Britain’s Secular Youth

A common lament among old religious folk is that youngsters don’t subscribe to the faith with the same level of enthusiasm as previous generations. For instance:

Up to one in five patients are regularly missing GP appointments in Scotland, with younger people the worst offenders, new research has found.

A study of more than 500,000 people in the country, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, shows young males are most likely to not attend.

Younger, male patients aged 16 to 30 were found to be the worst offenders.

Here’s what a local priest has to say:

Stockport GP Ranjit Gill believes there has been a shift in how the health service is seen by a younger “I want it now” generation.

“The NHS is now, for our younger population, seen as a consumer service, a bit like John Lewis and so perhaps valued differently to the way our older population see the NHS.

“I can’t think of the last time one of my older patients ever missed an appointment.”

Time for some fire and brimstone:

GP practices across the country are already implementing some successful schemes to reduce missed appointments, from text messaging reminders to better patient education and awareness posters detailing the unintended consequences of a patient not attending.

And appeals to the faithful to fill the coffers once again:

But ultimately, we need NHS England’s GP Forward View – promising £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs – to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.

“And we need equivalent promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so that we can deliver the care our patients need, whatever their circumstances, and wherever in the country they live.

The answer to this ought to be simple: charge people a nominal fee when they book a doctor’s appointment. However, we might have better luck asking the Catholic Church to promote abortions.

(Note also that the article begins with the problem of patients missing appointments in Scotland, and ends with English GPs demanding the immediate delivery of an additional £2.4bn per year.)

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More on that Irish Border

It should come as no surprise that the BBC’s reporting on this is absolutely abysmal:

Theresa May is under pressure to get an agreement from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on the status of the Irish border when the UK leaves the EU.

The prime minister pulled out of a deal with Brussels that would have kick-started trade talks after meeting fierce resistance from the DUP.

The party said it would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

The BBC, along with most of the Remain establishment, is presenting this as if it’s only the DUP which is standing in the way of an agreement between the EU and UK in advance of trade talks. In reality, I suspect a great many Tory MPs, more than a few old-school Labour MPs, and a large percentage of the British population would also object vehemently to Theresa May deciding for herself that Northern Ireland should remain under the jurisdiction of the EU at the behest of the Irish government and their masters in Brussels. Anyone who thinks this is a minor detail being blocked by a gaggle of DUP hardliners really doesn’t understand the issue at all. Or they do, but are spinning it differently for political gain.

I don’t think it’s difficult to see what’s going on here. The EU wants to see Brexit reversed so have chosen the NI border issue as one of several extremely politically unpalatable topics to be resolved before “trade talks” can supposedly start. I don’t for one minute believe actual trade talks will start: what will happen is the EU will secure concession after concession from the hapless May before torturing us with years of bad-faith negotiations aimed at punishing the British for daring to leave, ending in no deal whatsoever. The forerunner to this is demanding Britain puts in place a hard border in NI while at the same time telling us this is unacceptable. You’d have to be willfully blind not to see the game being played: if these discussions really did concern a border with Ireland, there are several options which could be discussed in a mature and sensible manner. Instead we’re getting ridiculously short ultimatums, threats, interference from chancers like Sadiq Khan, and posturing in front of a gullible and complicit media.

I don’t believe the media when they say the two sides were close to a deal yesterday. I don’t think we’re any closer than they were the morning after the referendum, for the simple reason there is no deal to be had. The media peddled this line because they want to pin the blame on the DUP, and force May to choose between them and the EU. She’s damned either way, which is exactly what the Remain establishment want.

Apparently a deal must be reached by the end of the week. If May caves in, she’ll be out of office before Christmas. People are worried about Corbyn but I think I’d rather see that idiot in charge for a brief term (and it would be brief) rather than May crumble in front of every EU demand for the next few years. I don’t think it would ever come to that, though. If May is forced from office over an issue such as this, a solid Leave Tory would likely win the subsequent election (David Davis, putting himself forward as the “Brexit PM), and interfering harpies like Amber Rudd shoved aside.

