Friday, March 16, 2007

Here We Go Again

The only time you hear in the media about a black kid with good grades and school attendance is when his poor mother's asked to come and identify the body. Stephen, Damilola, Kieran. - this blog, 2004. Add Isiah Young-Sam and Anthony Walker.

Mr O'Shea said: "Kodjo Yenga joined St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in September 2005. He had an excellent record from a school in Hammersmith and was progressing successfully through a four A-level programme in business, IT, French and design.

"He was an able student. More importantly, he was a friendly, gentle and peaceful young man who was regarded with great affection by his fellow students and his teachers.

Like the late Kylee Dibble, he left a presence on the Web, giving feedback to an education website in 2003. He'd have been about 12.

Underclass News

From Scallyland.

A woman was treated for multiple stab wounds today after she was attacked by a seven-year-old boy. Sara Corran was in a female neighbour's home in Norris Green, Liverpool, when they began to argue. The neighbour's son is understood to have grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Ms Corran in the buttock, leg and arm. She was taken to hospital by ambulance, where she remained today. Her injuries were described by police as "serious but not life-threatening".

The two women, both single mothers, live in opposite terrace houses in Norris Green.

Neighbour Maureen McGee said she believed the boy acted to protect his mother. She said: "[He] is a mischievous little boy, like all young lads ..." Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "[The women] are good friends but they argue and fight a fair bit when they have a drink together."

Benefit culture - you get what you pay for. Norris Green is of course the home of the late lamented Smigger.

Fiona Millar - a tribute

Well done, Fiona, for your principled stance on ensuring that poor children, no matter how bright or hardworking, don't get to go to the sort of schools that 'we' send 'our' children to.

It's inspirational to see how brilliant upper-class, privately educated 'activists' like Tony Crosland and Shirley Williams persuaded the party of the working class to scrap the system which enabled poor but intelligent kids to get a decent education. You, our privately educated Prime Minister, our last privately educated education secretary Ruth Kelly, the privately educated education secretary before that Charles Clarke, and the leader of the Opposition (and former shadow education secretary), the privately educated David Cameron, present a front of steel against those uppity kids who just happen to be bright - even though their parents may be absolute nobodies who'd never get into the Groucho Club. I applaud you.

And it's working superbly - look at this BBC report.

"The proportion of UK university students from state schools has fallen, the latest official figures show. The percentage of young entrants to full-time first degree courses in 2003 who had attended state schools was 86.8%, down from 87.2% the year before."

There is one area of the UK where some of those working class kids sneak through, and take the places reserved for 'our sort'.

"Universities and colleges in Northern Ireland had the highest rates."

Thank heavens for your colleagues Jane Kennedy and Martin McGuinness (who in his previous role taught lessons to many people), who next year will abolish the 11-plus, and reduce still further the threat of provincial grammar-school types clogging up Carfax with their Argos bicycles in future !

Comic Relief

I see that Guido is raising money for good causes.

My second current research project is funded by Comic Relief, co-ordinated by Rainbow Ripples and supported by Leeds Involvement Project. This research is focussing on the nature, and people’s experiences, of service provision for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Disabled people in Leeds.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Building Safer Neighbourhoods

The Safer Neighbourhoods Team in Southwark have got an innovative way of keeping people safe. They're advised not to leave their houses when the kids are leaving a Church of England comprehensive.

Councillor John Friary, who represents Camberwell Green on Southwark council, said: "I don't think Archbishop Michael Ramsey is an exceptionally bad school. I believe the problem can be solved."

(AMR is the alma mater of the late Michael Dosunmu)

Sergeant David Gwyther, from the safer neighbourhoods team, told the meeting the troublemakers numbered around 40 or 50 and he was not going to try to shut down the school.

He said: "Staying inside between 3.30pm and 4.15pm is something you are going to have to learn to do.

"We have got to accept there is going to be a certain amount of disorder in a teenage environment.

"The problem has changed over the years. Messing about by the parade of shops has turned into problems on the buses and postcode gangsterism - the boys from Peckham have got a problem with the boys from Brixton."

Labour councillor John Friary has a blog, with a small post on the meeting. While I don't get the impression that the Brandon residents problems rank terribly high compared with making Southwark a Fair Trade Borough, with a police attitude like that his options are limited. Looks like they've given up on the idea of maintaining the law in any other than a reactive sense.

