Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Unpublished stuff on Labour`s "Open goals" , Rankin, CBI. SATs London, etc

For those of us who believe that a Corbyn-led Labour party can win in 2002, provided that a "new approach" is adopted, which basically means an end to the attacks on the leadership for not being sufficiently Blairite, Monday`s "meeting of MPs and peers" provided some hope at last (Corbyn pleads for a united party and admits Labour still has it all to prove,10/05/16).
Not only was there a plea to turn their "fire on this Tory government", but also common sense from Sadiq Khan, with his observation that Labour "cannot afford to miss any open goals". They have certainly blazed over the bar enough recently, especially with the non-existent "northern powerhouse", and the ridiculous grammar tests, with their focus on subordinating conjunctions and noun phrases! As if on cue, however, comes the news that the British Virgin Islands "are resisting David Cameron`s calls to make fresh concessions on ending tax secrecy (UK overseas territories resist PM`s call to end tax secrecy,10/05/16). Aditya Chakrabortty tells us how such offshore tax havens can be forced to comply with British laws by Orders in Council,(Corruption can no longer be written off as a developing world problem,10/05/16) whilst Corbyn himself has previously said, they are "British crown dependent territories", and if they refuse to observe UK tax laws, there is a precedent "for direct rule to be imposed" (UK could impose direct rule on tax havens, says Jeremy Corbyn, 05/04/16).
Well, Mr Corbyn, after everything the Tories have said about tax avoidance and evasion, and the obvious voters` outrage the denial of billions to the Treasury causes, this appears to be one "open goal" not to be missed; a start can be made at PMQs.

Ian Rankin`s admission, that he "can`t do anything" until he has a "title", beggars belief (My working day,07/05/16). Just because he has created the brilliant Rebus, sold millions of books, and caused immeasurable enjoyment both here and abroad, does not mean he should have a "title". Doesn`t he realise he needs to earn 180 times the amount of his average employee, or avoid paying tax on an industrial scale, and with the part of the proceeds, make huge donations to the political party of his choice, or run a company based on short-termism, with no thought of investing to raise productivity?
On the other hand, Lord Rebus of Fife does have a certain ring to it!

Whilst most will agree with the director-general of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, when she criticises the government for its "lack of preparedness for the crisis that has engulfed the steel industry", there will be less sympathy for other aspects of her speech (CBI call for government to put up cash for industrial strategy,05/05/16). Calling for more government funding " to support innovation" is a little rich when the country`s industries are noted for their short-termism and low productivity, due to profits, rather than being ploughed into new machinery and technology, going instead to shareholders` dividends and management`s obscene salaries and bonuses.
 Any attempts by the government to encourage firms to introduce meaningful apprenticeship schemes are given short shrift by the CBI, and its call for ministers to address the "chronic shortage of physics teachers" beggars belief. Funding for improved pay for teachers, and, indeed, for a "new industrial strategy", would be far more likely if British companies, instead of spending millions on accountants to devise the most efficient ways of avoiding tax, actually paid up in full, like the majority of us do!

"Modal verbs, transitive verbs, intransitive verbs" are, sadly, just the tip of the Key Stage two assessment iceberg (Primary grammar teast would stump Jane Austen, says head,30/04/16). Primary head, Amanda Hulme, highlighted some of the unnecessary details needed to be learned by 10 and 11 year-olds, but a brief scan of the Sample Booklet published in 2015 reveals how such tests are taking education back to the middle of the last century, when the needs of society were rather different. Apparently, the DfE thinks this "new, more rigorous curriculum", which requires knowledge, by year six pupils, of present perfect and past progressive tenses, not to mention the subjunctive form, subordinating conjunctions, noun phrases and determiners, will help "every child fulfil their potential regardless of their circumstances". This begs some very obvious questions, or should I say, sentences beginning with interrogative pro-adverbs?
      I don`t actually recall the CBI calling for increased knowledge of the various parts of speech to help improve productivity, or any of our esteemed poets, dramatists and novelists attributing their success to their awareness that the "correct antonym"  for "unbelievable" is "plausible". No doubt the next head of Ofsted will be criticising previously graded "outstanding" schools for not devoting sufficient time to providing a broader curriculum, and having too many lessons aimed at learning antiquated grammar!

As Jonn Elledge says, there may not be "water dripping from the light fittings", but the idea of paying £1083 a month for a room in the Collective is not only a rip-off, but deeply insulting to the young professionals expected to live there (Up the property ladder to a tiny "twodio", 29/04 16). It seems that the government is not the only one treating young people with contempt. Is it any wonder thousands of teachers, doctors, social workers and the like are leaving in droves?
     A quick visit to the government website, (getintoteaching.education.gov.uk)shows how teaching is now such a "rewarding career", no details of pay are needed! The truth is that, even with London allowance, starting pay in the capital varies from £22.6k to £27k, just enough to qualify them as eligible to pay back student loans, on top of tax, national insurance, and, of course, rent.
   And for what? A room "three metres square" with a share of a "two ring kitchen hob", but with the added bonus of sharing a common room! If ever proof was needed that the government needs to set up an inspection and regulatory body, to stem the ever-increasing exploitation of tenants in the private sector, the idea of the Collective is it.


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