British social-class hatreds still thriving
Traditional Leftist hatred of the middle class: “Today” programme’s jobless bank worker ‘ineligible for help’ because he lives in a nice middle-class house
An unemployed bank worker who was promised help with finding a new job after he appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme has claimed he was dumped by a Government-backed recruitment agency because the area where he lives is too middle-class. Alan South was made redundant 18 months ago after a 30-year career in the City as an administrator in banks and stockbroking firms. His plight came to national prominence after he agreed to let the BBC track his job-hunting progress for a series of features on the flagship breakfast show about people who lost their jobs in the recession.
On last Tuesday’s edition of the programme he accused Working Links, a company that is paid millions of pounds by the Department for Work and Pensions to find placements for the long-term unemployed, of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to help him. The 50-year-old divorcee, who has two teenage daughters, believes Working Links lost interest in him after discovering that he lived in a relatively prosperous part of North London, had no history of alcohol or drug abuse and had never been out of work before.
Despite an unsolicited approach from Working Links after his appearance on Today, and an initial offer of help from the company’s employment experts, he was eventually told he was ineligible for assistance unless he signed on at a Jobcentre more than four miles away in Tottenham, one of the most deprived and crime-ridden areas of the country.
After Working Links made its approach in April – through a PR company – Mr South was invited to a meeting with three Working Links career advisers. Mr South told The Mail on Sunday last night that he left the meeting feeling greatly encouraged. He said: ‘They said they would market me as “transfer-compatible” so that I could work in other industries, including the public sector. I was quite pumped up about it because this was just the sort of boost I was looking for. ‘They were saying all the right things and I was pretty sure I’d be back in work in a few weeks. Working Links were very keen to promote their services but I think all they were looking for was a bit of free publicity because it all came to nothing.
‘They showed me a Press release about a project they’d worked on in Glasgow involving a group of unemployed people with alcohol and drug problems. I got the impression that it was these kind of people they were targeting.’
Mr South, whose last job was as operations manager at the London office of a French bank, claims he heard nothing from the recruitment agency for more than a month. With no job offers coming through, he decided to register with Working Links through normal channels by signing on at his local Jobcentre. When he gave the Jobcentre adviser his address, however, he received another disappointing rebuff.
Mr South said: ‘He said Working Links wouldn’t be able to do anything for me because the part of Enfield where I live hadn’t been designated an area of special economic need by the Government. ‘It’s true it’s a pleasant middle-class area but I don’t think these things should be decided by postcode. I qualify as long-term unemployed because I’ve been out of work for more than a year, but the system doesn’t seem geared up to help professional people like me.’
Working Links is one of several recruitment firms being paid by the Government to find jobs for the long-term unemployed. Last year, it made an operating profit of £1.3million and turnover rose by 11 per cent to £86million. Company accounts show that the highest-paid director – thought to be managing director Breege Burke – is on an annual salary of £222,000.
Last night the agency, which is one-third Government-owned, strongly denied letting Mr South down. A spokesman said: ‘When we approached the BBC, we honestly thought we could help Alan find a job. We would dispute any suggestion that, having said we could help him, we left him in the lurch. We followed the meeting up with emails and phone calls. ‘The problem with where he lives is that the Jobcentre he is registered with falls outside the geographic remit of our employment-zone contract with the Government. We have offered Alan as much support as we can and given him advice on how to develop his CV.’
Over the past 12 months, the company claims to have helped 16,700 people back into work, a seven per cent increase on the figure for 2007-08.
Politically correct parents ditch ‘offensive’ traditional fairy tales
This story is from months back but better late than never — JR
For most, they are innocent tales that define childhood. But some parents are ditching fairytales, believing they are politically incorrect or ‘too dark’ to read to children, a survey has found. One in four mothers has abandoned the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel in favour of The Gruffalo or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written in 1969 by Eric Carle.
One in ten parents even said Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs should be re-titled – because ‘the dwarf reference is not PC’. Rapunzel is considered ‘too dark’ and Cinderella outdated, because she is forced to do the housework.
The poll of 3,000 British parents, carried out by TheBabyWebsite.com, revealed 66 per cent believe traditional fairytales have stronger morality messages than modern equivalents.
But many feel they are inappropriate to soothe youngsters before bed. Most of the tales were made popular by the brothers Grimm in their Grimms’ Fairy Tales, published in 1812. However many were around long before that, including a version of Snow White from the Middle Ages and a Cinderella story first told in Ancient Greece.