I wonder if Peel's Nine Principles of Policing get a mention at Bramshill or anywhere else other than as a historical curiosity. Here's number three again :

"To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them."

And Sergeant Gwyther :

"We have got to accept there is going to be a certain amount of disorder in a teenage environment."

(hat-tip - Dumb Jon)

Let's head west to Hammersmith Grove, where I spent 6 months working back in the eighties. Another place to get indoors when the schools are emptying ?

A boy of 16 was stabbed to death by a gang of teenage boys and girls for his dog, according to police.

The group of attackers were dressed in school uniforms and were shouting "kill him, kill him" as they pursued him.

One woman said: "I saw eight or nine black boys in a very agitated state. One of them was waving a massive knife around. These boys were very hyped up. I recognised one of them as being a well-known local gang member. These kids were all gravitating around the boy with the carving knife.

" These children were much younger than the boy they were chasing. The attackers were all wearing dark blue or black school uniforms. They were really going for this boy even though he was bigger and older than them.

"They were shouting so loudly that they set a car alarm off. There was so much hatred in the way they were attacking him, you could tell it was more serious.

"At one point they surrounded their victim. He managed to free himself from the group and he was backing away from them.

"He was walking backwards facing them because he was obviously scared to turn his back to them. He looked terrified. He was black, aged 16, and had a dog with him."

The victim was named locally as Kodjo. The woman continued: "These boys wanted Kodjo's dog. They had been threatening him and bullying him for weeks. That is what it was about.

"These gang members like to boast about their dogs. They breed them to fight each other and they wanted Kodjo's dog. He wouldn't give it to them.

"He was trying to keep them away from it when they attacked him." One of the dead boy's friends blamed the killing on a turf war between rival gangs in the Shepherd's Bush-White City area.

Winnie Clements, 17, said: "They are trying to make a point - show who is bigger, who is better. It's just stupid. It needs to stop. Everyone is getting fed up." One witness said the gang involved calls itself MDP - Murder Dem Pussies.

Interesting little sidelight from hip young media thing Emily Rose (not her real name), quoted in Life Style Extra.

"It's heightened my paranoia. I'm happy we don't have young kids or anything.

"I'm surprised this has happened. It does make me feel a little unsafe. It was in the daytime, and it's one of those things, even if it's gang related it could affect a passerby.

"I just want to feel safe for my family and not have to worry when my mum goes to the deli."

It's not just in terraced streets full of Mirpuris that social cohesion - or lack of - is an issue.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Old Bromsgrovian News

The alma mater has turned out few famous old boys or girls. The public school down the road counts ex-CBI chair (and ex-Baptist Youth Club) Digby Jones and the legendary Dr J. Collis Browne among its Old Boys. The old school can only boast Mrs Sting, currently getting mixed reviews in the gossip pages.

She may have been single-minded, ambitious etc etc, but if she had a fiver each way on herself she didn't shout it about the school. Nor do I know of "her schoolgirl nickname Scarface", as the Indie puts it. I did see someone call her scarface once, at lunch. She emptied the water jug over his head. Dramatic temperament.

There was another girl in the school who DID have a fiver each way on herself. Possessed of a spectacular figure, all the year knew of her acting and modelling ambitions. A year or four passed, we'd all left school, and in the Bradford Co-Op I picked up a tin of drinking chocolate. The model holding up a tea-towel ('only 75p with two proofs of purchase') seemed familiar. Obviously the career wasn't going too well. So it wasn't a total suprise when one day my brother waved a copy of 'Mayfair' at me ('just about everyone who knows her bought one') which featured her undoubted charms in gynecological detail, along with a fictional name and biography. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Victorian Virtues

Gertrude Himmelfarb at the AEI. The stats should be in everyone's head by now, but no harm in hammering those golden nails one more time.

Why have values become a subject of such intense discussion? And why do the Victorian values--or virtues--loom so large today?

The answer to both questions lies, in part, in statistics. Thomas Carlyle once rebuked his countrymen with being obsessed with "figures of arithmetic"--about wages and prices, the cost of food and the standard of living. The more important issue, he insisted, was the "condition" and "disposition" of the people: their beliefs and feelings, their sense of right and wrong, the attitudes and habits that would dispose them either to a "wholesome composure, frugality, and prosperity," or to an "acrid unrest, recklessness, gin-drinking, and gradual ruin."

