Sunday, January 14, 2007

Leftists still attacking private political beliefs in others

We read:

"Around 50 protesters shouting the slogan "Ballet not bigotry!" staged a noisy protest overnight outside a London theatre where a ballerina and member of a far-right British political party was performing.....

Thirty police lined the street outside the theatre as ballet-goers arrived for the afternoon show. Most patrons expressed support for Clarke, calling the protest undemocratic. "They talk about their freedom, but what about ours?," said secretary June Mitchell, 58. "She shouldn't stand down because of her political beliefs."


Leftists will use any excuse to get publicity for themselves.


As anyone in urgent need of a plumber will testify, Polish immigration has some obvious benefits — a fact that hasn’t passed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The force formerly known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been inundated by applications from young Poles desperate to become officers. And the wave of hopeful candidates brings with it interesting implications for a service required to recruit half of its new officers from a reluctant Roman Catholic community.

Nearly 1,000 of the Province’s burgeoning Polish community have responded to a police recruitment drive — and they are nearly all Catholics. Poles accounted for 12 per cent of the 7,749 applicants, which could provide a lifeline for a force that has struggled to attract Catholic recruits.

The move, however, will not be popular in Poland. A report by the Polish police force that was leaked yesterday complained of a shortfall in Poland of up to 16,000 officers because of the vast numbers flocking to Britain and Ireland.

Under the policing reforms, the PSNI must recruit Catholics and non-Catholics equally, a restriction strongly disliked by Unionists because it leads to the rejection of able and willing Protestant candidates. But a combination of Republican intimidation and the lingering suspicion among Catholics that the PSNI remains a Protestant police force has ensured that its make-up is still disproportionately Protestant. Only 21 per cent of its officers are Catholic.

The PSNI advertised in Polish publications north and south of the border to encourage more of the estimated 30,000 Poles in Northern Ireland into their ranks. A further 150,000 live south of the border, where the Irish police are training Polish recruits. The charm offensive was not the PSNI’s first overture to the Poles. Late last year the PSNI announced that it was to host a police officer on secondment to improve relations with the Eastern European community, which has suffered a marked increase in hate attacks. A spokeswoman for the PSNI told The Times that Poles could count towards the quota of Catholics. She said: “When anybody applies for a post it is up to them to say what religion they are — Protestant, Catholic or other. If they put themselves down as Catholic they will fall within the 50-50 recruitment policy.” She said that the force was delighted with the response from the Polish community.

Critics are already citing the loophole as proof that 50-50 recruitment does not work. Ian Paisley Jr, son of the DUP leader and member of the Policing Board, said: “It highlights how ridiculous the whole policy is. You should not recruit on a religious basis.” He added that if Polish applicants refused to specify what religion they were they would be classified as “non-Catholics” and could deprive a Protestant recruit of a place.

Alex Atwood, the SDLP’s policing spokesman, admitted that it was not the perfect tool but said it was getting results. “There are always going to be hard cases that may or may not be deemed unfair, but 50-50 has worked very well to redress the balance.” With a salary of 22,000 pounds a recruit in the PSNI can expect to earn almost four times more than his counterpart in the Polish police.


Special needs are universal now

My children are special to me, and they have needs (like they need to be told to get up for school). But I don’t think they have special needs. The way things are heading, that alone may yet make them part of a “special” minority. The Ruth Kelly ballyhoo [where a British government minister put her kid into a private school to help him with his dyslexia] highlighted one problem with special needs education: the policy of “inclusion” which means sticking children with serious difficulties in mainstream schools without specialist help, to the detriment of all. But an even bigger problem is the crazed expansion of the category “special needs”.

According to the Department for Education, almost 1.5 million children in England now have special educational needs — around 18 per cent of the total. Call me stupid, but how could that possibly be? It must reflect the fashion for medicalising childhood problems — see apparent epidemics of everything from autism to attention deficit disorder. It could also have something to do with special needs being a ticket for schools to obtain resources and parents to get their children school places.

And that’s not all. This week Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, announced plans for all schools to adopt “personalised learning and teaching”. Today’s official mantra is that every child is unique — that is, they all have special needs.

God knows the system is bad enough, but this could make it worse. Even if state schools had resources for one-to-one teaching, a personalised system means abandoning the democratic ideal of a universal education. Except in rare cases, most kids surely do best by interacting with others and learning through a teacher who is more than their mentor or mate — not sitting in a personal ghetto with only their personal computer from which to copy the answers.



