Friday, 29 February 2008

Not Waving, just Flagging; or why Red equals DANGER!

I’m trying to get to the bottom of this. English flags, according to a report commissioned for Ed Balls (left) the Children’s Secretary, are often banned from schools with Health and Safety being cited as the reason.

Precedence for such bans is well documented. If you Google “’England Flag’ banned”, you’ll get 2,050 hits and they detail councils, schools, Tesco etc all banning the English flag, often for the same safety excuses. If you Google “’Scotland Flag’ banned” you get 149 hits, but none of them report the flag actually being banned.

You will also easily find well documented cases (here, here, here and here) where possessing an English flag has indeed caused its wavers Health and Safety problems. However, closer examination seems to show that these problems are more attributable to dangerous Scotsmen, than dangerous flags.

Strangely there is a lack of similar stories for Scottish Saltire wavers, so maybe there is some truth in the health and safety claims. We need to examine this further…

In Scotland, the picture is very different. The Scottish Saltire is obviously very safe, as you can see from the photo on the right. Salmond is visiting St Margaret’s Primary School near Edinburgh where just about every child is recklessly waving a Scottish flag. He seems quietly confident, although his colleague grins nervously. The kids are obviously unaware of any kind of imminent danger and, as far as we know, the HSE have not commented on the incident.

So, why is the Scottish flag so safe for school children and the English one so damned dangerous?

One theory, put about by crackpots like me, is that Scottish schools are controlled by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliament is accountable to the Scottish people. English schools, on the other hand, are controlled by the British government which is headed by a person who is accountable to, er the Scottish people as well (no, really, I’m being serious).

The other theory is that it’s the colour red that makes it so damned dangerous. Look at the Scots’ flag, it has no red, just relaxing blue. Could it be that danger lurks within the colour red? This is the only other possible explaination for well educated teachers out there to genuinely believe that Scottish flag = safe, English flag = dangerous! (again, I'm being serious).

I have written to the BRITISH Health and Safety Executive asking if they have an official line on why English flags are such a peril. The web site says they’ll get back to me within ten days; if they do, I’ll let you know what they say.

In the meantime, for the safety conscious amongst us, I’ve found a hard hat with a Cross of St George on it.

I must admit that I can’t decide if it is a safer flag, or a more dangerous hat. I’d better ask the HSE for a ruling!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Maybe we should all be Scottish

The CEP is outraged at the SNP’s attempt to grab Berwick for her own, after 76% of the town “voted” in favour of “returning” to Scotland.

However, this vote seems to have been driven by a desire for extra public spending, rather than any desire to be Scottish. According to the Scottish Express, “vast swathes” of northern England also want to be Scottish and I would guess it is for the same financial reasons.

My own personal opinion is that we should all become temporarily Scottish. Just think abut the benefits…

  1. We would have a national Parliament as well as being over represented in the UK one
  2. We would have 30% more money to spend on public services without having to raise a single penny in extra taxes (to pay for cancer drugs, university fees, etc)
  3. We could have a popular vote to change the nation’s name to “England” and relocate the Parliament building to somewhere south of the Tweed.

The only problems I can see regarding this strategy are…

  1. Scotland would be without a Parliament. It would be very sad, but surely it’s better for 84% of the UK to be properly represented than a mere 8%. One measure to solve this could be that we divide them up into regions and appoint an English MP to be their First Minister. This shouldn’t present a problem.
  2. I can’t think which part of the UK would be stupid enough to put up with second (or should that be forth) rate services to pay for it. Maybe Northern Ireland and Wales could work it out between themselves.

Unless anyone can see any other downsides, I think we should get in touch with Alex ASAP.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Postcode Lottery Confuses Opposition Minister

The Press Association have circulated a story on Tory anger over what is obviously a postcode lottery for ambulance response times.

The story was picked up by the nationals and mostly repeated ad verbatim. The News of the World however, helpfully listed “The 20 Worst Trusts in BRITAIN”. I was concerned to see that Buckinghamshire was listed the 12th worst out of 150 Trusts in the COUNTRY.

Stephen O'Brien, Shadow Health Minister said: "It is a damning indictment of Labour's treatment of our NHS that ambulance provision varies so widely ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Alan Johnson has clearly not got a grip on the NHS.”

…and Mr O’Brian, like most in Fleet Street, has clearly not got a grip on what constitutes “Britain”, the “English NHS”, the “whole of the country” or Labour’s NHS policies.

We are talking about ENGLAND! Alan Johnson has very much got a grip on “the NHS”; it is not an indictment of Labour… this is how it was designed to be!

If Mr O’Brian needs any more clues, he should read Simon Heffer’s article in the Telegraph. He hits the nail on the head when he says “Two Labour heartlands, Scotland and Wales, were offered their own assemblies. There is no prospect of an English parliament, even though it deserves one”

Friday, 22 February 2008

Museum will celebrate England’s most elaborate gift to the world

"The English Project — which is due to open in 2012, as part of the Olympics cultural programme, with support from the British Library and the BBC among others — will aim to deepen our knowledge and understanding of... the English language."

OK, we're talking about the language and not the nation. I'm surprised however that the Government has allowed a public body to address England's cultural contribution to the world. Maybe there's hope, or maybe Brown has not noticed yet.

What are the odds that it will be "Britain's" contribution by the time it comes out? Still at least they're not calling it "regionish" or "this countryish"...yet!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Ken Clarke rejects English Grand Committee

As reported in Scotland, Wales and Conservative Home, Ken Clarke has poured cold water on the idea of an English Grand Committee. An EGC was suggested by Malcolm Rifkind to pass England-only laws, and it was described as “elegant” by David Cameron.

But Clarke yesterday advocated a simpler alternative would be to identify a small amount of legislation that only affected England, and allow only English MPs to vote. He said “I don’t believe this argument that it’s not possible to identify a comparatively small amount of legislation that is totally English.” and added, “I think there is a parliamentary problem that needs to be addressed by Parliament, before what is a niggle becomes worse.”

The Conservatives accept devolution for the Scotland Wales and NI, but cannot agree on how to answer the English “niggle”. The message seems to be, you need an Assembly if you’re a nation of 2-3 million, a full Parliament if you’re a nation of 5 million, but you don’t even need a committee if you’re a nation of 50 million, because there’s a “comparatively small amount of legislation”.

Thanks Ken, I suppose giving us equal status with the Scots and Welsh, ie a full English Parliament will be out of the question then?