A spokesman for TheBabyWebsite.com said: ‘Fairytales take children to a land of makebelieve where they can use their imaginationsand where generally the goodies beat the baddies. ‘Children love being read a variety of stories and it’s a great shame that so many of today’s PC mums and dads are rejecting fairytales which have stood the test of time, entertaining children for hundreds or thousands of years.’
A fifth of parents said fairytales were no longer politically correct, while 17 per cent worried they would give their children nightmares.
NHS vendetta against whistleblower
No concern over whether staff were qualified, apparently. “Shoot the messenger” approach instead
A senior NHS nurse faced a “witchhunt” and was threatened with having her house burnt down if she did not drop a complaint against a colleague, an employment tribunal has been told.
Jenny Fecitt, who worked at an NHS walk-in centre in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, said that at the time of a phone call in which the threat was made she was in dispute with her employer after raising concerns over another nurse’s qualifications.
Mrs Fecitt had complained to bosses at NHS Manchester over one of the staff on her team, Daniel Swift, whom she claimed “misrepresented” his training and should not have been treating adult patients. But her concerns were ignored by trust bosses, it is alleged, and she was subjected to a “character assassination” before receiving the threatening call. “The substance of the call was if I did not drop the case against Daniel Swift that our house would be burnt down,” Mrs Fecitt told the employment tribunal, sitting in Manchester.
Mrs Fecitt, along with Annie Woodcock and Felicity Hughes, her fellow nurses, is taking NHS Manchester to the tribunal, claiming that they were victimised after voicing their concerns. The tribunal heard that problems began on March 3, 2008, after Mrs Woodcock approached her about Mr Swift’s qualifications.
Mrs Fecitt said that during a casual conversation among staff he maintained that he was qualified as both a child and adult nurse. She called the Nursing and Midwifery Council and was told that he was qualified to treat only children. Mrs Fecitt spoke to her line manager and, the next day, Mr Swift is alleged to have called her in an “aggressive and confrontational” manner.
She told the tribunal that it was her “moral and professional” obligation to report Mr Swift to the nursing council. She also contacted the trust’s officer responsible for corporate governance and whistleblowing in April 2008 and an investigation was started. But the following month she was relieved of her management responsibilities.
The Leftist war on British education continues apace
Sacked for exposing the bullies: Dinner lady fired for telling parents girl had been whipped. If you can’t prevent violent behaviour, cover it up is the British response
A school dinner lady who told the parents of a seven-year-old girl that she had been viciously bullied in the playground has been sacked. Scott and Claire David were simply informed in a letter home that their daughter Chloe had been ‘hurt’ in an incident with a skipping rope. In fact, she had been tied to a fence, whipped by four boys, had to be dragged to safety and suffered burns to her wrists.
But the attempted cover-up was exposed when Carol Hill – the dinner lady who saved her from further injury – bumped into Mr and Mrs David and told them what really happened. Mrs Hill, 60, was suspended after the incident in June and yesterday it emerged that she has been fired by a disciplinary tribunal for breaching pupil confidentiality at Great Tey Primary School, near Colchester, Essex.
The decision has been condemned by the girl’s family, who were prevented from giving evidence on Mrs Hill’s behalf. Other parents at the school are considering withdrawing their children in protest.
Friends say that Mrs Hill, from Great Tey, who has worked at the school for almost eight years, is ‘shocked and very disappointed’ but is planning to appeal. One said: ‘She thinks she’s been treated really shabbily but she insists that if she saw a child being bullied again she would definitely step in like she did.’ Her husband, Ron, said: ‘She’s not been eating and has been really down. I can’t describe how cross I am. I can’t believe it’s got this far. She’s done nothing wrong.’
Mrs Hill has previously told how another pupil alerted her to the bullying incident. She found Chloe bound up and terrified. She said: ‘She had eight knots around her wrists and had been whipped across the legs with a skipping rope. I took her back into the school, along with four boys who had been seen with her. Two admitted it.’
Mr and Mrs David say Chloe, who had rope burns to her wrists and whip marks on her legs, was sent home with an accident notification letter. They could not find out what exactly had happened as she was in shock and refused to talk about it. Later that evening, Mrs Hill was helping at a Beaver Scouts meeting and went over to Mrs David to say she was sorry about what happened. Speaking in July, she said: ‘As I was talking to her it became clear she did not know the whole story. I had to tell her because she then realised there was more to it.’
