Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More than a third of babies born in England and Wales are non-white

Fewer than two-thirds of babies born in England and Wales are now registered as 'White British'. Newly-released figures give the first official breakdown of births by ethnic identity, and offer a striking insight into the changing face of Britain's population. Of 649,371 babies born in 2005, 64.4 per cent were recorded as 'White British'. The next largest group were the 8.7 per cent who were recorded as Asian - of whom Pakistanis formed the biggest section with 3.7 per cent. Five per cent of babies were recorded as black - 3 per cent African, 1.2 per cent 'black or black British Caribbean' and 0.8 per cent 'other black' identities. Mixed race babies accounted for 3.5 per cent of births, while 5.1 per cent were Irish or 'other white identities' and 2.4 per cent were Chinese or 'other groups'. Just under 11 per cent had no ethnic identity recorded.

Yesterday's statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics follows a separate publication last week showing that a quarter of all babies are now born to immigrant mothers. In London the figure is 54 per cent, rising to 75 per cent in some boroughs. The fast-moving trend means that babies born to immigrant mothers are set to become the main driver of Britain's population growth within the next few years, taking over from immigration itself.

The data on ethnic identity of births reveal stark differences in the lifestyles and social norms of the UK's various communities. Virtually all Asian babies - more than 95 per cent - were registered by married parents compared to only around half of 'White British' babies and just a third of the Black Caribbean group. The proportion of births registered by single mothers - those where no father's details are given - was highest in the Caribbean group at 20.5 per cent followed by African (13 per cent) and 'White British' (7 per cent). By contrast in each of the three main Asian groups - Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi - fewer than 1.5 per cent of births were registered by a single mother.

The findings will reinforce concerns over the effects of broken homes and the lack of effective male role-models among black youths. The remaining births were registered to unmarried couples or by parents living separately. Half of all White British and African babies were born to mothers over 30, compared with 32 per cent of Pakistani babies and 29 per cent of Bangladeshi babies.

Commentators were divided over the implications of the figures. Monmouth Tory MP David Davies voiced concern not over the numbers of births to ethnic minorities but over the potential problems of social integration. He said: 'It is now more important than ever that those large number of people with different coloured skin join in with British society. 'Many of the people included in the figures will be black British or British Asian through and through, from the third and fourth generations, who are setting an example of integration to other ethnicities. 'The problem comes when large numbers of people of all ethnicities are not willing to use the language, are abusing our system and demanding that laws are changed to accommodate them.'

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think tank, said: 'This is a measure of the extent to which uncontrolled immigration is changing the nature of our society, against the wishes of a very large majority. 'Immigration is now expected to account for 70 per cent of our population increase in the next 25 years. This means we will have to build a city the size of Birmingham every three or four years to sustain the newcomers. 'The Government has allowed immigration to get out of control, but they still show no sign of a serious effort to reduce it.'


Amazing NHS negligence

A traumatised mother is suing the hospital where she says she had to endure the agony of a caesarean birth without pain relief. Sarah Carberry, 27, was given an epidural injection but claims it did not work. She said she screamed in pain as she felt every stroke of the surgeon's knife until her husband Chris demanded the operation be halted. She was then offered a general anaesthetic but decided for the baby's sake to carry on.

Thankfully, her 6lb daughter Ruby was delivered safely and is progressing well. But the first-time mother says the 40-minute ordeal has destroyed her dream of having a big family because she is too afraid of giving birth again. She and her husband, a finance manager, say they have yet to receive an apology and have instructed a solicitor to sue.

It was in June that Mrs Carberry, a beauty therapist from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, was admitted to Ormskirk & District General Hospital when her waters broke two weeks early. Doctors said labour could not be induced and she would need an emergency caesarean. She was taken into the operating theatre and given an epidural - an injection into the lower spine which feeds in anaesthetic through a tube. She said she knew immediately that it had not worked. 'I said I could still feel my legs and wiggle my toes, which they said was normal. Then they pricked my arm with a pin and I felt it. I said, "This hasn't worked, I'm going to feel the knife".

They said I was just stressed. It was only when they cut my womb open and I was screaming in agony that they finally took me seriously. 'I was shaking in pain. I was convinced I would die, but no one would listen to me. They continued until my husband said, "Stop the operation".'