There is one good thing which will come out of all of this. Regardless of what happens next – even if Brexit gets reversed and the British population is persuaded to stay in the EU – there can be absolutely no excuse for saying they didn’t fully understand the nature of what they were dealing with. Since the referendum in 1975 the British have always complained they were mislead as to what sort of agreement they were getting into. That line of argument ends pretty much now.

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Welcome to Britain

On Friday I flew into Exeter Airport, which is a field with a windsock and a flat-roofed shed serving as a terminal building. You can fly there direct from Paris once per day on a Dash 8 turbo-prop operated by Flybe. It takes just over an hour, and should you want to get from Paris to Exeter, it’s ideal. According to Wikipedia, Flybe is based out of Exeter which surprised me a little. Exeter doesn’t seem the sort of place you’d base anything out of.

Anyway, what struck me as I entered the queue for passport control was the number of posters threatening passengers with prosecution, fines, and jail. There were several of them, each instructing people on what to do and what not to do in the cajoling, hectoring language so beloved of English-speaking authoritarian bodies. Nowhere did I see a sign which suggested people might actually be welcome; perhaps those are only to be found in refugee centres? I would have taken a photo but that, of course, was also forbidden.

These posters appear to me like open sores on the flesh of a badly wounded society, and they really grate. I’ve not noticed them as much abroad, but that could simply be because they’re not in English and so I gloss over them. Australia certainly goes in for over-the-top, nagging signage: there’s one beside the baggage carousel in Melbourne airport warmly greeting passengers by telling them using a mobile phone while waiting for their bags constitutes a criminal offence.

That said, I suppose the welcome visitors to the UK receive in British airports is at least honest: with the country having elected as PM the very embodiment of a threatening, bullying “security” poster at a regional airport, they let everyone know what sort of place they’re entering.

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Damian Green, the Met, and the BBC

From the BBC:

A former Scotland Yard detective has told BBC News he was “shocked” by the amount of pornography viewed on a computer seized from the Commons office of senior Tory MP Damian Green.

Neil Lewis examined the device during a 2008 inquiry into government leaks and has not spoken publicly before.

He said “thousands” of thumbnail images of legal pornography were on it.

I think this says far more about the Metropolitan Police and the BBC, who are running the story on their front page. One thing that was blindingly obvious about the Leveson Enquiry was that the practice of policemen dishing up gossip on prominent people to journalists was widespread and well-known, but the political establishment and their supporters needed an excuse to try to break Rupert Murdoch’s media empire so they grabbed one where they could.

That we now have ex-policemen engaged in selling information – none of which concerns illegal or even immoral activities whose exposure serves the public interest – and the likes of the BBC are falling over themselve to publish it only confirms what most sensible people already knew. Any government worth its salt would come down on this ex-policeman like a tonne of bricks, give the Met a thorough and public dressing-down, and revoke the BBC’s charter.

If the Theresa May’s Tories are too piss-weak to do this then perhaps they deserve to be gossiped about. It’s about all they’re useful for.

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Trump: worse than ISIS

Two stories from the Telegraph. The first:

US diplomats have dropped plans for Donald Trump to conduct a visit to Britain in January amid a war of words between the two countries’ leaders.

Mr Trump, the US president, had been penciled in for a ‘working visit’ in the first month of 2018 to formally open America’s new London embassy.

The trip, a scaled down version of a state visit with no meeting with the Queen, was intended to allow Mr Trump to come to the UK while avoiding the mass protests a full state visit would likely trigger.

The second:

Proposals to offer extremists including returning jihadists taxpayer-funded housing and help into work are a “fundamental error” amounting to bribes to potential terrorists, it has been claimed.

The Home Office is looking at a new strategy to reintegrate extremists that could even see them propelled to the top of council house waiting lists if needed.

Under pilot schemes being looked at, police and local authorities would assess extremists formerly investigated as suspects by the security services to see what danger they pose and what it would take to help reintegrate them into society.

