Boy, 11, died after waiting 40 MINUTES for ambulance after 999 operator refused to despatch nearest crew because they were on a lunch break
The parents of an 11-year-old boy found hanging from a bunk-bed waited 40 minutes for an ambulance after a controller refused to interrupt the crew during their lunch break, an inquest heard yesterday.
After Callum James was discovered in a bedroom by his mother Pauline she dialled 999 and a volunteer community first responder, who are trained to provide life-saving care prior to the arrival of an ambulance, reached the address within five minutes.
At this point Callum still had a faint pulse but it was only when the ambulance arrived 35 minutes later that he could be placed on a spinal board and carried downstairs.
Callum, who had been due to start secondary school the day after the incident, died 48 hours later in Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Blanche Lentz, of East Midlands Ambulance Service, told the inquest that the 999 call was received at 12.58pm on September 4, 2011.
A minute later a paramedic car based in Scunthorpe, 15 miles from the James family home in Gainsborough, was dispatched as well as the volunteer, who lived closer.
The ambulance controller identified four available vehicles, but all were more than 30 minutes away.
The controller was not called to give evidence at the hearing in Lincoln yesterday.
Miss Lentz told Central Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher she ‘cannot commit as to why none of these ambulances were dispatched’.
Eventually, four minutes after the 999 call, the controller requested a crew be sent from Retford, Nottinghamshire.
But Miss Lentz said the crew were on an ‘undisturbed meal break’ and it was ambulance service policy that ‘a crew does not have to attend when they are on a meal break.’
She said the crew were not interrupted and were told of the call only 17 minutes later. They eventually arrived at 1.38pm.
Paramedic Andrew Devenport told the inquest: ‘If we had been notified by control of this incident we would have immediately made ourselves available and responded to the call.’
Mr Fisher recorded a verdict of suicide on Callum, who suffered from both autism and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, and asked that the ambulance service look at the case urgently.
He added that the ‘unacceptable delay in the arrival of the ambulance’ did not significantly adversely affect Callum’s medical state.
A spokesman for East Midlands Ambulance Service said: ‘Although it had no bearing on the outcome, we accept that a back-up ambulance could have been sent sooner.’
Ministers order an inquiry into death pathway
Hospitals are actually bribed to bump off the elderly off
Ministers yesterday ordered an independent inquiry into why hospitals have been paid to hit targets for numbers of patients dying on the Liverpool Care Pathway. The new investigation will examine how hospitals have received tens of millions of pounds to implement the controversial system for care of the dying.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said there had been too many cases of patients dying on the pathway while their families were told nothing about the withdrawal of life-saving treatment. ‘This is simply unacceptable,’ he added.
Mr Lamb said the inquiry would ‘consider the value of locally set incentives, and whether they are leading to bad decisions or practice’.
The decision to order an independent investigation follows deepening concern over the LCP, which is thought to be used in the deaths of 130,000 hospital patients each year.
The method, first developed in a Liverpool hospital and widely in use across the NHS for the past four years, aims to ease the suffering of dying patients. It commonly involves heavy sedation with morphine or similar drugs, and the removal of tubes providing nutrition and fluids.
But in the past few weeks, a string of relatives have contacted the Mail expressing concern about the LCP, saying patients have been put on it without their knowledge. Many have recovered fully after being taken off the pathway.
Medical critics have said there is no scientific method of predicting when death will come, arguing that the pathway amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy, that many patients die before they should, and that the system is used to free beds and get rid of difficult patients.
Ministers have made a series of concessions to critics over the past month, including the establishment of an inquiry led by the same palliative care doctors who have been instrumental in promoting the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
They have also changed NHS rules to put a legal obligation on hospitals to tell families when a relative is put on the pathway.
Yesterday’s decision to launch a full independent inquiry followed a summit between ministers, doctors in favour of the LCP, and their critics, at the Department of Health in Whitehall.
The internal medical inquiry into the LCP will now be taken over by the independent chairman, who is yet to be picked. Critics of the LCP said the review should be overseen by a High Court judge.
The decision to call an independent investigation is understood to have been heavily influenced by the Tory MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, who was at the meeting. Mrs Bruce, a mother of two who is an evangelical Christian, said both her parents had died on the pathway and she believed something was wrong with the process.
After the meeting, Mr Lamb said the independent inquiry would report back to him in the New Year.
On ‘bribe’ payments, first revealed by the Daily Mail, which have seen at least £30million given to hospitals that hit targets for numbers of patients who die on the pathway, Mr Lamb said: ‘We are doing an analysis to focus on the circumstances under which these payments have been made.
‘I don’t want any payments to be made for anything other than to improve the experience of death. ‘Payments must not be made unless it is absolutely clear that it’s genuinely improving the end of life and is not just a payment for putting people on a list or a register.’
One of the leading medical figures at the summit was Professor Patrick Pullicino, consultant neurologist at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, who rang alarm bells over the LCP in the summer in a speech arguing that it had become a euthanasia pathway. Prof Pullicino said: ‘It was a positive meeting. We thought we were the only people in a whole group of wolves, but we were surprised to find there were a number of people who sympathised with us.’
He said the independence of the inquiry would depend on who was in charge of it. ‘If it is a palliative care doctor, it means zero, but if it is a member of the judiciary it will be very good,’ he added.
Among those at the summit who defended the Liverpool Care Pathway was John Ellershaw, professor of palliative medicine at the University of Liverpool and one of the leading figures behind its design.
Tony Blair peddles immigration myths
Big business support for his new pro-Europe campaign is nothing but naked self-interest, argues Jeff Randall.
Brilliant news for Eurosceptics: Tony Blair will this week wade into the debate over Britain’s membership of the European Union, claiming that our place at the “top table” has never been more important. At a speech in London, he will seek to rally business leaders behind his campaign for a “grand plan” to bolster the EU’s wobbling edifice.
For those hoping that the United Kingdom will cut its losses and wave goodbye to Brussels, it’s hard to think of an intervention more likely to help their cause. Mr Blair still has traction with some foreign bankers, daft enough to pay for his advice, but as far as domestic voters are concerned, he’s the political equivalent of the merchandise in Del Boy’s suitcase. The goods are not just damaged, they are damaged fakes.
For the purpose of brevity, let’s set aside judgment on the former prime minister’s illegal war in Iraq and focus on his clammy desire to dilute British sovereignty. Had Mr Blair got his way, sterling would have been scrapped and Britain rammed into the eurozone. Undeterred by the euro crisis, he is still urging ministers to keep open the option of joining, describing the possibility of our future participation as an “interesting choice”.
Then there is his record on EU immigration. It was Mr Blair who opened the door in 2004 to workers from accession states, insisting that the impact on our jobs market and social infrastructure would be minimal. Those who challenged this orthodoxy were condemned as racists and bigots.
As John Denham, Labour’s former business secretary, later admitted, we were told to expect 15,000 migrants a year from the new EU states, and “15,000 came to Southampton alone”. In the event, more than 700,000 East Europeans arrived in Britain and the vast majority have stayed.
The myth peddled by Blair’s acolytes – that high levels of immigration generated significant economic benefits for the existing UK population – was demolished in 2008 by a House of Lords select committee. It concluded: “We do not support the general claims that net immigration is indispensable to fill labour and skills shortages. Such claims are analytically weak and provide insufficient reason for promoting net immigration.” Reinforcing this point, the government’s Migration Advisory Committee recently confirmed that immigrants do “displace” some British workers – ie, take their jobs, most likely those at the bottom end of the pay ladder.
Embarrassed by indisputable evidence that Blair’s immigration wheeze (about 80 per cent of first-generation immigrants vote Labour) had “costs as well as benefits”, Ed Miliband now accepts that his party overlooked those who were being squeezed and was too quick to tell them to “like it or lump it”.
Overcoming Blair’s legacy is tougher than it seems, however, as we saw last week when a Labour council removed children from a home in Rotherham simply because the foster parents were members of Ukip. It is the mindset of Animal Farm: “All Immigration Good. All Opposition Bad”.
So what possesses Business for New Europe, the group hosting Blair this week, to align itself with such a discredited ambassador for the erosion of Britain’s independence? Is it anything more than a cynical assessment that all publicity is good publicity and that Blair guarantees headlines?
The answer is that big business has always been prepared to dress up grubby self-reward in the haute couture of national interest – and is at it again. At the CBI’s annual conference last week, its president, Sir Roger Carr, banged on about Europe being “the bedrock of our international trade” and about the need to extol “the virtues of future engagement”.
What he did not mention is that Britain’s annual net contribution to the European Union’s budget is more than £10 billion (equal to 25 per cent of our expenditure on defence). All to be in a club with which we have a monthly trading deficit of £4 billion-plus. With its sales to the UK worth £16 billion a month, why would the EU stop trading with us if we were to withdraw?
For Sir Roger and others like him, who run multinational corporations with brigades of advisers to handle Brussels directives, there are clear advantages to being part of a borderless EU, not least access to a pool of educated young people whose presence in Britain helps suppress local wage rates.
It’s a different story, however, for start-ups. The Federation of Small Business says: “Small businesses are often hampered by EU legislation. The flow of regulation on employment [and] environmental issues, as well as health and safety, can discourage businesses from expanding. It can even contribute to their closure.”
The CBI cannot have it both ways. It calls for the Government to help create a better skilled British workforce, yet there is no incentive for UK companies to invest in indigenous staff and train them properly if they have the alternative of hiring foreigners whose schooling has been funded by somebody else.
The impact of immigration on those living in Cotswolds manor houses is, clearly, not the same as it is on minimum-wage workers in Barking council flats. Tony Blair knows that, but could not care less.
We’re being persecuted claim Oxford University Tories as they plead for same equal rights as ethnic minorities and gays
Tory students at Oxford claim they are being persecuted and are demanding the same equal rights as gays, the disabled and ethnic minorities.
Young Right-wingers at the university’s Corpus Christi College have accused political opponents of name-calling, personal abuse and intimidation because of their views.
The members of the Junior Common Room (JCR) say they are ‘often actively isolated, personally attacked and made to feel unwelcome.’ They want to create a new position on the college’s equal opportunities committee so they can air Conservative opinions without being victimised.
Students claimed they needed the same rights as minorities who are ‘often perceived as being subject to prejudice from society,’ it was reported in the Sunday Times.
The initiative came after the Tories were taunted by rival students from other parties as they watched the U.S. presidential elections on television in the JCR
The paper says they were called ‘haters of gays’ and ‘rape apologists.’
Third-year student Samuel Roberts, 21, had proposed a motion calling for more protection. He told the Sunday Times: ‘It made an atmosphere in which I felt uncomfortable.’
While Stephanie Cherrill, the president elect of the association added: ‘ There has been a deterioration inn the attitude of several JCR members towards people who are right of centre. ‘It is my strong belief that this poses a threat to the atmosphere of intellectual discussion as well as to the welfare of members who may feel victimised.’
Their cause was not helped when Joe Cooke, a recent president of the Oxford Conservative Association, reportedly upset students as he arrived in a Rolls Royce wearing a silver suit and carrying a silver-topped cane. [A silver suit is hardly conservative. Just bait for the Left. I used to bait the Left myself when I was a student. Their resultant displays of pomposity can be amusing — JR]
The association meets Sunday evenings for ‘port and policy’ talks where fortified wine is readily available.
Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson studied at Oxford and were members of the controversial Bullingdon Club.
Ed Miliband led a campaign against rent rises in 1991 when he was member of the university’s Labour Club as a 21-year-old.
Lord Waldegrave, the former Tory health Minister went to the college.
But today’s students claim they are made to feel unwelcome on the campus – a view shared by Conservatives at other universities.
In Nottingham, it was reported, that the Tory group claim they have problems with the students’ union and find it difficult to get even a meeting room.
At Glasgow University, Tory students fear disruption for the second year running of their £35 a head annual St Andrew’s dinner. It has the oldest university Conservative association in Britain and this year’s guest speaker is former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
New rights for British householders who attack burglars to be unveiled
A big step forward for Britain, where vindictive police have virtually criminalized self-defence
Changes to the law to ensure householders who attack burglars will not be prosecuted unless they use “grossly disproportionate” force are to be introduced.
In a major victory for a campaign run by The Sunday Telegraph, the Department for Justice will move to amend the existing law which says only “proportionate” and “reasonable” force can be used by home owners and tenants who confront criminals.
Ahead of the changes being introduced in the House of Lords this week, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, declared today that the changes will give householders the protection that they need – the confidence that the law will be on their side”.
He adds: “Now the deal will be this: if you are confronted by a burglar in your own home and you fear for your safety, or the safety of others, and in the heat of the moment use force that is reasonable in the circumstances, but in the cold light of day seems disproportionate, you will not be deemed guilty of an offence.”
The move follows a string of high-profile cases in which home owners who have confronted burglars have been arrested.
In the most recent, in September, Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey were held in police custody for almost three days after two burglars were shot in their house near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.
This newspaper has campaigned under the slogan “The Right To Defend Yourself” for greater legal protection for householders who deal with intruders. The campaign won the support of many politicians and senior criminal justice figures – and its proposed changes regularly win overwhelming public backing in opinion polls.
On two occasions – in 2004 and 2005 – MPs have made unsuccessful attempts to change the law using private members’ bills while there have been two “clarifications” to the criminal law on self defence – in 2008 under Labour, and last year under the coalition.
Until this week, however, the law has remained rooted in the “reasonable” force test, which campaigners say does not offer enough protection to householders and which the Conservatives promised to change in 2009 when the party was in opposition.
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP whose Private Members’ Bill on the issue in 2004 failed after not getting the support of the then Labour government, said: “This has been a very long time coming. At last my constituents and very householder will be properly protected against intruders. Even habitual criminals tell me that this will deter them. There can be no better reason for these ideas to be turned into law.”
Mr Grayling writes in an article for telegraph.co.uk: “The public should be in no doubt that in such circumstances that the law really is on their side. We need to get rid of doubts in this area once and for all. This isn’t about encouraging vigilantism, or taking the law into your own hands. Of course, you should always in the first instance see if there’s a way to get to safety. “But there should be no doubt that people who act instinctively and honestly in self defence are victims of crime, and should be treated that way.”
“I want people in these unfortunate circumstances to be interviewed as witnesses, and not interrogated as criminals.
“Only if it emerges that they have acted in a way that is clearly unacceptably over the top – like stabbing a burglar who is already out cold on the floor – should the question of prosecution even arise.”
Victims of the thought police: Snatched foster children are ‘traumatised’ say loving couple branded racist for supporting UKIP
The parents in the UKIP fostering row last night appealed for the return of the children they love.
The three Eastern European youngsters were taken away after social services discovered the couple were members of the political party. The astonishing decision by Labour-controlled Rotherham Council has been attacked by MPs from all sides.
And it has left fostering teams open to claims they are acting like ‘Thought Police’. Council chiefs will today receive the findings of an internal inquiry into the handling of the case.
Asked whether he and his wife would welcome the children’s return, the foster father told the Mail: ‘Of course. We love those children.’
But he said the priority was the welfare of the ‘completely traumatised’ baby girl, boy and older girl, who came to them in September. ‘They have been passed from pillar to post,’ he added.
Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the decision was guided by ‘politically correct mumbo jumbo’. ‘It’s bonkers, it’s deeply misguided, this decision that’s been made, and it’s political correctness gone mad,’ the Tory MP told the BBC’s Sunday Politics:
‘We need to be doing what’s in the best interests of the children; political correctness has no part in all of this. ‘The most important thing is were those foster parents providing a safe, loving family placement for those children, and if they were and they continue to do so, then they should stay there.’
The couple in their 50s are former Labour voters who live in a village near Rotherham. They have looked after a dozen children over the past seven years.
Their nightmare began earlier this month following an anonymous tip-off to the council that they supported the UK Independence Party. This was followed by a home visit on November 12.
The three children, who are understood to be from Eastern Europe, were placed with them in September and stayed for eight weeks.
The baby gained weight and the girl began calling them ‘mum and dad’.
But the wife said they started to feel like ‘criminals’ when the children’s social worker told them about the tip-off.
She said the official said: ‘We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of UKIP because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.’
The couple insist they were meeting the children’s cultural needs by learning their language, singing their folk songs and choosing an appropriate school for their religion.
‘We, too, know what it’s like to face the great PC inquisition’: The scrutiny endured by one family to become foster parents
Alex and Dominic Bemrose know exactly what it’s like to face the care ‘thought police’.
They had to jump through hoops to prove to their local authority they could offer a child from a different culture and race a loving, nurturing home.
Before being approved as adoptive parents, they had to endure nine, three-hour interviews by a social worker and every aspect of their lives went under the microscope.
Their finances were examined with a fine-tooth comb. Their moral, religious and personal beliefs were scrutinised and even their sex lives were picked over. Family, friends and ex-partners were also interviewed.
‘Short of asking for inside leg measurements, absolutely everything was questioned which at times I found ludicrous and far more intrusive than necessary,’ says Alex, 50, from Middlesex.
‘At the end of the whole questioning process, which took three months, I think the social worker knew more about me and my life than my own mother.’
When Alex said she was Roman Catholic she was asked by the social worker to go away and write an essay on what it meant to her, as if it were some kind of cult instead of a mainstream religion.
Indeed, the couple had to do a lot of written homework whenever an ‘issue’ from their past surfaced – such as bullying at school, or the time Alex had a miscarriage.
A great deal of the questioning, it seemed to Alex, was designed to help the local authority decide how ‘politically correct’ the couple were in their attitudes to racism, homosexuality and private education.
‘They seemed very concerned about the fact we’d both been to boarding school, which was discussed at length, asking how we’d felt about this “rejection” by our parents. I rather resented the question because neither of us had felt rejected in the slightest,’ she said.
‘They wanted assurances from us we would not send an adoptive child to boarding school, which we were happy to give because it wouldn’t have been appropriate and we couldn’t afford it anyway.
‘I have no issue with local authorities being very thorough and I’m sure they would say they are trying to build up a complete picture about you, but are your political beliefs really relevant? As for taking children away from foster parents because they belong to a political party, that on the face of it, seems crazy.’
Alex, now a campaigner for other parents fighting their way through the adoption system, says the Rotherham case is deeply disturbing.
‘People can be members of political parties and perhaps not agree with 100 per cent of every single policy. Does being a member of UKIP or believing in immigration controls even make you racist?
‘Surely if you were racist you wouldn’t open your home to a child of different ethnicity in the first place. On the one hand they are crying out for more foster families and then on the other taking away children from would appear to be, on the face of it, perfectly good homes.
‘What really matters is whether the parents involved can provide a loving home to a child who would otherwise remain in care, and to be rejected because your waistline is too big or you belong to a particular political party seems to me ridiculous.’
It’s not this family who are bigots — it’s the multicultural
Melanie Phillips points to the hate-filled neo-Marxist training of British social workers
The story sounds just too idiotic and outrageous to be true. A Rotherham couple, by all accounts exemplary foster parents for nearly seven years, took on two children and a baby in an emergency placement.
Eight weeks later, social workers came and took the children away — despite the fact that they were thriving — on the grounds that because the couple belonged to the UK Independence Party this was not ‘the right cultural match’.
Astonishingly, the official in charge is still unrepentant. Joyce Thacker, the council’s director of children and young people’s services, has said that the children, who were from ‘EU migrant backgrounds’, had been removed to protect their ‘cultural and ethnic needs’ from UKIP’s ‘strong views’ and apparent ‘opposition to multiculturalism’.
This is as ludicrous and illogical as it is sinister.
This apparently splendid couple have been treated as criminals merely because social workers disapproved of their political views — which happen to be shared, incidentally, by millions of fellow citizens. This is the kind of behaviour we associate with a totalitarian state.
The clear implication is that they were racists. But there is nothing racist about opposing multiculturalism. Indeed, many immigrants themselves oppose it. To damn this couple in this way is an appalling smear.
In any event, this was merely a short-term emergency foster placement. These children clearly needed as a matter of urgency a safe and loving environment — which by all accounts this couple gave them.
Ms Thacker said: ‘I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children.’ Is this woman for real? Clearly, she is actually doing them harm by putting ideological dogma above the children’s own needs.
The whole thing sounds beyond parody. But, alas, this goes far wider and deeper than this one incident.
In the early Nineties, I unearthed what, it is no exaggeration to say, was a climate of totalitarianism in social-work training.
Anti-racist zealots had captured the social workers’ training body, and built into the social-work diploma the explicit assumption that society was fundamentally racist and oppressive.
What followed was an utterly chilling degree of intimidation and thought control. Blameless social work students were forced in tears to ‘confess’ to their own racism; some failed to qualify unless they identified racist attitudes even where none existed.
These and other politically correct dogma, and the requirement to enforce them, remain stamped into social-work culture like the name of Blackpool in a stick of rock.
As a result, the needs of vulnerable children and other social-work clients have been junked in favour of the overriding requirement to impose an ideological view of the world in which minorities can do no wrong while the majority can do no right.
Over the years, this has given rise to one horror story after another. Twelve years ago, an eight-year-old Ivorian child, Victoria Climbié, was tortured and murdered by her guardians under the noses of social workers who believed such behaviour had to be respected as part of African culture.
In the early Nineties, Islington council was revealed to have ignored the systematic sexual abuse and prostitution of children in its care because it was terrified of being called racist or homophobic if it disciplined black or gay staff perpetrating such crimes.
In Rotherham itself, the sickening sexual enslavement of under-age white girls by organised prostitution and pimping rings was largely ignored for more than two decades, in part because the abusers came overwhelmingly from Pakistani Muslim backgrounds.
And for years, would-be adoptive parents have been turned down by social workers because they are deemed to be too white, too middle class or in some other way fall foul of the politically correct inquisition.
All this goes far wider and deeper even than the failings of public sector professionals.
The grip of the Left on our culture has meant not just that many perfectly reasonable things are now deemed to be unsayable in civilised society.
Worse still, since political correctness stands truth and lies on their heads, people are vilified as extremists or bigots simply for telling the truth, connecting to reality or standing up for right over wrong.
Let us be clear: the claim that it is racist to oppose multiculturalism is the opposite of the truth. This is because multiculturalism does not, as is so often mistakenly believed, mean being tolerant of other cultures. It is a creed which holds instead that no one culture can trump any other.
That means you can’t uphold human rights, equality for women or freedom of religious belief over cultures that don’t uphold these values.
So multiculturalism inescapably involves abandoning certain ethnic minorities to violence, inequality and persecution. And that is truly racist.
Why is Welsh racism allowed?
Some racisms are more equal than others, it appears
By Roger Lewis
Half a century ago, I was born in Caerphilly Miners’ Hospital and raised across the sludge of the Rhymney River in Bedwas, Monmouthshire, where my family owned the village butcher’s shop, which had been in operation since 1868 but has since closed.
I was a Mixed Infant at primary school locally, and the Eleven Plus having been abolished, I was then a pupil at the comprehensive in Bassaleg, near Newport.
I am therefore Welsh – and very proudly Welsh. But I’ve never spoken the Welsh language, except for the odd untrans- latable word like ‘cwtch’, which means ‘cuddle’, ‘cosy’, ‘safe’ or ‘hidden’, and ‘mochyn’, which though it means ‘pig’ is nevertheless always affectionately meant, when you are called it, like ‘rascal’ or scallywag’. I also know that ‘Popty-Ping’ is the word for microwave.
In South Wales, where I am from, there was never any tradition of Welsh speaking. And at the turn of the last century, though my great-grandparents spoke Welsh to each other, they deliberately didn’t impart the Welsh to their 11 children, because they wanted them to be able to get on in life.
Rightly or wrongly, English was seen as the language of the future, Welsh as the sign of regional backwardness.
In some respects, I rather fancy knowing more Welsh. It would appeal to my hankering after lost things, like steam trains or gas chandeliers.
But that surely doesn’t mean the Welsh language should be imposed on people living in Wales today.
For Welsh has become a political and divisive weapon in the principality – and the stories one hears are like those tales of oppression that used to seep out from behind the Iron Curtain.
Now, we learn that at one school in Ceredigion – which used to be quite happily Cardiganshire when I was a lad – the children are not allowed to use the toilet unless they ask the teacher in Welsh.
Furthermore, one mother is said to have been urged not to read her child English bedtime books, and at another school, a child was admonished for speaking English in the playground.
Some children are, it seems, too frightened to speak English, even at home. This sort of thing would have done the Warsaw Pact proud. It is despicable.
But what can be done about a place that now states, on job applications, ‘Welsh speaker preferred’? Unless you are willing to go to classes and learn Welsh, what such xenophobia means in practice is that third-rate local people get the posts – as doctors, teachers, psychologists, architects, and so forth. The Welsh language becomes a trade union ticket for employment.
One architect told me that he can’t get his plans through unless he submits them in Welsh.
Yet those youngsters being educated exclusively in Welsh are also going to be a bit stuck. Where else can they go but Wales? Patagonia? They are ill-equipped for anywhere else the other side of the Severn Bridge. Even Bristol will be abroad. How can you teach French in Welsh to children who think in English? It creates a maze of confusion.
I have been told that English-sounding announcers on Radio Wales have been purged; that the Welsh Arts Council turned their back on the great artist Sir Kyffin Williams because he had a posh accent and a moustache; and that Sir Anthony Hopkins and comedian Rob Brydon would never land an acting role on BBC Wales in 2012 because they don’t speak the old lingo.
There’s an outfit in Cardiff – a writers’ society – now calling itself The Welsh Academy, which though I’d never heard of it, tried to elect me: I resigned immediately because they spelt it ‘academi’, which got my goat for some reason.
The fact is that the Welshifying of Wales is a mad nonsense. It has nothing to do with history. So, how has it all happened?
I asked a former colleague of mine at Oxford, whose speciality was changing speech habits in the United Kingdom from 1800 to 1914.
He explained that an analysis of the late 19th-century census data revealed that Welsh-speaking was in steep decline and that, left to its own devices, the language would have ‘died of inanition because Welsh people themselves were casting it off as a mark of backwardness’. This was the view of my great-grandparents in Bedwas. ‘English was embraced for reasons of social and economic advancement.’
This is what those teachers in Ceredigion – and those who support them – can’t accept: what my friend at Oxford called ‘the evident cultural superiority of English’, i.e. that English has, for example, a richer literature, going right across the world, from Irish writers such as Shaw or Wilde to everyone in America.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but as of yet there isn’t a Welsh Shakespeare.
However, Welsh has survived – initially because of a political deal done in Whitehall when the Liberal Government in 1907 created a Welsh Department of the Board of Education, which ‘captured state resources’ i.e. taxpayers’ loot, and allowed Welsh to be taught in the schools and artificially revived.
Allowed to be taught – not made obligatory, please note. Out of the 1,000 pupils at my school in Bassaleg in the Seventies, Welsh O-level was taken by two in seven years.
One failed and the other got a grade C in the re-sit. But the chief problem has been the perversion of the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which stated that Welsh and English should be ‘treated on the basis of equality’, that there should be an ‘equality of treatment’, ‘equal validity’, and so forth, in matters dealing with public administration.
Equality, however, has not been in evidence. The first thing that happened was a pressure group called the Welsh Language Society – a mob that could teach the Taliban a thing or two – went round vandalising the English road signs.
Tenby was always Tenby, for example, until a few years ago when it suddenly became Dynbych-y-Pysgod – a bit of nonsense about ‘bay of the little fishes’. Millions were spent printing official communications in two languages.
One thing led to another and now children are wetting themselves because they are not allowed to go to the loo.
It doesn’t end there. Because a taxi in Bangor didn’t have the Welsh spelling ‘tacsi’ on it, a man preferred to walk home.
Even though it is true that there is no letter ‘x’ in Welsh, this is ‘twp’ (daft). No doubt the Welsh Language Society chieftains, not renowned for a sense of humour, would rather drop dead than get into an ambulance instead of an ‘ambiwlans’, and refuse pudding if it’s not ‘pwddin’.
I’m sorry, but proud Welshman that I am, I find all the anti-English stance of the ethnic cultists vicious and stupid in equal measure – particularly as it is English taxes that keep the Welsh language going.
Where have all Britain’s students gone?
Manic regulation largely to blame
Middle-ranking universities, including those in the top Russell Group, have thousands of empty places, putting their future at risk
It is yet another case of the squeezed middle. The vice-chancellor of Liverpool University has this week joined fellow heads of middle-ranking academic institutions in complaining that they have thousands of empty places as a result of government reforms designed to free up the market in higher education admissions. Revealing a shortfall of 11,500 students this year at Russell Group universities, Sir Howard Newby said empty lecture halls are the “unintended consequence” of policy changes.
His remarks add a new dimension to the crisis that has been mounting since the introduction in September of tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year for undergraduates. Official figures have revealed a decline of more than 50,000 in those starting a degree this autumn compared to last year. But Sir Howard is now pinpointing which institutions are being most affected by this huge shift – and the challenges they may face to keep afloat.
His warning follows other public interventions by vice-chancellors, including those at Southampton and Sussex. Two interlinked aspects of the Whitehall reforms are being criticised by these heads of long-established universities that sit between the elite of Oxbridge, Durham and certain London colleges at one extreme, and the former polytechnics at the other.
The first bugbear is a deregulation that now allows those institutions at the top of league tables to take as many applicants with two As and a B at A-level as they want. Previously, there was a cap on numbers of such high-achievers at each university – known as “controlled numbers” – which ensured a more even spread.
The second – called in the opaque technical jargon so favoured by educationalists “core and margin” – has seen Whitehall shift 20,000 places away largely from universities in the middle, which still charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fees, and redistribute them towards those, usually younger, institutions where student costs have been pegged at less than £7,500.
“We have consistently argued,” says Dr Wendy Piatt, director-general of the 24-strong Russell Group of universities that includes Liverpool, Southampton and Sussex, as well as Oxbridge, “that giving more places to institutions charging lower fees would neither improve quality nor enhance student choice.” While she would not confirm the figure of 11,500 quoted by Sir Howard Newby, she concedes that the changes to the controlled-numbers policy mean that “Russell Group universities have had fewer places to offer to students with grades below AAB.”
What used to happen was that central government dictated how many undergraduates each university could recruit annually. Within their allocation, each university was free to decide what grades they would demand from each candidate. That might be three As at Oxford or two Bs and a C elsewhere. As of this academic year, however, the number of places a university can fill with grades it sets itself has been cut by an average of nine per cent – in the case of Southampton, the number of students they can admit with grades below AAB has gone down to 1,500 out of 5,500. If they exceed that number, they face a new regime of fines.
Overall, this means that AAB students have become the target for every Russell Group university wanting to maintain its numbers. Competition is fierce for these stars (especially in a year when the number getting top marks at A-level has gone down slightly, despite government assumptions that it would go up).
Universities accustomed to demanding three As or better seem to have done rather well. Under the new rules, their numbers are no longer controlled, and they can take more of the best-qualified students. Bristol announced plans to increase its student intake by 600 in anticipation of a rush of AAB applicants.
