The Removal of Humanity 370

Occasionally I post about my personal experience of butting up against the consequences of the removal of both common humanity and common sense from the administration of the systems which govern us. It is not that my experiences of this are worse, or more consequential, than those of anyone else. It is simply that I have a forum on which to rail against the contempt with which we all are treated.

Tomorrow we move home, within Edinburgh but about six miles away. Cameron has finished P5 at Royal Mile Primary School and will now be entering P6 at a new school. Hopefully. In Edinburgh there is no entitlement to a place in your local catchment area school if you move there after year 1.

About six months ago I phoned the primary school of our new catchment area to ask if they would have a place. They replied – in a rather brusque manner – that they could not give me any information and that I could not apply for a place until after we had moved. At that stage I had to send in a form direct to the school with a council tax demand plus utility bill as proof of address (making it impossible to apply until you have not only moved but received those bills).

As instructed, now we are moving I contacted the school again. It is closed for the school holidays. As Edinburgh schools restart on 14 August, I contacted Edinburgh Council. They reiterated that applications must be made straight to the school itself. They confirmed that applications cannot be made before moving and must be accompanied by a Council Tax bill and utility bill. They told me that school offices reopen on 12 August and I will then be able to apply for admission on 14 August. They told me that they hold no information on pupil numbers in schools beyond year 1 and that there is no entitlement to a place in the catchment area school after year 1.

So I have no idea where Cameron will go to school on 14 August – I suspect he will for a while end up not going anywhere – and no means of even beginning the process to find out before 12 August (which is the earliest I can submit the form, presuming I have somehow procured a utility bill after a fortnight). Doubtless there are people who do not worry about such things, and that may be admirable. But we, and I suspect many others put in this position, find it very worrying.

What is undoubtedly true is that this is a system formed around the convenience of bureaucrats which shows an utter contempt for the needs and feelings of parents and pupils. My small family problem is but an example of the deliberate hollowing out of normal human helpfulness from societal interaction which comes when you stop caring about people as individuals.

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370 thoughts on “The Removal of Humanity

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  • Donald McGregor

    Many people in Edinburgh clearly face the same issues as you, and at this particular point in the school calendar, schools simply do not know how many of the listed pupils in a school will be attending next year, although clearly the expectation at P6 is that those that attended last year will also attend this year. I have historically always believed that schools ‘keep’ one or two places for new arrivals but maybe this is a truth that has been crushed by Edinburgh’s population growth.

    I’m not placed to offer advice, but in your situation many parents/carers choose to make the move and leave the children attending the same school, thus making some sometimes complex arrangements for travel. In 2 yrs time arrangements will be up in the air again as High School becomes the destination.
    That choice will be catchment based, no matter what primary school is currently attended.

    Good luck to all no matter what though.

    • craig Post author


      No practical way to get to his old school in the Royal Mile. 6 miles through central Edinburgh in the rush hour is not a practical proposition. There is a primary school 5 minutes walk from our new home. Ought to be a no-brainer.

      • jake

        Point taken, but there is a legal obligation on the local authority to provide transport if the primary school is more than a couple of miles away, so 6 is a shoe-in. This might be by bus or even by taxi ( in the Western Isles it might even/also involve a ferry!). Given the importance that we should all place on the education of our weans, I’m surprised that you choose now, with the uncertainty you draw to our attention, to move house…unless of course you had an eye to the future and to establishing yourself in an acceptable secondary school catchment area . I doubt you had any such motive ( you’ve previously expressed understandable concern about owner occupation in central Edinburgh, and not withstanding, the needs of family life do change) but I’m sure you’ll appreciate that there are some willing and able to game the system. I most sincerely hope that Cameron is not unhappy where he is ( bullied, victimised, friendless, underachieving , all that bad stuff) and that this has prompted you to re-locate.
        However Kafkaesque the civic mysteries of catchment determination and pupil placement, I’m sure that if there is more design than accident in the system it’s to support the established and settled residents and their families to the detriment and inconvenience of the transients. Yes, it’s parochial. Yes, it’s short-sighted and narrow-minded and yes, it could be, or could be adapted to be, xenophobic and racist. Yes too, it can be justified on the grounds that it’s to deter those who might claim residency but are domiciled and settled elsewhere. Perhaps the local school is better able to make that determination than some clown piloting a desk in central casting at cooncil HQ. Let’s hope so.
        Here’s to happy outcomes…for cameron and all kids, first and foremost.