It appears that the US president retweeting videos deemed racist is enough to bring MPs onto our television sets calling him “evil” and to motivate enough Brits to protest his planned visit such that it gets cancelled. Meanwhile, those who have actively and gleefully taken part in some of the most evil savagery the world has seen in quite some time will be allowed to enter the UK permanently and avail themselves of goods and services funded by the ordinary taxpayer.

I don’t know if those protesting Trump are the same people happy to give jihadists council houses as part of their “reintegration” into a society they were never part of, but I am certain that there is a large overlap. Whoever they are, this cohort seems to be doing a good job of setting the agenda as far as media and politics go. This in turn raises the following question: are these people acting with a sizeable backing of the British population?

If not, and they keep going in this direction, eventually they’ll end up hanging from lamposts with their flesh carved off.

If they are, and the British people are actually on-board with this, then the country is absolutely, well and truly, down-the-road fucked.

Either way, this will not end well.

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More in Trump’s Twitter Trolling

Polkamatic makes the following comment under my post on Trump’s Twitter trolling:

So the POTUS sees trolling the media as an appropriate activity for a sitting POTUS. Maybe even his top priority, by the looks of it. And by reporting on this bizarre state of affairs, the MSM is somehow wasting its time and money, because there’s nothing the viewing public is less interested in seeing than a tawdry spectacle.

This deserves a proper response. Let me take this part first:

So the POTUS sees trolling the media as an appropriate activity for a sitting POTUS. Maybe even his top priority, by the looks of it.

This is obviously true: Trump seems to spend as much time trolling the media as he does anything else. Is this appropriate for an American president? Personally I don’t think it is, but then I also believe it’s a moot point.

If Americans wanted a president who acts in a presidential manner, then they ought to have left the door open for such a candidate to step forward and get themselves elected. Instead, the media and political establishment decided they would back the Democratic candidate regardless and carry out a complete and utter character assassination of the Republican candidate. I remember when Mitt Romney ran against Barack Obama: he was called a Nazi, a religious fundamentalist, a misogynist, and a tax-evader. He then spent the entire campaign mumbling apologies, explaining himself, and reacting to every media revelation his political opponents aired. Sure enough, he lost by a mile. Had Jeb Bush won the Republican nomination in 2016, the same thing would have happened to him and we’d now be listening to President Clinton screech at us from our TV screens.

I’ve said it many times on these pages, Trump is a symptom of the malaise in American politics, not the cause of it. The reason you have an egotistical asshole in the White House is because the media and political establishment made it impossible for any decent non-Democrat to win a presidential election. Any Republican candidate who would have behaved in a presidential manner in office would never have got close to the White House, he’d have been destroyed by the media using every dirty trick in the book to bring him down. This didn’t work on Trump because he simply didn’t care, had his own money, owed nobody anything, and refused to apologise.

My post was simply to point out that Trump figured out the media’s role in American politics and rather than reacting to every story they put out about him, he plays the tune while they dance. And let’s be honest here: if he wasn’t doing this, and he had settled into the role and was doing his level best to do his job in a highly professional manner, the media would still be pumping out one anti-Trump hatchet-job after another, wailing about Russia and calling for his impeachment. Anyone who thinks the media, political establishment, and Democrat supporters would allow a Republican president to quietly get on with the job at hand is absolutely deluded.

And by reporting on this bizarre state of affairs, the MSM is somehow wasting its time and money, because there’s nothing the viewing public is less interested in seeing than a tawdry spectacle.

As I said in the original post, the people screaming about Trump are preaching to the choir. Part of the reason Trump was able to shrug off the media attacks during the election campaign was because millions of Americans had come to believe they are interested only in political campaigning and are hence highly selective about the stories they choose to cover. The diminished influence of the MSM was laid bare when, against all their dreams and predictions, Trump won and Hillary lost. If there was ever a time for self-reflection and recalibration, that was it. Instead, they’ve just trebled-down on the hysteria and hammered the point home they’re partisan hacks with no interest in reporting objective truth.

