These digests are proving to be very popular, especially the one two weeks ago which is still going strong, and now heading toward two thousand page views. Meanwhile, it has been an exceptionally busy week!
Unite? You Might? You're Not!
Inevitably the Unions-versus-Miliband saga rolls on. I don't wish to make this into a long-running overblown saga, so here are just a few links for those readers who are following all of this as avidly as I and at least some others are doing...
- Guido's take on who was the stronger
- Isabel Hardman on how Miliband can sometimes hit the mark, but not this time
- James Forsyth on the (then) imminent Miliband speech to the TUC conference
- Here is that speech
- The Mail's reaction, including a video of the Miliband speech
- Alex Wickham on the similarity of Miliband-and-McCluskey to Roald Dahl's The Witches
Young Eyes Look Right
This is an interesting and well-evidenced piece from the always-excellent (and probably underrated) Mark Wallace on a further example of the younger end of our society turning more to the political Right than their (mostly Lefty) teachers and lecturers tried to prepare them to do, or even to be..
There is always an element of this trend, in every generation, even since the days when the Communist-style teaching profession in this country first took prominence within our educational establishments – something that 'Miss Snuffy' and others have divulged public in recent years, so we know from the inside what many of us realised already.
Occasionally, when even young and less experienced minds can see the (deliberate) harm being done to society by the Left, there comes a kind of natural re-balancing that largely – though nowhere near entirely – corrects the tendency for the upcoming generation to head leftward in their outlook.
Although when I was in that age bracket it was a hugely different world from that of today, we still tended to go that way – though I was never seriously pro-Labour myself. It is always encouraging to see that, no doubt aided by modern communications and on-line resources, the current younger generation is seeing more truths than were perhaps so readily available to those of us in a parallel position half a century ago...
Falkirk Fail Quirk
Oh dear! There seems to be a falling out between Labour MPs Tom Watson and Jim Murphy over the Falkirk vote-rigging allegations issue, as this highlighted tweet shows. The latter's message to the former reads (with shorthand expanded to aid readability)...
"You know how to get in touch away from Tory twitter eyes. Meanwhile I'll just get on with supporting Ed's plans for party/Trades Union reform."Ouch!
Continuing to 'Ed' South
Still heading toward oblivion, along the road of irrelevance and via the town of Little Dooing On-the-Hole, the Labour leader continues to be seen as a non-entity by his own side's supporters at least as much as by his political opponents. Fraser Nelson covers the current state of play in more detail here.
This quotation of David Aaronovitch of The Times, by Iain (radio presenter of the year) Dale, is one of the most telling I have yet encountered – especially as I have known of Aaranovitch for a number of years, and realise just how strong this really is. Probably the most significant phrase is this...
"...politically he is not a presence at all, he is an absence."Ouch again!
As with all schemes that are essentially hand-outs, the food banks that were introduced during the Labour years have gone, to some extent at least, the way of all such: something to be exploited by the scroungers. Once this reaches widespread public awareness, the whole idea tends to become discredited, which – as with the other such ideas – does a disservice to the genuine and honest cases.
This from The Mail revolves around first-hand testimony of (wait for it) a Liberal Democrat former mayor, whose personal experience of what seems to be a fair number in Liverpool strongly suggests that many of them are using the handout nature of food banks as a way to subsidise a more luxurious lifestyle than any reasonable person might well expect.
The example given by the former mayor is of the preponderance of (very expensive!) iPhones that the claimants (for want of a better term) seem to sport. Lefties have, as usual, sprung to those claimants' defence, suggesting that perhaps the iPhones were 'gifts from friends or family'.
Oh, I can just see that happening in either my own family's equivalent generation, or others I know – not! Also, if these obviously ricj benefactors were even slightly aware of the person's situation (and wouldn't you be, in that kind of situation?) surely they'd opt for a cheaper 'phone and some cash to put dinners on the table, at least for a while. Yes?
When it comes to trusting the views of Labour's Luciana Berger or the insight of Michael Gove, most intelligent and insightful folk must surely go for the latter; and that seems to be what is gradually happening, thanks to this debate that was triggered by the Education Secretary's words on the subject recently.
Ultimately, the lessons to be learned are (a) accepting that some long-standing handout schemes probably cannot be changed materially, no new ones should be introduced, and more recent ones need to be reviewed to try to find a better way to tackle the underlying issues; and (b) if that can't be done for one or more specific schemes, at least make the criteria more intelligent and much less easy to cheat one's way in as a lifestyle choice at others' expense.
There is much public support for taking a more sensible line on welfare and related matters in the country nowadays, as even The Independent acknowledges, including admitting that this is benefiting the Conservatives at Labour's expense. Interesting reading, that!
Age of Education
On the subject of education itself (i.e. not just the minister!) there has been a proposal by a collection of Lefty 'experts' to move the school starting age to seven. Interestingly, it was that side of the political divide that formerly (while their people were running the country) supported early years learning.
Back then, they were able to indoctrinate our youngsters with their ideology at their most susceptible time of life, as I have covered previously, and as is evidenced in the famous Jesuit Fathers claim that I supect is familiar to most if not all readers of this 'blog, so needs no repetition here.
As Toby Young, a co-founder of the West London Free School, writes in The Telegraph, such a move would result in 'a generation of illiterates'. His piece is well-evidenced and is worth reading in full, especially by existing and potential parents
We have already seen the outcome of a dumbed-down education system in the Labour years, concentrating on non-subjects such as 'diversity' and 'citizenship' at the expense of genuinely useful areas, with the well-documented (and glaringly obvious to employers) result that we already have a generation of whom a fair-sized proportion are at best semi-literate and numerate.