    • N_

      Many people in Edinburgh clearly face the same issues as you,

      Many people ought to be publicly critical, then, don’t you think, of the institutionalised idiocy among functionaries which serves the contract-minded corruption of the higher-up bureaucrats, which is in play here? In Britain, “members of the public”, who sometimes appear as “customers”, are almost always seen as a pain in the butt for these types, most of whom have never had the intelligence to criticise anything profound in their entire lives, partly because they too have had their minds crushed by the school system.

      If anyone in front of them does get critical, or (God forbid) angry, their conditioning makes them think “Who do you think you are – Mr Posh? Many people are in your position and don ‘t complain. You don’t know how hard a functionary’s job is”, etc. And of course the main concepts they use are about treating human beings as objects.

      I have historically always believed that schools ‘keep’ one or two places for new arrivals but maybe this is a truth that has been crushed by Edinburgh’s population growth.

      Yeah or because the sun kept coming up, or because of whatever other target-based indicators have been decreed for this year. Because bureaucrats who can’t ever in a thousand years see outside of the system are never ever to blame, and nor are those who make millions out of the school system. Oh dear, did some “members of the public” find their lives got worse. Well, best not complain, eh? Best stand in line and wait.

      I’m not placed to offer advice, but in your situation many parents/carers choose to make the move and leave the children attending the same school,

      Do you think paraleipsis is cool?

      thus making some sometimes complex arrangements for travel.

      Time-wasting, harmful, unpaid, costly arrangements, would they be? Or does the word “complex” cover it?

    • N_

      That choice will be catchment based, no matter what primary school is currently attended.

      Bully for that choice! But this “explanation by bureaucratic naming” hardly explains why a person who knows they’ll be moving somewhere is required to provide evidence of their connection with their new address which is unavailable until after they’ve moved.

      The attitude is that terrible members of the public always want something for nothing, while poor ol’ bureaucrats are slaving away at the coalface. Meanwhile bureaucrats spend thousands of labour-hours on “training” for the new version of Word or Excel or the new contract with Dell, and strangely they always receive their salaries for what is essentially makework in justification of large contracts with public money. But no fear, bureaucratic nominalisations and bureaucratic shit-talk save the day.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    We moved house about 6 miles when our eldest was 5, and had already done a year at Primary School. We applied to our local school within walking distance, and were turned down.They allocated him to a school, about 3 miles away. At the start of the school year, my wife continued to take him to his old school 6 miles away on the train, whilst I researched and prepared a case with regards to appealing, the local council’s decision. I was somewhat nervous about arguing my case, but my research was extremely good, and I got them to change their decision.

    This was very important with regards to my family’s quality of life. Education, especially for young children should be near and local and within walking distance for reasons that should be obvious for anyone who understands the concept of community.


  • Tatyana

    Mr. Murray, if you have no pet, consider inviting a little friend to your new house. Pets make a very positive effect on children, especially if you need to reduce the stress of moving, and also it is easier to make friends with new neighbours.

    • John2o2o

      Aah what a sweet idea Tatyana. My sister allows her neighbours’ cat into her house and it plays with my 8 year old niece … it also eats my sisters supper when she is not looking!

    • Hatuey

      Tragic, King. We should never forget that the victims of these Tory bastards are troubled and frail human beings, as we all are.

    • John2o2o

      King, I detest the Tories too and it is a tragic story, but suicide is never the answer. Those poor children will now grow up sad and bitter at the loss of their father.

      In this country we have the Samaritans who can be contacted free of charge on the telephone in times of genuine emotional distress to talk problems through.

      Hard though it is, and no matter what happens, never be a victim of the system or anything or anyone else. You always have the choice.

      Sometimes patience and fortitude are required and these sorts of problems can be overcome. You have to be tough sometimes.

          • Jo1

            I would not dare to say I fully understand the state of mind of a person before they take their own life. What I would imagine is that it’s a terrible place to be and I would not judge anyone who does such a thing. I don’t have the right.

          • John2o2o

            The poor man was mistaken. Yes it is extremely sad. I have suffered two mental breakdowns in my life and am a rather sad and lonely middle aged bachelor. In short my life is shit. But it should be understood that you are always in control of your actions and suicide, despite the depression and misery is not ever the answer.

      • King of Welsh Noir

        ‘You always have the choice.’

        I respectfully disagree.

        A single dad with three children who kills himself and leaves them alone in this world must be in a state of mental agony so terrible it is simply unimaginable to the rest of us. It is meaningless to talk of ‘choice’ in such a situation. We should bow our heads in acknowledgement of his suffering, and of his children.

        • John2o2o

          I’ve had two mental breakdowns in my life. I do know something of the pain, but my friend, suicide is not the answer.

