Sunday, 12 December 2010
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Monday, 22 November 2010
"The full extent of the police and criminal prosecution powers that the European Union has over British citizens can be revealed today," writes Mary Ellen Synon.
This is the result of a Mail on Sunday investigation, which has "uncovered an alarming array of new EU controls over justice and home affairs for which no one has voted, and most are unknown to the public."
Of course, the reason why most are "unknown to the public" is because the media rarely talk about them and, when they do, "no one seems to care". More specifically, no one in parliament seems to care for, as we wrote when that plaintive statement was made, in legislative terms, "the parliament has collectively lost the will to live".
Parliament is no longer really interested in its primary functions, we wrote, and has turned in on itself, to the extent that its internal, petty politicking has assumed an overweening importance, to the exclusion of everything else.
That was over two years ago, when Philip Johnston was railing against the creation of "a powerful new EU interior department, called the Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI)." He had devoted some space to then home secretary Jacqui Smith's failure to mention it.
But then, as now, this was our old friend the Hague programme, about which we were sounding the alarm in 2004. But, if you had then asked the average British political blogger or MSM political correspondent about it, they would have thought you were referring to young William's last television appearance.
But since then, more than enough has been written about it for those who wanted to know about to keep themselves informed, not least the European Union - Tenth Report of 15 March 2005. And therein lies another part of the problem.
This does go back all the way to 2004, when we saw the European Council reaffirm the priority it attached to "the development of area of freedom, security and justice", claiming, as always, that it was "responding to a central concern of the peoples of the States brought together in the Union". Despite our concerns, nothing happened then and, six years later, as the Mail on Sundayraises the alarm (and not for the first time), precisely nothing will happen now.
Therefore, the real problem is that, unless the issue can gain political traction, and there is a felling that this is an issue that can get resolved, there is and will be nothing to drive it forward. People, and the media – in the short-term, at least - will take a lead from the politicians. And if the politicians do nothing, the issue dies.
But that is the short-term. As Booker reveals in his column today, more and more we see the "authorities" working to their own agendas, which have nothing to do with the principles of justice or good administration.
When it also dawns – as it eventually will – that the authorities are also working for an alien power (not "foreign" - but alien), as is increasingly the case with the police through the Hague Programme, then the last vestiges of consent will break down. The divide between "us" and "them" will become a permanent breach. And then we start killing them.
This is not a warning, nor a threat, nor a prediction, nor indeed an instruction. It is simply an observation. When the compact between the people and their rulers breaks down, the result is always the most extreme form of violence.
In Britain, however, having been tolerably well administered for several centuries, we have become slow to turn to serious violence. Thus, our rulers have got lazy and complacent and they think they can continue along the route they have taken. They can't. The worm will turn eventually. When it does, people will die. That now is the only certainty.
Teenagers will lose up to five per cent of marks in GCSE examinations if they fail to display high standards of written English.
The rules, which are likely to apply to all subjects, including mathematics and science, follow claims that thousands of children leave school without being able to compose a sentence, spell difficult words or write a coherent letter or email.
The move, to be outlined in an education White Paper next week, would reverse a Labour decision seven years ago to scrap rewards for good literacy.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the building blocks of English had been "demolished by those who should have been giving our children a solid foundation in learning". Business leaders such as Sir Stuart Rose, the Marks & Spencer chairman, have complained that too many young people leave school "not fit for work".
Last night, the change was backed by educationalists who suggested it would give schools a greater incentive to train pupils in the basics of spelling and grammar. The written English requirements will be among a string of radical reforms designed to restore rigour to the examination system in England and promote the study of traditional subjects.
Next week's White Paper will also propose:
- A return to traditional A-levels by moving away from bite-sized "modular" courses in some subjects in favour of tests at the end of two years of study.
- Allowing universities to script A-level exams and syllabuses to ensure sixth-form courses act as a better preparation for a degree.
- The introduction of an "English Baccalaureate" that rewards pupils for gaining five good GCSEs in English, maths, science, foreign languages and a humanities subject.
- A ban on schools using vocational courses as "equivalent" qualifications to boost their ranking in GCSE league tables.
- A review of the National Curriculum to outline the key "bodies of knowledge" that children should master at each stage of their education.
- A reading test for all six year-olds to identify those struggling the most after a year of school, ensuring they receive extra tuition.
The Coalition reforms are being billed as an attempt to reverse 13 years of "dumbing down" by Labour. Mr Gove has been critical of changes to the exams system which he claimed had widened the gulf between independent and state schools. Many fee-paying schools have shifted pupils towards alternative exams following claims that mainstream tests are too easy.
In a speech, Mr Gove attacked Labour's decision to abandon requirements for pupils to spell correctly and use proper punctuation and grammar in GCSE exams.
In the past, five per cent of marks in all GCSE exams were ring-fenced for high standards of written English. But the rules were scrapped in 2003.
Good spelling and punctuation is still rewarded in some exams, but the number of marks available differs between subjects and often candidates are only rewarded for good English in certain questions. They are usually told which questions these are.
Mr Gove said: “Thousands of children – including some of our very brightest – leave school unable to compose a proper sentence, ignorant of basic grammar, incapable of writing a clear and accurate letter.
“And it’s not surprising when the last government explicitly removed the requirement to award a set number of marks for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in examinations.
“The basic building blocks of English were demolished by those who should have been giving our children a solid foundation in learning.
“Under this Government we will insist that our exams, once more, take proper account of the need to spell, punctuate and write a grammatical sentence.”
The move, which will not at first apply to A-levels, was given a cautious welcome by examiners. Jim Sinclair, director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said: “The previous system fell into disrepute because of cases where candidates were writing competently, spelling flawlessly and using correct grammar – therefore picking up the five per cent – but the subject content of their answers was rubbish.”
He added: “I wholeheartedly support the desire to ensure that when young people leave formal education that they are functionally
literate and numerate but I would caution against using crude instruments to disproportionately reward spelling, punctuation and grammar.”
Prof Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: “Clear expression is evidence of clear thought. It is reasonable to expect accurate spelling and good use of grammar in an exam.
“The results mean less if the examiner is trying to project on to a poorly written answer what he or she thinks the candidate was attempting to say.”