This, of course, is the 'Plan B' idea of these self-styled 'experts'. If their people in government can no longer reduce future generations' education to largely worthless non-qualifications and lower-standard exams, then they might at least reduce the time for proper education by a few crucial years..The aim is the same, but now coming at it from the other end, so to speak.
As always, we should never let ourselves be fooled by anything Lefties attempt to foist upon us, however appealingly it is dressed up for public consumption. It's our children's futures at stake, no less – a point reinforced by this tale of Labour and Green councillors voting together to defeat a very promising looking proposal for a new school where it is genuinely needed in central Hove.
It seems that the Lefties there prefer instead to make the site into what is described as a comfortable environment for council staff. Interesting choice of priorities here, and as always with Lefties one wonders who they think should be serving whose interests...
On a not entirely unrelated topic (the need for more school places) it is Labour's 'time-bomb' caused by their deliberate flooding of the UK with some four million immigrants (as Daniel Hannan MEP reminded us in a tweet earlier today) that has now come around to causing a shortage of secondary school places.
Although in theory it should be possible for any council to see the problem coming in advance, and prepare for it, it doesn't seem that many if any parts of the country actually achieve this, at least not consistently over the years. I have seen it in my own area, and have been aware of it elsewhere; and the above-linked article just shows how big the issue is nationwide.
Lessons need to be learned by bureaucrats and councillors/MPs as much as lessons within the classrooms themselves, but also the immigrant tide needs to be stemmed so that we don't get a repeat of this potentially harmful (to the youngsters) situation arise again in the future.
Striking at Britain
The TUC-supported nationwide labour strike (once upon a time called 'industrial action', even though it involved inaction and certainly without any industry).was indeed accepted at the Congress's conference last Monday. Their main beef appears to be the public sector pay freeze, and the firefighters also have an issue regarding their pensions.
Indeed, it is (predictably?) the unions covering public sector – either exclusively or with some private sector membership as well – who are leading this, driven by their predominantly known Communist leaders. For them,.as always with their ilk, their foot-soldier members who will be called upon to lose income by striking, are merely pawns in their (purely political) game.
From the TUC's and the more moderate unions' point of view, there is a separate reason, and that is of having become less relevant during the past three decades, and seeing that trend continuing ever more since the change of national government in May 2010.
They need something, anything of significance, to rally the troops and help promote a dwindling overall membership (as I gather it is in reality, though not widely realised), especially while the public sector is now shrinking – which is where the mainstay of the active union movement resides in practice.
As a nation, we'll live through it all, just as we have done in the past as I well recall from my own experience.
When it's all over, or even before, although there will be a modest (but inflated in the reporting of the usual suspects e.g. BBC/Guardian/Mirror, no doubt) shift toward sympathy for the strikers, perhaps just one group such as the firefighters, this is likely to be hugely outweighed by the real public opinion. I've seen that before as well, and in much more favourable times for the unions and the rest of the political Left.
That will give the government all the 'ammo' it needs to further tighten-up union-related legislation, reduce public funding/support for them still further (way beyond the current 'Pilgrims' clampdown) and turn more public services over to the private sector. The TUC et al are playing straight into their hands, but are not bright enough to realise it. Well, they shall reap what they are planning to sow...
FullFact on Royal Mail
It is not exactly surprising that FullFact have taken a detailed look at part of the Royal Mail sell-off issue, though completely ignoring (except via a fairly short quotation from Business Secretary Vince Cable) the question of the service's future viability. Thus this is one of their more selective (slanted, one might even consider it) reports, and should be read with that in mind.
They have instead focussed the 'conclusion' end of their post on the opposition to the move by – well, one can guess before even reading that far down, it's so predictable. This is where one needs to be careful not to be lulled by FullFact's straighter reports into thinking they are impartial, as they claim. It is not that difficult to spot when they have an agenda, and this looks to be one example of that.
Medway A & E
Great news regarding the now well-overstretched Medway Maritime Hospital's Accident and Emergency department, as Medway MP Mark Reckless has blogged about here including a clip from his words on the topic in the House of Commons.
This significant grant – one of the largest being made – ought to make a real difference, though I doubt that it will be able to overcome all the reported issues all of the time. A&E is like that; though my own experiences on two occasions in the year 2011 showed that it was a well run outfit with no waiting outside in the ambulance and only quite modest delays within the department.
Indeed, my longest wait was the necessary time for some administered medicine to 'kick-in' (as they say there) and that was less than half an hour. I had no reason for complaint; and as I observed the workings of the place I noticed a calm but always on-the-go activity. I am no expert, but I couldn't perceive a problem on either of those occasions, at that time – barely thirty months ago.
Sooner or later, though, as populations rise and social trends can add to the pressures, something starts to give. From recent reports, it looks as though that has started to happen on occasion, so this is good if less than ideal timing for what one might term an 'enhancement grant'..
A Few Links
To avoid making this post too long , I am providing the following few links on assorted topics as a simple click-on list. None of them needs any significant comment from me...
- Obama's Syria speech falls flat
- Douglas Murray on 'human rights' hyper-inflation
- UKIP founder creates new left-wing party
- Benedict Brogan on the lobbyists issue
?And that's it for another week. Hopefully next week will be at least a little lighter and not quite as busy!