to be known as the Prophet Muhammad of North America, with the fearsome slogan: “Either al-Koran or the Sword.” He levied war against his fellow citizens, and against the federal government....

...The Mormons apparently believe that Jesus will return in Missouri rather than Armageddon: I wouldn’t care to bet on the likelihood of either. In the meanwhile, though, we are fully entitled to ask Mitt Romney about the forces that influenced his political formation and—since he comes from a dynasty of his church, and spent much of his boyhood and manhood first as a missionary and then as a senior lay official—it is safe to assume that the influence is not small. Unless he is to succeed in his dreary plan to borrow from the playbook of his pain-in-the-ass predecessor Michael Dukakis, and make this an election about "competence not ideology," he should be asked to defend and explain himself, and his voluntary membership in one of the most egregious groups operating on American soil.”

Should a belief in mumbo-jumbo make a person unelectable for the most powerful position on earth? In a rational country Romney would have been left on the start line. The US is currently not a rational place and the Republican party are the apotheosis of irrationality. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

If only...

“The brief but colourful parliamentary career of the Tory Louise Mensch has formally ended with a bizarre tradition.
Because MPs cannot resign in the conventional sense, Mensch had to accept a "paid office of the Crown", a new job that disqualified her from membership of the Commons.
The chancellor, George Osborne, has appointed her to be steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, one of the two posts that allow MPs to leave the Commons.
The job is a sinecure, with no actual responsibilities – the manor house itself is under a lake near Scarborough.” Guardian 30/8/2012

Which century are we living in? Who said there is no case for reform? 

Shame she does not have to live there. She could usefully take some of her colleagues with her and see if we missed them.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Politics of envy or feed the greedy?

Listening to dimwit Clegg’s latest wheeze to try to avoid electoral meltdown - or termination of his position at the LibDem conference next month - provoked the Tories into synthetic fury. Shame really because the idea that the rich should pay more to reduce the deficit is sound but not when it comes from opportunity Clegg.

The inherently greedy Tories can be relied upon to support trickle down - one of the great myths of the Thatcher years. They are also very happy for the wealthy to put their money out of reach of the taxman. Cameron’s dad made a fortune helping the the wealthy to do just that. They have nationalised debt and privatised profit so that bankers and financiers who were responsible for the economic mess continue to enjoy vast salaries and go unpunished. 

As for the poor? They can bally well sod off. Whingeing scroungers. 

Remember, 90% of the proposed cuts are still ‘in the pipeline.’ 

Also what a terific idea to get ATOS to sponsor the Paralympics! Allying a company dedicated to reducing the living standards and healthcare of disabled and severely ill to games promoting inclusion takes some chutzpah. Add a despicable campaign to denigrate the disabled in the popular media so that incidents of vicious and vile attacks on the weakest and most vulnerable in our society have massively increased. 

Who to trust? A would-be fat cat Tory condemning the ‘politics of envy?’ Or someone from the front line of austerity Britain who could do with some fairness and equity?

Monday, 27 August 2012

GCSE English

What has happened with this years English results is nothing short of a disgrace. Those fortunate to be entered in January needed to reach 56% to attain a Grade C. Their colleagues who sat the exam in June had to attain 66%. This change of pass mark occurred at the last moment. Experienced teachers who are very savvy at gauging the progress of their charges were shocked ....and then angry. 

As English is included in the 5 or more GCSE’s at C and above assessment of a school’s performance, the consequences for many borderline institutions are serious. Heads and senior staff can be sacked and replaced (if sufficient fools can be found) . The school could be placed in special measures, which includes being turned into an Academy.

The Academy can then be ‘organised’ into a ‘partnership’ run by a private company.

Anyone suggesting that this move is a step towards the increasing privatisation of State Education is clearly a cynic who ought to get out a copy of the Gove Bible out and pray for forgiveness. 

Then again,  maybe not...

500 letters

Yesterday 500 letters from Cardinal Keith O’Brien were read out across catholic churches in Scotland. The Cardinal is opposed to the idea of same sex marriage. He has written to his flock to rally their support.

He has a bloody nerve. As Cardinal for the kiddy-fiddlers, abusers and cover-up sect masquerading as a world faith he would be much better engaged putting his own house in order. 

Perhaps all of this palaver over gay marriage is a welcome distraction to divert the attention of their flock from matters nearer to home (and the knuckle).

