Monday, February 23, 2009

British police abandon anti-white racism

Police are to scrap controversial race 'diversity' targets that made it harder for white men to win jobs. The decision could end the positive discrimination which has seen ethnic minority applicants selected where white rivals were at least as well qualified. The targets were imposed after police were labelled institutionally racist in the 1999 Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Forces were told to recruit ethnic minority officers in direct proportion to the make-up of their local community. The targets, dictated by Whitehall, left many forces under severe pressure to employ thousands of black and other minority groups as soon as possible.

Some overstepped the mark into positive discrimination. Gloucestershire Police even went to the extent of 'deselecting' more than 100 potential recruits purely because they were white. The force later admitted it had acted unlawfully.

Now police minister Vernon Coaker has decided central targets can be dropped, even though few areas have met them. Individual forces will be able to decide their own recruitment pattern. The news came as the Association of Chief Police Officers insisted the service was no longer guilty of institutional racism. ACPO said repeating the charge now was 'unfair and unhelpful'.

Since the blistering Macpherson Report, ten years ago on Tuesday, the number of ethnic minority officers nationwide has doubled. But it is still only around 4.1 per cent, compared to seven per cent in the population as a whole.

Steve Otter, ACPO's lead officer on race and diversity, welcomed the decision to axe the Whitehall targets. He said: 'There is no doubt that the targets set in 1999 were very ambitious and the scale of the challenge they posed has acted as a catalyst for change across the police service. 'As with all targets, crude measures can drive output but come to the end of their usefulness eventually.'

Asked if it was still fair or accurate to describe the police service as institutionally racist, ACPO said: 'The short answer is no. 'That is not to say that racist incidents within the police service never take place. Regrettably, they do. 'But in the years since Stephen Lawrence, the police service has shown it is willing to listen and learn from past events. 'When prejudice does occur there is a firm desire throughout the service and especially among its leadership to tackle it robustly. 'As a term, "institutionally racist" attempts to sum up in two words the entire experience of thousands of men and women across the police service who daily do their best on the public's behalf. 'That is both unfair and unhelpful, and it fails to take any account of the very real progress which has been made.'

Mr Otter said he agreed with recent remarks by equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips that it was time to move on from focusing on the single issue of race and from a 'box-ticking culture' around racism law.

The tenth anniversary of Macpherson will be marked by a special conference on Tuesday. Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who commissioned the Macpherson inquiry when he was Home Secretary in 1999, will say he is 'proud' of the progress that has been made over the past ten years.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death in Eltham, South-East London, in a racist attack by five white youths in April 1993. No one has ever been convicted of the murder. The Macpherson Report said the Metropolitan Police investigation had been 'marred by institutional racism'. It was accepted at the time that the charge of institutional racism applied to the police nationwide.

Today Mr Straw said Macpherson had been 'a watershed'. He added that, while recruitment had dramatically improved, there was still much work to be done on the retention and promotion of ethnic officers.

Mr Coaker said: 'We are determined to work with the police service to offer fair and equal opportunities to all its members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background.'

Gloucestershire Police pursued its discriminatory recruitment policy in 2006. Chief Constable Dr Timothy Brain's force confessed it had acted unlawfully by dashing the men's hopes because of their sex and skin colour. White women who applied were not discriminated against because of a separate policy, unrelated to Macpherson, aimed at encouraging the recruitment of women.

Earlier this week, however, the Runnymede Trust said problems in the police service meant the criticism of institutional racism still applied. The report said: 'Ten years after the publication of the inquiry report, there is still significant progress to be made - notably in relation to the career experiences of black and minority ethnic officers and the disproportionate use of stop and search procedures against black groups. 'It is difficult, in light of these continued challenges, to argue that the charge of institutional racism no longer applies.'


British government determined to destroy any good schools in their sector

It takes good pupils to make good schools. Feral children will make any school a sink school. To preserve good education for the able poor, what is needed is a totally different policy: Separating out disruptive pupils and sending them to schools designed to deal with their problems. That's not blue sky. Something similar is already being done under Labor party governments in some parts of Australia. If it keeps on its present course, the British government will simply ensure that only privately-educated kids will be equipped to take leadership positions in Britain -- which is the opposite of what they claim to want

Thousands of children must take part in random lotteries for school places in a Government attempt to break a middle-class stranglehold on the best schools. Schools in a quarter of council areas are allocating places by lottery or "fair banding" – in which the school uses test results to deliberately select a proportion of pupils of poor ability. The move could cause difficulties for affluent families who have dominated successful schools by buying houses within their catchment areas, often paying a premium of tens of thousands of pounds.

Last year, Brighton became the first area to allocate places at all oversubscribed schools through lotteries after Government reforms gave councils and schools the power to do so. The policy is designed to make all state schools truly comprehensive by ensuring they contain pupils of mixed abilities and social backgrounds, rather than being dominated by those who can afford to live nearby.