        • John2o2o

          And finally, it is 4.43 am and I cannot sleep. I have been suffering terrible insomnia lately. Life can be difficult, it is not a bed of roses. Despite my personal difficulties, suicide is not the answer. I know I keep labouring this point.

          I knew someone who took their own life in 2011. He was a close friend of my sister’s husband and his wife was a close friend of my other sister. My sister took a picture of him on the evening before, with a can of beer in his hand. Apparently nothing out of the ordinary. His wife found him hanging in their garage at about 5am the next morning.

          He left no note, it is believed he had an online gambling addiction. Fortunately, perhaps there were no children involved. He was only 37. What a waste of a life!

          So, King and Jo1, please do not assume that I know nothing of these issues. Perhaps sometimes it is a good idea to ask the question, rather than assuming.

        • John2o2o


          Let me put it to you another way.

          Imagine the scene. A three sided gladiatorial arena. There’s you, the Welsh dragon with your three children behind you at one end. On one other side there is a corpulent Boris Johnson dressed as Nelson, with a sword in hand and in the other corner is a rope with which to hang yourself.

          What do you do? Do you fight the unjust Tory monster with every breath you have or do you run for the rope saying “It’s too painful, it’s too much, he’s too strong for me. Don’t hurt me Boris I’ll save you the trouble”.

          If I was that man, with three children to care for, I hope that I would choose to fight the injustice with everything I had to defend my family, no matter how painful it might be for me and have the resilience to believe that I would win through.

  • Ros Thorpe

    I had the same in England when we moved and my daughter ended up in a really good Church of England school which generally you need to prove regular church attendance to get in. We never attend church but it was the only school with a place so they had to take her. Moving into secondary school we struggled to get accepted into any school nearby and went to appeal. The government bureaucrat sent to defend the decision only did so by using a ruler to measure distance on a map. The appeals panel looked genuinely shocked and upheld our position. The state designs things so that you need to constantly fight. Fortunately I’m a stroppy cow who likes a good run in!

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    have you considered Royal High primary down porty way. socially and culturally diverse

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        Not that far -used to cycle to porty from waverley (and that included dragging my bike up the scotsman steps) in abouy half an hour. And yes parts of porty very expensive now especially near the sea and the ‘posh villa’ end but not all.The outer fringes can be very reasonable. It attracts arty types with modest means.

        • craig Post author

          It’s not that far from where we live now – Cameron and I walk there sometimes along the disused rail track off Leith Walk – but it’s a long way from where we are moving to

  • Blissex

    Dear blogger, “humanity” here is not the issue, it is the votes of middle-class thatcherite voters:

    * Voters with children in your new area already have them enrolled, and your problem is not their problem.

    * Voters in the new area don’t want to pay a penny more in taxes to fund the education in their good schools of “cheaters” who live in other cheaper areas, as this might reduce the value of properties in their area.

    * Voters in the new area don’t want to pay a penny more in taxes for more council/school staff to check whether applications are genuine, as higher taxes might reduce the value of properties in their area.

    * Therefore all the cost and inconvenience of should be suffered by you and your progeny.

    Put another way, the supreme tory value is incumbency, not humanity: you and your progency are not incumbents, and too bad for you.

  • Francis Urquhart Barr

    “The Scotland Act of 1998 established the devolved Scottish Parliament, giving Scotland control over Health, Education, Justice, Transport, local government and Economic Development”.

    I wonder if anyone can tell me who runs the Scottish Parliament?

    • Hatuey

      Clearly, since the Scottish parliament has passed legislation which the UK government has blocked, Westminster runs the Scottish parliament. That is to say, it’s not a Parliament at all but a charade of sorts intended to give the impression of autonomy.

  • giyane

    It is fashionable for BBC interviewees to answer complex questions by separating them like Siamese twins.

    The first problem is that your mind is pre-occupied by the blatancy of whoppers told by the USUKIS would be world kings trying to stop eastern asian countries getting a fair bite of the cherry. Most people would prefer to remain in the most affluent zones of humanity so they support the Tories

    The second problem is council budget stretch on account of USUKIS would be world kings’ austerity. The council cannot afford to plan in advance nor to accommodate all comers. Frankly that is not the council’s fault. Hopefully you will find all the goodwill you need assembled at the school at the end of the holidays.

    The first problem, bad people , is of course a bad problem, but if one tires oneself out worrying about bad people , one never finds the far greater supply of good ones in the human species. We have always prevailed in spite of evil politicians like Mrs Thatcher and those bastards are forever finding ways to frustrate and annoy our simple needs and divert wealth and power to themselves.