Question: why do the media not challenge these pillars about their hypocrisy?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Odious Creep

Who abolished the Building For Schools programme and had to backtrack when the courts ruled that he had ‘abused his power’? Who gave every school in England and Wales a personally signed copy of the King James Bible? Who offered £500,000 of public money to his ex-advisor without giving anyone else the chance to apply? Who has pushed through with his ‘free schools’ plan to the detriment of other schools? Who allowed religious fundamentalists to teach creationism in said free schools? Who used the launch of the Olympics to slip out the news that Academies can hire unqualified teachers? Who regularly ignores the advice of his curriculum experts and harks back to a Gradgrind view of learning? Who launches an initiative a week to the despair of the education service?
Who paid his mother-in-law £7000 of taxpayers money for some expensive artifacts? Who flipped his home to personally benefit by £13,000 yet has an estimated personal wealth in excess of £1 million?

And who has managed the almost unique feat of uniting Guardian and Telegraph readers in outrage at his arrogance and incompetence? 

Step forward Michael Andrew Gove, Secretary of State for Education.

His latest fiasco comes in the week that the PR premier called for more competition in schools. As the Daily Telegraph has launched a campaign to ‘Keep the Flame Alive’ his deeds have not gone down well....

“In a response under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this month, Mr Gove disclosed that his department had approved the disposal of 21 school playing fields “since May 2010”.

However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph — which last week started a Keep the Flame Alive campaign to boost school sport following the success of the London Olympics — show that the true figure is significantly higher.
They show that the panel, which must by law give a recommendation on all sales before ministers make their final decision, received 35 applications to sell school playing fields between May 18, 2010 and July 22, 2012. Of these, 30 sales were approved by ministers, two were rejected, one was withdrawn and two are outstanding. The decisions were mostly taken by Lord Hill, the education minister, on behalf of Mr Gove. The documents show that Mr Gove overruled recommendations not to sell school playing fields five times between February 2011 and July this year, more than for the previous nine years.

Some 10,000 playing fields were sold off between 1979 and 1997 under the Tories. But under Labour, between 1997 and 2010, only 226 were sold. (my emphasis)
Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary who has written to Mr Gove’s most senior civil servant demanding to know why the Education Secretary had ignored the panel, said: “The fact that Michael Gove has ignored the advice of independent experts and ploughed ahead with selling off school playing fields shows he is shamefully out of touch.
“Michael Gove must now come clean and explain what appears to be a secret programme to sell off school playing fields. From the abolition of Labour’s school building programme, to curriculum changes, Michael Gove has form when it comes to ignoring expert advice.” Daily Telegraph 17/8/12

Readers’ comments on the article focus on the close relationship the tories have with developers.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

First Rate Sports - Fifth Rate politicians

Never has the gulf between the good people of this country and the arrogant incompetent self-serving fools calling themselves our politicians been so exposed. 

The remarkable selflessness, enthusiasm and downright decency of the volunteers who helped make the Games so special for the thousands of visitors and athletes showed the heart of our country is alive and well. The performances of our sportsmen and women were a cause for celebration. Unfortunately the actions of our rulers in contrast continue to remind us just how badly we are governed. 

The fatuous remarks about competitive sports in schools by our PR Premier were once again at odds with the actions of his cabinet colleagues. As he spoke, regulations were being changed by the odious creep (OC) Gove to allow schools to sell off some of their playing fields. These sales could of course go to developers who just happen to contribute to Tory funds. The ‘Minister for Murdoch’ (Hunt) took umbrage when a Daily Telegraph journalist challenged him on the muddle at the centre of government policy, preferring instead to berate the hack rather than answer the question. 

All of this follows on from dumping the School Sports Partnership, which for a relatively small cost of £160 million a year was bringing expert coaching into (particularly) primary schools. All this talk of ‘legacy’ is so much hogwash. Yes, there will be funding for the elite sports but where are those superstars of the future supposed to come from if the broad base at grassroots levels struggles for funding and facilities? When are our elite going to recognise that obesity and unhealthy unfitness are becoming epidemic in ‘team GB’? PR Dave had the luxury of five different world class playing fields at Eton to further his development. Compare and contrast that with the lot of so many youngsters in inner city schools. 

There is far more to taking part in sport than winning as Sir Steve Redgrave has pointed out so pertinently today. The health and future well-being of our nation’s young is at stake. 

