Friday, 20 October 2017

Question Time needs changing!

Roger Mosey makes many pertinent points about the future of Question Time, paricularly that the BBC is "right to try to renew its relevance" (Off the Air, 13th October, 2017). Also sensible is, as "these are serious times", that there is little room for celebrities and such-like on the panel, but plenty for experts; when, for example, the Education Secretary guests, why not also include an experienced examiner, headteacher, or union leader? Doctors or surgeons when Secretary for Health is on?  
  Mosey, however, misses an important point: viewing figures are not going to increase significantly unless some radical changes are made. Regardless of how "adept" Dimbleby is, a new format requires either a younger chair, preferably female, or  different guest chairs every week. Scheduling the programme against Newsnight has always seemed ludicrous, as is the idea that "the multiplicity of minor parties" demands panel representation; Ukippers have spoilt too many editions already! Studio audience participation could be enhanced by the use of electronic voting devices, whilst the wider audience could be involved by asking them to follow @bbcquestiontime on Twitter, and responding with retweets, or not, after every question. 
 As for the getting the "excellent This Week", to "move earlier", Mr Mosey!! There is nothing like the sight of opposing politicians cosying up together, whilst earning a fat fee, to put young people off politics for ever!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Every day is bad for PM

Why John Rentoul should think that Wednesday this week was an especially "embarrassing day for Theresa May" beggars belief (Voices, 18/10/17).  Admittedly she carelessly answered "Yes" to Corbyn`s request that she "pause universal credit", and her government agreed to last week`s Labour demand for a "freephone helpline for claimants". There was also also  the expectation that Tory MPs be "instructed not to take part in the vote" at the end of the universal credit debate, but whether this makes for  a particularly bad day for May is doubtful.
           We have a prime minister so divorced from reality she recently made a statement claiming that there is a "great prize" awaiting us after Brexit, when the UK will become a "great global country"! Theresa May even admitted she thinks she will still be Tory leader in 2022! How embarrassing can she get?
  Her government`s uselessness in foreign affairs results in arms being sold for use in Yemen, and offers nothing to ameliorate political and humanitarian catastrophes. Sucking up to Trump, rather than criticising him for his crassness, goes a step further than shame and humiliation. 
  At home, shortages of hospital beds, teachers, GPs and nurses, prison and police officers, firefighters, food and buildings` inspectors, HMRC staff and more, exacerbate problems caused by decreased funding for local authorities, and the many caused by government-enforced austerity policies and real-wage cuts. If she is not embarrassed by all of this, she should be ashamed of herself.
     One of the the troubles is that May`s rhetoric knows no bounds, and ever since the Downing Street speech in July last year, she has done nothing to lead a government  "driven" by any interests other than those "of the privileged few". The "burning injustice" that is the lack of parity funding "between the south-east and the north", amounting to £59bn over ten years, is not going to be remedied by her government with a record of disastrous cost-cutting,  and which has already committed to Crossrail 2, rather than the electrification schemes across the north, which were promised in the Tory manifesto.

    History shows that the Conservative party is based on preserving the riches, property and benefits enjoyed by the wealthy, who in return become party donors. Businesses have their regulations reduced by Conservative governments so that they can make more profits, and in return, help to fund the party. As a result, corporate excess, greedy landlordism and lack of sufficient regulation on the financial sector are problems never likely to be tackled by May`s government. Every day in office is an embarrassment, and Wednesday was no more degrading than any other day!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Too much mis-remembering

Will Hutton misses the point when writing about there being "too much remembering" (Endlessly refighting old wars does nothing to heal a fractured present, 08.10.17). Catalans wanting independence, just like the residents of eastern parts of Germany who voted far-right, have memories of their past which are not "inflated" as Hutton calls them, but so vivid they cannot be forgotten. History is always manipulated by politicians to suit their own ends, but when its justification is "ethnically based superiority", it becomes dangerous.
 What Hutton omitted to mention is that for many in Britain the memory of the fight against fascism is not just "over-remembered and over-deified", it is inaccurate, something that our governments have been keen to encourage, and has led to a preponderance of feelings of national pre-eminence. It is clearly a case of too much mis-remembering. The idea of "Britain alone" overcoming the Nazis is still being perpetuated, even on the cinema screens. Then there are the myths about the British empire acquired to spread civilisation, regardless of the massacres and atrocities, slavery and torture. Why else would millions of documents either have been destroyed or hidden away from the prying eyes of historians? The "glorious past", a time of economic growth without the need for European co-operation and immigration, did not exist.
  It is never "a time to forget and move on", as Hutton concludes. The mythology certainly needs to be scrapped, but the truth, especially in 

Labour should end Pre-U examinations

Few, if any,will have any problems with Labour`s promises to "radically transform Britain`s education system", and that "teachers would be at the heart of it". Most of the problems which have developed since Gove`s outrageous abandonment of advice from experts could have been avoided had the then Secretary of State listened to teachers.
 There is today, however, one very secret area of the education system which involves teachers very heavily, though sadly the teachers in question belong to the private sector. Who knew, before the recent scandal involving examination-cheating at Eton and Winchester, that there existed examinations taken by privately-educated students in this country, which were equivalent to A-levels but not the same, and whose grades are recognised by universities as entrance qualifications? They are called Pre-Us, and often include questions set by teachers in the private sector, who also mark them.
     With no limits to the proportion of students universities can enrol from private schools, only private sector pupils taking these examinations, and independent school staff, in many cases, actually setting the examinations, the current post-16 assessment system is both unfair and flawed. 

     On the Pre-U website, Winchester College recommends these examinations for use by other public schools, because they "are very liberating for teachers". I bet they are!
 Having taught A-levels for over forty years, and being "unliberated", I knew nothing about the existence of such examinations, and I doubt if many of today`s teachers in state schools realise that their students are actually competing for top grades and university places with privately educated pupils whose "A-level grades" will have been earned in a rather different way. Imagine how easier teaching becomes when, for example, having to cover three hundred years of history, and knowing which questions will be on the paper, even if no actual "cheating" is involved! How many state-school students have been denied access to their first choice university because of better grades achieved in these A-level substitutes?
    Labour must ensure these "examinations" are no longer viable as university entrance qualifications immediately!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Manipulated history and Brexit

Last week`s Leader mentioned the important role history is playing in the current issue of Catalonia`s independence (The Spanish crisis, 6th October, 2017). The "feeling of hurt" after the oppression the Catalans suffered during the Spanish Civil War and Franco`s dictatorship "has never gone away", and allying this with economic resentment has led to the demand for a referendum.
   Strangely, the Leader did not see fit to compare this with the UK`s current crisis. That similar economic frustration was an important factor in the Brexit decision is irrefutable, but Britain`s struggle against the fascists also played its part, albeit rather differently. Our manipulated version of history has given many Britons an aversion to the idea of European co-operation, having been led to believe "Britain alone" defeated the Nazis, that the empire existed to spread civilisation, and that our "glorious past" showed the economy could flourish without immigration. 

