Daily Archives: 10 September 2007

The Great Faith School Swindle

The Phantom Laurence points me to this excellent article by Francis Beckett about faith schools.

In a weird cosmic juxtaposition last night (which, were I of lesser intelligence I might attribute to a Higher Power), after watching Munich on DVD I found myself watching the tail end of Jonathan Sacks’ BBC programme about Rosh Hashanah.

It was basically propaganda about the need for faith schools, in which he visited a Jewish school in Birmingham which accepts pupils from all denominations. All very nice and fluffy, except that this is the exact same Chief Rabbi who said the following about government proposals to ensure that at least 25% of pupils in a faith school must come from a different religion or no religion at all:

“A measure this fundamental, undertaken at such speed without adequate consultation with the parties affected, is bad legislation, bad government and bad governance. It was created in haste and will be regretted at leisure.”

As Beckett acknowledges, Sacks’ intervention – along with the Catholic church’s – proved successful.

So, here we have a man lauding the power of faith schools to bring people together, while actively fighting legislation that would actually mean it happened. On a programme about a religious festival; some would call that politicisation. And he uses license fee payers’ money to indulge in this wanton hypocrisy. Doncha just love it?

Why calling for UK population controls misses the point

Madeline Bunting purports to be thinking the unthinkable in her Guardian column this week, calling for the UK to consider population controls. Indeed, I made a similar point when reviewing the Centre for Um’s recent pamphlet on demographics. Sadly though, I must add my name to the members of the blogosphere who think she must be tad confused.

The most fundamental point which she seems to miss is that, leaving aside immigration, indigenous European population growth is rising extremely slowly. It is hard to see what sort of policy you could adopt in a liberal democracy that could slow it further still, and something tells me Ms Bunting wouldn’t approve of, say, scrapping maternity allowance (which, for the record lest there be a misunderstanding), I wouldn’t approve of either! If all you’re going to do is spend lots of money on advertising campaigns around slogans such as “Stop at Two” I suspect you’ll be on a hiding to nothing in a society where so many families now stop at one.

Secondly, adopting a zero net immigration policy – which she appears to be endorsing (while tutting the BNP for having similar policies) is going to do precisely bugger all to stop population growth. The problem is not UK population growth, or even European population growth: it’s global population growth. Even if you could stop people from coming here – illegally or otherwise – the problem is that in developing countries people are breeding at an unsustainable rate.

The solution? Well, perhaps instead of telling us how we need religious people at the centre of political discourse, Madeline should be more vocal in her criticism of the Catholic Church which actively encourages people in developing countries to have as many children as possible and even spreads lies about condom use? Getting control of family planning in developing countries would have three effects: fewer people desperate for work spilling out into other countries, national economies that are better able to manage themselves and – as a massive positive side effect – better control of the HIV-AIDS pandemic. And that’s before you even get into the wider issue of the environment and population.

If we can’t sort that out, then talk about population controls are meaningless. This is probably why, apart from the danger of sounding like a Nazi, so many are unwilling to engage in the debate. The fundamental problem is not trendy secular liberals baulking at nanny-statism but your buddy Benedict XVI (not to mention fellow theocrat George W): deal with it, Maddy.

Why can’t the BBC get anything right?

Is it too much to ask for the BBC to get anything right? Take this quote for example:

[Chamali] Fernando is a barrister from Finchley, who says he plans to put forward issues, ask tough questions and campaign across London.

He wants to present Liberal Democracy “as the tonic for Londoners from all walks of life”.

What is wrong with this picture? Well, as a quick google or even, radical I know, glance at the Lib Dem website will tell you, Chamali is a woman.

But it gets worse because, while the Guardian has a reader’s editor, the BBC doesn’t even have a decent complaints system. I can’t just click on a link by the article to submit a correction; nor is there a dedicated email address. The best I can do is to make a “general” comment which, on past form, will – if it achieves anything – result in a news editor making a patronising remark about how I am in fact wrong.

Or, as has already been pointed out, they will quietly correct it and not acknowledge that they ever made the mistake in the first place. Keep your eye out for this story cropping up on Revisionista.