Daily Archives: June 7, 2009


Election Night Thoughts

UPDATE

Depressingly, the BNP have won a seat in Yorkshire and Hmberside. Just had ten minutes of Nick Griffin on Sky News. I must say I thought Chris Bryant was very sharp in cutting through the claptrap with his question about who is allowed to join the BNP – people who, according to Griffin, “You look, you know” are “indigenous British”.

I thought William Hague spoke well against the BNP too. Except for this. Every single word Griffin said about upholding our indigenous traditions and Christian culture, and the threat of alien traditions. could have been said by the polish Law and Justice party which the Conservatives are joining in a new far right group, leaving the centre right EPP. In fact their Polish allies flaunt racism more than Griffin. I can’t understand why Hague expresses a decent horror of the British far right, but wants to ally with their European counterparts. (Happily the Tories new far right allies in Poland lost badly tonight).

Great news from Scotland – the SNP are romping away with it. Extraordinary news from Wales – the Tories got most votes. In Wales – that’s not something I thought I would ever see.

Electoral Fraud Alert 3

Following the election results on the BBC and Sky. One very interesting development. While there is a national swing against Labour of about 9%, in Leicester there is a very suspicious anomaly – a swing to Labour of about 6%, according to the BBC.

Now Leicester is exactly one of those places where New Labour carry out concentrated postal vote farming among a patriarchal South Asian community. I spoke there during the 2005 campaign in support of Yvonne Ridley, and spoke to people who had witnessed the same postal vote abuses we saw from New Labour in Blackburn.

I strongly suspect that it will prove that in Leicester the percentage of votes cast by post was extraordinarily high. If anyone has a connection to one of the parties in Leicester, maybe you can get that percentage tonight

See:

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/05/electoral_fraud.html

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/06/new_labour_post.html#comments

We may well see several small but populous urban areas where New Labour buck the trend against them, and I confidently predict that these will directly correlate to South Asian communities plus an unusually high percentage of people voting by post.

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Election Result Prediction

Here, from the famous back of my envelope, is my predicted result as percentage of votes cast in the UK in tonight’s Euro polls:

Conservative 29

Lib Dem 24

UKIP 17

New Labour 16

Green 6

Nationalists 4

BNP 2

Other 2

Gordon Brown has just done a triumphalist New Labour rally in Newham which was perhaps the most surrealistic thing ever to have happened in British politics. Really, deeply weird.

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The Value of Education

I am deeply concerned that English and Welsh universities are now taken out of an education ministry and made part of Mandelson’s business and commerce ministry.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=406877&c=2

This is not just an isolated administrative ploy. It reflects an entire attitude to higher education, as valuable only in providing vocational skills for students and marketable inventions to industry.

I am Rector of Dundee University. As this is in Scotland, Dundee is not affected by the specific administrative change, but the same thinking is evident there. In applying for “New Horizons” funding we have to show measurable benefit to the economy.

The wealthiest countries in the World have great universities. It is a complex interaction – the wealth doesn’t just create universities, and universities don’t just create wealth. But economic progress is in part a by-product of learning. Which is not to say that many contributors to economic progress have not been unschooled.

To make conscious commercial linkage a requirement permeating all university life is simply philistine. It is not just that we should cherish our philosophers and expounders of literature – although cherish them we should. It is also that research driven by pure desire to acquire knowledge and understand the world, often produces the most radical results which indeed prove to have economic effects.

The following are extracts from my Rectorial installation address:

A university must be a place of stimulating intellectual debate across not only the myriad topics of academia, but on the issues of the day affecting society as a whole. The best minds must clash and spark, and students must be fully and intellectually engaged. A university must constitute a vast whirring machinery of the mind, reacting to and operating on the wider society of which it forms an integral part. It must be a place of the liveliest and best informed debate, where no subject is out of bounds, or over-respected, or immune from the heat of debate. A university must be a democratic discussion. If it is not that, it is not a university.

We must be unapologetic that a University is about much, much more than training to get a job. The over-emphasis of vocational training bedevils higher education. Of course your career is important; but you have the entire rest of your life to be a slave to it. You don’t have to start now. The student who concentrates purely on his future career leaves here equipped for only a small part of life. I learnt vastly more in discussions with people of other academic, social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds in bars and kitchens, and from private reading, than I ever did in the lecture theatre. In my formal university learning I acquired skills of logic, analysis, ordering and debate. A University Education must teach you to think, not just to stack widgets. And that is true across every one of our disciplines ?” as relevant to nurses and dentists as to lawyers.

I went on to quote at length Professor Lindsay Paterson of the Univeristy of Edinburgh:

The first premise is to insist on the emancipatory potential of intellectual, serious, theoretical and difficult learning. If secondary schools and universities are not about that, then they are barely worth having. “Relevance” is something we learn with experience, and experience can only be experienced, not taught; we cannot judge relevance unless we have already grasped the principles of a system of understanding. In particular, therefore, vocational courses are not what initial education should be about. They are about training for specific jobs. Where they are not best done on the job itself, learning from the accumulated wisdom of more experienced colleagues (whatever the line of work), they presuppose a body of theoretical knowledge and understanding that ought to be engaged with first. Practice without theory is blind.

… Second, since the building of an efficient economic system ought never to be an end in itself, but only the means to such goals as building a fair, democratic and culturally enriching society, an equally important premise has to be that programmes of general liberal education are better at preparing people for life as decent citizens than any other kind of learning. That was something which the old radicals understood well. You could make citizens for the new era of mass democracy by equipping them with the cultural capacities which the aristocratic or bourgeois ruling class had acquired through their education. Citizenship was not something to be segregated into discrete programmes, but should permeate many types of study ?” literature, history, geography, politics, science, religion.

And I then added this on the situation in my own univeristy:

I am entirely with Professor Paterson, but it is fair to say that almost all the contributions I have heard from others within the governing bodies of the University have been tending to the opposite, with an increasingly narrow vocational focus. The need for students to get a job on leaving has always been there. The lack of grants and the tuition fees paid by some of our students add to the pressures. But my generation graduated into a labour market with three and a half million unemployed and few opportunities. But the idea that our university experience should be solely about finding a job would rightly have been laughed out of court. People are marvellous things, so much more than simply machines for economic production. Indeed, I would say that is the aspect of them that has the least to do with a university.

Placing the universities in England and Wales under Mandelson devalues learning and is symptomatic of a mechanistic approach to the interaction between education and the economy, where the relationship is in truth organic. For New Labour to treat the universities as just an adjunct of commerce does not surprise me, because never have we had a less intellectually distinguished government.

This must be overturned.

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