     British governments have allowed historical files, which would correct inaccurate history, to remain secret, and they must share responsibility both for creating a general belief in our mythological past, and for the utter confusion which now abounds. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

SATs (and "trick questions") should be abolished

The fact that "music, drama and art embedded into every part" of the day in a Bradford primary school has produced a remarkable "turnaround" in results in all areas of the curriculum illustrates perfectly the importance of enjoyment as a hugely important factor in learning (The secret of great SATs results? Extra music, and lots of it, 03/10/17). How encouraging it is to see children`s mental and social development being given top priority, and massive congratulations must be given to all involved.
      At last, children`s welfare is clearly beginning to feature more prominently in some educationalists` thinking. Sadly, however, its prominence was lacking when the SATs assessors decided that asking a question like this at Key Stage 2 was either appropriate or useful:
   A bat and ball cost £1.10 in total. The bat costs £1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
    It`s plainly ridiculous to put young children under stress with unnecessary testing, but the inclusion of such "trick" questions makes the call for the abolition of SATs even more urgent. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

On Tories` unsuitability to govern

Andrew Rawnsley mentioned how a  "strategic dilemma" for the Tories is causing "fresh division within their ranks" (Roll up, roll up to see whether Theresa will flop in the big top, 01.10.17). The realisation that they clearly need to make some proposals which will have significant impact, and persuade young people, in particular, to turn away from Corbyn, is countered by those who think "they will never outbid " him when it "comes to spending money". This, however, is not their main problem. The real "dilemma" for the Tories is that they have allowed the lobbyists and donors to have far too much influence on policy, particularly in recent years, something which hasn`t caused problems, because cutting costs and limiting regulation has suited the lobbying industry just fine. Cameron`s pledge to reform the "scandal" of the "far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money" merely resulted in a register being set up, typical of his disingenuity.
  Now that public opinion has finally turned in favour of more regulation, public ownership, and fairer taxation, the Tories can no longer remain the small-state libertarian party of recent years. How much longer can Tories allow lobbyists to water down their proposals which would allow worker representation on company boards (unlike the CBI-approved non-executive directors), more affordable and social housing being built, control to be taken of the gambling industry, tenants being ensured fair rents? The answer is probably indefinitely, because of the party`s reliance on funding and support from these vested interests. 
   A possible alternative, to promise transformational changes in the public sector, appears beyond their scope of thinking. Introducing sensible pay ratios, capping top salaries, ending gender pay gaps, allowing considerable pay increases to end recruitment crises in education and health, limiting government contracts to non-tax -avoiding companies, reforming the honours system, all are being allowed to become Labour priorities. 
  EU leaders might well have "deep doubts about Mrs May", but the real doubts should be about the Tories` suitability to govern.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Yet another Tory problem: Lobbying

Both of the otherwise excellent articles on the Conservative government`s problems strangely omitted to mention the influence of lobbyists on Tory policies and action (Politics; The long Tory civil war, 29th September,2017). Every time May or one of her ministers admits the need for a policy which would actually initiate real change, and win votes, proposals are watered down. Whatever happened to May`s promises made in Downing Street last year, to the "fight against the burning injustices", to the help for the "just about managing", to the leadership of a government "not driven by the interests of the privileged few"?
      The pro-business lobby has clearly influenced most of May`s proposals on corporate reform, something she said was vital because excessive pay at the top threatens the "social fabric of our society". Not vital enough, however; the pledge on workers` representatives on company boards fell at the first hurdle, and now it is up to non-executive directors to stand up against CEOs and argue for better pay ratios. Of course, both the CBI president and the director general of the Institute of Directors publicly voiced their approval, and CEOs will continue to pocket at least around 100 times the pay of their average employees.
   As long as there is a willingness to kowtow to lobbyists, Tories have little chance of either introducing sufficient change, or amending unpopular policies, to "collapse the floor under Labour`s feet". Concern that our government is selling weapons to the Saudis so that they can bomb Yemen, a country so devastated by war that famine and disease are rife, doesn`t stop the arms industry lobbyists winning the day.
     Likewise, the betting lobby ensures the continued existence of the addictive fixed-odds betting terminals on almost every high street, and a barrage of televised advertisements on primetime TV. The building industry`s influence over government means little or no affordable or social housing is being built. As Stephen Bush says, the Conservatives` problem with the young "might not be easy to solve", but it is certainly not helped when lobbying succeeds in preventing much-needed legislation on capping rents, and ending tenant exploitation, from being introduced.
 As for the influence of the banking and financial sectors on government policy!! The lack of substantial regulation, the fact that next to no prison sentences have resulted from the many abuses and fraudulent acts, and the refusal of governments to introduce a financial transaction tax all speak volumes. No doubt, it won`t stop them claiming in Manchester to be the party of social justice!
      Tories can "claim back language from the left", which Robert Haflon suggests, as much as they like, but as long as lobbyists rule the roost, something which their party funding demands, "compassionate Conservatism" will remain as much an oxymoron as ever.

Why not sack Johnson?

Mary Dejevsky might well have a reasonable solution to some immediate Tory problems, but sacking Boris Johnson, with him then challenging Theresa May for the leadership, would be my preferred option. This is as it most likely would lead to an early general election. The sooner Labour is in power the better.
Dejevsky’s description of Johnson is spot on when she calls him “crass and gaffe-prone”, but where does she get the idea that he “possesses a sense of history”? Surely what he actually has, like many privately educated toffs, is a distorted vision of history, exaggerating the importance of Britain and looking back on a “glorious past” that was, in fact, a time of British-enforced slavery, barbarity and multiple atrocities.
As for having a “capacity for empathy”, it certainly wasn`t in evidence when insulting Buddhists in Burma, writing rude limericks about the Turkish leader, and thinking it funny to ridicule the dead in Libya.
Clearly, Johnson’s sense of humour is puerile in the extreme, but when it is allied with public-school arrogance, and an education which taught a totally biased and inaccurate version of imperial history, the result is a Foreign Secretary who brings embarrassment and shame to us all. MPs on all sides should be demanding his resignation. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Next election is Labour`s to lose!