In fact, the Victorians had "figures of arithmetic" about these matters as well--about crime, drunkenness, pauperism, vagrancy, illiteracy, illegitimacy; "moral statistics," they called them. It is instructive--and disquieting--to compare their moral statistics with ours.

In Victorian England, the illegitimacy ratio--the proportion of illegitimate births to total births--fell from 7 percent in 1845 to less than 4 percent by the end of the century. In East London, the poorest section of the city, it was less than that: 4.5 percent in midcentury and 3 percent by the end of the century. Apart from a temporary increase during both world wars, the ratio continued to hover around 5 percent until well into the middle of the twentieth century. In 1960 it began to rise, to 12 percent by 1980, and to 32 percent by the end of 1992--a two-and-a-half times increase in the last decade alone and a sixfold rise in three decades.

She looks at crime, too.

The low crime rate persisted until the mid 1920s, when it started to rise and continued to do so through the war years, levelling off or declining slightly in the early 1950s. A dramatic rise started in the mid fifties, increasing more than fivefold by 1981 and almost doubling in the following decade. By 1991 the rate was ten times that of 1955 and forty times that of 1901. (In 1955, the anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer remarked upon the extraordinary degree of civility exhibited in England, where "football crowds are as orderly as church meetings." Within a few years, those games had become notorious as the scene of mayhem and riots.)


One of my favourite bloggers, is profiled by Norm.

Is he referring to the fatherless family here ?

Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?
> I think that I have completely reversed my thinking on various feminist ethics. I used to distrust patriarchy, and now I am convinced that feminism offers very little to replace it.

Comedy Government

Reality one more stuffs satire. The government announce foreign languages will be compulsory for seven year olds. Perhaps they should wait until the kids can read and write in English first. I've never known a Government who had so little idea of the difference between the wish and the deed.

"Socially responsible" advertising for gambling. Remember the days when the Labour Party allegedly owed more to Methodism than Marxism ? It now owes precious little to either.

In other news - the anti-racist racist.

The court heard yesterday that on Dec 16, 2005, when Ruggie Johnson spotted the traffic wardens putting tickets on illegally parked cars, he shouted: "This is our patch. Go back up Ecclesall Road and do your white aunties and uncles."

In his defence Johnson said: "My purpose was to make them aware of the situation. They were the only two white people in a predominantly black area and were seen as a source of oppression."

I wonder who funds the Monitoring Group North ?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mugged By Reality

A week is a long time in journalism. Was it only a few days ago that a Sheffield officer was suspended for (righteously IMHO) smacking a vandalistic chavette, and that Janice Turner was lauding the wonderful colourblindness of London primary school kids ?

Smacking a woman may be out of order for a copper, but it's OK for a TV presenter.

Not all London kids seem to be as colourblind as Janice Turner's little friends :

"As his friend handed over the phone, Ben saw one of the youths reach into his pocket and pull out what appeared to be a knife, and instinctively he shouted to his friend to run. Thankfully, the boys were only 400 yards from Ben’s mother’s home and, although the youths pursued them on the bicycles, they gave up the chase when the boys turned into the suburban street. Ben, who never cries and is rarely frightened, was sobbing so hard and trembling so much that it was heartbreaking to behold.

The police were called, but the crime will not find its way on to the next list of robbery statistics (last year the figures of reported robbery rose by 8 per cent) because only one of the boys had his phone stolen and he was, understandably, too intimidated to be prepared to give video evidence against muggers who might approach him again. Because it wasn’t the first time that Ben or his friend have been mugged. Walking home from school a month ago, Ben was surrounded by a group of boys who demanded that he give them his phone ("You’ve been jacked, nigger," they shouted at him). Nor is it our family’s first encounter with street crime. My son, also 14, was violently mugged earlier this year by a group of youths"

Jane Gordon has most of the liberal prejudices of Janice Turner (with her Daily Mail reading father and his "poisonous, hard-core bigotry"). But her children are that much older. So while she still twists liberal corn dollies round her worried fingers ("I do not want to see all boys in hoods locked up or sent to draconian boot-camps." - as if anyone has ever suggested such a thing), she is not a happy mummy.