Is the public interested in a tawdry spectacle? Well, it certainly provides plenty of Twitter-fodder but the likes of the NYT, WaPo, BBC, and CNN are not tabloids: I am sure most Americans would prefer it if they started reporting the news properly instead of pasting up headlines regarding who said what about Trump on Twitter. Now maybe the MSM is enjoying healthy profits by pursuing this approach, but my bet is they’re losing money hand over fist.

On another note, I don’t think Trump’s method of communication is part of some overall grand strategy, I think he’s just doing what comes naturally to him. But regardless of why he’s doing it, the effects are substantial. I don’t know why he retweeted the videos that Britain First put up but it caused all manner of journalists, celebrities, and politicians to vent their outrage at what they see as his endorsement of a racist party. This has had the knock-on effect of:

1. Highlighting the rank hypocrisy among Britain’s political and media establishments. Jeremy Corbyn is a long-standing supporter of the IRA and Hamas, anti-semitism is rife across the British left, people with blood up to their elbows are welcomed with open arms, yet Trump retweeting a video from Britain First is deemed beyond the pale.

2. Exposing who is thinking what in Britain’s supposedly Conservative political circles. I wouldn’t expect any Conservatives to endorse Trump, but if they’re queuing up behind Labour politicians and left-wing media loudmouths in calling him “racist” and “not welcome in Britain” and “irresponsible” then they’re doing everyone a big favour. I suspect much of the British public couldn’t care less about Trump’s tweets and when they hear he’s posted something on a subject their own political classes refuse to address, they’re probably quite glad. I haven’t seen the videos in question (I generally find this sort of thing on Twitter to be presented in a wholly misleading context), but if the political classes think Trump tweeting videos of Muslims allegedly being violent and murderous is something that will horrify the public, they’ve not been paying attention.

3. It is now confirmed that retweeting does indeed equate to endorsing. Expect the trolls to have some fun with this over the next few weeks.

Trump’s tweets are often filled with infantile posturing, but the reaction to them is stuff that will fascinate historians and social anthropologists for years to come.

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The Border with Ireland

There are a few things I don’t understand about the whole issue of Brexit and the border with Ireland.

Firstly, Ireland is not in the Schengen area and there has been free movement between the UK and Ireland since 1922 as part of the Common Travel Area. If this were to continue (or be resurrected), it would mean all EU citizens could enter the UK via NI without being subject to passport control, but non-EU citizens or visitors wouldn’t be able to, as Ireland isn’t in the Schengen area. Is there any likelihood of Britain being flooded with EU citizens via Northern Ireland in the absence of a hard border? I’d say this is highly unlikely, and if it turns out that tens of thousands of Romanians or French are pouring into Strabane and later taking the ferry to Anglesey, we can probably cross that bridge when we come to it.

Which leaves the main problem being that of customs. Switzerland is in the Schengen area but not in the customs union. That’s why if you drive from Annecy to Geneva you pass through a customs post with bollards, chicanes, and an absence of anyone manning it. I’ve been pulled over once and I when I explained I was going to Switzerland solely to change the PIN number on my Credit Suisse ATM card, the man’s face looked more confused than if I’d told him I was smuggling cuckoo clocks. If this is what a hard border between the customs union and a neighbouring country looks like, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

Actually, I do. The EU is worried that goods might pass between Britain and the EU via NI without being subject to the tariffs they wish to put in their way. I don’t think anyone in Britain is particularly worried about EU goods being smuggled into Britain and avoiding British tariffs. At least anyone sensible. The EU therefore want a hard border to prevent this, but they don’t want to be seen as imposing it because that would seriously piss off the Irish on the south side. So, from what I can tell, the EU is demanding the British put in a hard border to keep the two customs regimes separate and making out it is a British obligation as a result of Brexit. The advantage in this is that it would make the Brits extremely unpopular, and the whipped-up anger from rent-a-gobs in Ireland can be used to bash Brexiteers over the head.

