Bring back selective schools to help the poor, says British Conservative politician
David Cameron is facing a fresh row over grammar schools [academically selective schools] after an extraordinary challenge to Tory policy by his one-time leadership rival David Davis. The former shadow home secretary, who went to grammar school, insisted only a return to selective education could 'rescue the next generation of the underprivileged'.
'The simple truth is that grammar schools were the greatest instrument for social mobility ever invented,' he said. In what will be seen as a thinly-veiled swipe at Eton-educated Mr Cameron's privileged upbringing, he said the only winners from the 'catastrophe' of the death of grammars were public school boys who now 'run Britain'.
Mr Davis, who quit as shadow home secretary last year to campaign on civil liberties, has been careful not to voice criticism of the Tory leadership since then. But his decision to reopen the toxic issue of grammar schools, which triggered an angry rebellion by Tory MPs early in Mr Cameron's leadership, will be seen as a declaration of war.
Mr Davis told the Mail he was also planning to speak out on other issues, such as the need for public spending cuts. 'I think the public are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for,' he said. 'They want to hear us debate these issues such as education, public spending and defence sensibly and intelligently, and that's what I intend to do.'
Right-wing MPs remain angry at Mr Cameron's decision to drop his party's long-standing commitment to academic selection. The Tory leader said in 2007 he was 'determined to move on from a sterile debate about building a few more grammar schools'. He insists there will be no return to the 11-plus [entry exam at age 11] under a Tory government.
But speaking at a debate last night, Mr Davis, who went to Bec Grammar School in Tooting, South London, said it was clear selective education delivered better results for all. 'Every chance I had was created by that grammar school,' he said. 'And that is what grammar schools have done for hundreds of thousands of children from poor homes, council estates, even broken homes, through the postwar years. 'The charge against the grammar school is that they helped the brightest at the expense of the weaker child. The truth about the comprehensive system is that it failed the best without helping the weak.'
Mr Davis said it was self-evident that selective systems produced better results. Some 70 per cent of children in selective education get five good GCSEs against 60 per cent in comprehensive systems, he said. 'However you measure it, selective systems deliver better results for the whole community,' he added.
Mr Davis blamed Britain's descent to the bottom of the international league table in social mobility on the death of grammars. 'Today we are witnessing the results of a failed revolution, where egalitarians abolished grammar schools to level opportunity in our society, and accidentally destroyed the chances of the very people they were trying to help,' he said. 'They punished the bright poor kids who were held back. They handicapped the intellectual capacity of the country. 'And out of this catastrophe there was only one winning group. Do you know who they were?
'Yes, the public schools [The traditional British term for private schools]. Who teach just 7 per cent of the population.' Mr Davis said public school boys now 'run Britain', adding: 'The media, the law, business - they are all dominated by public school boys.'
Police have let us down, say three in four Britons in damning Whitehall survey
Confidence in the police used to be extraordinarily high in Britain -- but not now that 12 years of Labour government has turned them into political police and form-fillers. You will get a visit from the police if you use a forbidden word in Britain but if your car is stolen, who cares?
Three quarters of the population believe the police have failed to get to grips with anti-social behaviour and drink-fuelled violence, a damning Whitehall survey showed yesterday. It found police forces and other public services are said to neither listen to what people say about crime and rowdiness nor do anything to stop it.
The poll of more than half a million adults also suggested that councils are out of touch, unpopular, and take too much of residents' money. The inquiry, conducted in more than 300 council areas, found only a quarter of respondents thought police were willing to listen when they complained about crime and disorder. The same proportion said they believed the police and other local services were dealing properly with drunken violence, vandalism and local drug dealing.
The survey said a majority are dissatisfied with the way their town hall goes about its business, and two thirds do not believe local government gives value for money. Fewer than a third think they have any say over what the town hall does, according to the poll carried out by councils themselves for the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The findings appear to reflect deep disillusion with years of promises that initiatives such as ASBOs and greater efforts by the police and the justice system would make streets safer. They suggest the great majority do not believe everyday crime has been successfully tackled. They also point to public disaffection through the impact of high council tax and a widespread view that town halls are arrogant and incompetent.
The findings drew a rebuke for councils from Local Government Secretary John Denham, who said: 'The improvements we have seen in local services are not being reflected in people's perception of their council. 'I want to see local councils do more - and gain more power - to shape the services offered in their area. 'There is an untapped demand for local people to have more say in what goes on.'
Tory local government spokes-man Caroline Spelman said: 'Under Labour, satisfaction with local councils has plummeted. 'It is no surprise that local residents are so unhappy given council tax has doubled thanks to Gordon Brown, while frontline services like weekly rubbish collections have been slashed back due to Whitehall diktats.'