The dilemma this causes middle-ranking universities has been set out in stark terms by Professor Michael Farthing, vice-chancellor of Sussex (ranked 21st in the top-30 league table compiled by The Complete University Guide). AAB candidates, he has complained, are being snapped up by “a few self-declared elite institutions, able to rely on historical brand prestige to attract applications”.
At the other end of the scale, the newer universities report that their proportion of AAB students – usually about 10 per cent on highly regarded courses such as architecture at Oxford Brookes or marine biology at Plymouth – has held up. “These students tend to come to our universities for specific courses that we do very well,” says Libby Hackett, chief executive of the University Alliance, which represents newer higher education institutions. “And so they are not going to be tempted to go elsewhere by the new freedom that has been introduced.”
Professor Don Nutbeam, vice-chancellor of Southampton (15th in The Complete University Guide), reports that this year his numbers have fallen by around 600 – just under 10 per cent of the annual intake. Unable to attract sufficient high fliers with AAB, and forbidden from taking as many with Bs or even the odd C as used to be possible under the old controlled-numbers arrangement, Southampton has lost out.
Which is the logic of the market that has been introduced. If you are going to pay £9,000 per year, you may as well go to the best university that will have you. And if the level of fees is the major issue, you head to newer universities where they tend to be lower. But if it is working to the advantage of students, this market is leaving some institutions exposed.
“If universities can’t recruit enough high-calibre students,” says Dr Piatt, “they risk losing funding. But if they recruit too many students who haven’t got AAB, they risk substantial fines.” They are between a rock and a hard place.
Others go further in their criticisms. “The fact that there are fewer students at universities this year,” says Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, “represents the predictable failure of the Government’s attempt to create an artificial market for the most highly qualified students. It was premature of the Government to extend its AAB policy before measuring its impact. It looks like the triumph of ideology over evidence-based policy-making.”
The pressure on middle-ranking universities is such that some have even resorted to offering inducements to potential AAB applicants for next year, including non-means-tested bursaries, a guarantee of accommodation, or even a free laptop to get them to commit to going there rather than be lured away by a more august rival.
“As universities adapt to the new system,” laments Hunt, “nobody would complain about better bursaries for students, but those considering university should be attracted to the courses that best suit their talents, not by financial incentives”.
And so there is growing pressure on the universities minister, David Willetts, to adjust the system introduced this year to remove the perceived bias against the squeezed middle. Government plans for the next admissions round in 2013 include reducing the AAB threshold to ABB. “We hope that this will go some way to improving the system,” says Dr Piatt, but others feel it is necessary to go further to eliminate the distortion.
One suggestion is that it could be set at BBB – which would potentially benefit middle-ranking universities at the expense of former polytechnics. And if another government goal, of making A-levels more rigorous and ending grade inflation, is to be achieved, BBB may become a more appropriate benchmark for the most able students.
There is no consensus about what should happen next, but most agree that something must change. “This,” said Professor Nutbeam when he raised his concerns, “is a wake-up call for the entire university community.”
Finally! Proof of global cooling
Warmists always assure us that droughts signal global warming so the big floods in Britain must signify global cooling!
Hundreds of homes across Britain have been flooded as heavy rain and strong winds continue to batter the country and environmental officials warn of more storms to come.
In a Twitter message, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, described scenes of flood in the rural south-western region of Cornwall as “shocking”, and promised that his government “will help ensure everything is being done to help”.
Two people have died since heavy rains began on Wednesday, including a woman killed by a falling tree in the south-western city of Exeter and a man who became trapped in his car in rising waters in Somerset, also in the south-west.
The Cornish village of Millbrook was reportedly under 1.5 metres of water with 40 homes evacuated, said a BBC reporter who lives there, after torrents of muddy water swept through the village on Saturday.
Many communities were cut off after police shut waterlogged roads in Cornwall, where four severe flood warnings were issued overnight over rapidly rising river levels, and neighbouring Devon.
Across Britain, the Environment Agency said nearly 500 homes had flooded since Wednesday and warned more rain was on the way on Monday.
In Malmesbury in Wiltshire, western England, pub landlord Tom Hudson said he had water lapping at the door in the worst floods he had seen for 14 years.
“It’s gone down a lot but I’m trying to get hold of some sandbags because more rain is forecast for later today,” he said.
“Houses across the road have been flooded to a depth of three or four feet, with furniture floating around in the rooms.
“I’ve been here 14 years and there were floods in 2000 and again in 2007 but this is much worse than either of those.”