Solomon Hughes writes that Labour cannot count on the Tories having a similar "very bad Tory campaign", but correctly adds that there are "weaknesses we can aim at in the next election" (Morning Star, 29/09/17). Of course there are!
      The Tory party, even if the election doesn`t come until 2022, will still be the divided one it is now. Does anyone really believe it will have united around a "charismatic" leader like Rees-Mogg, Amber Rudd, or even the scheming Boris Johnson? Can anyone see their stirring speeches emboldening thousands of young activists across the country?
   Is the Tory party suddenly going to have a Damascene moment and  be no longer advocating lower taxes for the rich, divisive education policies, arms sales to whatever dictatorship willing to buy, and a national minimum wage well below  the level  required for a decent life? Of course not. These are the policies which form the basis of Conservatism in this country. Even when trifling changes are proposed, the lobbyists are quick to water them down to limit their significance further still.
      By the time of the next election, does anyone really think that the Tory government will have regulated the rental sector so that tenant exploitation by Rachman-like landlords will no longer exist, or that the public sector will be well funded with no recruitment crises in health and education? Social housing? A financial transaction tax?
 Furthermore, can we envisage this divided, back-stabbing coalition of selfish millionaires sealing a Brexit deal with hunky-doryness on all sides?  Will the results of callous austerity policies and cuts ever be forgotten?
     The current conference shows how fearful the Tory party is of Jeremy Corbyn, and it will do everything in its power both to liken him to Stalin, and to exaggerate dire consequences of socialist policies. Try what they will, they cannot match the popularity of Labour`s leader or its policies. Only rebellious disunity stands in the way of a Labour victory.

 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Johnson should go!

"Gaffe" is usually defined as "an unintentional act or remark", and is the most popular method of describing the numerous incidents when our country`s foreign secretary manages to insult the people, customs or leaders of other countries (The ambassador, Kipling - and Johnson, 30/09/17). Johnson may occasionally blurt out, like most of us, silly, inappropriate observations, but most of his insults simply are not "unintentional" at all. A recital of Kipling`s "Road to Mandalay" in "the most sacred Buddhist site" in the capital of of Myanmar is not something uttered inadvertedly. Johnson knew full well the impact his quoting of the poem would have, but still continued until the British ambassador`s intervention. Similarly, his writing of "a crude limerick about the Turkish president" was done to ridicule purposely, whilst his insulting comments about Hillary Clinton and Francoise Hollande have to be deliberate.
 Clearly, Johnson`s sense of humour is puerile in the extreme, but when it is allied with public school arrogance, and an education which taught a totally biased and inaccurate version of imperial history, the result is a foreign secretary who brings embarrassment and shame to us all.  MPs on all sides should be demanding his resignation. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Next election:why Labour will win

What a shame the chief political commentator of the Sunday newspaper of our choice, Andrew Rawnsley, despite the absolute chaos being caused by a Tory administration bereft of principle and unity, is still unable to come to terms with the distinct possibility of a left-wing Labour party running the country (The shadows dancing on the walls at Labour`s Brighton celebration, 24.09.17). Not only does he sink yet again to the bottom of his Blairite barrel with the spurious suggestion that Corbyn`s age will make "the future of the leader" the "biggest taboo subject" at the Labour conference, Rawnsley also submits that the June election saw Labour as "the lucky beneficiary of freak circumstances that won`t necessarily be repeated" next time.
  Presumably the Tory party in 2022 will no longer be the divided one it is now, but will have united around a charismatic leader like Rees-Mogg or Amber Rudd, whose stirring speeches will have emboldened thousands of young activists across the country? It will no longer be advocating lower taxes for the rich, divisive education policies, arms sales to whatever dictatorship willing to buy, and a national minimum wage well below  the level  required for a decent life? By then the Tory government will have regulated the rental sector so that tenant exploitation by Rachman-like landlords will no longer exist, and the public sector will be well funded with no recruitment crises? The Brexit deal will have been sealed with hunky-doryness on all sides, and callous austerity policies and cuts forgotten?
     Rawnsley admits the "Corbyn sceptics in the parliamentary Labour party have gone mute since June", and not without reason. Time perhaps for Mr Rawnsley to follow suit!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Labour United`s season starts well!

With the season in its early stages, Labour United look set to improve on the encouraging results seen last June. Still relying too much both on the manager to weave his magic, and on the opposition being divided, with Conservative City`s leader clearly having "lost the dressing-room", Labour cannot assume victory to be inevitable. Hard work and thorough preparation are required.
    Home contests will be close, but as long as all stick to the game plan, concentrate on providing a united front, with no individuals trying to be different with an alternative plan of attack, all should be well. Old hands have had their day, the game has changed, the opposition are tougher and certainly better financed, and it is time to keep to the newer tactics which served them so well last season.
     Europe could well be a problem, and United have to be careful its policies do not divide the fans. Defence, too, can be problematic for Corbyn, but a principled approach works wonders!
     Conservative City`s finances have never been in better shape, which means their tactics can be adopted to suit the more modern times. Using social media to keep the fans up-to-date and well-informed, a tactic which worked well for United in the past, is something all opposition teams will copy. Having, and keeping, a young fan-base has always been City`s problem, but with its current manager, and with the list of leaders-in-waiting, lacking any plans to win their support,the dilemma looks set to remain.
     May`s managership has led to a dramatic change in tactics, with the formation now favouring a three-pronged attack on the right-wing, and too few offensives down the centre to worry the opposition. In fact, the three attackers are definitely more anti-strikers than "false number 9s"! One of the three, Davis, has a reputation for only putting in short shifts, whilst the strangely popular Johnson hits the news more for his off-the-ball behaviour than his skills in the opposition half. Johnson was May`s surprise selection, especially as his post-match gaffes tend to outnumber even his missed goal opportunities. Shooting on sight appears his modus operandi, whilst team mates would prefer a more considered approach. 
        The third anti-striker is renowned for wanting the "right result", and for not doing enough to achieve it. Considered the team expert on defence for a short while, Fox`s career seemed to have ended when it was discovered he had smuggled a close friend on to the team bus! Fans love a "fox in the box", but this Fox`s contribution has been minimal, and he might well be spending more time this season on the Conservative`s backbench. With rumours that the Maydays are over, and that Rees-Mogg`s wide right-wing approach offers new vision, anything is possible.