The Daily Telegraph has found that lotteries and fair banding are in widespread use across the country. At least one of the methods is being used by state secondary schools in a quarter of the 150 council areas with responsibility for education across England. This means that up to 150,000 pupils applying for places this year could effectively have their futures decided "by the roll of a dice". Critics said that the methods amounted to social engineering and threatened misery for many middle-class families. Children can be forced to travel several miles every day after being turned down by their local school.

Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, said the Tories would prevent local authorities from enforcing lotteries in future, calling them an "unsatisfactory" way of assigning places. "The real problem is the lack of good schools," he said. "Far too many parents are denied a chance to educate their children in high quality schools."

Robert McCartney, the head of the National Grammar Schools Association, said: "There is something mildly offensive about a child's future being decided by nothing more than the roll of a dice." Margaret Morrissey, of the campaign group Parents Outloud, said the increasing use of lotteries was evidence that the Government was going back on its pledge to offer parents more choice.

The Daily Telegraph surveyed all 150 councils in England with responsibility for education. Of the 135 that responded, 25 said that some secondary schools in their area were using lotteries to assign places this year, while 22 said some of their schools were using "fair banding" to deal with oversubscription. Some council areas had schools using both methods, meaning that in total 37 councils had schools using at least one of them.

Juliette McCaffrey, a Labour councillor who was removed from Brighton & Hove council committee because of her opposition to lotteries, said they had failed to bring about the cultural diversity that their proponents promised. "If you look at the free meals statistics it didn't change the social make-up of the schools. It didn't benefit the people with lower educational aspirations – all it did was force some middle-class families to send their children to schools miles away."

Approximately 600,000 children are applying for places this September, and will find out in a fortnight if they have a place at their chosen school. Mark Willimott, a senior assistant principal at Brooke Weston Academy in Corby, Northamptonshire, which adopted random allocation last year, said: "It's the only way of giving every child a fair chance. If you are just going to draw a straight line from the school you are going to get the problem of rich parents buying houses on the local estate and sending up house prices."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that random allocation and fair banding were options open to schools to ensure fair admissions.


University policy goes full circle in Britain

The former polytechnics are to take back much of their previous role of providing adult education and vocational degrees rather than trying to ape leading academic institutions under reforms being drawn up by John Denham, the universities secretary. The change will mark a shift in policy for the government, which for years has tried to promote the research credentials of “new” universities alongside those of traditional institutions. It follows the eruption of “class war” between vice-chancellors this year over how to share 1.5 billion pounds of research funding. Universities created since 1992 claim they are entitled to a far higher share than in the past.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Denham also signalled an easing of Labour attacks on Oxbridge “elitism” long pursued by ministers including Gordon Brown. Denham instead wants to encourage the emergence of an elite including Oxford, Cambridge and a handful of others. These would receive most research funding, although “pockets of excellence” in the post1992 group would also get a fair share. Denham will launch a strategy for higher education this summer and will give indications of its direction in a speech this week.

The concrete changes will include a fresh form of vocational degree. This will be offered mainly by new universities and will benefit teenagers who take specified vocational qualifications rather than A-levels. For example, those serving apprenticeships in hotels and restaurants could earn degrees in hotel management, while those with vocational qualifications in building could study part-time for a degree in construction while working on site. “I want to nurture the different parts of the system,” said Denham. “[For example] research-intensive universities and the ones who do most for part-time and adult education.” He added: “The truth is that a classics degree at a traditional university is not the same as a degree in mining and engineering at another.”

Denham has told friends that a country this size can probably support no more than five to 10 universities as an equivalent to America’s Ivy League. His remarks will come as a relief to leading universities. Labour has been putting them under relentless pressure to increase the proportion of students they admit from poorer backgrounds.

Denham, who attended a comprehensive in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and Southampton University, acknowledged that post1992 institutions must take the lead in bringing more working-class pupils into higher education. “Institutions that take most of the students who would not traditionally have gone to university are in a different position from those that are most research-intensive and selective,” he said. “We are not expecting those places to be the major places for widening participation.” He added: “We can’t expect universities to put right the whole welter of social disadvantage, low aspirations, lack of tradition of going to higher education.” The minister does, however, believe leading universities should put strenuous efforts into encouraging more applications from the 10,000 or so highly able teenagers from poorer families who never even apply “perhaps because nobody inspired them”.

Denham’s approach is likely to anger vice-chancellors of former polytechnics and dozens of other institutions that have been turned into universities in the past 16 years. Last week Malcolm Mc-Vicar, vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, warned that dividing institutions by role was “outdated” and could “lead to a row that will make the 2005 fees row look like a Sunday afternoon tea party”.