An epidural is administered while the patient is sitting up. It is thought that the tube kinked when Mrs Carberry lay down and the anaesthetic failed to reach her spine. Suspecting what had happened, the anaesthetist attempted to top up the solution but Mrs Carberry said the glass container which holds the liquid shattered, and he said: 'There's nothing else we can do for you.'

At that point she refused a general anaesthetic. 'My body was going into shock and my husband was livid, but the last thing I wanted was to be knocked out when I didn't trust the medical team that were operating on me,' she said. 'The female surgeon said she could see the baby and needed to get it out. I told them just to get the baby out. 'I gripped a medic's hand throughout the operation and did breathing exercises, all the time asking them how long the operation was going to take, to focus my mind on the end. It was excruciating. 'They had to stitch up muscle, tissue, layers of fat and the skin. I felt it all. It was awful. 'Then they put my baby on my chest, which I don't think they should have done. I wasn't in control of my actions. I could have hurt her.'

Mrs Carberry was allowed home with Ruby after four days but had to be readmitted a week later as the caesarean scar was infected. She spent a week in hospital while her husband looked after Ruby at home.

Two weeks later, she said, she had a meeting with the head anaesthetist and head of midwifery at the hospital, and was told an investigation had been opened into her treatment but has heard nothing more from the trust. 'No one came to see me after the operation to explain anything. A few days later a doctor came to see me and said, "We're sorry this has happened to you".

'I wanted to have a large family. My parents have both died, and I rely on my brothers because of that. 'But I can't have another child now. What happened in that operating room will be with me for ever.'

A spokesman for Ormskirk hospital said: 'Our maternity unit delivers over 3,000 babies per year. The vast majority of new mothers are very pleased with our service. We have met with Sarah Carberry and are aware of some of the allegations being made. 'As with all complaints this is being treated very seriously and we have asked her to formalise her concerns so a full investigation can take place.' [Mealy-mouthed scum!]


Cambridge academic says he would not tolerate Jamaican neighbours

A Cambridge academic and novelist was at the centre of a race row after saying that he would not be able to tolerate living next door to Jamaican neighbours "playing reggae all day". George Steiner, 79, said he believed racism was inherent in everyone and that racial tolerance was merely skin deep.

The playwright and critic Bonnie Greer labelled him a "cranky old man", while Muslim groups accused him of an "offensive and lazy" racist generalisation. But other academics defended his honesty and right to express such views, saying they were a valuable addition to an important debate. "It's very easy to sit here, in this room, and say 'racism is horrible'," he said from his house in Cambridge, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College since 1969. "But ask me the same thing if a Jamaican family moved next door with six children and they play reggae and rock music all day. Or if an estate agent comes to my house and tells me that because a Jamaican family has moved next door the value of my property has fallen through the floor. Ask me then!"

Mr Steiner, whose Jewish family fled to America from Paris before the Nazi invasion of 1940, adds: "In all of us, in our children, and to maintain our comfort, our survival, if you scratch beneath the surface, many dark areas appear. Don't forget it."

American-born Ms Greer said: "He is wrong. People are aware of differences in other people, but being racist is being someone who sets out to harm someone based on the colour of their skin. "George Steiner can talk about his own feelings and talk about what is specific to himself, but to talk of a Jamaican family like that, this is Britain in 2008, what is he talking about? "He is a cranky old man and he should sit down and have a cup of tea. It's quite clear that he doesn't know what racism is."

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, expressed surprise at Mr Steiner's comments, saying his multicultural background and research into the Holocaust, should have made him more tolerant than most. He said: "Steiner appears to have made some rather lazy and offensive generalisations about entire groups of people such as Jamaicans. You would think he - of all people given his background - would know better by now."

But Dr John Allison, a South African-born law lecturer at Cambridge, said it was important to be open about racism. "There are subtle forms of racism and less subtle forms, but anything that provokes debate about the issues and gets them into the open is a good thing," he said.

Dr Robert Berkeley, deputy director of equality campaign body The Runnymede Trust, said: "I think it's good to recognise your own racism - and everyone has their prejudices - so that you can deal with it. Racism is something we struggle to talk about enough, and I am always happy for there to be a debate, provided no one is victimised as a result. But I don't agree with his view."