    Maybe the school conundrum will inspire in young Cameron a latent spark of political awareness, which you will be able to foster and relish even, while some parents by providing every possible convenience, like the Puritans of yore who found their darling offspring turning out to be playboys.

    you will have to be very patient , and some say patience is the entirety of faith or in secular terminology , the meaning of life. something we all have to do. Even if we kick against the pricks all the while we do.

  • John Monro

    Since when was bureaucracy anything other than bureaucratic? I think the example you give is greatly frustrating to you and your son, having to jump through hoops like this which seem absurd. It surely isn’t beyond the capacity of humans, some of whom who fifty years ago went the moon, and returned, to organise a system in local education that can deal in a timely and ordered fashion with the simple need of one child, and all the other children, to get to school in the local area. But others have pointed out the distortions that take place when parents will move heaven and earth to get their child to a school that’s perceived to be “better” than some other. Perhaps the school is being “difficult” only to ensure that your child is a genuine local. However, I’m not sure that what you’ve experienced proves a “deliberate hollowing out of normal human helpfulness” – I think many older people will tell you of the bureaucratic nightmares they’ve had in all its multifarious forms since the year dot. But it would be true that in a society which is so economically unbalanced and so unfair as the UK, and many other countries, have become, there is a “hardness” and edginess in our societies, related to stress and anxiety often, and a “them and us” attitude and less “give and take” that isn’t helpful in running any society or the bureaucracy that underpins it. The education system in many countries is under great stress. Teachers are undervalued and misused. Severe social and behavioural problems coming to their schools makes teaching difficult and less enjoyable. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was reflected at times in interactions with parents and the community. That’s not to excuse it of course.

    However, it will sort itself out. Your son might miss a few days or a week of school, but he’ll not come to any harm, and he’s old enough to understand simple explanations of the difficulties you’ve had. Just make sure to give him some good parenting time, and you might both enjoy it! Cheers.

    • giyane


      which of his zionist chainsaw henchmen and women will have chopped down that old trunk?
      Zombie Secretary Pritt Patel? Dominic Cummings is just the chainsaw. Or was this a case of releasing the dobermanns on Dominic Grieve for being a remainer and a sensible human being. If so , even Trump is not as vindictive as this buffoon.

  • ADKC

    It is ridiculous to expect schools to consider admissions for those children who are not even resident in their catchment area. When you move that is when you should expect consideration. If it were otherwise schools would be inundated with applications from non-residents.

    When you move you may be only 5 minutes away from the school that you would like your son to attend but at present you are 6 miles away. You are being unreasonable though I appreciate that you believe it is the school that is being unreasonable. The situation you describe is not a ‘new’ as your article suggests.

    Btw: you had better hope the school you want is not identifiable and/or the head doesn’t read the article – you may discover that the head has far greater arbitrary powers, with the education authority having much less input, than in the past – you may end up with a genuine complaint and no way to address it.

    • craig Post author

      What a stupid response. I am not contacting a school pointlessly. I am moving to its catchment area. Contracts are signed and I have known for six months that I am moving there. The notion that “hundreds of people” would contact a school pretending that they are moving to the area when they are not is a brainless fantasy to justify ludicrous bureaucratic obstruction.
      The problem is the move to a society which, rather than accept that the large majority of people are inherently honest, chooses not to believe anybody as the default position. Rather than accept a citizen’s word unless there is reason to believe otherwise, the assumption is the citizens are all lying unless they can prove they are telling the truth.
      Incidentally, it is not in any way a school that has high demand from outside because of a good reputation. It is bang in the middle of one of Edinburgh’s highest density schemes.

      • ADKC

        No Craig, you are being stupid. You haven’t moved to the catchment area yet. This is the way the system has been since at least the 70s. You can’t see it any other way than from your own point of view. You totally fail to address the points I made and just resorted to an ad hominem attack. In doesn’t matter what contracts you have signed, it doesn’t matter what you know. Are you resident in the catchment area? No!

  • Wikikettle

    Removal of Humanity indeed. Some important news from Gordon Dimmack on youtube. Professor of Jewish History, Geoffrey Alderman has written to the Labour Party accusing the Deputy Leader Tom Watson of anti semitism. The professor says Tom Watson invoked the oldest anti semitic troupe – that Jesus was killed by the actions of Jews.

    • giyane


      Jesus pbuh was more specific. He said it was the sanhedrin, the religious scholars who opposed his message of Islamic monotheism and tried to get him killed.

    • Deb O'Nair

      Is the New Testament now an anti-Semitic trope? Jesus, who was a Jew, was betrayed by Judas, who was a Jew, to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard, who were Jewish. He was then held prisoner in the house of the chief priest before being handed over to the Romans.

      Modern Jews should respond to the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ trope by pointing out that 90% of them are 8th/9th century East European converts to Judaism and literally have nothing to do with the events that occurred in Judea in the 1st entury. No one with half a brain blames modern Italians for the excesses of the Roman Empire, including the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of the second temple.

      • Wikikettle

        giyane and Deb O’Nair. The ironic light I was trying to shine – was about the hope that Watson would taste some of his own medicine and get expelled from the Labour Party.

        • Deb O'Nair

          I appreciate the point that is being made but some of the accusations of antisemitism that are thrown about are drifting into the realm of absurdity; whether they come from Watson or are aimed at him is irrelevant to the real issue, which is the use of accusations of antisemitism as a political weapon rather than to combat intolerance, racism and ignorance.

  • Chick McGregor

    Sadly. school placement is an oft kicked political football.

    When I moved to Greenock (60% salary increase so seemed like a good idea) we found the following.

    1) The primary school about 300 yards from our new house was catholic, which I didn’t think was an issue but many people told me that as a Church of Scotland family (for weddings, funerals and christenings, not regular attenders) our kids would be bullied relentlessly. Astonished as I was by that having only had experience of the East of Scotland, I thought, better rule that out then.

    2) Plan B was the non-denominational school (known locally as a protestant school) called Ravenscraig. It was about half a mile away. OK about 10 minutes extra walking, not such a big deal. It turned out nearly all of the kids from the owner occupied estate we were on went there anyway. However, we and several other new families on our estate were told we could not send our kids there even though intake numbers would allow it. Maggie Thatcher had decided that parents should get to choose where their kids went and for reasons purely of political opposition to that policy we were told our kids would have to go to Springfield primary over one and a half miles away at the far end of a quite large council house scheme. Us and the other parents did have a meeting with them but they were adamant.

    3) So for a year, we had the farcical situation that our kids were walking over one and a half miles up to Springfield school through the estate and passing many children from the lower half of the Springfield estate who were, quite logically, in the catchment area for Ravenscraig. After a year, they decided they had made their point and the kids from our estate were allowed to switch to Ravenscraig. And, of course, being kids from the private estate, they had been relentlessly bullied at Springfield for that year.

  • Gary

    Having watched, just the other day, a programme on just this subject with a comedian (who’s name I can’t remember) I can undertand the need, not just for proof, but for proof of council tax also. It appears that many middle class people (according to the show) are “gaming the system” to gain advantage for their children. Using the address of relatives etc seems to be how the get admitted to the school of choice. Thus preventing those who DO live in the are but weren’t as quick off the mark from getting their children into their actual local school.

    I can’t see how the local authorities can get round this and yet still be fair to those who really live in the area. Sure enough though they COULD deal with admissions centrally rather than insist it can only be the school itself and they could, at the VERY least, allow for admissions to be dealt with over the summer. However, as no one else can deal with their children’s admission to the school either then you are not being disadvantaged, the problem is one of your child missing some school. Which DOES matter, unless you are able to secure some private tuition following their exact syllabus then he will have a lot to make up when he does join (hopefully) the school.

    We have all the benefits of modern technology but we STILL have an old fashioned school system that has failed to catch up. I’ve seen exactly the same issue at our local Further Education College too. Admissions and enrolments could easily be dealt with over the course of the summer after the end of the term but they are all dealt with at once when the term starts in August causing such a glut that it is many weeks/months before all are matriculated.

    We suffer from ‘This is the way we’ve always done it..’ and our most important institutions are lagging because of it…

    • jake

      The whole idea of having a catchment area is that kids attend a local school nearby.
      Whether you attend school A or school B should be based on relative proximity ( other things being equal, taking account of siblings attending etc). It would compromise this surely if a decision to offer a place was based on when in the school year you applied, or if speculative applications were made by potential rather than actual residents. It would be wrong, in my view, if Craig’s son was denied a place in the school nearby because that place had been allocated months earlier on a first come first served basis . If first come first served is not to be the basis for a decision then it follows you can’t pre-allocate and that the decision has to be made ( for all) at the same time ( ideally as close to the start time as possible).
      Gary, colleges are different. Their criteria for acceptance are not based (solely) on proximity, for some courses it’s competitive, for others it’s about getting bums on seats

  • John2o2o

    I’m sure that Cameron will be okay, Craig, but I suppose petty bureaucracy is something all have to deal with at times.