Mr and Mrs David have since withdrawn Chloe and their five-year-old son, Cameron, from the school. They say that if Mrs Hill had not told them, they would never have been alerted to what had really happened. They later demanded to see the school’s accident book which stated that Chloe had been tied up.
Mr David, 33, a steel worker, said last night: ‘I’m disgusted and shocked that Mrs Hill has been sacked and I’m disgusted that the school has been able to cover everything up. ‘It was her job to make sure that children’s welfare was being looked after. That’s what she did but she’s now being punished for doing her job properly. ‘We back Mrs Hill totally. She did not realise we did not know all the facts. We should have done – we should have been called into the school.’ He added: ‘Chloe seems to be doing OK now. She seems to have bounced back better than us. We’re still trying to cope with what happened.’
Many parents are backing the dinner lady and want her to be reinstated. Sue Dyer and her husband Ivan, 50, a horticultural engineer, have five children at Great Tey Primary School. Mrs Dyer said: ‘The way Carol’s been treated is totally unjust. I would put total trust in her ability to look after my children. ‘Carol is 100 per cent for children, she is a very popular figure in the village and the school. ‘The children think Carol’s coming back – they keep asking, when is Mrs Hall back?’
Mrs Dyer said that if the headteacher had informed Chloe’s parents about the full extent of the bullying in the first instance, the trouble would have been avoided. Margaret Morrissey, of family campaign group Parents Outloud, said: ‘I’m absolutely sure she was just trying to act in the best interests of the child. ‘I doubt if there’s anyone who knew what had happened who wouldn’t want to sympathise. I’m sure that parents will be very upset to hear that she’s lost her job over it.’
Headmistress Debbie Crabb has insisted that Chloe’s parents were told of the incident according to school ‘accident and first aid procedures’. But she said the procedures would be reviewed. She said yesterday: ‘We can confirm that subject to any appeal Mrs Hill will not be returning to work at Great Tey Primary School.’
Britain ‘won’t take Calais migrants’
Home Secretary Alan Johnson has denied that Britain will be forced to take migrants from the “Calais Jungle” camp which has been shut by French police. “Reports that the UK will be forced to take illegal immigrants from the ‘Jungle’ are wrong,” he said. Mr Johnson said refugees should apply for protection in the first EU country that they reach.
Migrant groups say the camp closure will only shift the problem elsewhere in Europe. The makeshift camp has replaced official centres like Sangatte as a gathering point for migrants hoping to cross to Britain.
Mr Johnson welcomed the “swift and decisive” clearance, and said Britain was working closely with France to prevent illegal immigration and people trafficking.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas said the migrants had no right to claim asylum in the UK, and he questioned whether they were genuine asylum seekers. “If they were fleeing persecution they have the right to claim asylum in the first country of entry as they leave their own countries,” he told the BBC.
However, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migrationwatch think-tank, suggested that Britain’s immigration policy was part of the problem. “This is a welcome decision but it will not tackle the root cause of the problem, namely that Britain is regarded as a ‘soft touch’. “Why else would people be queuing up in Calais?” he added. Sir Andrew said the government should be more serious about removing failed asylum seekers, and rule out absolutely any talk of an amnesty.
Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said the decision to close the camp was long overdue, but the French government needed to do more if the situation is to be resolved. “It is now incumbent on the French government to deal with illegal immigration at the point of entry into France, and not simply funnel them through creating this sorry bottleneck along the Pas de Calais and Normandy coasts,” he says.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) Euro MP Nigel Farage told the BBC that the government needs to take a tougher stance, and stand up to France.
Refugee campaigners have welcomed the closure of the camp, but warned that the problem will shift elsewhere. “It is quite right that it should be shut down,” said Dan Hodges from the charity Refugee Action. “But while it is possible to sweep away the camp, you can’t simply sweep away the problem.”
Makeshift camps sprang up in Calais following the closure of the Red Cross camp in Sangatte in 2002. Some observers fear that things will be no different this time. “I remember seven years ago when former home secretary, David Blunkett, and the then French minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, congratulated themselves on the closure,” said Keith Best of the Immigration Advisory Service. “But the hundreds of asylum seekers merely moved to the dockside of Calais. The liquidation of the jungle will have the same transitory effect,” he suggested. Mr Best said it was very difficult to claim asylum in France, and the French were not playing their part despite obligations under the Geneva Convention.
