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David Porter » Entries tagged with "political issues"

Called into Question: the School Examination System

First published on 8 December 2011 on Suite 101, this article opened with: ‘Another day, another scandal. Journalists open the amazed eyes of British voters, taxpayers and students to exams abuse and now ‘something must be done!” In the past year several things have started to /be done’ and more will follow. It is timely to republish it here. After years of controversy about exam grade inflation and ‘dumbing down’, where results in both GCSE and A level exams improve year on year, in December 2011 the Daily Telegraph exposed what it calls: ‘Cheating the system, how examiners tip off teachers’. The main thrust of the expose was that courses and seminars run by chief and senior examiners for teachers during the year at a cost of £120 to £230 a day, … Read entire article »

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Thinking the Unthinkable: Britain and a New Europe

  Leaving the EU and the break up of the euro have been called ‘unthinkable’ by some. Yet history teaches that thinking the unthinkable sometimes works. This article was first published on 29 November 2011 on Suite 101. Britain’s had an uneasy relationship with the European Union and its predecessors for forty years. Until recently, some powerful British voices urged the UK to abandon the pound and embrace the Euro. However, fast-moving, spiralling out of control events and crises are set to change old thinking. Sometimes, in the search for the new, the past is rediscovered and given a modern twist. What Would Churchill Have Said? In his book European Integration and Disintegration, Robert Bideleux commented on the widely-held view that Winston Churchill believed a united Europe of states was possible, but without Great Britain’s … Read entire article »

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Scotland’s New or False Dawn Will Have to Break Soon

Whether Scotland should/could break from the UK, will be another elephant in the crowded room of British politics over the next few years. This article was first published on Suite 101, 17 November 2011. It is relevant today. The issue has far from gone away. As autumn gives way to a forecast long, bleak winter, the voters of Scotland will be wrestling with tax/spending issues and fallout from the Euro’s collapse at one end of the scale, to the proposed daylight hours changes at the other. The question of how much Scotland suffers/benefits from changing winter/summer time is symptomatic of a wider issue. Scotland has to face a once-in-a-lifetime decision, a unique opportunity, challenge and responsibility in the next three years. As Scots struggle like other Britons with their finances and winter difficulties, … Read entire article »

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Energy Policy Needs New Ideas or It Could Burn the Government

Crowd-sourcing may be worth a try as the Government tries to keep affordable heat and light on and transport moving in this coming winter. This article first published on Suite 101, 16 November 2011, and as another winter approaches, it is a s relevant as last year. In the age of social media and mass voting on issues via phones, ballots and violent protest, harnessing the received wisdom of crowds could be just what the Government needs to get it off the energy policy hook. November saw another Commons debate triggered by an epetition, whereby the public votes on hot topics for Parliament to consider. Many MPs voiced strong opposition to the planned January fuel duty hike, reporting businesses, retailing, hauliers and individual people finding rocketing fuel prices unaffordable. Gone are the … Read entire article »

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Zero Tolerance in Britain: Right Time for an American Solution?

As the British public demand action after the August Riots, is a one-size-fits-all idea from the USA the answer, or will it stoke future flames? Indelible spray-dyeing, water cannon, closing social networks are hotly debated in the wake of England’s costly August 2011 riots, that led to almost 3000 arrests. Zero tolerance is now added to the arsenal of ideas. Free Dictionary defines Zero Tolerance as the policy of applying ‘laws or penalties to minor code infringements in order to reinforce its overall importance and enhance deterrence’. Starting in 1980s’ USA as the ‘War on Drugs’, it was action against drugs and weapons. Most US school districts employ zero tolerance extending to hate-speech, harassment, fighting, bullying and dress codes, supporters arguing it promotes safety/well-being of children and young people and sends a powerful … Read entire article »

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Reading ‘The Riot Act’ May Not Be Enough to Quell the Flames

  The August 2011 riots in London and other cities, have led to calls for troops, curfews, banning social media and a new Riot Act. To ‘read someone The Riot Act’ has come to mean an authoritative scolding to overcome troublesome children, youths or adults. Three hundred years ago, as BBC Radio 4 pointed out only days before the Summer 2011 riots took hold in Britain, it meant a far more serious consequence. Hanging was the punishment for insurrection. The Riot Act was a law that came into force in August 1715 which permitted local authorities to declare a group of twelve or more persons ‘unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled’ and order them to disperse or face punishment. The full title was: ‘An Act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101