As the coalition of the damned crumbles and fractures before us, the decent people of this country will once again have their chance to throw out these egregious bubble-dwelling buffoons and put in their place citizens of the calibre, decency and spirit of the volunteers. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic ‘legacy’

Yet more insulting fatuous claptrap from the mouth of ‘Call Me Dave.’ This time about getting teachers to improve sporting competition in schools. This is to be done above and beyond adapting to Gove’s latest wheezes. A commenter called ‘Temulkar’ writing on the Guardians online Comment is Free section nailed it.

Meanwhile in the real world of Education. EMA killed off, School Building programme killed off, School Sports partnerships killed off, SEN budgets cut, EAL budgets cut, G+T budget cut, PE requirements killed off, Millions wasted on non accountable schools, unqualified teachers allowed to teach, class sizes rising, teachers leaving the profession in droves an ongoing crisis in recruitment, Parents and governing bodies ignored by the Department for Education, exams devalued, schools for profit to be introduced, health food program dropped, vending machines introduced, NC increased, Phonics for reading instead of a mixed approach, 1 million NEETS and the highest Youth unemployment since records began.
But every school got a bible which despite being a masterpiece of the English language purported to be the word of God that every school in the country already had a copy of, it was felt a foreword by the Education Secretary would be a good addition to alleged divine word.
Anyone who cares about the youth of this nation should be utterly dismayed and disgusted by the governments record in Education. The lies arrogance and deceit that are peddled by Gove and Cameron about our schools, teachers and pupils deserve nothing but contempt.. It has been done all with one goal in mind, not to improve the health wellbeing and Educational aspiration and standards of our children but to put the education of the nations young in the hands of profit making companies.
There is nothing the coalition have done that is as horrifying a betrayal of the British people as the policy they are pursuing in Education. Worse than the NHS or any other scandal, the theft of Educational Aspiration in this country is a crime of utter evil.”

Call Me Dave has achieved something quite remarkable - for all his vaunted PR skills he is  increasingly seen as deeply shallow ( a wonderful oxymoron) and quite stupid. Nasty and ruthless too, but unable to see that unlike the majority of tory voters, most decent people judge his government of fools and knaves by what they have done, not what they have said.  

An American commentator said on radio 5 today that for the legacy to have any impact, things needed to be in place well before the games began. Poncing about in a team GB tracksuit and desperately hoping for reflected glory will not be any replacement for all the cuts in school sports. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

File under ‘You Couldn’t Make It Up'

There is a largely secret and growing problem within our society. It is addiction to gambling. Online gambling has increased the problem. Addicts talk about it not feeling ‘real’ and losses are measured as Monopoly Money. But it is not unreal. There is a bill to be paid which can run into thousands. The pressure then builds to win back the losses by betting money the addict does not have. At this point embezzlement, fraud and theft become much more likely. As does suicide. 
As a lad growing up in an area of Manchester which contained more than the usual number of characters, it became clear to me very early on the damage that gambling could do to a family. A dad who bet his wages before they were paid, leaving his family with nothing to live on but the charity of the local shop and neighbours. A wife who bet the child allowance with similar outcomes. The effect on their children.
At that time gambling existed in the shadows of society. Over time it has emerged into the sunlight with the connivance and support of both major parties. The betting industry is now massive and international. Many countries are making efforts to rein it in. Not here.
“Everything is good for a bet nowadays, and the other day – quietly, while the Olympics were taking centre-stage – life became even rosier for Britain's vastly wealthy gambling industry. Launching the Commons culture committee's report into the 2005 Gambling Act, its chair John Whittingdale declared that "the 'reluctantly permissive' tone of gambling legislation of the last 50 years now looks outdated".
Apparently ignoring statistics which show a rapid annual increase in problem gambling, the committee suggested a series of measures which will make the British more addicted than ever. In High Street betting shops, the current limit of four slot machines, often described as "the crack cocaine of gambling", was thought to be too restrictive and should be increased to 20 per shop.
Why? Because the market demands it. Bookmakers are the only businesses making money in town centres, and clusters of them have been appearing as other shops fold. It would make more business sense, the committee believes, if there are even larger betting shops, offering more gambling opportunities......
..It seems we've learnt nothing during the recession. An obsession with profit – even what many would regard as tainted profit – is allowed to cause misery and social harm. According to the latest Betting Gambling Prevalence Survey, published last month, seven million people are now "at risk". Also at risk, incidentally, are future surveys into gambling addiction. Government funding for them has been cut.” Terence Blacker Independent 3/8/12