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the closure was dealing with symptoms rather than the cause, and the big question was what happened to the migrants now. “We hope that all the people, including the very vulnerable, like women and children on their own who are trying to get to a place of safety, are given access to an asylum system. “This is a European-wide problem which needs a solution at European level,” she said.
British universities to end ‘irrelevant’ research
This is reasonable as long as basic science is not affected
The days of university researchers developing formulas for the perfect cheese sandwich or signing up for David Beckham studies may be numbered after the government’s higher education funding body announced plans to tighten its criteria for research grants. Academics will be required to demonstrate that their research is relevant to society in order to be allocated public funds and the biggest grants will go to projects likely to influence the economy or public policy. Critics say the plan, due to come into force in 2012, will sacrifice academic freedoms to market forces.
The plans are due to be announced today by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It will allocate £1.76bn a year in government funds for academic research under the Research Excellence Framework. From 2012, university departments must submit their work to be rated by a panel of academics. Marks will be awarded, 25 per cent for the impact the research will have and 15 per cent for the department’s research strategy, staff and student development and its engagement with the wider world.
The Hefce said the system would pay out for research in the arts and humanities as well as science and technology.
But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, told The Guardian: “Academic research should never be at the behest of market forces. “History has taught us that some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from speculative research and it is wrong to try and measure projects purely on their economic potential.”
David Sweeney, Hefce’s director for research, said: “The Research Excellence Framework will recognise and reward excellent research and sharing new knowledge to the benefit of the economy and society, and will ensure effective allocation of public funds. “It will encourage the productive interchange of research staff and ideas between academia and business, government and other sectors.”
Under the previous funding allocation system, universities were able to take on star academics at the last minute to boost their research performance.
British study finds no evidence of autism surge in children
Autism is as common among adults as it is among children, a study has found, dispelling fears of a link between the MMR vaccine and the condition. A study of rates of autism spectrum disorder among adults suggests that one in every 100 people over the age of 18 has the condition — broadly the same as that cited for children.
The data, collected by the NHS Information Centre, is the first to show how autism affects people over the course of a lifetime, concluding that it is similar across all ages.
People in more than 4,000 households in England were asked a series of questions aimed at assessing their psychiatric health. The results were used to identify adults with an autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s syndrome.
The centre said that the study found no evidence to support claims of a link between the MMR jab given to children and the development of autism: if the vaccine was to blame, autism rates among children should be higher because the MMR has been available only since the early 1990s.
The study — the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 — was funded by the Department of Health. It found that rates of autism were higher among men (1.8 per cent) than among women (0.2 per cent). This reflects studies in children, which have shown higher rates among boys than girls.
The report also found higher rates of autism among single people, among men with no university degree and among men who rent their homes rather than those in other types of housing. [The poor have worse health: The old, old finding]
Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: “This landmark report is the first major study into the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among adults to be carried out anywhere in the world. “The findings do not support suggestions of a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of this condition.” Mr Straughan said that while the sample size was small and any conclusions needed to be treated with caution, the report suggested that, despite popular perceptions, rates of autism were not increasing.
The MMR jab was first introduced in the UK in 1988. Concerns over the vaccine were sparked by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield. The research has since been discredited.
Mr Straughan said that the findings backed those from the National Audit Office (NAO) that more was required to support people with autism through adulthood. The NAO found there was very little recognition and service provision by local authorities or the NHS for adults with autism spectrum disorder.
The NHS Information Centre report found that people with autism do not access support services for mental or emotional problems in any greater numbers than the general population. “This does beg some questions about whether services, as currently configured, are meeting the needs of this group of people,” Mr Straughan said.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS), said that his organisation had long campaigned about awareness of “woefully inadequate” services and support for adults with autism. “Nearly two-thirds of adults with autism told us they do not have enough support to meet their needs. “Many thousands feel isolated and ignored and are often completely dependent on their families. This study gives us further evidence to demand that more vital support is put in place.” Mr Lever said that the report was the first part of a much more detailed research project into the prevalence of autism in the UK. “While we welcome this initial report, it only underlines the scale of the task that lies ahead and the importance of the forthcoming adult autism strategy in tackling the devastating lack of support and services,” he said.