Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-02-06 Entry: "Political Coverup"

The government have touted the idea of National Identity Cards again. This is presumably to cover up the back bench revolt that never happened over faith schools.

My position on identity cards has previously been stated - they're only as good as the database supporting them, and that'll be terrible, so they succeed in impinging on civil liberties of the law abiding citizens, but don't prevent any of the criminals from getting away with whatever they're already getting away with.

Faith schools are a stupid idea. They automatically promote Christianity over other religions when we're a multi-faith society. A large percentage of the population obviously don't care about organized religion (as church attendance is down heavily) - okay, yes, this is a facile argument; it isn't valid for elections, so why should it be valid for the church...

No, the main problem with faith schools is they automatically segregate people according to religion. We've already seen in Northern Ireland what a mess this creates. Everyone should be forced to go to nicely mixed schools - children who interact with other [faiths / ethnicities / genders / random other distinguishing feature] tend to be less prejudiced than those who don't. It's a gross generalization, and I don't have any evidence to back it up, but that's at least my impression.

You'd automatically think, based on the last paragraph, that I'm against segregating based on ability. I tend to have a bit of a blind spot here. Our mixed ability, Comprehensive, system didn't do me any real harm, but then people keep trying to persuade me that I'm rather bright (so presumably, I'd have done okay wherever I was). I think the mixed ability system works in some ways - it keeps anyone from automatically assuming an air of superiority (which seemed to be the case with at least some of those Cambridge attendees I suffered), but it could cause the bright kids to be held back (or the weaker kids to be lost in the rush towards mediocrity).

Mixed ability would work if class sizes were smaller - the teacher then could allow the bright kids to charge ahead, work with the less bright to keep up, and generally teach to the average. This'll never work currently as politicians can't seem to fund education well and then leave it alone. We have to have a weekly initiative on how to improve standards.

Well, that rambled. The title was purely a dig at the spin-doctoring going on over identity cards, and not anything to do with the Enron collapse. It's not as if there's really a political coverup going on there - people want to know if Enron paid large sums of money to politicians, and whether it changed the policy or not. I think the obvious response to that is "Duh!" Of course big energy company paid large sums of money to politicians. Of course firms of accountants / analysts want a piece of the political pie. And of course politicians follow the money; they have done ever since we've had professional politicians in weak democracies (where the politician isn't really answerable to the public, like the UK and the US).

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