Monday, 24 January 2011

Why Muslim Schools Are a Bad Idea

From time to time I get E-mail circulars from people campaigning for Muslim schools in this country. They want the government to give them state funding to set up separate schools for Muslim pupils where they will learn the Koran off by heart and will not get contaminated by the beliefs of the rest of us.
I don't think that is a good idea. For a start, this is surely racist. If a white organization suggested putting all the pupils of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin into a separate school there would be an outcry. People would denounce the idea. Words like apartheid, fascist, and BNP would be thrown about. So why should Muslim leaders be allowed to make what are in effect the same demands, from a different angle?

If you had separate schools for one religion, wouldn't you need to provide separate schools for the Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and any other religious minority as well? How many different schools would there be in each neighbourhood? Everybody would go to a different school and grow up in a little airtight compartment regarding others as aliens. The prospect of peaceful integration would be much reduced.
Secondly, once you start setting up sectarian schools, it would not be enough to send all the Muslims to one school. You would have to divide the Sunnis from the Shi-ites, since there are such deep and bitter disagreements between them. You would also have to divide the Catholics from the Protestants, as they used to be in Northern Ireland. The result there was to perpetuate sectarian hatred and I am certain it would have the same effect anywhere.
The more separate schools you set up, the more costs would escalate so you would be spending billions, in order to achieve an outcome of a society where people had less knowledge, trust and understanding of each other. That sounds pretty awful.
The fanatic who keeps writing to me demanding Muslim schools argues that English is a bad and harmful subject for children to study. Why? He gave the example of Romeo and Juliet, which he said advocated rebellion against parents, and pre-marital sex. Now it is quite wrong to say that Romeo and Juliet contains any pre-marital sex. My busy fanatic ought to read or see a performance of the play before he tries to judge it. It does show the harmful and tragic results of forcing children into unwanted marriages, and it does also show the appalling results of sectarian strife, where intolerance turns to violence. I think that he actually has a lot to learn from studying Romeo and Juliet.
He claims that it is more important for Muslim children to learn Arabic than European languages, or "Euro-centric" culture. Why does he want to live in Europe if he is opposed to what he calls Euro-centrism? By enclosing these unfortunate children in an all-Muslim school, he would be taking away their choice to learn European languages and with it much opportunity for employment.
He also objects to children being taught that homosexuality is normal. One of the side-effects of the aggressive "gay" agenda in present-day society is that it may drive some people to retreat into isolation because the mainstream is no longer in the centre. If we kept our curriculum more balanced then these objections to sending their children to a mainstream school would no longer apply.
Some of the points he made were quite interesting. One point is that Muslims prefer single-sex schools for their daughters. But so do many other people. The state should provide such a choice for everyone, not just one religious group. We used to have an all-girls state school here in Oxford, Milham Ford, until the County Council closed it down in one of their perpetual rounds of cuts and sold off the buildings.
The NHS estimates that each summer, during the school holidays, about four hundred British girls from Muslim families are taken abroad and subjected to the horrible operation that is misleadingly called "female circumcision". Many more are taken abroad to be married to relatives, often while under age. This worries me. To ignore it would be complacent. I want these families to be more integrated into the British way of life, not less.
Personally, I doubt whether parents have the right to isolate their children completely from the wider world. It is one thing to teach them yuor own religion - that is everyone's right, outside school - but another to keep them as prisoners inside an ideological fortress. I am sure that the long-term interests of all children are best served by going to integrated schools, where they learn to mix with and get along with a broad cross-section of society. If you live in a country, then you should aim to become a citizen of that country in the fullest and most inclusive sense.

NB 14th February 2011 Watching this evening's Dispatches programme on Channel 4 "Lessons in Hate and Violence" has re-inforced my views. While not all Muslims are extremists, it is clear that some of those who are are getting huge influence over the rising generation by teaching in faith schools. This is a matter for serious concern. We certainly should not give state funding to schools that teach children to hate the rest of society or to call non-Muslims "kaffurs" - a term of insult comparable to "nigger" or "pariah". The films of children being hit and kicked by teachers were damning and in each case this was happening in institutions that claimed they had investigated the problem and solved it. Clearly the people running some of these schools cannot be trusted.
I was pleased to see the admirable Dr Taj Hargey of the Oxford Muslim Education Centre providing some sensible comments.

Monday, 17 January 2011

This is the "Reformed" House of Lords...?