All Greenies should be made to commute on British trains before they condemn cars

Tony Ambrose finally lost patience with a rail company's excuses when he was forced to stand in a two-carriage train's only lavatory with two other people on the way to work. Mr Ambrose and other angry passengers have set up a protest group, More Trains Less Strain, and are planning a fares strike over the decision by First Great Western (FGW) to withdraw 20 carriages. The company, which has by far the worst punctuality record in the country, with more than a quarter of trains late, is saving 100,000 pounds per carriage in annual leasing and maintenance costs by sending them into so-called warm storage at Eastleigh in Hampshire.

It has cut trains in half, leaving dozens of stations in Somerset and Wiltshire with services made up of only one or two carriages even though people had been struggling to find seats on the old four-carriage services. FGW has also cancelled more than 700 services in the past four weeks, mainly because of a shortage of trains. Hundreds of passengers at Bath, Trowbridge, Keynsham, Bradford-upon-Avon and Salisbury are being left stranded on platforms, unable to squeeze on to trains that arrive already dangerously overcrowded. A fortnight ago a passenger fell into the gap between the train and platform at Bath Spa station as people surged towards the doors. Several other passengers have fainted on packed trains.

Train guards are frequently demanding that people get off and wait for the train behind, which turns out to be equally overcrowded. Commuters from Maidenhead, Twyford and other stations in the Thames Valley are also enduring severe overcrowding, with many having to abandon their journeys, because FGW has introduced a new timetable that favours more profitable long-distance trains. This week FGW tried to pacify passengers around Bristol by borrowing all the carriages from the St Ives and Looe branch lines in Cornwall. But this has created a separate outcry from Cornish passengers, who have had to travel on buses. The RMT union, which represents train and station staff, has complained that its members are being abused by frustrated passengers.

FGW is one of a growing number of rail companies struggling to reconcile sharp cuts in subsidy from the Government with a record growth in demand. More than 1.1 billion rail journeys were made in Britain last year, the highest number for 50 years. Last year FGW signed a new ten-year franchise deal under which it not only agreed to cease receiving a subsidy but committed itself to paying the Government a premium of 1.1 billion pounds.

More Trains Less Strain is holding a meeting on Tuesday in Bath at which it will announce a campaign of direct action, including a day when passengers will refuse to buy tickets or show passes. Mr Ambrose, a charity worker from Bath, said: "Why should people pay for such appalling treatment? The service has collapsed in recent weeks and it has become a lottery whether you will be able to get on a train. "Even First's staff are on our side - they can see the madness of storing trains in sidings when record numbers of people want to travel by rail." Caroline Copeland, a teacher from Oldfield Park near Bath, said that she had been late for a work three times in a week because the trains had been too crowded when they arrived. "Unless you are standing right beside the door when it stops, you have no chance of squeezing on."

Theresa May, the Shadow Leader of the House and MP for Maidenhead, called for FGW to be stripped of its franchise. "They are making a shambles of the service, with people abandoning trains and going by car and even talking of moving house to avoid the nightmare of rail travel," she said. "It is partly the Government's fault because it specified a reduced service to the bidders for the contract."

FGW said that the shortage of trains was being exacerbated by mechanical problems with the remaining fleet. A spokesman said that the company had agreed the reduction in carriages with the Department for Transport as part of its contract. The department denied that it was to blame and said that it had been up to FGW to decide how many carriages it needed.


Is Britain run by a deaf man? "Tony Blair has pledged to investigate the care of discharged soldiers after being challenged by a veteran of the Iraq conflict. During a televised exchange last night the Prime Minister apologised to Justin Smith after hearing that he had been left homeless and paying for medical care after two tours in Iraq. Mr Smith was discharged from the Army after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In the discussion, broadcast from the Royal Marines Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon, he told Mr Blair: "I have lost my house, my security, my self-belief." He had struggled to find temporary accommodation in Cornwall to be with his wife and had had to pay for some of his medical treatment. Mr Blair initially said that he could not believe that this was typical. But when members of the Royal British Legion insisted that it was, he said he would investigate." [Blair must be the only one who did not know of this problem. "The Times" and other newspapers have been highlighting it for months, if not years]

No comments: