Monday, 30 June 2008

Gilligan on Ken. Again.

Try as he might, Gilligan just can't get seem to get Ken out of his head. In his latest column he has a dig at Ken for making "roughly his 850th interview" since he lost the London Mayoral election. (Which is a figure probably only topped by the number of comments Gilligan has made about Ken in the same period.)

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Daily Mail: Not a fan of bra-burners

A fair amount of coverage has been given to the Equality Bill, which Harriet Harman (Minister for Women & Equality and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party) has been championing.

The Daily Mail is not happy. For a change.

"What a moment equalities minister Harriet Harman has chosen to heap further burdens on British employers."
"Here we are, heading for the worst economic storm for decades, with jobs at risk all over the country."
"Yet here is this time-warp feminist (who despite being a woman has enjoyed every privilege Britain can offer!) jeopardising our competitiveness for a cause that lost all relevance to the real world long ago."

The paper seems to be most concerned with the education element:

"Indeed, in our increasingly feminised education system it is boys and young men who are desperately falling behind".

It is quite interesting to see what the definition of a "feminised" education system is. The Times Educational Supplement ran an informative article a few years ago about the issue.

For the most part, the general consensus seems to be that the argument boils down to exams versus coursework.

Of course this is not the first time the Mail and its contributors have expressed their disapproval of female-orientated testing methods. At the beginning of last year Jill Parkin wrote an article entitled “Stop feminising our schools – our boys are suffering”.

Without a doubt many of the points are worth debating. Do different testing methods benefit a certain group? Perhaps. Do different subjects require different approaches? Probably.

But it is always possible to undermine this with a few careless words:

“Instead of the make-or-break sprint to the exam deadline, boys have to endure stultifying coursework."
"This system of continuous assessment means that anyone who can call up Google on a computer can cut and paste answers from the internet at home. Girls, with their more patient approach to learning, thrive under such a system.”

So let me get this right – girls thrive under a system where they are able to cheat? I see.

Discuss. (1000 words maximum. Pencils down at the end).

Gilligan just wants people to laugh...

Some may argue that when the London Mayor has said to have dropped the anti-racism theme from an anti-racism festival it is worthy of discussion.

However, raising questions after Boris Johnson appears on TV seemingly not knowing what the Rise Festival is, let alone what decision he has supposed to have just made regarding it, after a newspaper has printed it and his own office has commented on it, is "nitpicking", apparently.

Journalist Andrew Gilligan certainly thinks so:

"The fuss over Rise symbolises the other "narrative" failure of Boris's opponents so far: their unfortunate tendency to nitpick about absolutely everything he does and proclaim it a disaster."

After a year of light-hearted commentating, he apparently thinks the Mayor's critics should take a leaf out of his book and look on the bright side of life:

"[Boris'] good nature seems to beat their humourless whingeing", he says (presumably with a chuckle)

Well, what should we take away from this whole episode then? Over to Gilligan:

"No ordinary Londoner, black or white, gives a damn"

I see.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

On The Buses

Related to perhaps one of the most pointless political issues in election history, the Standard is running a light story about a Routemaster that has been turned into a tile showroom, alongside a list of a few more conversions of the decommissioned vehicles.

Might be worth a visit though. Because - let's face it - it's probably the only place you'll be seeing them anytime soon.

Johnson fights for "gas-guzzler" rights

The Standard today reports on a statement from Boris Johnson's spokesman highlighting the London mayor’s opposition to higher parking charges for "gas-guzzlers"

(I'm presuming Johnson said it - but going by his recent apparent unawareness of the Olympic memo and the Rise Festival re-branding - one can never can be certain)

"The Mayor shares the goal of the boroughs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but he is not convinced this sort of scheme is the best way of doing so. Rather than penalise the families that own larger cars, which might be hit by this type of charge, his focus is on reducing emissions by reducing congestion."
"He said Transport for London was drawing up plans to re-phase traffic lights and promote cycling and walking as well as encouraging people to 'drive more efficiently'".

Of course there is no surprise about this stance – Johnson’s attitudes towards any similar penalties or schemes were clear long before the election.

However, of more interest are his suggestions to tackle the problem: "reducing emissions by reducing congestion", which refers to a few vague ideas about encouraging cycling and walking and the re-phrasing of traffic lights.

The problem is that by replacing concrete schemes (whether you agree with them or not) with rather sketchy proposals about promoting healthy alternatives and efficient driving, it does raise questions about how seriously this issue is being taken.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Sir Alan v Boris: Battle of the celebs!

It is rumoured that Sir Alan Sugar could be a possible contender as Labour candidate in the 2012 London mayoral elections.

This could lead to an exciting prospect: A special edition of 'The Apprentice' in which candidates battle it out to win the job of Deputy Mayor.

"You're hired!"