The Blair government was very proud of the way it reformed the House of Lords.
Instead of having hereditary peers who were entirely honest and straightforward, we now have an upper House consisting of aging MPs and cronies of the established political parties, up to their eyeballs in bribery, embezzlement and crooked dealings. Some of them have sinister names like Moonie, Truscott and Snape (which sound like something out of Harry Potter) but to show it is not old-fashioned the new House of Lords has lots of mercenary women peers and members of ethnic minorities proving that when it comes to fiddling, they are absolutely equal.
It is only fair to mention this Tory since I mentioned two Labour MPs yesterday:-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/17/lord-taylor-false-expenses-trial

Life peer John Taylor claims he didn't know it was wrong to make false statements to get money because he is only a barrister with a university degree. Studying the law had never taught him that to misrepresent whether you live in London, Oxford or Birmingham in order to get travel and hotel expenses paid for by the tax-payer might be regarded as improper or even immoral.
Nobody told him that what you put on your expenses forms was supposed to be true!
And having studied the law convinced him that if other people are doing something, that makes it OK - doesn't it?
That's what his own lawyer says about him and after all, who would be so unreasonable as to expect you to write down your own address, when writing someone else's can get you £170 per night? He only did it for five years so he never had time to check the legality of it.
This is not the Lord Taylor who boasted last year that he is paid £100,000 a go to influence legislation - and that's "cheap" according to him. That was a much older Labourite and a chum of Snape and co. This is the relatively young Conservative Lord Taylor of Warwick who needed the extra £110,000 because otherwise he has only got six directorates to live on, according to his online CV:-

CORPORATE ACTIVITIES
Non-executive Director, Mottram Holdings plc
Consultant, Kleinwort Benson Bank
Chancellor, Bournemouth University
Chairman, Warwick Communications Ltd
Vice President, National Small Business Bureau
Vice President, British Board of Film Classification

Oh yes, and from time to time he jets around the world making speeches about "human rights".
So long as his lawyer is as smart as he is, he probably won't go to gaol.

What does this long, ugly succession of expenses scandals reveal about modern Britain?
This: we need to question our priorities.
We have had a generation which has been very concerned about racism, sexism and so-called "homo-phobia" - but many people have forgotten that it is wrong to lie, cheat and steal.

Peer was encouraged to claim false expenses in lieu of salary, court told | Politics | The Guardian
www.guardian.co.uk
Lord Taylor of Warwick claims he was told he would be 'crazy' not to register living outside of London, expenses trial hears
18 minutes ago ·

CND campaigner wants to sell arms to China

Labour peer Cathy Ashton, who occupies the ludicrously overpaid post of foreign minister in the EU, is now lobbying EU ministers to raise the embargo on selling arms to China.
http://euobserver.com/884/31592

What's curious about that, you might say?
Ms Ashton came to power via the CND and told the public that her principles were "pacifist". Now she is openly touting for us to sell arms to one of the most heavily armed nuclear states in the world, with a shameful record of violating human rights.
What does CND stand for? Campaign for Nauseating Double-standards?
Ms Ashton is paid about twice the salary of the Prime Minister to oppose our own policies and bring this country into disrepute.
She is just following the great Labour tradition of David Milliband, who told China the UK no longer opposes its tyrannous annexation of Tibet.
Ms Ashton has been criticized by European leaders because she can't speak French, or any other foreign language, fluently. Her qualifications are modest, and if she had not married a friend of Tony Blair, she would be lucky to have a job as a typist or receptionist with her level of skills.

Is there any way we can get rid of her? Could David Cameron sack her? It is sad to realize that he has so few powers and his title as PM does not mean much these days.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Oldham Votes for Corruption

The voters of Oldham and Saddleworth have made it clear what they believe in. They went to the polls on Thursday in a by-election and voted for the Labour party, two of whose members have been gaoled for financial corruption in the last fortnight.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/12/eric-illsley-quit-mp-expenses-conviction
Eric Illsley was convicted two days before the election, and found guilty of financial fraud. The court decided that he fiddled fourteen thousand pounds by making false declarations on his Commons expenses account. At first he did not even have the decency to resign, and was cheekily turning up to take his seat in the House.
Only the week before, another Labour M.P. David Chaytor, was convicted of fraudulently claiming an even greater sum from M.P.'s expenses. This was not a moment of weakness in an otherwise blameless career. Chaytor fiddled systematically for years before he was caught. He too has been gaoled. Shameless to the end, he and Illsley claimed huge amounts of legal aid to conduct their defence. Not satisfied with embezzling fourteen thousand here or there, they were intent on costing the public even more money.
The voters of Oldham knew this, or they certainly should have known it. They had every opportunity to read the newspapers, watch TV news, listen to the radio or follow the stories on the internet. How did they react?
In the most perverse possible fashion, they voted for Labour with a higher majority than before!!!
Who came second? The Libdems, whose MP David Laws resigned a few months ago having been found making improper expenses claims in the same great parliamentary tradition. Did Laws ever return the money? Not so far as I have heard.
There is only one conclusion that we can draw. The people of Oldham like criminal behaviour. They want to be ruled by cheats and crooks who are on the gravy train and only in politics for what they can squeeze out of it. They want to be represented by thieves and ruled by criminals. Oldham has voted for corruption. The trouble is that when they vote for it, we all suffer.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

We are being ruled by children.

