November 2011 Archives
As a teacher I would like to say that I refuse to take part in the forthcoming industrial action on the grounds that I am patriotic and love my country.
Firstly I am right-wing and a committed reactionary. I believe that employers are the Victorian patriarchal figures - pillars of our community - who have our best interest at heart. To go against them - to disrupt the production and the business of education - is tantamount to sacrilege because it is a betrayal of our trust and a breach of our contractual duties with our place of work.
An MP is demanding to know why taxpayers have forked out hundreds of thousands of pounds to former Prime Ministers via a little-known grant.
Tony Blair has received £272,888 since quitting as Prime Minister, while Gordon Brown has received £83,718.
Lady Thatcher received £529,100 over the past five years, while John Major received £490,921.
In Mr Brown's case, the cash comes on top of the £29,963.91 he has claimed in MP's expenses since quitting Downing Street last May.
Every now and then (if you're lucky) a piece of literature - be it a novel or a poem - will come along and shake your heart; it'll rock your world. And, I swear, your perspective of yourself and the space around you, will never be the same again.
Today, of course, is Remembrance Sunday - a day on which our nation commemorates all those soldiers who have given their lives for our country. Quite rightly, perhaps, many people take part in services being held in churches up and down our country - and in other parts of our towns and cities including community halls, town centres and temples.
Essentially I have absolutely no problem with people wanting to mark this occasion with whatever appropriate means they want to employ. I think it is fitting that some form of event is organised on a national scale to remember the immensity of sacrifice made by thousands and indeed millions of young soldiers - many as young as the students I teach.
So I'm all for it. I really am.
You would think that a 17th century Catholic who attempted to blow up Parliament - the ultimate symbol of democracy in this country - would be hard pushed to gain even an iota of sympathy from anyone. Certainly not then and, perhaps, not even now.
And yet today, sympathy is exactly what I feel towards Guy Fawkes, a man who was executed publicly in the most savage and brutal manner - though he did purposefully break his neck in order to by-pass a prolonged, agonising death.
'It's just not cricket' is an adage used by many to denote unsavory, behaviour in our society. And this is particularly true in the light of Pakistan's cricket team's skipper, Salman Butt. Today he was jailed for 30 months for his role in deliberately creating no-balls against England in the Test match last year. So perhaps, understandably, people might think twice about correlating gentlemanly conduct with this whiter-than-white sport.
However, my question concerns the sentence itself.
Granted that Butt and the other two players, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir, were found guilty of illegal tampering by Southwark Crown Court.
But were their offences so serious that only a prison sentence could be justified?
Young people have been invited to enter a prestigious writing competition backed by the Birmingham Post & Mail, giving them a chance to visit Parliament and meet top politicians and journalists.
The contest is organised by the Parliamentary Press Gallery, which includes journalists from leading regional and national newspapers as well as broadcasters and political bloggers.