      United should prosper, however, with its approach to academies offering more opportunities to maximise potential, whilst City`s youth policy seems in disarray. Manager May dropped a bombshell when what could be the end of City`s academy system was announced. Rather than grooming the best talent in academies, as has been the common practice in recent years, May was going for selection at eleven, and hoping to see talent develop from there. This caused a huge outcry when announced, even amongst Conservative City`s traditional supporters, and the subsequent U-turn has added to the confusion, and to May`s imminent sacking. Chairman Murdoch cannot be pleased, and many suspect her belated return from holiday to pre-season sessions was simply a ploy to avoid widening the obvious cracks in City`s ranks. May`s refusal to spend, to prop up the team`s ailing performance, when money is clearly not a problem, judging by her profligacy regarding the team`s Northern Irish support, is only one of many problems. Her preference for rhetoric rather than action is another; "talking a good game" is something most managers do, but most actually attempt to transfer words into deeds!     
   It could well, therefore, be an excellent season for Labour United. One certainly cannot fault the shift being put in by manager Corbyn; let`s hope his pre-season efforts reap dividends.

Who is ruling Britain?

It`s an obvious question to ask, but very rarely delivered, especially by the mainstream media. The answer should be, of course, the prime minister, democratically elected only last June, but when one looks at the actions taken and in the process of being taken, it becomes more difficult to say that Theresa May is actually governing the country. That explains why the question - who is ruling Britain? - is so rarely, if at all, asked.Until now. What an opportunity thsi provides the Labourparty - ready-made fuel to add to the Tory misery. A possible question for the PM at the Wednesday session, too.
    If one looks back to May`s election as Tory leader, in July last year, it is difficult to forget that long list of seemingly good intentions, just as it is difficult to find any of those promises being put into action. She promised to "fight against the burning injustices", to help the "just about managing", to lead a government "not driven by the interests of the privileged few", and, when passing new laws, to "listen not to the mighty" but to us, the people! The autumn statement and a budget have passed since, but if the "Jams" have been assisted in any significant way, I must have missed it.
 What has been unmissable has been the way the promises have been watered down, not because we, the electorate insisted, but because the "mighty" lobbying elements did. The pro-business lobby has been behind much of May`s proposals on corporate reform, something she said was vital because excessive pay at the top threatens the "social fabric of our society". Not vital enough, however; the pledge on workers` representatives on company boards fell at the first hurdle, and now it is up to non-executive directors to stand up against CEOs and argue for better pay ratios. The latter will be published but no legislation has been promised to reduce the ratios; instead, there will be a new public register of companies facing regular shareholder opposition to their pay policies. It`s no wonder both the CBI president and the director general of the Institute of Directors are in approval. Their organisations` lobbying has borne fruit, nothing has changed, CEOs will continue to pocket at least around 100 times the pay of their average employees, and May`s promises have been forgotten; her rhetoric is well known for its ability to outweigh her actions, something clearly Labour can rally around, and repeat as one!
   Sadly, there is much more evidence which proves who actually is in charge of this country, and they clearly care not a jot about the "fabric" of our society. We might be very concerned that our government is selling weapons to the Saudis so that they can bomb Yemen, a country so devastated by war that famine and disease are rife, but that doesn`t stop the arms industry lobbyists winning the day.

     Then there`s the food industry, a lobby so influential it insists the public is not told the whole truth about what it eats; the government can harp on all it likes about putting the nation`s security first, but stands back when faced with food contamination threats. Disraeli`s 1875 legislation on food safety, the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, was largely ineffective because of the 19th century`s shortage of analysts. Now we have the analysts, their work in the public sector has seen drastic cuts by years of Conservative-dominated governments, which have been intent on reducing massively the budgets of local authorities. Politicians never tire of telling us how "security" is their priority, justifying the billions spent every year on weapons and defence. What a shame, then, that they don`t attach similar importance to the people`s security from food contamination. The  Food Standards Agency apparently  wants to "improve relationships" with the food industry!  Is that an agency which is next to useless or what? Naming and shaming supermarkets and abattoirs for their contamination levels is not enough; it hasn`t exactly had much effect in reducing tax avoidance! And who takes responsibility  for all of this? Lobbyists, the people who are really ruling Britain.
Labour should be hammering home this point; the Tories are failing in their  responsibility to rule.  
Think of the biggest of the many U turns on the Tories` manifesto made since the election, and then consider who is responsible, not that the government`s arm needed much turning - the Tories clearly know exactly where their bread is buttered! No prizes for guessing which industry`s lobbying succeeded in getting rid of the pledge to cap energy costs, a vote-winner for Labour if ever there was one. 
The betting lobby ensures the continued existence of the addictive fixed-odds betting terminals on almost every high street, and a barrage of televised advertisements on primetime TV. The building industry`s influence over government means little or no affordable or social housing is being built, with doubt increasing about safety levels of those that have appeared, for very obvious and tragic reasons.
 As for the influence of the banking and financial sectors on government policy!! The lack of substantial regulation, the fact that next to no prison sentences have resulted from the many abuses and fraudulent acts, and the refusal of governments to introduce a financial transaction tax all speak volumes.
The question remains: who runs the country? One thing is certain, it`s not Theresa May, and the sooner the people know about it, the better. Labour should be shouting it from the rooftops!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Time to end this lame-duck government

The situation the country is now in is both ridiculous and frightening! We have a prime minister so divorced from reality she makes a statement claiming that there is a "great prize" awaiting us after Brexit, when the UK will become a "great global country" (Tory MPs in revolt as May threatens "soft" Brexiters, 03.09.17). Theresa May even thinks she will still be Tory leader in 2022!  Her party, as Andrew Rawnsley tells us, might be willing  to put up with a "lame-duck leader", because the alternative is a "bloodbath", followed by an election defeat, but the country cannot afford such selfish Tory mismanagement and the consequent "rudderless government"(How long will Mrs May survive? She`s the very last person to ask,03.09.17).
  Meanwhile, our uselessness in foreign affairs, personified by Johnson, results in arms being sold for use in Yemen, and offers nothing to ameliorate political and humanitarian catastrophes. At home, shortages of hospital beds, teachers, GPs and nurses, prison and police officers, firefighters, food and buildings` inspectors, HMRC staff and more, exacerbate problems caused by decreased funding for local authorities, and the many caused by government-enforced austerity policies and real-wage cuts.
   Not only MPs but all those with influence, from judges to lords, from archbishops to political commentators, should, in Anna Soubry`s words, see it as their duty, to "do what they believe is in the national interest", and speak out. Enough is enough, a general election is needed urgently. Political change at the top is essential.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Vice-chancellors not worth the money