Which leaves me wondering why the British government doesn’t simply say:

“We have no interest in a hard border, but we may put a few cursory customs posts on our side if we feel like it. If the Irish or EU want a hard border and to control everything that goes in or out, they are free to put one in place – on their side of the line.”

Am I missing something here? Or is the reason we are not saying this simply that Theresa May is blitheringly stupid and incompetent? That I could well believe.

Also, I don’t think waving the Good Friday agreement around is a sensible tactic. Firstly, the British public were not informed that signing the Good Friday agreement meant the UK could never leave the EU; had they been, it would never have been passed. Secondly, there are probably a good few Brits – especially among those who voted Leave – who might want to scrap the Good Friday agreement and immediately move to prosecute the likes of Gerry Adams and others who have blood on their hands. This is particularly true while former British soldiers are still being hauled in front of courts for their conduct forty years ago. The more attention is drawn to the Good Friday agreement, the more Brits might be inclined to revisit it – particularly if it is being held up as a blocking point to leaving the EU.

And let’s be honest, for all the squawking about the Good Friday agreement, that ship has sailed. Terrorism is a lot less fun these days – the perpetrators tend to get killed outright – and the Americans are strangely less inclined to fund the murder of civilians since 9/11. The main players who were making the bombs and laying the traps for the British during The Troubles are well past retirement age now, and won’t have much stomach for returning to the field against an opponent which is a lot more technically savvy than they are. Is there a new generation of nationalist youngsters ready to dig up the arms caches and start fighting the British over an EU-imposed hard border between NI and Eire? I highly doubt it.

It’s high time the British called their bluff and closed this issue out: border or no-border, this is an Irish/EU problem and we don’t care either way.

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Theresa May, Russia, and Fake News

Yesterday Theresa May addressed one of main issues concerning everyday British citizens. Immigration? Brexit? House prices? Terrorism?

Alas no, she instead spoke about fake news being spread by Russians:

Theresa May has accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an extraordinary attack on its attempts to “weaponise information” in order to sow discord in the west.

The prime minister spoke out against “the scale and nature” of Russia’s actions during an address at the lord mayor’s banquet, saying it was “threatening the international order on which we all depend”.

If the international order can be upset by fake news being planted in the media, it doesn’t say much about the international order, does it? But the reason fake news gains so much traction in the west is twofold: firstly, major news organisations are flatly refusing to cover serious issues affecting millions of ordinary people, thus giving the (correct) impression that the news is carefully managed by the political establishment. This then leaves the floor clear for nefarious parties to come in and talk about these issues unopposed. Secondly, trust in the mainstream media has fallen to rock-bottom because people have finally realised they are also in the business of peddling fake news, and now consider the difference between them and the likes of RT to be one of degree not form. The mainstream media and the politicians they pander to have only themselves to blame, but they are so lacking in self-awareness they can’t see how much they’re projecting. Consider this statement for example:

“It is seeking to weaponise information. Deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the west and undermine our institutions.”

How many fake news stories regarding Donald Trump does the BBC peddle, then? Just last week it was complicit in the fake story about Trump dumping the fish-food into the pond all at once, and relies mainly on unsubstantiated Twitter posts in its initial reporting of a story. And how much airtime did the BBC give to the non-story that was the Paradise Papers? Consider too this post from Rob Fisher at Samizdata:

Leaving aside the question of whether the state has a role in telling broadcasters what news they can broadcast (it does not), let me take a quick look at the front page of the BBC News website right now.

Here is my translation of the pertinent headlines (stories that are political I have marked in italics, and neutral stories I have omitted):

– Big companies like Apple should pay more tax.

– Tax avoidance is wrong.

– Lewis Hamilton should pay more tax.

– Bono should pay more tax.

– Rich people should pay more tax.

– The state should control who has guns.

– Mugabe wants his wife to take over from him.

– Plastic is bad and greedy people are destroying the planet with it because they are greedy.

– Global warming is still really real and only states working with the UN can save us.

