Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer.
SNP accused of hijacking curriculum as MSP pushes for creationism in schools
Senior history teachers have attacked the Scottish Government’s new Curriculum for Excellence (CoE), accusing it of putting an exclusively nationalist worldview ahead of maintaining teaching standards.
According to critics the CoE will reduce Britain to the role of “arch-imperialist villain”, with the long and complex story of the Empire boiled down to lessons on slavery.
The Great War would be taught exclusively through the prism of Scottish participation, and other important areas would receive a “Braveheart” treatment and focus primarily on battles.
Neil McClennan, President of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History (SATH), suggested that where pupils have a choice between modules, “populist” options offering the “flash of tartan and cries of freedom” were much more attractive than seemingly deliberately dry British alternatives.
Meanwhile Nationalist MSP John Mason, who represents Glasgow Shettleston, has tabled a motion calling for creationism to be taught in Scottish schools.
In the motion Mason refers to the belief that God created the world in six days and the belief that nobody created it as “belief systems”, and claimed that “none of these positions can be proved or disproved by science and all are valid beliefs for people to hold”.
Candidate ban undermines Miliband’s NI excursion…
Ed Miliband visited Northern Ireland last week, and his party’s refusal to contest elections in the province was brought sharply into focus.
A scathing article by the Newsletter pointed out that Labour’s active ban on members contesting elections in Northern Ireland made his speech of as much practical interest to Ulster voters as Obama’s State of the Union address.
It also reported that Miliband had only deigned to meet Boyd Black, the leader of the provincial Labour branch, after he complained publicly that his leader was meeting other party heads but not his own members.
The paper suggested that Labour’s reasons for this ban were mostly archaic, but that the need to please the nationalist SDLP, who hold three seats and take the Labour whip was also a factor.
…as he insists it’s wrong to compare the Welsh and English health services
The Labour leader attempted to dodge questions on the dire state of the Welsh NHS as he launched Labour’s health manifesto yesterday morning.
What was important was not whether or not it matched up to health provision east of the border, he suggested, but that it was in a better state than it had been some two decades before in 1997.
He suggested that this was the only possible fair comparison.
The Conservatives are trying to exploit the travails of the Welsh NHS to blunt UK Labour’s favourite issue by demonstrating that Labour’s preferred methods of pandering to producer interests and lavishing money on a system without reforming it don’t work.
Plaid Cymru this week decried the entire debate and all attempts at cross-border comparisons as “pantomime” politics.
Villiers rejects call for legislation to nullify comfort letters
Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has refused demands for Parliamentary legislation to declare the ‘comfort letters’ issued to Republican ‘on the runs’ (OTRs) null and void.
She claims that no legislation would be more effective than her own recent statements on the matter. Villiers has repeatedly stated that letters of comfort are not amnesties and cannot be relied upon to perform that function in court.
This comes as the increasingly notorious scheme snarls another case: an inquest into the 2003 murder of father of two Gareth O’Connor was halted when it emerged that one of the suspects had been wrongfully issued a letter, passed to him by Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly.
A lawyer for the Northern Irish coroner has described Kelly’s role as a matter of concern, and the inquest has paused whilst the PSNI assess whether a prosecution is now possible.
Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley Jr raised the matter with Villiers, expressing particular concern that this letter was issued for a murder which occurred after the 1998 peace. Tony Blair recently claimed that the OTR scheme had been essential to that peace and defended it on those grounds.
Paisley also requested that a list of all OTRs to receive letters be published.
Murphy continues to follow Findlay’s plan of campaign
Do you remember Neil Findlay, the ridiculous socialist throwback who was Blairite Jim Murphy’s principal rival for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party?
I described him as representing “intellectual capitulation” to the myth – not borne out by attitude polling – that Scotland is an avowedly socialist country alien to England in its political views.
Nationalising Scottish railways to create a “People’s ScotRail” and pledges to ban fracking – rather than make the case for its economic and security benefits – are just the sort of proposals you might expect to hear from a man so in thrall to the bankrupt ideas of the hard left.
The problem is that both of those announcements came from Murphy.
I’ve written before – this month, in fact – about the Scottish Labour leader’s apparent wholesale surrender to the false assumptions of Scottish politics. But the steady background drumbeat of disappointments doesn’t taste any less bitter for being familiar by now.
However, Murphy’s decision to abandon his own political instincts does leave a much wider opening for Ruth Davidson’s reform-minded Conservatives to pitch for centre-right and anti-Nationalist voters than might have been the case. Let’s hope they manage to make something of that silver lining.