|The Way We Live Now||Some observations on contemporary society by Junius|
The writing on the wall
Under New Labour's education set-up, you can either learn to read or - should that prove to be too difficult - you can opt to memorise a passage and pretend to be reading it. The Department of Education claims that the proportion of 11-year-olds achieving the expected standard in reading has risen from 67 per cent in 1997 to 82 per cent last year. But Durham University has found that in reality reading scores are virtually unchanged over the period, and that so called high stakes tests are inherently unreliable. In effect, many children have not been learning to read but only how to pass the tests. This, of course, helps to explain why the performance of some 11-year-olds appears to dip after they transfer to secondary school. The fact that the DofE actually admits to one in five being illiterate is appalling. The reality, that the proportion of those able to read may be not much more than 50 per cent, borders on the criminal. Parents need to start asking questions and demanding answers. But please note that teachers could face prosecution if they put forward thoughtful suggestions as to why the system is failing!
Going, going, gone!
The above quotes are from our good old standby the 1932 edition of Everyman's Encyclopaedia. And indeed, once upon a time, the names of both these famous houses were spoken with a reverence not far short of that accorded to British royalty. Seventy years on, and things have changed. Alfred Taubman, an American multi-millionaire, who bought a controlling interest in Sothebys in 1983, has been jailed for a year and fined £5.3 million for colluding with Christie's in a "deceitful, secretive criminal scheme" which has "swindled an unsuspecting public." This gangster is so rich he need never have stooped to crime but, with some people, it is just a way of life. So much for our British heritage, and so much for the way we live now!
A new recruit?
Sinful he may be, but Keith Vaz, Labour MP and disgraced former Minister for Europe, is a comical character. To combat the electoral appeal of what is described as the far right, he argues that more people from ethnic minorities should be appointed to public bodies. In other words, the main criteria must be race and colour, regardless of whether the appointee has the qualifications, aptitude and imagination to do a useful job.
Yet somehow we feel that nationalists ought to be grateful to Keith for his brilliant suggestion. After all, it is this sort of racist bigotry that helps to drive British working folk into the arms of those he most fears!
Bloody Sunday - Bloody expensive!
The enquiry as to what happened in Londonderry on a fateful day in 1972 has always seemed to us to be a pointless exercise. When there is civil disobedience, it is always possible that there will be casualties. The 13 who died could have stayed at home. But, as usual, human misery has provided choice pickings for that bunch of vultures known as the legal profession. Lawyers representing the MoD have so far picked up around £10 millions, which includes a fee of £2,155,288 paid to just one barrister, Mr, Edwin Glasgow QC, while Allan Green QC, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, has pocketed £693,733 in just three years. It has been estimated that by 2004, when the findings are published, the poor old taxpayers will have forked out £l20 millions to pay for this blatant sop to IRA/Sinn Fein. That is almost certainly an underestimate and, of course, takes no account of all the compensation that this daft government will be required to pay.
Another nice little earner
Sixty years on, and it appears that many of the 25,000 dormant accounts held by Swiss Banks could have been linked to "victims of the Nazis." Prudent as ever, these banks have set aside £892 million to meet possible claims following a three-year investigation by four top accountancy firms. As you might well imagine, the complex work involved trying to reconstruct the history of individual accounts from fragmentary records, and ascertaining whether clients had survived the holocaust. So, what with having to hire 650 forensic accountants, bringing back retired Swiss accountants capable of reading the old Gothic German script, and diligently repairing files that had fallen apart, it was always going to be an expensive business. But £430 million??? "Beyond belief" said Labour's Lord Janner. However, the banks will be footing the bill.
A very mixed-up newspaper
This sickening quote comes not from the mucky Mirror but from the leader column of the Daily Telegraph. It is arguably the most gratuitously offensive racist/ageist piece of prose that we have read in many a long year. A crime, it seems, will be more, or less, scandalous according to the age and colour of the victim. Such twisted thinking is, however, typical of an establishment which is fast losing its reason.
Facing the facts
Sub-Saharan Africa has more AIDS/HIV patients than any other region in the world. South Africa has more people infected with AIDS than any other nation; at least 10 per cent of the population is affected. However, scientists have been reluctant to tell the truth about the incidence of the illness for fear of being accused of racism. Until recently, South African President Thabo Mbeki, talked of a "white conspiracy" ascribing the spread of AIDS to the sexual habits of Africans, and preferred to blame poverty, poor sanitation and inadequate sexual health care for the problem. Nevertheless, Mr. Mbeki's own Constitutional Court forced the government to make anti-HIV drugs available in public hospitals. And now, finding himself somewhat out of step with both scientific fact and the rest of the world, the President has admitted that promiscuity can contribute to the spread of HIV. Amazing!
No progress in Bradford
Lord Ouseley, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, deserves our sympathy. In July last year, after many months of painstaking investigations he and his team published a report on Race and Equality in Bradford. This was brimful of clever and pertinent suggestions, including a call for the city to embrace the theme of citizenship in its schools to ensure that all its young people were taught about diversity. And, as his Lordship said at the time of publication, "Deep changes in attitude and behaviour must be achieved across all communities to make all people proud of Bradford as a place to live and worship." But here's the sad bit. It appears that all this pompous baloney has been ignored.
Bienvenu à tout le monde!
A county council spokesman has affirmed, to our amazement, that no less than 80 languages are spoken in neighbouring Surrey. What? All this, and only three miles down the road from us. Yet it seems that people around our way are still wasting their money on exotic holidays. And, if Sussex folk are envious, they should reflect that they always have Brighton, the homosexual capital of Europe, to fall back on.