With the universities minister, in typical Johnson fashion, U-turning his view that vice-chancellors` pay is not government business, there is now a demand for "institutions to justify any salary over £150,000", with a fine the punishment for failure (Vice-chancellors are urged to rein in their salaries, 07/09/17). Most voters would welcome such a requirement for all jobs, especially as the average income is only around £28,000, with real wages for most declining.
    The trouble is universities will be able to cobble together some feeble excuses for the excessive pay with vague comments like "brings in students from abroad", and "attracts new research". The government should insist on what the vice-chancellors achieve on their own, separate from other staff, away from team work, and distinct from the collegiate approach.
 Like school headteachers, vice chancellors` success is only achieved because of the work of staff as a whole.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Let`s hear it from more dignitaries

Well done the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the IPPR’s commission for speaking out about the dire situation the country is in, with worse to come (Britain’s economy is “broken” and failing to tackle inequality, says major new report). That a “radical new approach” is essential is something that needs to be repeated, and the more it is said by dignitaries like archbishops, judges, lords and business leaders, and even celebrities. The more publicity is gained, and the more likely the public and their politicians are to respond.
Challenging our Government, which has the nerve to say it is “proud of its record”, when the Brexit talks are at a standstill, there are drastic shortages of teachers, GPs, nurses, midwives, police and prison officers, building and food inspectors, carers and many more, when real wages have declined, business pay ratios often obscene, and the austerity policies continue to attack the least fortunate, cannot just be left to a Labour opposition which frequently gets a bad press in the right-wing media.
At a time when the “austerity chickens” are coming home to roost, and more and more people are appalled, it’s time a few more influential people made their voices heard. It wouldn’t hurt if that included some royals, and if protocol or custom prevented that, how about some well-publicised royal visits to food banks and hostels for the homeless?

St Olave`s and an end to Pre-Us

Refusing year 13 places to pupils who have already twice proved their academic prowess is, quite simply, a disgrace (Weaker pupils "dumped" by top grammar, 30/08/17). If St Olave`s, and any other school adopting similar policies, cannot be bothered to try and raise grades from Cs in the mocks to Bs in the final A level examination, they cannot be doing their job properly. All of their students achieved brilliant results at GCSE, so offering them the opportunity for further examination success at A level is their educational duty! Many students go on to university without top A level grades, anyway, and maximise their potential in higher education.
     Having taught A level history for over 40 years in educational establishments where results mattered, but not at the expense of everything else, as apparently happens in "exam factories", one of the most satisfying aspects of the work was seeing students improving, often by more than one grade, in the second year of the course. When management is more "intent on topping the league table", than caring for the welfare of all of their pupils, criticism has to be directed at not only the individual schools, but the system. Having school league tables based only on examination results encourages such devious tactics as those used at St Olave`s.        The sooner this country has a government which insists its schools have the well-being of all pupils as their priority the better. Perhaps a think-tank could devise "a performance measure" based on that ("It was dreadful. There were children in tears", 3/08/17)?

It was interesting to see that the statement from the Diocese of Chichester on behalf of St Olave`s school said that the aim "as a school" is to "nurture boys who flourish and achieve their full potential academically", rather than, as in most schools, to nurture their pupils in order for them to maximise their achievement (Top grammar in U-turn over ditched pupils, 02/09/17). As some of your correspondents suggested, there can be little faith in the ability of staff to raise standards, which, of course, is what they should be concentrating on (Letters, 01/09/17).
      For once, the policy of "naming and shaming" has worked, and a school cheating the system has been forced to change policy, but the revelations about the examination-cheating public schools can only be shown to have a desired effect when the so-called Pre-U examinations are no longer viable as university entrance qualifications. With no limits to the proportion of students universities can enrol from private schools, only private sector pupils taking these examinations, and independent school staff, in many cases, actually writing the questions, the current post-16 assessment system is both unfair and flawed. 
    On the Pre-U website, Winchester College recommends these examinations, as they "are very liberating for teachers". Indeed! If the government really wants the "public to have confidence in the integrity of the exam system", as Nick Gibb says, it needs to ensure Ofqual advocates the use of ordinary A-levels in all schools. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

University reform urgently needed

The results of the IPPR report indicating that 134 university students took their own lives in 2015, and that as many as 26% of students in some universities "were using counselling services, or on the waiting list", are appalling (Suicide rates nearly double among UK university students to reach all-time high, study finds, 02/09/17). Far too much pressure is being exerted on our students, in 6th forms as well as in higher education, to attain the highest grades, so much so that creditable C and B grades, and second class degrees, are being sneered at.
   The current system is not designed to benefit the students, and universities are profiting, with vice-chancellors now pocketing excessive pay. The stress of leaving universities with debts of up to £50,000, and interest charged at over 6%, is clearly intolerable.

 A simple reform which could be introduced immediately is for universities to place in their publicity exact details of how many hours in each course is taken up by lectures, how much time is devoted to tutorials where academic problems can be discussed, and how much support for the welfare of the students there is. Whether there are personal tutors available, and how many, to deal with welfare issues surely is something all universities should make public. Being "overwhelmed" by the increase in mental health issues is not a viable excuse! If they are too ashamed to publish such details, they have the money to correct the situation;  they could start with capping vice-chancellors` pay, and spending the excess on employing more counsellors and personal tutors!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Too many top schools cheating the system

What your report on the grammar school which "boots out kids to keep up its league-table scores" omitted to include was the fact that the school in question, St Olave`s, insists on all entrants passing an exam at the age of 11, and also has a high threshold for entry into the 6th form (Morning Star, 30/08/17). The pupils excluded for failing to achieve 3 Bs in the interim exams had already proved themselves twice to be academically brilliant, so refusing them the opportunity to study in year 13 is inexcusable. Management, it seems, is more intent on  their school rising to the top of the examinations` league table, than giving all of their pupils the opportunity to take A levels. The welfare of the pupils matters not a jot, it would appear!
What makes this more annoying is the fact that these clever students will be welcomed at nearly all universities, regardless of whether they get grades A, B or C, and many of them will exceed expectations at higher education. One would also think that the teachers would relish the challenge of improving the grades of these pupils from the ones attained in year 12, something that most teachers find extremely rewarding.

 The current system of league tables imposed by recent governments encourages such behaviour in these "exam factories". If there have to be league tables, lets have one which concentrates on rewarding schools which aim to maximise the opportunities for all pupils, and offer them a level playing field on which to do so.

Enough is enough!