Although Cambridge University has worked hard to shed its white, middle-class image and take on more multicultural staff and students, only 16 per cent of Cambridge students are from ethnic minority backgrounds and roughly similar levels of staff. The city itself is overwhelmingly white. Official figures from the 2001 census reveal that 91 per cent of the city's population is white British, compared to 87 per cent nationwide, while the black and Asian populations combined make up little more than one per cent.

Dr Oke Odudu, a British-Nigerian law lecturer at Cambridge, said he has never encountered racism during his time there. "The atmosphere of the university is tolerant and the student population is extremely diverse," he said. "I never encountered any discrimination. It's a place where, if you are judged, it's going to be on the basis of academic performance, not your background."

Mr Steiner's interview with a Spanish newspaper followed the publication of his latest novel, My Unwritten Books, which is a semi-autobiographic work featuring graphic details of his sex life. At his current home, a substantial redbrick detached 1930s house in Trumpington, the leafy suburban outskirts of the city, he is likely to be safe from noisy neighbours, what black or otherwise. All the properties on his road are set well apart, interspaced with large, well-tended gardens. Asked by the Daily Telegraph if he now regretted what he said, Mr Steiner said: "No I do not, but I do not wish to comment further."


Pregnant teen flees to Ireland to escape social workers she fears will take her baby

Fascist British social workers again -- accountable to no-one but themselves

A mother-to-be has fled to Ireland because she fears social services are planning to seize her newborn child and have it adopted. Sam Thomas, 19, left Britain alone, despite being heavily pregnant. She discovered that her social worker had told the local hospital not to let her leave the maternity ward with her child - a girl - without social services being involved. The county council has not obtained a court order giving it authority to keep Miss Thomas in the hospital, and she has no history of being a danger to children - yet social workers appear convinced she is unfit to care for her baby.

Last night an MP who is campaigning against local authorities' power to remove children from their parents and have them adopted said he was aware of the case. Liberal Democrat John Hemming claimed that the local authority had been heavy-handed. In some cases, he said, fearful parents feel they have no option other than to flee to Ireland or Sweden, where it is difficult for councils to take children away from them. 'Miss Thomas is right to worry that if the new baby is taken into care after birth she might end up getting adopted,' he said.

Miss Thomas, staying in bed and breakfast accommodation in Ireland, said: 'All I want is the opportunity to prove I can be a fit mother - but I feel like I'm on the run. 'It's the only way to make sure I can have my baby girl and be with her in peace.'

She had been living in Yeovil, Somerset, with her mother Carol Hughes and looking forward to the birth of her first child. She became concerned, however, at Somerset County Council's growing interest in the birth, due in early October - and says it soon became clear that there was a risk she would not be able to keep her child. Miss Thomas accepts that she has harmed herself and taken an overdose in the past, but insists she has not been troubled by problems related to depression for two years. Yet council documents show her past difficulties are still considered serious.

There is a further issue surrounding claims that she has failed to take medication for a health condition related to blood-clotting. She feared a child protection conference arranged for today would result in her child being taken from her. A letter sent by Somerset County Council social worker Carly Barrett to Yeovil District Hospital earlier this month instructed that after the birth 'under no circumstances must Miss Thomas be discharged without Children's Social Care involvement'.

Miss Thomas fled to Wexford last week, where she is signed up with a GP and is in contact with Irish social services. She plans to name her daughter Ellie-Jay. She said: 'I don't want to be here - but I feel I have no choice. 'Social services have made me out to be an unfit mother but everything in their reports is either wrong, or out of context. They're not listening to anything I've got to say.' Miss Thomas's mother Carol is supporting her emotionally and financially from back home in Yeovil.


Documentary reveals hidden side of British mosque where extremist women urge Muslims to kill non-believers

Women preachers in one of Britain's most influential mosques are calling on Muslims to kill homosexuals and adulterers, a television documentary will reveal on Monday night. During a hardline rant at the London Central Mosque one preacher said Muslims who switch to another religion should also be slaughtered. The extremist sermons, filmed secretly by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, encourage a circle of listeners to follow a hardline Islamic code, urging Muslims not to talk to people from other religions. They describe Britain as the 'land of evil' and say the behaviour of other races is 'vile'.