Of all the people who have, over the years, attacked the Queen, few can have done so in such a fluff-headed way as Charlotte Church.

Did you ever wonder what happened to Charlotte, after her brief career as a child singing star? No, neither did I.

But now, in her desperation to get publicity for her new career as a pop singer (well, sort of) she has resorted to being downright rude about the Queen. The Queen, it seems, according to Ms Church, has committed the unforgiveable crime of being OLD and what is worse, she cannot even remember who Ms Church is!
Goodness me, well that makes about fifty million of us, doesn't it?

Why the heck should the Queen remember her? Hasn't the Queen got far more important things to think about than second-rate pop-artists releasing banal songs and having their lives run by a publicity agent and a make-up artist?
Ms Church's remarks reveal a naive self-importance. She really does think that everybody in the world ought to know who she is!
Because the Queen is old, Ms Church assumes she is stupid, ridiculous, boring and unworthy of any respect. That is what is called ageism. It is certainly very narrow-minded and intolerant.
Nobody in Ms Church's world of glitzy, shallow celebs is ever allowed to get old - no woman, anyway.
This is truly a sign of the times. The cult of youth affects politics too, because people nowadays tend to vote for a leader because of his looks. It's a fact and television aggravates that problem. Why else are all our leaders tall, youngish men with regular features and a good head of hair? Short, fat or old people need not apply. Even people with glasses or grey hair are ruled out. The Tories never won an election so long as they ran bald leaders.
When I think of all the virgin voters, teenagers, who voted Libdem because they believed Nick Clegg's promises and because they thought he was tall and good-looking, I wonder if it was a mistake to reduce the voting age to 18. If we had kept it at 21 we might have a more thoughtful, experienced electorate. The danger is that it may be reduced again, to 16. Why not 12? Or 10? or 5?
If it's OK to be governed by children, then why have a lower age-limit at all?
We are turning into an infantocracy. When the age of voting is reduced to three, Charlotte Church may be elected Prime Minister and even then, I doubt if anybody with any intelligence will be able to remember who she is.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Why I am Not Sorry for Vince Cable

Two weeks ago, Vince Cable was in a top government post, as Business Secretary. I won't say he was powerful, as most of the power of the British Government has been handed over to the EU or the ECHR at The Hague these days. Vince only had the trappings of power, but he had a big salary, a high public profile and the fun of rubbing shoulders with all the others at the top of the Establishment. He also had a vast pension to look forward to.
Now he is in disgrace, stripped of his position, reduced to being a mere MP again, and all because he was tricked by two journalists from the Daily Telegraph. It was a sneaky thing to do, passing themselves off as his constituents, and pretending they had voted for him, while secretly taping their conversation. All he did was to admit that his attitude to the monopoly case about the Murdoch monster was not strictly unbiassed. As a minister, he was meant to take a neutral view until the report was out. He was caught saying one thing in private and another in public - hardly a big surprise.
Cable was stitched up, no doubt about it. And he was much less guilty than the other Libdems who have been, since last May, one by one, outed as liars and rogues. David Laws, working in the Treasury, claimed rent on expenses when his so-called "landlord" was actually his lover. (He couldn't afford the rent as he is only a multi-millionaire and happy to serve in a government that is cutting housing benefit.) You'd think after the biggest expenses scandal in history the supposedly "brilliant" Lawes might have been a teeny bit more careful - but no, he had learned nothing. Then there was Chris Paul-Huhne (to give him his full name) the energy minister who is not very good at Maths, or why else would he claim to be aged 55 when he was actually born in 1950? In the election he spoke of how attached he was to family values. A few weeks later, he tried to conceal his affair with his campaign manager by driving to the railway station in separate cars and sitting in separate carriages, only to meet again on the sly later. Well, the journalists who tailed him are not quite so dim as he thought. Huhne was recently prevented from going to a public meeting about the dangers of global warming in Britain by extreme snow-bound conditions.
Then there is the cowardly Nick Clegg, who knew perfectly well even in advance of the election that his public promise not to raise university tuition fees was never going to be kept. He got elected on the basis of great big fibs, and had to cancel a visit to Oxford University as he was scared to encounter crowds of understandably angry students. It is said that he is now the most unpopular man in Britain. Somebody sent him a package of human excrement through the post. Well, he can certainly afford the servants to clear it up, having made a fortune in the Brussels champagn-ocracy. Has Clegg got any real power as Deputy Prime Minister? One sincerely hopes not, though he has got the enviable privilege of using John Prescott's old toilet seat at Chevening. I wonder if it is in good condition or if it shows the same signs of wear and tear exhibited by all Mr Prescott's other toilet seats?
And so to Vince Cable. When he was in opposition he claimed to believe in Freedom of Information. When he was made a minister, he went along with the refusal of the FSA to make public the results of its investigation of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Just because the tax-payer put billions of pounds into the banks doesn't apparently make us entitled to know what is going on. Vince will do very well on Strictly Come Dancing if his U-turns on the floor are as fast as his U-turns on policy!!!
For years, we in UKIP have had to endure our own leaders and MEPs being systematically smeared, libelled, slandered, entrapped by journalists, and prosecuted in judicial stitch-ups. Some of them have been disgraced and even imprisoned for charges that were trivial compared to the massive corruption exposed in the Westminster MPs' expenses-scandal, or the Labour peers' bribery scandal (for which nobody was imprisoned). Lord Pearson, one of the most decent and principled people in public life, was subjected to defamation and insult from the left-wing and liberal press, who seem to think that any tactics, including perjury, against a UKIP member are OK.
Politics, we are told, is a dirty game, and you can only expect people to play dirty.
Well, Vince, in that case, HOW DOES IT FEEL?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Not-So-New-Year's-Eve television delights.