    We can all be kind to each other in our day to day interactions and in small ways.

  • Stonky

    Good luck on this one Craig. I spend most of my time abroad, but about five years ago I found I was going to be at home in Edinburgh for about six months. My son was 8 or 9 at the time. I wrote to the Education Authority at the Council asking what provision they made for people in my circumstances, what schools I should apply to, and how to go about applying. Five years on and I’m still waiting for their answer.

    • Blissex

      «I was going to be at home in Edinburgh for about six months. My son was 8 or 9 at the time. I wrote to the Education Authority at the Council asking what provision they made for people in my circumstances, what schools I should apply to, and how to go about applying.»

      Every new child of a “scrounger”, especially one with unusual circumstances, means more spending and complications for the authority and the local incumbent property owners who are already sorted. Why should they pay a fraction of a penny more to help you solve *your* problem? Thatcherism is not just for the english…

  • N_

    For many white British parents, “good” (state) school means the one with fewer Pakistanis, and in England a “very good” school means one that aims to get 1 in 25 pupils scoring CCC at A Level. I really could not care less what the exact figure is – the point is that they know where they’re funnelling their sausagemeat into the caste system. And it’s all lubricated with the most idiotic belief that some people are born cleverer than others, combined with traditional snobbish beliefs about culture of course. I switch off when people talk in that way. If you want education, don’t send children to school. Educate them at home. And if you want a half-decent life, try to minimise contacts with b*starrd bureaucrats who only view you as an object and will hate your guts if you to try to challenge the system that pays them their functionaries’ salaries in return for them having their brains, minds, and compassion removed decades ago.

    • N_

      I stayed in a hotel once with a badly fitted door in the corridor that kept banging. I told the duty manager and she replied “That’s something we’ll have to look into as a hotel”. Her tone implied “F*** off”. She simply could not get it into her head that a paying human being was failing to get a good night’s sleep and that the said human being had a right to expect that the fictitious person to which he had paid money, a fictitious person that she was employed by, did not ruin his night’s sleep in a way that was so easily avoidable and fixable. I’m thinking of you, @DonaldMcGregor, now. Did you know it’s parents who are legally responsible for their children’s education?

      Everything is “as a hotel” and “catchment area” for some androids. There’s no point getting red in the face with anger the whole time, but deep inside and for reasons of self-respect one should not take any prisoners in such circumstances. When people have dug themselves in over decades into a little bit of status lubricated by constant all-day-long treating other people as objects, let’s maybe smile and when we’re talking to the morons use their terms of reference, but let’s not tell ourselves that their outlook is sane or deserving of any respect whatsoever. And whatever they say, and whatever we have to say to them, please let’s not forget that we are humouring them.

      • John2o2o

        Yes, N_ I suppose there’s little point in taking these muppets personally, and certainly one should never let them take your self respect and dignity. They are just oil in the machinery.

        To them I daresay it’s just a job, and they no doubt have a list of things they can say and do and a list of things they cannot say and do. It’s probably very boring and even sometimes soul destroying having to deal with frustrated members of the public all day long every day.

        Perhaps I will spare them some compassion myself next time instead of my usual habit of sending them an irate e-mail !

      • Donald McGregor

        Nice of you to think about me. I think your thinking is flawed though. Your hotel example is one in which you had a direct contract with a specific hotel and were angrily expecting a good nights sleep. I, as you, think you could reasonably have expected the individual hotel staff to sort that for you.

  • Sharp Ears

    ‘Poorer teenagers are 18 months behind their wealthier peers in their GCSEs, according to a new report. The GCSE attainment gap widened between 2017 and 2018 – and the divide is largest and growing fastest in parts of northern England.

    According to researchers from the Education Policy Institute, disadvantaged pupils were 9.2 months behind their richer classmates by the end of primary school.’

    ‘Wake-up call’ for PM as GCSE gap between poor and rich pupils widens
    Pupils eligible for free school meals for at least 80% of school(s) were almost two years (22.6 months) behind their peers.

    The BBC is also carrying this report. After you Boris!

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The hard reality is that middle class parents have often taught their children to read and do basic sums before they even enter school. I was accelerated as a precise result of this as no thought was given to social interactions as part of education. I was in a class of 30 of whom 3 were siphoned off to Direct Grants just before they were abolished, another four (me included) ended up at grammar school and 23 went to secondary moderns.