The mosque, known as Regent's Park Mosque, is one of the most respected centres for moderate Islam in western Europe and has a major interfaith department which welcomes visits from other religious groups and thousands of British school children each year. However, the documentary exposes a hidden side to the mosque, where hardline Muslim women preach to study groups. The DVDs preach that disbelievers are 'evil, wicked, mischievous people...they do the most evil, filthy things'. In one of the recordings, a speaker says of the Jews: 'Their time will come, like every other evil person's time will come.'

Dr Ahmed Al Dubayan, the director general of the mosque, said the women were not authorised and did not reflect the views of the mosque. He said the mosque 'is committed to interfaith and cross-cultural understanding. It does not support or condone extreme views, racial hatred, violence or intolerance.' The Muslim Council of Britain, of which the mosque is an affiliate, said: 'Some of the statements are deeply offensive, but it would be very wrong, and quite unfair, to smear the whole centre.'

The documentary is a follow-up to Undercover Mosque, which investigated mosques in Britain more than a year ago. This found DVDs preaching intolerance on sale in a bookshop at the Regent's Park Mosque. The new programme says they are still there. Dr Al Dubayan pointed out the bookshop was run by an independent company and said: 'We made it clear that it was not acceptable to stock materials containing extremist views.'


Has Autumn come early to Britain?

With purple blooms of heather on the hills, crops of berries in the hedgerows and huge numbers of fungi fruiting around the country, the British countryside looks to have entered Autumn a month earlier than normal

Botanists and phenologists are reporting that the recent unseasonably miserable summer weather has caused widespread disruption to the normal ebb and flow of Britain's flora and fauna. On the rolling moors of Scotland and Yorkshire, dramatic blooms of heather have come out far earlier than normal while wild berries, which are normally the harbingers of autumn, have appeared on bushes nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

Fungi has also enjoyed a bumper year and has been spotted sprouting on lawns and meadows in huge numbers for this time of the season. Mosses and liverworts in woodlands, which are normally shrivelled and dry over the summer months, have also flourished in the wet and humid August this year.

Botanists have reported unusual behaviour from flowers such as wood cranesbill and wisteria which have flowered twice within a few months. They believe the unsettled conditions have tricked the plants into believing it is spring again.

David Knot, curator of outdoor collections at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, said: "We had an excellent spring and together with the wet and humid summer it has led to a really good growing year. "In the south east of Scotland the wet conditions seem to have caused the fungi to appear in quite large numbers and the heather on the hills is looking spectacular."

But the abnormal August weather has also caused concern for some of the country's best loved animals and birds. Moth numbers have been drastically low, with some wildlife centres reporting half the average number of the insects compared to the previous 20 years. The early berry season has also worried some wildlife experts who fear that the crops, which provide vital food for animals and birds in the lead up to the cold winter months, may disappear too early. Dave Leech, head of the nest record scheme at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: "If the berry crop is extended then it could be a very good year for birds that eat them, as it will help them survive the winter, but if is early and short then it could be tough. "This year has been a poor breeding year for many birds like robins and blackbirds."

At the Cumbria Wildlife Trust's garden in Plumgarth, staff have reported lush moss carpets beneath the trees while rowan trees in the region have produced displays of golden-orange berries due to the mild and wet summer. Peter Bullard, director of the trust, said: "The other strange thing is that quite a few early summer flowers are reflowering. Wood cranesbill usually flowers in early June in Cumbria, making the roadsides a beautiful pale purple. This August the wood cranesbills have started flowering again, as have the wisteria. It's like a second spring, without a winter."

Mushrooms and fungi have sprung up in fields and woods in huge numbers in many parts of the country. Fungi often remain dormant beneath the ground for years until they get wet enough conditions to fruit, but the wet and humid weather has been perfect. The Woodland Trust, which runs a project monitoring reports of the changing seasons, has already had five reports of the fly agaric fungus, which is normally seen in September and October. The project has also received 465 records of ripe autumn berries appearing on a range of plant species, with the first appearing in Portsmouth on 13 July. Last year the first report of a ripe autumn berry was on 19 August.

In southern England, leaves on some trees have also started to change colour, but Dr Kate Lewthwaite, manager of the Nature's Calendar Project at the Woodland Trust, said this was mainly due to poor sunlight levels through the past month. She said: "It is not yet cold enough for the leaves to start changing colour, although species like the horse chestnut have had a bad year with diseases like bleeding canker and leaf miner."