British parents told by government: avoid morality in sex lessons

PARENTS should avoid trying to convince their teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex, a new government leaflet is to advise. Instead, any discussion of values should be kept "light" to encourage teenagers to form their own views, according to the brochure, which one critic has called "amoral".

Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships will be distributed in pharmacies from next month as part of an initiative led by Beverley Hughes, the children's minister. The leaflet comes in the wake of the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old boy from East Sussex who fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and sparked a debate about how to cut rates of teenage parenthood. It advises: "Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what's right and wrong may discourage them from being open."

The leaflet suggests that parents should start the "big talk" with children as young as possible, before they pick up "misinformation" from their peers in adolescence. The best way to raise the topic may be while performing mundane tasks such as "washing the car . . . washing up, watching TV, etc", it says. The leaflet provides technical information on different forms of contraception, from condoms to implants, and will reignite the row over the government's "value-free" approach to sex education.

Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, attacked the leaflet, saying: "The idea that the government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. "Preserving children's innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds."

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, said educating older children and teenagers about sex had to be a process of negotiation. "We do not know what is right and wrong; right and wrong is relative, although your child does need clear guidelines," she said.

Hughes said the government "doesn't bring up children but . . . it does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information".

Labour's attempts to cut the rate of teenage pregnancy through education are showing signs of faltering. From 1998 to 2006, the under-18 conception rate fell by 12.9% to its lowest level since the mid-1980s. But last year it began to edge up again. New figures will be announced this week.


NHS blunders are behind a spate of 'vaccine overloads'

Children are being given the wrong vaccinations and repeat doses of jabs they have already had due to mix-ups at GPs' surgeries. Nearly 1,000 safety incidents involving child immunisations were reported in a single year. Of those studied in detail, more than a third involved babies and children given a different vaccine to the one they were supposed to have. Other blunders included delays to children having important vaccinations, infants given drugs that were out of date and allergic reactions. It is said all of the incidents could have been avoided if doctors or nurses had checked medical records or drug details thoroughly.

Last night campaigners said these mistakes were the `tip of the iceberg' and expressed fears of a `vaccine overload' from Britain's growing childhood immunisation schedule. A report by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), the watchdog which monitors NHS errors, looked at 949 incidents involving jabs reported in 2007. A detailed study was made of 138 of these cases, picked at random. Eight caused children `moderate harm'.

In 36 per cent of cases a child was given the wrong vaccination. If the sample is representative, it means that hundreds are given the wrong immunisation every year. And, as the reporting of incidents by medical professionals is voluntary, the true number could be much higher.

In 23 per cent of incidents there were errors in documenting the vaccine, while there were delays in 17 per cent of cases. Other problems included incorrect storage of the jabs or out-of-date vaccines having to be thrown away.

GP Dr Richard Halvorsen, of the Babyjabs clinic in Central London, said: `These cases are probably the tip of the iceberg. It's worrying when children are getting the wrong vaccines at the wrong times but it's an inevitable consequence of the vaccination schedule, which is one of the most complex in the world. `Of course things are going to go wrong - it's a recipe for mistakes.'

Children receive 32 immunisations before they reach four. And the Government is now discussing whether also to give chickenpox and flu jabs. The most controversial vaccine is combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

Jackie Fletcher, of campaign group Justice, Action, Basic Support (JABS), said: `Children are sometimes given MMR when they go to get their pre-school booster for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, even if parents have explicitly said they do not want them to have it. To think mistakes occur time and time again is horrendous.'

Previously healthy Jodie Marchant, who is now 17, was left severely brain-damaged and with a gut disorder after being given seven vaccines in a single jab at 14 months. Her parents, Bill and Pat, from Southampton, had requested that she was given only MMR. A claim for damages failed because there was not enough research into the vaccines. The Marchants are now suing their GP practice. Mr Marchant, 68, said: `To think so many other children suffer vaccine mix-ups is appalling.'

The NPSA said new packaging guidelines for jabs would `eradicate' errors. The Department of Health said: `Staff are trained to administer vaccines safely, follow the childhood immunisation schedule and to record it all.'


Yesterday's history is today's politics (Comment from Britain): "The Petrograd Strikes, which heralded the start of the 1917 Revolution in Russia commenced on 22 February; find a moment for reflection this Sunday. Even though the Soviet system of Communism lasted for 69 years, its ideology is evidently still very much alive and well: the British government now spends half the nation's income. Yesterday's history is today's politics, to adapt the adage. This Thursday our very own Nicholas II went to see the Pope. Perhaps he asked the Vicar of Christ to pray for a miracle - huge monetary expansion without hyperinflation - or perhaps he asked for the economy to receive the Last Rites. Ironically, one of the things the Prime Minister did discuss was freeing the world from poverty. He can contribute best to this desirable goal in Great Britain by the near abolishment of the State."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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