      My father had the classic dilemma of an ambitious middle class ‘socialist’ (he was in reality a conservative in how he treated his son emotionally but voted Labour all his life): to do the best for his children or be a good self-sacrificing socialist. He sent his daughter to North London Collegiate School, where networking was almost as good as at Eton. She was demoted to her correct year group and has had the attitude of the right to be superior ever since.

      A black journalist in Hackney wrote the trash article ‘Chief Inspector (Secondary) of ILEA sends daughter private’, which was enough to stop his son even having a chance to try for such schools (he finished the 11 plus papers in under half the time and had checked all his answers four times by the time papers were handed in). So his son remained accelerated in a poor grammar school and half his education involved reading his sisters textbooks as she learned more French in Year 1 than I learned in eight terms. The other half of his education at this time involved being regularly beaten up by boys a year older than him and much stronger. He had contempt for his fathers complaints that he was not progressing in the manner of an Eton scholar-to-be, since he had actively chosen a third rate education for his son.

      Socialists must always decide whether other peoples children are more important than their own. They must also explain to their children why no-one on earth puts them first.

      Especially when their own mother sent them private….and ended up paying for her grandson to go private too, albeit to a non-academic school chosen solely because a colleague at work was a governor there.

      • Jo1

        “… no thought was given to social interactions as part of education.”

        Simply not true. There was “social interaction” across the “classes” once upon a time and it was always considered important. My own working class parents were well educated and more than capable of preparing their children for school, and they did so. They were also able to support us at home in our studies and made sure studies took priority.
        All on very limited funds.

        There are very different factors at work today although the term “poverty” is often the only one highlighted.

  • Dave

    There used to be “local schools for local people” until the demographics changed leading to an exodus of people seeking a local school in a completely new area, but still requiring a long commute to work.

  • MishaC

    I had a similar issue myself although I was a teenager at the time (which I fully appreciate is a lot to different to education being disrupted when you’re a young child). At 15 I moved from London across the country with my family because of knife crime – this was back in 2006 and it’s only recently that knife crime has gained attention by politicians and the public nationally! It’s a huge issue but it’s been a huge issue for a long time.

    I tried to get into a local school but was declined because I was too close to the end of secondary education. My mum appealed but it was rejected and it felt incredibly buerocratic. The system wasn’t interested in our circumstances or in showing any understanding or consideration. It was following protocol and legislation.

    The one thing I can say however, is that as a result of coming out of the education system earlier and of experiencing a disruption, I found my own path and my own mind. I didn’t go straight in to sixth form or into higher education like other people my age and it was difficult but it led me to question the world we live in and dig deeper. When the path is straight and narrow, it’s easy to slot in to the system and to believe that the system works okay and that it isn’t so bad after all. When we face challenges that are a result of that system, at least we’re confronted with the truth. These systems weren’t designed with our best interests in mind and they aren’t interested in treating people with respect and empathy for the most part.

  • alexey

    Just wondering what the consequences for Scottish schools would be if/when we have some sort of Brexit and Scotland gets its independence. It might even be hundreds of thousands of English trying to get into Scotland. A house price boom in Scotland mirrored with a house price crash in England. Massively oversubscribed schools in Scotland as we abandon Gavin Williamson’s education programme in England (courses on jolly English pluck for 5 year olds)… and then we find that England has an in-built Tory/Faragist majority meaning no end in sight… new mental health treatment and being a “doomster/gloomster” entered into the DSM and diagnosis coming with extra benefit sanctions ….

    have you guys got border controls… you might need them.

    • MJ

      If an independent Scotland were to join the EU then border controls would be obligatory. Brussels would insist. The Scottish Gobstopper.

      • alexey

        Thats 96 miles that will need some sort of controls then or we can just hop off the A1 and scurry across the fields. An obvious and cheaper solution would be for England to cede the land between the Scottish border and Hadrian’s Wall to Scotland so both sides can make use of it.

        My plucky English spirit is seeing an opportunity for smuggling here. Maybe piracy too. Not sure.

  • Chris Barclay

    ‘a system formed around the convenience of bureaucrats’

    Perhaps you didn’t realise that this is the norm until now, because you were a bureaucrat.

    Back in the 80s and early 90s, the normal practice for employees of the People’s Republic of Lambeth was to answer your call and immediately leave the phone lying on their desks. They would wait until you hung up, which didn’t take long because calls were far more expensive than they are today. If something was urgent, you had to take a day off work to go to the offices and wait for hours for a brief conversation. And the socialists were surprised that they weren’t voted in to power, so that they could roll this ‘service’ across the whole nation.

    What you will notice nowadays on council websites is that it is almost impossible to find out the name of the person you are contacting (typical email addresses given are info@…), the actual name of their department as opposed to the service they provide and where they work.