This August has been far wetter than average. The daytime temperatures have also been cooler than normal but the nights have been warmer. In England the maximum temperature this August has been more than a degree cooler than the average reading of 19.6C. But forecasters claim that far from facing an early start to autumn, Britain could expect to enjoy an Indian summer with warmer, sunnier conditions returning to the country through September.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: "It has been a very wet and humid August, but it is well within the natural variance of a British summer. The start of September is looking considerably better and more settled so we can expect it to be warmer with more sunshine."


Britain: `Boring and mindless' GCSEs scrapped by independent schools for tougher courses

The GCSE [Middle school exam] is no longer considered tough enough by leading independent schools, which release their results today. Nine of the top ten in The Times independent schools league table offer the International GCSE (IGCSE), which is considered more rigorous, partly because it does not include coursework. Many other independent schools use the IGCSE in at least one subject. The qualification is not recognised by the Government, so such schools fare badly in official statistics, arguably making them less accurate than those in The Times.

One in five independent schools offers some subjects in IGCSE. They include Wycombe Abbey, a girls' school in Buckinghamshire, which came top with more than 98 per cent of examinations marked at A* to B grades. It uses the IGCSE for science and mathematics.

Cynthia Hall, the headmistress, said: "There was a feeling that, with GCSE maths, the coursework was really quite a waste of time. A lot of the material was not very stimulating - it was really rather dull for bright girls."

Mrs Hall said that the IGCSE in science was factually more rigorous but needed to be balanced with the larger amount of laboratory work offered in the GCSE. Andrew Halls, Head Master of King's College School in Wimbledon, southwest London, said that GCSEs were "no longer good enough" as they offered boring syllabuses and mindless coursework. He said: "We are increasingly moving away from standard GCSEs, with a sense of sadness. Frankly, they are no longer good enough. There are so many top grades that they're not proving fit for purpose."

The school for boys uses the IGCSE in maths and the three sciences and is likely to introduce it for more subjects. Guildford High School introduced the IGCSE this year for maths. Fiona Bolton, headmistress of the girls' school in Surrey, said: "It's the first year we've done the IGCSE and we chose it because it is significantly more challenging than GCSE. "It's a better preparation for A level. The girls weren't being challenged enough by the normal GCSE."

Girls dominated the league table of this year's independent school GCSE results, making up three quarters of the top 20. More boys' schools would have come higher were it not for a boycott of tables by 56 head teachers, who refused to release results. They included Eton, Radley and Winchester colleges and St Paul's School, southwest London.

St Paul's published some GCSE results on its website, saying that this year's pupils had broken all records. It used IGCSEs in four subjects and achieved 100 per cent A*s in chemistry and Italian and 98 per cent A*s in maths, but did not provide results for any other subjects.

Boys at Manchester Grammar School, which also declined to publish its results, attained 85 per cent A* and A grades at GCSE, according to the school's website. At Eastbourne College, which takes girls and boys, 64 per cent of exams were marked A* or A. Results from 552 schools were released through the Independent Schools Council.

They showed that 28.5 per cent of GCSE entries were marked A*, nearly two percentage points higher than last year and the fourth consecutive annual rise. Almost three fifths of independent schools' GCSE papers were graded A or A*, compared with one fifth of pupils nationally.

Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the chairwoman of the council, said: "These results show that ISC schools continue to deliver high quality teaching and learning. This is a time to focus on celebrating the success of all the individuals concerned." Candidates took an average 9.6 subjects each. More than 95 per cent achieved grades A* to C, compared with two thirds of pupils nationally.

This year almost half the 585 independent schools had at least one entrant for an IGCSE, compared with a third last year. Three schools offered it exclusively.



Households are paying hundreds of pounds more in "green taxes" than is justified by the environmental cost of their carbon emissions, a new study claims today. The Taxpayers' Alliance has calculated that every household in the UK is paying as much as $1600 a year more in environmental taxes than is necessary. Its analysis claims the Treasury made $40 billion in "excess" revenue from environmental taxes last year - from supposedly "green" levies on motoring, energy bills and waste disposal.

The report is the latest attack on the Government's use of green taxes and will strengthen suspicions that ministers are using the environment as a cover for revenue-raising measures. The TPA said its figures showed ministers were "wrapping revenue-raising tax hikes in a green banner." However, the Treasury rejected the group's figures as misleading.

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