As Stephen Bush says, May`s successor "faces an uphill battle to be anything other than a brief pause before Corbyn takes over" (Politics, 25th August, 2017). We have now reached a stage where all political correspondents, apart from those stuck rigidly  on the extreme right, have a duty to urge the need for an election, and political change. The nation`s security is now at risk. Not only do we have the ridiculous situation of our government callously selling arms to Saudi Arabia knowing full well that they will be used against disease and famine-ridden Yemen, but also, as Michael Axworthy tells us, the same government is aware that the Saudis` funding for Wahhabi extremism beyond its shores is connected to "terrorist acts committed in the UK" (Islam`s great schism, 25th August,2017). We need our government to stand up to the Saudis, and if the Tories refuse, we should be allowed to elect one which will.
    Security against food contamination is also something about which May`s government is becoming increasingly relaxed, and the next horsemeat-type scandal can only be weeks away; as a result of continuing austerity policies, local authorities lack the funds to carry out their duty to test foods sold in their area, and the Food Standards Agency has been ordered to "improve relationships" with the food suppliers!
 Enough is enough! It is up to the political writers in the media to lead the charge for change!

Friday, 1 September 2017

3 letters on "fat cat" pay

Len McCluskey is right to say that the government`s derisory attempts to curb fat cats` obscene pay levels were "evidence of the big business lobby bringing the Tories to heel" (Morning Star, 29/08/17). Publishing pay ratios, having non-executive directors to represent employees on boards, and introducing a new public register of companies facing shareholder opposition over pay policy are as likely to reduce inequality as naming and shaming Amazon and Google was in reducing tax avoidance.
    The strength of the pro-business lobby begs the question about who actually is governing the country. The arms lobby ensures we supply the Saudis with weapons to destroy famine-ridden Yemen. The food industry ensures regulation of the food sold in our supermarkets and the meat produced in the abattoirs is being reduced, with local authorities starved of the funds to do the work. There is a food scandal waiting to happen in Britain, akin to the Grenfell housing scandal revealing insufficient checking of obvious rules and regulations.The food lobby prevents accurate and useful information being printed on every item sold, whilst the betting lobby ensures the continuation of the addictive fixed-odds betting terminals. The building industry`s influence over government means little or no affordable or social housing is being built, with doubt increasing about safety levels of those that have appeared.
With lack of space preventing a mention of other powerfull lobbying concerns (banking, financial, landlords etc) the question remains: who runs the country? One thing is cer


The facts that the CBI president, Paul Dechsler, backs "the thrust of Ms May`s moves" to tackle the "unacceptable face of capitalism", and that the director general of the Institute of Directors, Stephen Martin, thinks pay ratios will "sharpen the awareness of boards", say it all (Government attacked over new laws on excessive "fat cat" pay, 29/08/17). May`s attempts to clamp down on excessive boardroom pay are farcical. There is no way the voluntary publication of companies` pay ratios, non-executive directors representing employees, or a new public register of companies facing regular shareholder opposition over top-level pay will make any difference whatsoever. Without legislation forcing companies to comply, and without proper workers` representatives having a say on companies` pay policies, CEOs will continue to pocket obscene levels of pay, with the inevitable continued increase in inequality, and decrease in productivity.
   Apparently, May has opined that the irresponsibility of excessive pay damages the "social fabric of our society", but her rhetoric is well known for its ability to outweigh her actions, and once again she has backed down to the pro-business lobby which dominates her party. Unfortunately, that same lobby cares not a jot about about the condition of our society. Hopefully, Labour politicians will unite and attack this open goal, for this is clearly another example of the Tory leader shooting herself in the foot, and gifting the Opposition more vote-winning opportunities! 


Andreas Whittam Smith`s confidence in "public pressure" working to reduce fat cat pay will not be shared by many, with, as he admits, the average "full time worker on a salary of £28000" having to work 160 years to earn what a CEO of a big company receives in a year (Fat cat pay is not justified when productivity is so poor - and the government is starting to realise this, 30/08/17). It`s little wonder British productivity is so low, when so much of companies` profits go on bosses` obscene pay levels  rather than in investment in training and technology.
      May`s attempts to clamp down on excessive boardroom pay are farcical. There is no way the publication of companies` pay ratios, non-executive directors representing employees, or a new public register of companies facing regular shareholder opposition over top-level pay will make any difference whatsoever. Does May, or indeed Whittam Smith, actually believe the employees` representative arguing against yet another pay award for the boss will have any impact? Without legislation forcing companies to comply, and without proper workers` representatives having a say on companies` pay policies, CEOs will continue to pocket obscene levels of pay, with the inevitable continued increase in inequality, and decrease in productivity.
   Apparently, May has opined that the irresponsibility of excessive pay damages the "social fabric of our society", but her rhetoric is well known for its ability to outweigh her actions, and once again she has backed down to the pro-business lobby which dominates her party. Unfortunately, that same lobby cares not a jot about about the condition of our society. Hopefully, Labour politicians will unite and attack this open goal, for this is clearly another example of the Tory leader shooting herself in the foot, and gifting the Opposition more vote-winning opportunities! 


Sunday, 27 August 2017

More on manipulation of our history

John Elledge is only partly right when he says that "the centrality of the Second World War to the national myth warps our view of history" (Left Field, 18th August, 2017). There is another very important factor contributing to the mythology which goes by the name of "national history", and that is the destruction of millions of files, and the continued secreting of millions more, by governments intent on manipulating the story of this country`s past. Only when thousands of Kenyans sued the British government in 2013 for damages after the Mau Mau rising of the 1950s did British historians become aware of Operation Legacy, and the deliberate destruction of evidence relating to the UK`s imperial past. The truth about the atrocities, looting and other varied acts of imperial barbarism have to be kept hidden!
    Elledge is totally right, however, in stating that Churchill`s role in the 1943 Bengal famine "rarely comes up in biopics", but the trouble is, it doesn`t appear either in the best selling biographies of the wartime leader, like the one by pseudo-historian, Boris Johnson. Nothing must, it seems, damage the version of our "glorious past", and judging by the Brexit vote, that mythology still reigns supreme. The sooner the 1.2 million files hidden at Hanslope Park are released for scrutiny, the better!

Friday, 25 August 2017

"Skin-crawling" is catching!