The Place Survey was carried out by more than 300 councils which collected nearly 544,000 filled-in questionnaires. Only 33 per cent agreed that their local authority gave value for money, while 45 per cent said they were satisfied with the way their council ran things. Fewer than three in ten, 29 per cent, said they thought they could influence council decisions.
The survey said that 78 per cent were happy with their refuse collections - a finding at odds with other surveys and with election results that have punished councils introducing wheelie bins and fortnightly collections. But fewer than half were satisfied with transport information, sport facilities, museums or theatres run by councils.
The Local Government Association, the umbrella body for councils, said: 'This survey shows that the vast majority of residents are happy with services which their councils provide.'
Are we sure that it is the BNP who are the Fascists?
What would it be like to live under Fascists, I wonder:-
They’d make sure everyone carried identity papers and you’d be arrested if you failed to show your papers to a policeman, a policeman who would be armed with stun guns and two handled billy clubs and who’d beat unarmed demonstrators to the ground if they protested government policy. The police would be granted the right to intern suspects without charge for months and if anyone spoke out against the government they’d be arrested as “terrorists”.
There would be constant monitoring of every citizen by CCTV on every street corner, the government would have access to your emails and phone messages, crikey, they might even do crazy stuff like implanting computer chips in your bins to monitor your rubbish!
Anyone who happened to dislike some aspects of the government’s social policy would be forced out of business and making jokes or speaking your mind about certain protected classes of people could see you losing your job or even your children.
The state would gain control over the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of citizens and anyone who deviated from “acceptable” standards of behaviour would be punished by being deprived of health or welfare assistance.
The state run media would be intimidated into parroting government spin and lies and everyone from doctors and nurses to teachers and neighbours would be expected to report to the government any behaviour which was deemed to be outside government decreed standards.
Who knows they might even go crazy and start invading other countries.
From a comment on IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL. Those who know modern-day Britain will recognize in the description features of Britain as it already is
Some concentrated climate skepticism from Britain
Melting ice caps,global warming,our favourite foods giving us cancer. The doom-mongers love to tell uswe're all going to hell in a handcart. But don't panic! A new book uncovers some inconvenient truths that give the pessimists pause for thought ...
The overwhelming scientific consensus is that we are all going to hell in a handcart. Climate change - the inexorable warming of Earth's atmosphere caused by mankind's addiction to fossil fuels - is to blame for what we are told will be a parched and inhospitable future. The polar ice caps will melt, causing sea levels to rise. Vast swathes of the world will flood, drowning some of our greatest cities - and a great many polar bears.
It gets worse: we also face a plague of obesity, heart disease and diabetes as we consume a growing mountain of fatty fast food. And if that weren't enough, increasing amounts of chemicals and radiation in our environment are causing an epidemic of cancer. This is the consensus view and to question it is, at best, to be labelled naive and, at worst, a heretic.
But a stubborn band of thinkers persists in questioning this grim, accepted view, pointing to inconvenient truths which do not fit the doom-and-gloom narrative. Indeed, this group of prominent scientists is picking holes in the doomsday consensus. Many of these theories now appear in a new book by Stanley Feldman, a professor of anaesthetics at London University, and Vincent Marks, a former professor of clinical biochemistry and dean of medicine at the University of Surrey.
Here are some of their more awkward discoveries, which may yet give the pessimists pause for thought...
THE SUN IS BEHIND GLOBAL WARMING
The consensus view is that man-made CO2 is causing the lion's share of global warming. But natural changes in the Sun's power may be as much to blame.
There is good evidence that the cause of at least some of global warming is an increase in the intensity of the Sun's heat. Indeed, global temperatures appear to be more closely related to solar activity, which is constantly changing, than to levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
After all, the Earth warmed up more during medieval times than during the 20th century, and it cooled down considerably during the Little Ice Age of the 16th and 17th centuries - without any manmade event that would have affected CO2 output. Temperatures also dipped between 1940 and 1975 - a period of intense industrial activity.
Meanwhile, data from between 1880 and 2000 shows a close correlation between increased solar activity and higher average temperatures on Earth. So couldn't it be that the Sun is responsible for heating us up after all?
THE MALDIVES AREN'T SINKING
It has become a key part of the climate change mantra that some of the world's most beautiful islands are at risk of sinking below the waves, thanks to sea level rises caused by global warming.
But so confident are property owners in the Maldives that the sea is receding, they are building a flurry of lavish seafront hotels. Meanwhile, Tuvalu in the Pacific - also cited as being most at risk - has actually seen a fall in sea levels.