– Trump is being mean to Turkish people.

– Trump wants Japan to help defend against North Korea.

– People were kidnapped in Nigeria.

– A writer used politically incorrect language.

– A woman who was rude to Trump got fired.

– People who voted for Trump probably regret it.

The idea that the BBC is an impartial reporter of the news contrasting with RT’s politically-motivated propaganda is laughable. So is this:

Listing Russia’s attempts to undermine western institutions in recent years, she said: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us.

Whatever damage Russia has done to western institutions is eclipsed by that carried out by the political establishment of which Theresa May is very much part. True, the Russians might not succeed in destroying western society but they won’t have to: the likes of Theresa May will manage that all on their own, cheered on by the mainstream media while ordinary people are ignored, belittled, insulted, threatened, and imprisoned.

If the western democracies were as resilient as May is making out, RT’s output wouldn’t matter. Russia presented far more of a threat during the Cold War, and there were more than enough people in the west working in Moscow’s interests, and yet we survived intact. May knows this, and so does the entire political and media establishment. Politicians want someone to blame for the divisions in society that they have caused, and the media want to silence a rival outlet that doesn’t play by the same rules as they do, i.e. by refusing to cover stories that are politically inconvenient. The sooner May is booted out and the mainstream media goes bankrupt, the better. RT might peddle crap, but they are not the biggest problem Britain faces, not by a long shot.

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An Update on Women’s Football

Remember the story from September about the England woman’s football coach being sacked after a string of allegations of racism coming mainly from one person, Nigerian-born Eniola Aluko?

Well, here’s the latest:

After three inquiries, former England manager Mark Sampson was found to have used discriminatory language to two players – Aluko and Drew Spence.

The Football Association has since apologised for its handling of the case, adding there was “much to learn from this episode”.

But England striker Aluko, who has won 102 caps and lost her place in the team after making unproven allegations of bullying in a 2016 FA cultural review, says she has had no communication from her international team-mates, except for those she plays with at Chelsea.

Why, it’s almost as if having a player accusing the coach of racism, pocketing £80,000 in settlement monies, then continuing with the complaint resulting in his sacking is detrimental to team spirit! I yearn for the day when the field of sports psychology is mature enough to properly understand these things.

This is despite the 30-year-old believing England players may “benefit” from improvements to the Football Association’s grievance process resulting from the case.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but maybe her teammates don’t have grievances, and if they do, they sort them out among themselves.

Aluko has previously criticised the England players for running over to celebrate a goal with Sampson during their World Cup qualifier against Russia, which proved to be the 35-year-old’s last game in charge.

The problem isn’t one troublemaking individual, it’s everyone else.

She believes they need to adopt the policy of other international teams, who have fought equality issues as a “collective voice”.

Players should be forced to show solidarity.

She told BBC Sport: “Would there have been a different response if homophobic statements were made to players? I think there would be.

“Some of this is just a lack of appreciation of what racism is.

That race card is being waved with more enthusiasm than any English flag spotted at a woman’s football match.

A lot of this is, ‘it hasn’t happened to me, I can’t relate to that, so I’m not going to comment’. That, to me, can’t be a team.

“I’ve got to be able to put myself in your shoes and say, ‘even though I can’t understand what it may feel like, I’m going to try and understand and I’m going to support you regardless’. That is a team.

And there was me thinking teamwork was about putting the collective interests before your own petty grievances. Incidentally:

She chose to remain loyal to the English coaches who had given her the opportunity to play international football, but said: “The main thing for me is for people to understand that choosing to play for England doesn’t mean that I don’t support Nigeria. I’m as much Nigerian as I’m British. Of course Nigeria means a lot to me, it’s part of me, but I’ve been brought up by English coaches.”

Presumably the English coaches were easier to manipulate, shake down, and get fired.

Aluko has regrets about things she has said throughout the process, and apologised for criticising the players on Twitter when they ran over to celebrate with Sampson during the game against Russia.

