The subversion and disintegration of the education system in the interests of social engineering have now reached a stage well beyond parody. For the past four decades and more, the education establishment has been in the grip of the `all must have prizes' orthodoxy which holds that in the interests of `equality' everyone must be said to achieve equally. Since there can be no losers, there can be no winners - or to put it another way, everyone must be said to be a winner.
From this ludicrous and deeply ideological belief that equality actually means `identicality' has flowed such disasters as the un-teaching of reading. Structured reading schemes which actually teach children to decode the words on the page were discarded on the grounds that some children made faster progress than others - whose self-esteem would thus be destroyed. So they weren't taught to decode words, but taught to guess or memorise words instead. The result has been hundreds of thousands of children who are functionally illiterate - including some, as was reported recently, who actually leave school nevertheless with a clutch of GCSEs.
How could it possibly be, you may well ask, that GCSEs can be awarded to candidates who can't read or write properly? The answer is that, in order to accommodate and conceal the progressive disintegration of education standards under the `all must have prizes' philosophy, the standards of all public examinations - SATs, GCSEs, A-levels and even university degrees - have been progressively lowered so that more students can be said not only to have passed them but to have done so with good grades. Thus the government has been able to boast that standards are rising, whereas in fact they have been going through the floor. It has also been able to shoe-horn record numbers into university, on the grounds that restricting university access to those who are most academically able is `elitist'.
The government's ruthlessly pursued goal has been to bump up the number of young people in university who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. But since it has done nothing to improve the teaching they receive to enable them to function at the academic level once expected by the universities, it has dumbed down the entire examination and university system in order to massage reality into a politically and ideologically expedient fiction. The result of that has been record numbers of students who can't cope and drop out of their university courses, and the dumbing down of degree standards across the board.
One result of all that was that A-levels - the famous `gold standard' examination which once acted as the most efficient gatekeeper to university entrance and the maintenance of the highest academic standards in the world - were devalued so badly that universities were unable to tell which candidates were truly fitted to their courses, since all had scored A grades at A-level. So a new grade was introduced, the A*. But now - guess what?! Top universities are being advised to ignore the A* grade A-level on application forms - to avoid recruiting more pupils from middle-class backgrounds. A report by the Higher Education Minister David Lammy published this week says: `There are concerns that this could disproportionately impact on students from non-traditional backgrounds.'
But `students from non-traditional backgrounds' have been betrayed and abandoned by a political and intellectual elite which, in the interests of abolishing elitism, has systematically destroyed the core idea of a liberal education - the transmission of knowledge - and replaced it by jargon-laden twaddle, psychobabble and outright propaganda.
The very idea of a meritocracy has been replaced by `identicality', and so the ladder that once enabled children to rise out of social disadvantage has been kicked away. The wicked truth is that it is those children at the bottom of the social heap who have lost out the most from all this. Meanwhile, those from the middle-classes are punished more and more as the government progressively blocks up all the escape routes - such as the A* - through which merit and achievement have been ever more desperately and fruitlessly struggling to survive. There are now profound concerns that this whole de-education lunacy could `disproportionately impact' upon the very future and survival of this nation.
The BBC is a floundering giant with no moral sense
But of course! To Leftists "There's no such thing as right and wrong"
Adrift and too vast to control, the BBC is a floundering giant that has lost its moral compass. Hardly a week goes by without another controversy engulfing it. Chris Moyles's sick joke about Polish women making good prostitutes. . . Frankie Boyle's grotesquely obscene reference to the Queen's private parts . . a blunt refusal to give airtime to a humanitarian appeal for Gaza. . . Now Carol Thatcher's dismissal from the One Show offers yet more evidence of the yawning gap between the politically correct elite running the BBC and the great mass of the British people.
Compare Miss Thatcher's treatment with that of Jonathan Ross to see how the corporation is fumbling in a vacuum, its principles and purpose long forgotten. In Ross's case, it took days (and a public outcry) before it even crossed the BBC's mind that there might be something offensive about taunting an elderly actor with jibes about his granddaughter's sex life - and then broadcasting the stunt. Even then, Ross was allowed to return to his 6 million a year job, after a token suspension and a facetious apology - only to carry on exactly as before.
There's no such mercy for Miss Thatcher, whose very surname, of course, is enough to damn her in many BBC eyes. On the word of an informant, she is summarily dismissed for a remark she made in private whose context and tone we cannot judge. Unlike Ross's apology for an apology, the BBC rejects hers, demanding that she must publicly humiliate herself.
But then in the warped world of the BBC - in which terrorists are 'freedom fighters', love of country is 'bias' and truth lies permanently to the Left of centre - there is no crime more evil than saying anything that might be interpreted as a slur on a racial or sexual minority. Otherwise, anything goes. Ross, Jo Brand, Adrian Chiles and the rest can joke to their smug, PC hearts' content about bodily functions, the Christian church or the elderly.
Meanwhile, every under-75 TV owner in the land is obliged to pay for their filth, on pain of imprisonment. Of course, there's a temptation to lay all the blame for the BBC's degeneration on the top man, Director-General Mark Thompson. But that would be unfair. In truth, the corporation - with its 28,500 employees, its monstrous bureaucracy, and its host of TV and radio stations, websites and publications - has become far too large for anyone to control.
That must be put right. In this digital, multi-channel age, shouldn't we be thinking seriously of preserving the best of the BBC - Radio 4, the World Service and the two main TV stations - and selling the rest to the highest bidders? Wouldn't that be the surest way of slashing the licence fee, restoring the corporation to its place in the nation's hearts - and increasing the plurality of opinion in the British media?
There are still some of the old-style Brits left
Some may have used the bad weather as an excuse for not going to work. But one NHS radiographer was so determined to support his patients and colleagues that he walked 18 miles to get there. Peter Cartwright, 53, trudged through the snow in his wellies [gumboots], caught two lifts from passers-by and took a train and a Tube to reach Guy's Hospital in central London.
The father of four left home in Ashford, Kent, at 5.30am on Monday before catching a train to Maidstone for the first leg of his 55-mile trip. He then walked around ten miles to Borough Green, before stopping for a bacon roll at a cafe, then accepted a lift to Swanley. He walked a further five miles to Eltham in South-East London, before a 'kind chap' gave him a ride to Rotherhithe. Mr Cartwright then walked to Bermondsey station to catch a Jubilee line train one stop to London Bridge before eventually arriving at the hospital at 2pm. He stayed on-site overnight on Monday and Tuesday to complete two further day shifts.
He said: 'I felt I needed to make the effort. I just like the team spirit at Guy's.' He added: 'It would have taken much longer without the kindness of people around. 'I like walking, I do a lot of long distance walks and my body is used to it. I chose to wear my wellies which kept my socks and trousers dry. I was quite warm walking along.'
Mr Cartwright's wife Tina, 51, added: 'It's just typical Peter, he will always do his best to get into work. I wasn't surprised, he was just determined to get there. 'He has a responsibility to his job. He knew there would be others who couldn't get in, so if he got there if knew he could help out.'
The age of the snitch: A nurse suspended for praying. Carol Thatcher sacked for a private remark. How public sector informers are creating Stasi Britain...
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to remember that Britain has historically always been the cradle of liberty. For today we seem to be sliding inexorably into a culture of control which would have been very familiar to the Stasi or the KGB. Carol Thatcher, the daughter of former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher, now faces being banned from the BBC after reportedly referring to an unnamed tennis player as reminding her of a 'golliwog'.
Carol, who was crowned Queen of the Jungle in the 2005 reality series I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, has been a regular presenter on The One Show - a daily magazine programme on BBC One - for three years and is described as part of the family on the BBC website. But yesterday the BBC threw her out by announcing in the wake of the 'golliwog' row that it now had 'no plans' to use her again in her regular presenting slot.
Let it be said loud and clear, racially offensive language is unacceptable. Ms Thatcher maintains, however, that she made merely a jokey remark. Her friends say that all she did was to compare the player's hairstyle to the 'Robertson's Golly' which once adorned that company's jars of jam and marmalade. But without knowing the context in which she made this remark - and the tone in which it was said - none of us can judge what to make of it. And that surely is the point.
For the really disturbing thing about this episode - unlike that involving Jonathan Ross, who deeply offended millions in public, had to have an apology dragged out of him and kept his 18 million job - is not so much the remark itself but the fact that Carol Thatcher made it in private. We can't gauge whether or not this really is a hanging offence or a trivial aside of no consequence, because she made the remark after several drinks in the show's hospitality room to the presenter Adrian Chiles, who is said to have been 'outraged' by it. So outraged that it seems it is being used to hang her out to dry. But it was a remark made in the course of a private conversation - which has now been used to sack her after someone involved in that lighthearted banter passed it on to BBC executives in the form of a complaint.
It is the BBC's reaction which is really shocking and offensive, together with the behaviour of the person who turned in Ms Thatcher (would they have done so if she'd had a different mother?) to the Corporation's commissars. It is hard to think of anything more despicable than snitching like this on a private conversation. People say or do all kinds of things which are perfectly acceptable in the context of drinks with friends or colleagues, but which would cause a very different impression if they occurred in public. If we were all to be treated in this way, how many of us would remain in our jobs? Is there anyone who can honestly claim never to have uttered an injudicious remark when sharing a drink with friends?
This is the whole point of privacy. The very essence of a liberal society is to acknowledge the distinction between public and private, and to tolerate in private what might not be acceptable in public. To seek to enforce codes of behaviour in private relationships is totally coercive and illiberal. Yet that is precisely what has happened in the case of Carol Thatcher. By reporting her remark to the BBC hierarchy - and who knows whether or not it was distorted or taken out of context in the lodging of this complaint - her disloyal and sneaky colleagues took an axe to her right to privacy.
The implications are deeply disturbing. For such behaviour means that no one can ever relax with colleagues for fear that one of them might go running to the boss to complain. It destroys the freedom to speak in private for fear that this might be used to cast you into outer darkness for having a view which falls foul of some arbitrary definition of what is acceptable. After all, no offence could possibly have been given to the unnamed tennis player or the public at large because the remark was not broadcast.
This is, in fact, the second time in just a few days in which someone has found herself facing the sack for behaviour which has caused no actual offence but where charges have been laid by officious colleagues enforcing an oppressive code of behaviour. Community nurse Caroline Petrie offered to pray for an elderly patient who was being treated at home. The following day, Mrs Petrie was confronted over her offer by a nursing sister. The day after that, she was told that she was suspended while disciplinary action would be taken against her which might lead to the sack. But although the patient had turned down her offer of a prayer, she said she was not the slightest bit offended and certainly had not made a complaint.
As with Carol Thatcher, it was this nurse's colleagues who were offended that Mrs Petrie had transgressed codes of 'equality and diversity' - which apparently preclude a nurse offering the Christian solace of prayer. And it was professional colleagues, both in that NHS Trust and in the BBC, who took it upon themselves to enforce those approved attitudes from which there can be no deviation.
Mr Ross's offence is that in sick language he offended the elderly. Old, white, middle-class people don't really count for much in the BBC mindset. Ms Thatcher's alleged offence involved race - which to the BBC constitutes the most heinous crime of all.
Such political correctness is now the governing characteristic of public sector institutions such as the BBC and the NHS, along with an intelligentsia determined upon a draconian process of social engineering aimed at changing not just society but human nature itself. Ostensibly designed to protect disadvantaged groups, it is actually all about advertising the moral purity of those who enforce it. It's a dogma enforced with the zealotry of a secular inquisition and is profoundly totalitarian in character. Indeed, behaviour such as this has always been a key feature of police states and totalitarian regimes.
The Stasi or the KGB gained much of their power over the population they tyrannised by getting people to inform on each other, using such informers to bring forward evidence of 'thought crimes' from private or overheard conversations. Such use of informers sets people against each other in a climate of permanent and corrosive suspicion. Destroying the trust which is the basis of relationships, it is thus a principal means of controlling the population.
In Communist regimes, Stasi and KGB informers and apparatchiks designated dissidents, religious believers and other free spirits as enemies of the state. In politically correct Britain, BBC informers and NHS apparatchiks designate jovially gabby broadcasters and Christian nurses as enemies of society, to be summarily convicted by kangaroo courts of conformist bureaucrats and banished in opprobrium and disgust.
It's all part of a wider trend. The police 'hate crime' division urges the public to inform on anyone who expresses an opinion they deem hateful to the usual range of disadvantaged groups. An energy company invites children to become 'climate cops', reporting on parents, relatives and friends who leave TV sets on and commit other examples of 'climate crime'.
It is this combination of lunacy and coercion which leads one to think that the land of those great apostles of free thinking, John Milton and John Locke, is fast turning into a nightmare straight out of the pages of George Orwell or Franz Kafka.
Horrors! The Queen sells Golliwogs
Kids like them. I had one myself as a little kid. Whenever they go on sale in Australia, grandmothers snap them up for their grandchildren.