There are a number of milestones in a child’s progress that middle-class parents rarely allude to and one of them — as Richard Madeley discovered last week — is "the first time your son or daughter is mugged" ... The fact that a socialist Government seems so unconcerned about protecting children from violent crime is enough to make a middle-class mother like me want to vote Conservative at the next election (something I have never previously done).

At the Observer, uber-liberal Mary Riddell is so deep in denial she should buy a felucca.

My son, also a student, was attacked last week by two young men. He did not quite lose consciousness and his head injuries were not severe. He has not concluded that Britain is more lawless, and nor have I, angry as I am that he should have been the victim of gratuitous violence for the third time in his relatively short life. I do not imagine that he, an inner-city boy, has been unusually unlucky.

He's been attacked three times - which Mary herself accepts as NFL - Normal For London. Yet apparently this tells her nothing about whether Britain is more lawless. She wonders if Blair's illegal war is the cause of the violence. Such wilful refusal to look reality in the face is almost heroic. Stupid, but magnificently stupid.

There's a whole genre of middle-class mummies writing about the consequences for their children, or friends' children, of their hip urban lifestyle - from Jackie Ashley (significant other of one Andrew Marr) :

This child, so bright and optimistic so recently, is sunk in grey depression and won't go to school. That one, so athletic and cocky, has been violently mugged and now avoids walking anywhere, lurking inside his bedroom. Another cuts herself. Another suffers extreme bullying and has ballooned in size. Another was stabbed while walking the dog.

to the author of this urban nightmare :

Things had started to feel badly wrong in a matter of months. My kids stopped playing outdoors. They just didn't want to, they said. My daughter, who had started to go to the corner shop on her own, had to be brought home by the shopkeeper one day — she was afraid to walk through the estate because she'd been bullied on the way there. A friend who did not live on the estate pitched up one day with two kids whom she had found crying in the park. They had been left home alone all day, five and nine years old, and went to the park and lost their keys. I tried to get them a key, but the estate manager wanted more details. When it emerged that they were kids, Social Services came, and my heart sunk. I knew I would be thought of as an interfering old cow. To make matters worse, the older child was inconsolable, saying her mother would beat her. Why? She said she wasn't allowed into white people's houses. She had never been in one before. Five and nine, these kids were.

A gang of 15 to 20 teenagers started hanging out in the car park, revving up their motors all day, blaring jungle music from the car stereos. A pit bull ran wild on the estate, attacking workmen, stupendously leaping over our front gate, defecating on our doorstep on a daily basis.

After I shouted at the pit bull, the dog started snarling and running at me and my son. One day we opened the door and it was sitting there in front of us, growling. Insanely, I went to the kids in the car park and told them they had to keep the dog on a lead, and if it went for my kids, I would kill it. They looked incredulous and one said: "You kill the dog, we kill you." And they all burst out laughing and one shouted: "Crazy white bitch. We were here first." A few minutes later, to my horror, I noticed that "my" pit bull was in another part of the estate. I had threatened the wrong pit bull.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing, and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

(via Peter Hitchens. In Victorian England copybook headings were traditional sayings, proverbs, or improving ideas which schoolchildren copied into their exercise books. The idea was to improve their handwriting and to inculcate the wisdom of their forebears. There's a picture of one here. The Carboniferous Epoch sounds like Soviet Russia to me, the Feminian Sandstones are being laid down even now, and the Cambrian Measures are located on the Labour back benches.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Foreign Truck Drivers

I was cut up yesterday by a Polish trucker, in the left-hand lane as we approached a roundabout, who then turned right without signalling - bad news for anyone in the right hand lane and going straight on i.e. me.

I've got sympathy for the stranger in a land where the rules and signs are strange. But when he's toting a lethal 44 tons of artic you have to wonder if they shouldn't have to take a test here. I imagine the EU is the repository of that particular bit of lost sovereignty.

This Belgian chap seems a bit of a Frank Spencer.

A Belgian man has been charged with dangerous driving over an incident in which a lorry damaged cars while doing a U-turn in a Cornwall cul-de-sac.

The foreign-registered lorry was carrying 23 tonnes of coal when it became trapped while manoeuvring in Whiterock Road in Wadebridge.

A roundabout and six parked cars were damaged, with one car left trapped under the lorry's trailer.

"The most heinous playground crime"

We're heading for a glorious rainbow future just as soon as the hideously white oldies have died off, according to Janice Turner in the Times.