“I think [the celebration] was naive and perhaps wasn’t the best thing to do for the players,” she said. “Some of them may have a special relationship with Mark Sampson and they have every right [to celebrate with him], but I think about the sensitivity at that time, and it wasn’t respectful.

Me me me me me me me! Five seconds later:

“We need to look at other examples and ask why this isn’t happening with a team ranked third in the world. Is the togetherness we keep banging on about actually being put into action or is it just a hashtag on Twitter?

Then:

“I’m not encouraging further discord between me and the players, not that I think there is any discord. As far as I’m concerned, last time I was in the team, everything was fine and nobody had any issues.

“So if anybody has any issues, they need to have specific examples, because what I’m not going to have are insinuations or stereotypes or perceptions to almost excuse what I’ve been through, because it doesn’t excuse it.”

Now it’s generally true that footballers aren’t very bright which could explain such a lack of self-awareness, but this woman has ambitions of becoming a lawyer:

She subsequently went to study Law at Brunel University, where she graduated with a First class degree in 2008. In July 2009 it was announced that Aluko would spend the 2009–10 US off-season studying for the New York bar exam before taking a similar exam in England, her aim being to have an entertainment law practice in both England and the United States.

So she’s not stupid, just highly manipulative and prepared to say absolutely anything to further her own interests. The sooner she gets out of football and into the legal profession where she’d be quite at home, the better for everyone.

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Do British teachers work 70-hour weeks?

This sounds like bollocks to me, even though I’ve heard similar claims:

I knew a guy who worked mergers and acquisition in an investment bank where he was doing 80 hours per week regularly, occasionally pushing towards 90. He’d find himself going to the office bathroom at 2am and, sat on the toilet, wondering what the hell he was doing there. He said 80 hour weeks are a killer, and unless you’re pretty focused on the money and your career you’ll burn out pretty fast. He didn’t last long, and chose to do something else.

I normally work 40 hours per week, I know plenty of people who work 50 and occasionally some who work 60. I’ve known guys work 70 or 80 hours per week in bursts, when a deadline is looming or during an offshore hook-up campaign, shutdown, or similar. Do I believe British teachers – who are heavily unionised state-employees – are working 70 hour-weeks as standard? No, I don’t. I don’t even believe they are working 70 hours per week in any given week.

Let’s assume this chap’s wife works from home on Saturday and pulls a 10-hour shift from 8am to 6pm. Unlikely, but let’s be charitable here. That leaves her with five 10-hour days during the week. Standard British school hours are on average 9am to 4pm – 7 hours – so let’s assume she gets to work at 8am and leaves at 6pm. That gives her three hours each day for lessons preparations and marking, plus whatever admin needs doing. Three hours per day, every day, is a lot of time – plus the 10 hours each Saturday.

You often hear complaints about teachers having to come up with lesson plans, but this sounds mainly like a first-year problem and, unless I’m badly missing something, they can be carried over to the next year taking into account only the modifications. One thing I’ve noticed about people who work long hours in the office is their administration and organisational skills are usually poor. The reason they take ages to do stuff is because they can’t recognise repeatable tasks and generate templates, and spend half their time reinventing the wheel or searching for information they’ve already found two or three times previously. Do teachers get hired for their admin skills? Probably not. If any teacher is working 70 hours per week out of which only half is spent teaching, I suspect their administration skills are too poor for the profession.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong? Maybe British teachers really are forced to work hours more familiar to day-rate contractors and investment bankers? If true, then it’s the schools’ management who are incompetent: any normal organisation would not require ordinary employees to work 70-hour weeks as standard, they’d get in extra bodies.

But this doesn’t pass the smell-test. I suspect the claims are exaggerated, and those doing the complaining lack the necessary skills to effectively manage what is probably a fairly ordinary admin workload (dealing with kids in the class is another issue entirely). If things were as bad as this, teachers would not be staunchly defending the state-education model nor the unions who insist it must be maintained. Sorry, but it’s bullshit and I expect this guy knows it.

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