  • giyane

    In Glasgow where my wife’s brother and family has been given leave to remain, they were recently moved to a flat on the outskirts where wild deer leap through the bracken.

    In Kurdistan 95% of the massive oilr production is embezzled by the likes of T Blair as spoils of illegal invasion. Council staff have not been paid more than fifth of their salaries, if that.
    Baghdad sent the cash and the criminals in power embezzled that as well.

    I know Scotland is only a minor annexe of British Neo Imperialism. But the picture is just the same.

    • Republicofscotland

      “I know Scotland is only a minor annexe of British Neo Imperialism. But the picture is just the same.”

      Of course there is corruption in Scotland, and Scotland sents its proceeds to London and in return it receives pocket money back.

      Scotland has contributed significantly to Westminster’s coffers for over a century and longer, that’s why its desperate to hold onto it.

      Of course Scotland is a country in its own right, alas Kurdistan cannot claim to be the same. The Kurds have been used and abused by the West and persecuted by the Turks.

      • giyane


        ? I think you’ll find you wet annexed about 100 years before Kurds were annexed. 100 years later the Tories have got that itchy am next feeling again , empire2.

        They think , with IS and US , they can make UK powerful again. Disgusting really considering we have only just repaired the war damage from last time.

        • Republicofscotland

          The Treaty of Sèvres and the Treaty of Lausanne, showed just how insignificant the West thinks the Kurds are, unless of course they are need to fight for them. Many Kurds consider themselves descended from the Medes, an ancient Iranian people, isn’t that true? And isn’t it also sung in the Kurdish national anthem.

          I wonder if Iran would welcome the Kurdish people, and absorb them into their society. Though some being Sunni might be a problem, or not.

    • Laguerre

      “embezzled by the likes of T Blair ” Really? There isn’t much oil production in Kurdistan itself, only in territory it stole from Iraq at Kirkuk, and then lost again.

      The problem with the Kurdish Regional Government is that it vastly overspends on revenues, depending on the Iraqi oil law which gave it 17% of overall Iraqi oil revenue, and then with encouragement from US and Israel cheated on the agreement, so the Iraqis stopped paying. It’s the Kurds own fault, their situation. I agree the KRG govt is a bunch of criminals, but non-criminals couldn’t do much better, given their willingness to surrender KRG’s interests in being a puppet of the US and Israel.

      • giyane


        When criminals move intro a property first thing they do is to bypass the electric meter. In Kurdistan the same.
        Nobody is metering what they steal.

  • Geoffrey

    Accepting people’s word was fine when we were a relatively cohesive society. Things have changed. People game the system, maybe you don’t but other’s do. It is the cost of progress and we have to live with it, or join the Brexit Party.

  • Jones

    the ”system” which doesn’t care about individuals is made up from individuals, sadly some individuals are brainwashed enough, selfish enough, or just relish power over another enough, to carry out the instructions of the ”system”.

  • Sharp Ears

    Things are very different for the other Camerons.

    Nancy aged 15, attends the Greycoat School, Westminster.
    ‘The Grey Coat Hospital is a Church of England secondary school with academy status for girls in Westminster, London, England.’
    – ‘It is not clear on what basis Nancy has been admitted, but the Daily Mail reported that Mr Cameron is understood to have been paying regular private visits to worship at a London church for several years, often on a weekday morning. The newspaper reported that the Camerons also applied to Lady Margaret School, a Church academy in Fulham, West London, which is rated “outstanding”, but are not thought to have been offered a place there.’ Torygraph May 2015.

    Elwen is at a private prep school having attended a state primary. The school is said to be Colet Court, the prep school for St Paul’s. He is now aged nearly 13 will be moving on. Eton? St Paul’s?
    – ‘EX-PM U-TURN David Cameron sends son to £30k-a-year school after blasting ‘crazy’ private schools
    News of the former PM’s choice comes as his pal and Cabinet minister Michael Gove said he wants to see an end to private schools’.
    Soaraway Sun – 2nd March 2019

    The youngest, Florence, aged nearly 9, is at the Kensington primary school.

    Their father’s legacy? An underfunded and under resourced collapsing state system with demoralized staff. (There are several teachers in my family)

    and Florence to the local primary in Kensington.

  • mrjohn

    What you are experiencing is the life of the great unwashed compounded by your posh English accent in Scotland. Get a friend wit a lowland Scots accent to ring and pretend to be you.

    • remember kronstadt

      Discovering a ‘special need’ is a winner for the middle classes in Inner London

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