My children understand that racism is the most heinous playground crime. They have grown up with Black History Month, assemblies on Nelson Mandela and our groovy new school building is named after the black Crimean nurse Mary Seacole (the children’s other suggestion was Rosa Parks). I feel with absolute conviction if they or any of their friends join the Army and find themselves training a bunch of recruits, they will not spur some laggard through the assault course by calling him a "black bastard".

For all we love to label our young people toxic degenerates, in one regard they look down at us from the loftiest moral heights. In all surveys, the young’s tolerance of other races and intolerance of racism itself far outstrips the adult population: 82 per cent of under18s, according to a National Research Centre poll, claimed they are not at all racially prejudiced, compared with 69 per cent of adults. While this reveals nothing about their actual behaviour, it reflects that racism is now taboo.


No act of perceived racism now goes without exhaustive analysis. Mr Mercer was summarily sacked by David Cameron just three hours after his remarks. Only a few months ago — in what seems now like some lurid dream — the nation’s media and political leaders ceased discussion of the Iraq war or loans for honours to debate the implications for race (and international) relations in Jade Goody calling the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty a poppadom on Celebrity Big Brother. The 30,000 people who complained to Channel 4, the tens of thousands more who voted to ensure Shilpa won the show, were not letting racism pass by unopposed.

My father’s old monocultural generation is dying; the blithely colour-blind young are ascending.

Now I think I've heard all that stuff about the kids getting on somewhere before. Didn't little white South African kids play with the children of their parents black employees in apartheid times ? Not necessarily a recipe for equality, then. And reports from the mean streets of North London don't seem too hopeful either. Neither do the numbers of perfectly decent non-racist natives who somehow find themselves getting out of London before the kids reach secondary age. And one other point, Ms Turner - the British 'blithely colour-blind young' are ascending in rather smaller numbers than the numbers of old monoculturals shuffling off. Can she be sure about the colour-blindness of others who are taking their place ?

She may be right of course. We may have discovered a secret that eluded people through history up to now - how to displace - or replace - a native population without genocide, civil war or serious inter-communal conflict. Or we might be sleepwalking to disaster (Trevor Phillips) / heaping up our own funeral pyre (Enoch Powell). The project to multiculturalise Britain and make universal love the norm is led by an army of state-employed sociology grads. They've not been terribly successful at making comprehensives work, criminals give up crime, lardbutts turn into 5-a-day lean machines, dope and smackheads give up weed or needle. Human nature hasn't changed - I still hold the view that continued mass immigration will mean ethnically-based politics. I've no idea what figures this story is based on, but seems likely that only massive postal vote fraud, difficult to arrange outside ethically 'diverse' areas, will prevent the continuing increase in the nativist (aka 'racist') vote.

I digress. Ms Turner is right that racism is the worst crime in education - for pupil or teacher. By racism is meant white racism. Is there any other kind ?

Ms Turner's kids, with middle-class writer mummy, may yet end up learning more about British culture and history than they'll be taught in school ('the British are characterised by racism, genocide, colonialism, sexism and homophobia'). And if she doesn't get them into a decent secondary she can go private. But what of those native kids without articulate mothers and a house full of books ? What will they get from an education where primary school children apparently spontaneously suggest Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole as the preferred monicker for a building ? Taught a positive view of every culture except their own (alright, they might be taught negative things about the US, too), how will they see their own culture ?

I'm not sure they'll see anything at all. I posted a while back on Keith Ajegbo's plan for English citizenship education. It's a fascinating and scary document, making no bones about the importance of political indoctrination to our children's education. But the authors are aware of what multicultural (i.e. 'any-culture-but-yours') education can do to the morale of the native kids. Not so long ago, to be born English or British was to have been awarded first prize in the lottery of life. As CLR James put it in 1962 :

English people, for example, have a conception of themselves breathed from birth. Drake and mighty Nelson, Shakespeare, Waterloo, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the few who did so much for so many, the success of parliamentary democracy, those and such as those constitute a national tradition.

What a contrast - and what a betrayal - these children's voices represent.

You’re bored with it, you’re just British.
White female, Year 10

I’m not from a Caribbean country or an exotic country or even France or Spain. I’m from nowhere like that, I’m just plain British.
White female Year 10

It’s boring, I just want to be like from a different ‘race’, or a quarter something.
White female KS2