It`s no surprise that Hillary Clinton has admitted that Trump made her "skin crawl" during a televised debate, as he must have a similar effect on millions every time he appears on television (Hillary Clinton says Trump made her "skin crawl" during TV debate, 24/08/17). What makes it disappointing, however, is that it makes May`s efforts to court friendship with him as soon as he was elected even more embarrassing.
   Are we to believe our country is in such dire straits, and so desperate for trade deals, that our prime minister will never have the courage to criticise this most arrogant and despicable of American leaders? The answer appears to be in the affirmative, as any leader, regardless of the lack of democracy and civilised behaviour in his country is fair game for British envoys. The fact that huge food shortages in Yemen, coupled with the inevitable disease, does not stop either the Saudis bombing, or the British selling them the means with which to do it, must go down in history as one of the most callous action by any country since World War Two.
   Trump makes my "skin crawl" too, but others closer home have the same effect!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Osborne: Brexit and ambition

There were many reasons 37% of those eligible to vote did vote to leave the EU , ranging from believing the lies about £350m a week going to the NHS, and getting back control, to anger over immigration, and a desire to return to our "glorious past". George Osborne was heavily involved in bringing about the Brexit result on at least two counts, so when he warns the Tory cabinet that Britain is "not ready to crash out of the EU", and that the EU now has the "upper hand" in the negotiations, one has to be suspicious about his reasons (Brexit: UK "not ready to crash out of EU",George Osborne says, 22/08/17).
   Osborne had instigated the austerity policies which hit the least fortunate hardest, harmed the rich not an iota, and did nothing to decrease the North-South divide, so many voted for Brexit to get back at Tories like him and Cameron. Then, in desperation over the 2015 election polls, Osborne came up with his "Northern powerhouse" idea, something which might attract votes, but which he thought would never be implemented in a coalition government, which at the time was the Tories` best hope. By 2016, voters knew Osborne had lied about it, so when his warnings came about the dire effects on the economy Brexit would cause, no one believed him.

  How typical of this duplicitous Tory to step in again with another warning. Nothing to do with leadership ambitions, surely?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Guardian letter on university reform

Sonia Sodha in her article on university reform was absolutely right to say that "the value for money question is critical", not only because of the idiotically high fees and interest rate on the loans, but because of the ever-decreasing teaching and tutorial times  (Journal:turn the universities into comprehensives, 18/08/17). "University reform should start", not only with reducing fees but with making it compulsory for all degree course publicity to include the number of hours, both of teaching time in each year of the course, and in tutorial time where any academic problems can be dealt with. Whether personal tutors are available or not should also be included.
      Sodha`s suggestion of "introducing a quota for working-class students" might run into problems relating to definition. An insistence that no university is allowed to recruit more than seven per cent of its undergraduates from private schools, in line with national figures, would be preferable.

Friday, 18 August 2017

New Statesman letter on foreign policy

Stephen Bush makes the debatable points that the Tories "might be able to win an argument about Venezuela", and that most of the British voters don`t have "a flicker, let alone a quantum, of interest in foreign affairs", with the implication that the latter is good news for Labour, as the Tories are hopelessly divided on domestic issues (Politics, 11th August, 2017). The patronising idea that the people don`t mind their leader sucking up embarrassingly to Trump, Erdogan and dictatorial leaders in the Middle East is, quite frankly, insulting; Bush will be writing next that the public think it perfectly acceptable for the UK to sell weapons to the Saudis to be used in Yemen, adding to the misery of millions already suffering horrendously from the effects of famine and disease.
   If Britain`s right-wing-dominated media concentrated their efforts more on showing the crisis in Yemen rather than trying to embarrass Corbyn over Venezuela, more on May`s failure to urge a more conciliatory and diplomatic approach from America over North Korea than comparing Labour`s nationalisation policies on railways and energy to Maduro`s economic troubles, political commentators like Bush would soon realise their mistake. 
 In this age of sabre-rattling politicians and dictatorial autocrats, leaders who stand by their principles and urge caution, and an end to belligerent rhetoric, stand out a mile. Thank goodness the British public has begun to realise Labour has one.

Rees-Mogg for Tory leader (i letter)

According to Katy Balls, Jacob Rees-Mogg has "shown that traditional conservative values - yes to fox-hunting, no to gay marriage - can have a place in modern times" (Where Moggmentum goes next, 17/08/17). There must have been a "typo", with the capital letters and speech marks omitted! The Chaplin movie, made in 1936, certainly appeared at a time when such "values" might have had "a place", but there certainly would not be one on an election-winning Tory manifesto in the 21st century.
Mind you, if Tories want to choose Rees-Mogg as their leader, that`s fine with me. The sooner we have a Labour government, the better!

 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Full Guardian letter on schools

I was pleased to see a contemporary of Bowie, Howard Scholey, defending their old school, in the wake of Hanif Kureishi`s attack (Letters, 15/08/17). I taught for over thirty years in a comprehensive school in a deprived area, and whilst some pupils probably thought of it as such, it never deserved to be classed as a "shithole"; to be fair, some pupils would never have had the chance to witness what went on in the examination classes, or see the delight and relief on results` day. There were certainly numerous unruly pupils and many lessons disrupted, even a small number of "hopeless" teachers, but, like in Bromley I suspect, most were hardworking, not just "okay", and many colleagues were "inspirational".
 Hundreds of pupils did "progress to a university education", about a dozen to Oxbridge, so whilst many will doubtless still have unhappy memories of their school years, hopefully many more will not.
   Schools tend to get labelled, with local press and gossip not helping, resulting in the "label" being difficult to change. Had the school I taught in, for instance, not had such a reputation, many hundreds more parents would have enrolled their children there, and more students would have stayed on for A levels, improving the results and educational experience even further. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Independent letter on May`s holiday

A prime minister who goes back to work “almost four weeks after she began her summer break” does not deserve to be in office, taking the people she is meant to govern for what clearly is a ride.
Even worse, with so many crises developing both in this country and in the world in general, it becomes almost criminal for a democratically-elected leader to absent herself at such a time, and it now behoves parliament to pass legislation prohibiting such glaring unprofessionalism ever happening again.
Work is urgently needed to clarify the Brexit situation, caution is needed from the UK`s apparent “closest ally”, words of leadership are essential to deal with prison and midwifery problems, and policies need to be formulated on caring and health, education funding and so many other issues.
It matters not a jot that she is “a dead man walking”, or whether she has been told to stay away by party bigwigs. May is the Prime Minister and needs to do her job, or be replaced immediately.  

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Observer letter on Compassionate Conservatism

What Will Tanner doesn`t appear to realise is that, with the prospect of another election hanging "Damoclean-like over the Conservative party", it`s not only the "message which needs to change" (To win again, the Tories must become radical champions of fairness, 06.08.17). It cannot be only pro-Remain Tory voters who view the present group of leaders with distrust, especially as they display behaviour which not only has clearly far more to do with personal ambition than the electoral prospects of the party, but which contrasts sharply with the principled stance adopted by their Labour rival. 
     As for the Tories becoming "radical champions of fairness", there is more chance of Shergar being found alive and well! History shows that the Conservative party is based on preserving the wealth, property and benefits enjoyed by the wealthy, who in return become party donors. Businesses have their regulations reduced by Conservative governments so that they can make more profits, and in return, help to fund the party. "Fairness" per se has never been a Tory objective. Leaders like Cameron and May might well espouse ideas like the need to act on "relative poverty" and help the "just about managing", but the rhetoric found reality with austerity measures aimed at the least fortunate, and "burning injustices" being ignored.