"Buckingham Palace has issued an extraordinary apology after the Queen's shop at Sandringham was found to be selling golliwogs. It followed the furore over Carol Thatcher's use of the word golliwog during a private conversation after the BBC's One Show. There were claims last night that she had been sacked by the BBC over the incident in revenge for the bad blood between her mother Lady Thatcher and the corporation.
The male and female dolls have been available at the gift shop on the Norfolk estate for more than a year at 9.99 pounds each. They are made by Trendle International, a family business based in Somerset, who describe their line of 'gollies' as one of their most popular 'speciality' products. In the wake of the row over Carol Thatcher's comments, senior aides said the toys would be immediately removed from sale.
A source at the shop said: 'They are quite popular.' The character of the golliwog was invented by a Florence Upton in the 19th century, inspired by the black-and-white minstrel shows she grew up with as a child in the U.S.
It became one of the most popular dolls of the 20th century and was identified in many households as the mascot for British jam manufacturer James Robertson & Sons.
Now it's British jobs for British graduates
Supposedly. Ministers plan tightening of immigration controls to help university leavers find work
The Government may restrict the number of highly skilled migrants allowed into Britain because ministers fear many of the record 400,000 graduates leaving university this summer will fail to find work in the recession. Phil Woolas, the Immigration minister, wants to tighten the points-based system for people from outside the EU so they do not take jobs that might otherwise go to British graduates. Between 10,000 and 18,000 well-qualified foreigners are expected to come to the UK this year to look for work without having a job lined up. Mr Woolas told The Independent: "The points-based system that has been introduced allows us to toughen the criteria, and clearly in the economic situation that is something it is beholden on us to do. We want to maintain the highest possible levels of British graduate employment."
The proposal has been under consideration for some weeks and ministers insist it is not a reaction to the row over the recruitment of foreign workers at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire. However, it is bound to be seen as an attempt to ensure "British jobs for British graduates". Under the recently introduced points system (which Mr Woolas proposes tightening), highly skilled people from outside the EU, such as scientists, IT specialists, lawyers, financial service workers and entrepreneurs can enter Britain to search for work. Normally graduates, they can stay initially for two years.The Home Office estimates they could boost the economy by up to 84m pounds a year.
Government sources said Mr Woolas's plan was "one option" under consideration but that no final decision has been taken. It could face opposition from John Denham, the Skills Secretary, who is believed to think there is no need to change the points system since it already takes account of possible skills shortages. However, the Government is under pressure from MPs to tighten the rules because of the downturn. Labour's Frank Field and the Conservatives' Nicholas Soames, who have set up a cross-party group on balanced migration, have written to Gordon Brown, asking him to act. They said the new points system would allow tens of thousands of highly skilled people to come to Britain looking for work. "We believe that, in a recession, this cannot be allowed to continue," the two MPs said. "We should not be allowing non-EU economic migrants to look for work."
The Woolas plan will be discussed by cabinet ministers as they draw up a package of measures on immigration over the next few weeks. Other ideas include forcing employers who hire skilled workers to advertise the posts at Jobcentres before they look abroad. This could affect between 60,000 and 80,000 jobs in construction, hotel management, teaching and nursing.
Last night, experts said there could be short-term political and economic attractions in curbing the number of foreign graduates, but warned that it could be counterproductive in the long run. Tim Field, head of migration, equalities and citizenship at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said the points system might prove an "inflexible" tool. "These are people every country wants," he said. "This would send a signal to others. Putting others off from applying might not be a good idea."
Other government proposals include a crackdown on "bogus" colleges which allow non-EU students to come to Britain as a backdoor means of immigration, and tighter checks on foreign students so they do not overstay.
Mr Denham has outlined plans to persuade British firms to take on graduates as "interns" in the hope that they will keep on the best and brightest so their companies are in a stronger position after the recession.
As the Government sought to raise the proportion of young people going into higher education to 50 per cent, the number of graduates rose from 206,000 in 1997 to 358,000 in 2007. The proportion of graduates in "non-degree level" jobs five years after leaving university has risen too.
John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, said companies were already cutting the number of migrant workers they recruit because of the recession. He believed the Government's Migration Advisory Committee would suggest that fewer migrants from outside the EU would be needed when it next reports. He expected "they will not see the same need for non-EU labour in the same numbers because of the need to provide as many employment opportunities as possible for the unemployed". He added: "All I'm suggesting is that the market will correct itself but what we cannot avoid is a significant increase in unemployment which is a sad but inevitable consequence of recessions."