CO2 LEVELS ARE NOT AT UNPRECEDENTED HIGHS
Today, about 0.038 per cent of the atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide, the main man-made climate change gas. This figure has certainly risen over the past 200 years or so - the 'pre-industrial' level of CO2 was closer to 0.02 per cent.
But what is often ignored is that in the Earth's past, carbon dioxide levels have often been as much as ten times higher than they are today.
For example, during the Cretaceous era, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, CO2 levels were five to ten times what they are today. The planet was certainly warmer then, but life thrived and there was no runaway greenhouse catastrophe of the sort that the doom-mongers insist we face if we let levels rise further. They also, it should be noted, came down again naturally.
POLAR BEARS ARE NOT DYING OUT...
The doom-mongers love showing us images of polar bears in peril, floating on isolated ice rafts. But most populations are doing very well, thank you. Despite the (limited) melting seen in the Arctic ice cap over the past 50 years, polar bear numbers have more than doubled since 1950 - and that's despite the fact that 50 to 100 bears are now shot every year.
Indeed, polar bears aren't bothered by the odd stretch of open water - they are very capable swimmers. In fact, it is not even clear that the Arctic ice is melting. The summer of 2008 was the coldest in Anchorage, Alaska, for 40 years.
...NOR ARE THE PENGUINS
And it's a similar story at the South Pole. Although some Antarctic penguin colonies, especially those near human bases, have decreased in size, overall, penguin numbers are steady or increasing.
THE GULF STREAM IS NOT UNDER THREAT
Some scientists have warned that if the Arctic ice cap melts, the resulting flood of cold water in the Atlantic could push the Gulf Stream - the warm current which keeps Britain relatively balmy - further south. If this happens, they have made dire predictions that northern Europe could become a frozen wasteland.
Unfortunately for them, there is no evidence to support this view. In fact, the Gulf Stream is as strong as ever - and is getting warmer, not colder. Nor is it changing direction.
GLOBAL WARMING MIGHT EVEN BE GOOD FOR US
A warmer climate and an increase in CO2 will be a boon for farming and agriculture in general. One can even envisage returning to the warmer landscape of Roman times, when vineyards were common in England.
With less severe winters, it will also be possible to grow many crops that, because they are susceptible to the occasional frost, cannot be grown at present.
HERE'S THE FORECAST: BRITAIN'S MET OFFICE WILL GET IT WRONG AGAIN
It's a beautiful day outside; clear blue sky, scarcely the whisper of a breeze, temperature hovering around a gently cossetting 20C, greenfinch wheezing away nearby. This is good news for me because as soon as I finish this article I intend to spend the rest of the day under the horse chestnut tree with a pitcher of neat alcohol. But it is also good news for Britain and the rest of the world.
Last Thursday we were all frightened out of our wits by a new report from the Met Office about what life in Britain would be like in 2080: scorching African sun, all the crops dying, plagues of locusts and mosquitos. Cows collapsing in the fields because they had not worn enough Factor 30; half of Yorkshire and Norfolk washed away by the sea, middle England flooded by swollen rivers, Essex a lifeless arid desert (no change there, then); impeccably well-mannered middle-class people on their knees sucking the last molecules of moisture from dusty, exhausted standpipes in Notting Hill; famine, pestilence and death flapping its wings over our heads like a big black bat, cackling to itself.
This was the UK Climate Projections 2009, as envisaged by the Met Office and presented by a dutifully grave Hilary Benn, who insisted that we all had a responsibility to do something, anything, to stave off this apocalypse. So I did. I checked out the Met Office forecast for my village for the next 48 hours. Cloudy, it said. Bit of rain. Temperature of 17C, wind gusting at a remarkably precise 31mph, it said. Short of predicting 6ft snowdrifts, ball lightning and gallons of newts falling from the sky, how much more wrong could it be?
And if it is that wrong over a forecast for the next 48 hours, how much faith should we have when it tells us, with a sort of smug and overweening confidence, what's going to happen in 70 years' time? How about none whatsoever?
Something terrible has happened to our weathermen since that evening in October 1987 when Michael Fish, with a patronising smirk, assured us we need not worry our silly heads about any of this hurricane nonsense - about five hours before Britain was flattened.
I think it is a case of Met Office overcompensation. These days they have hair-trigger reactions and are given to biblical pronouncements. Last weekend, for example, we were assured that by Monday we would all be drowned, with vast swathes of the country submerged by floods. It did not happen, anywhere. Thank the Lord the Met Office wasn't around in Noah's day with its comprehensive five-day forecast for the Ararat region or that dove would never have been released.