Maybe you were out at a rave party for New Year's Eve last night, but sensible people like me were sitting at home in front of the TV with a glass or two in the vicinity hoping to celebrate without worrying about getting a taxi home at 2 am.
Most of the evening there was nothing on TV except bad language offered as comedy, and repeats: repeats of last year's bad language and the year before that too, drearily carted out as "entertainment". While people are being urged to get bigger and posher TV-sets all the time, with cinematic screens and Haitch-Dee, the standard of what is actually broadcast does not really merit it. There are more and more channels, and there is less and less to watch.
Last night we were depressed to find a choice between a repeated thriller (The Judas Tree) and a repeated edition of Grumpy Old New Year, in which bad-tempered moaners related how they snoop around other people's houses on New Year's Eve, rifling through the bathroom cabinet to find out what pills their hosts take. How revolting! It's not even funny, and most of the comedians on every channel were the sort of people who think they are witty for saying a-se or sh-t or f-ck. Going to the opposite extreme, in the afternoon, The Sound of Music was broadcast for the sixty-seventh time - really, is there anybody who can bear to see that saccharine confection again?
In the end, we got out a video of an old fifties movie with Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas, and watched that until five minutes to midnight, when we switched over to Jools Holland. At least he keeps a civil tongue in his head.
Of course there were a few good things on TV over the Christmas period, but not enough. Victoria Wood's show was funny, and so was Ronnie Corbett - brilliant. Miranda Hart's comedy show is a really good laugh but the series finished shortly before Christmas. There were some good films less than ten years old but most of the truly outstanding things were classics. Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant in A Christmas Carol. Rowan Atkinson in the Blackadder spoof of A Christmas Carol. Both vintage material.
Almost every day during the Christmas period, at peak times there were soap-operas or interminable episodes of Strictly Come Prancing, calculated to bore you into a stupor. Personally, I would pay not to watch Cliff Richard, Bruce Forsyth and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's like being trapped in a geriatric ward without a mobile phone. And there were also far too many TV-chef shows. There seemed to be about six on every channel every day.
Since Stephen Fry seems to be on TV every week in every possible sort of programme, why can't we get Lottery funding to straighten out his nose? It should have been done years ago.
And the same goes for Anthony Armstrong - have you seen the size of his ears? They are absolutely monstrous. He is like an elephant. It makes me shudder to look at him. If he can't afford plastic surgery, he could at least wear a crash-helmet to cover them.
While there are some good things on TV they are eked out so thinly now that by the time you have read through what is on fifteen different channels you have probably missed it. The digital switchover is really designed to make people pay more. If you don't subscribe to cable or satellite, you won't get the new programmes, or the best sporting events, just an endless cycle of repeats. If you try to protest against that by stopping your TV-licence payments, you will be cut off from television altogether. So although TV sets are getting bigger and grander and more like home cinemas, we have become a sadder, more authoritarian society.