   Does Tanner really expect the Tories to tackle "corporate excess", regulate greedy landlords, and increase tax "on unproductive parts of the economy, such as property", when so many Tory MPs, supporters and donors would be targeted? If there is such a thing as the ultimate oxymoron, it has to be "compassionate Conservatism"!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

2 Independent letters: Venezuela and Cable

How refreshing to read something sensible at last about Corbyn's reaction to the recent crisis in Venezuela, by Mary Dejevsky. Of course he was being set up by the right to "divert attention from the two main parties divisions over Brexit", and no matter what his response was, the Labour leader would be criticised.
What makes this so typical of the right's behaviour in politics currently is that little or no demands are made of Theresa May to denounce the atrocities committed every day by her allies in the Middle East or for her to pressurise the Saudis into stopping the bombing of Yemen.
Venezuela has, as Dejevsky says, provided the UK media "with a stick to beat Corbyn with", but the many opportunities offered by May's flirting with the likes of Trump and Erdogan are ignored.Sasha Simic's letter rightly stated that the media should be working to insist May tone down Trump's bellicose outbursts, but as she doesn't even keep her own Foreign Secretary sufficiently under control, there is no chance of her being a force for peace anywhere.

Sir Vince Cable’s desperation to win back lost Lib Dem voters has hit a new low. Claiming that the older Brexit voters with “views coloured by a nostalgia for an imperial past” have “shafted” the young really does take the biscuit, seeing as it was he and his Lib Dem associates who agreed to support the Tories’ austerity policies, which ruined the future for so many young people. 
Not only did their complicity bring about all the cuts and real wage decreases, it harmed the education of so many by slashing state school funding and ending the important Education Maintenance Grant, and, of course, is the reason for graduates leaving university with £50,000 debt.
The good news is that young people, as revealed by the last election, are more interested in politics than they have been for forty years or so, and most certainly will have “sussed” out Cable, his motives and his hypocrisy.

Morning Star article on Manipulation of History

The day after possibly the worst day in British military history, July 1st, 1916, the News of the World reported that the "day went well". 20,000 British soldiers had been mown down in the first hour of the Battle of the Somme. As Tuesday`s editorial mentioned, it was the wartime Prime minister, Lloyd George, who insisted the people at home "can`t know" the awful truth (Morning Star, 01/08/17). The trouble is the British people have not only been fed lies about events during wars, they have not even been told the whole truth about the country being at war in the first place. A list of British military engagements in the same editorial lacked completeness, with Vietnam and Oman notable absentees!
     An argument can be made for remembering the courage and bravery of soldiers, as happened recently with the men from both sides who fought at Passchendaele 100 years ago, but there is a danger that, if wars are only remembered for bravery, little will be learned. People need to be reminded of the politicians` mistakes which caused the wars, the nationalism which was glorified  through education, and which was embraced by the politicians, the atrocities which all sides committed, the appalling weapons and tactics of mass destruction which were used, and the misinformation which is always fed to the public to justify all wars. How many British people have ever been told, or have even heard of, the fact that poisonous gas, or to use its modern description, chemical weapons, were used against the Germans in the First World War? Indeed, wasn`t it a certain Winston Churchill who insisted on keeping these weapons for further use in the Middle East? Commemorations, like films, often perpetuate myths, rather than destroy them!
    The film to see this summer, apparently, is "Dunkirk", but even this focuses on bravery, fellowship and courage rather than historical accuracy. Nigel Farage has endorsed it, for goodness sake, for all "youngsters" to watch! The film ignores, for example, the fact that Britain had the backing of a global empire, and was never standing "alone", and omits any acknowledgement of the roles both of the Royal Indian Army Services Corps, who were on the beach and moving supplies, and the sailors from SE Asia and India who were on the British merchant vessels. French colonial troops at Dunkirk were conspicuous only by their absence, and apart from one crowd scene, white faces predominate. How is this country ever going to come to terms with the truth of its past if its major blockbusting films insist on historical inaccuracy?
     Books which do trim away some of the layers of mythology which permeate our history are available, however, for summer reading, and  people who read them cannot fail but realise how the distorted and manipulated version of our past plays far too an important role in today`s society. Britain`s "burning the historical evidence", recounted in Ian Cobain`s book, "The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation", was done for the same reason Special Operations Executive records on its "incompetence" over failing to protect its agents in France during WWII, "disappeared in a fire", as told in "Last Hope Island: Britain, Occcupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War", by Lynne Olson.      

      The conspiracy to indoctrinate British people that this country has a glorious past, to be remembered with "fondness and respect", and superior to all others, is shameful, and still continues, but another book, "The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us", by Keith Lowe, sets out to dispel a number of enduring myths. Using the experiences of those who lived through the conflict, Lowe refutes the idea that, whilst all Nazis were evil, the allies` moral purity won the day. Similarly, the belief, as most propaganda tells us, that it was essentially a European war is dispelled, with very effective evidence from, in particular, Sam King, a Jamaica-born RAF veteran.
     Let`s hope not only that the books become best-sellers, but that they start a trend for accurate history-telling.
      The UK`s so-called  "glorious past" actually refers to a time when the country`s wealth was created by the slave trade, piracy and looting, whilst native populations existed in a state of servitude, with atrocities and extreme acts of barbarity committed by British troops ensuring little or no resistance. Isolation was never a reality nor "splendid"! If ever we are to accept the veracity of our past, and if Germany can, it should be possible here, three changes have to be made:
 journalists and writers generally, must stop referring to the past in such terms as "Britain`s imperial glories", and her "buccaneering spirit", as they engender unhelpful images, and can contribute to ridiculous ideas about racial superiority;
 the vast archive of over 1.2 million files, which governments keep hidden from the prying eyes of historians at Hanslope Park must be handed over to the National Archives at Kew;
 the department of education has to insist on the teaching of accuracy whenever British history is delivered, with less reliance on so-called "facts", and more on analysis and evaluation of evidence, so that the students` use of "lacking completeness" can be highly rewarded. 
   Until all established beliefs about Britain`s past are thrown into question and the truth revealed and accepted, there is little chance of reducing the bigotry which permeates our society.