Monday 16 January 2023

Conservative and Unionist Party hoisting the union on a Trans Petard

The full name of the party that is in Government in Westminster is the Conservative and Unionist Party. However, today that took a shocking step that may well rock or even split up that union.

It is being announced that the Scottish Secretary will this evening inform the Scottish First Minister that tomorrow he will take the legal steps to invoke a Section 35 which allows Westminster to overturn a piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. This is something that has never been done in the 25 years of the Socttish Parliament. 

The piece of legislation that it is seeking to overturn is the Gender Recognition Bill that was passed with an overwhelming vote of 67% of MSPs voting in favour. The breakdown by party was

  • All 4 Lib Dem MSPs in favour (100%)
  • All 7 Green MSPs in favour (100%)
  • 21 out of 22 Labour MSPs in favour (95%)
  • 54 out of 64 SNP MSPs in favour (84%)
  • 2 out of 31 Conservative MSPs in favour (6%)
So as you can see every party in Scotland bar one was overwhelmingly in favour. The fact that the Westminster Conservative Government is now going to block this going to Royal Assent is a political football being played in an increasingly right wing leaning Conservative party. The language that the party has been using on assylum seekers, Trans peoples, workers rights to strike and protest are all now looking more and more authoritarian. 

However, by invoking section 35 for the first time in history this is also piling up gunpowder under the very Union itself in a way which unlike Guy Fawkes may explode the union. It is such a minor piece of legislation in the grand scheme of things, but it opens a flood gate and leads to a slippery slope. At a time when those who want another independence referendum are already heated, the act of stopping a Scottish Act gaining Royal Assent just might push many who were agnostic to Scotland's independence into the independence camp.

The worse thing is that the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Bill has no actual impact on UK-wide equality legislation, this was pointed out in the wording of the Bill itself. It is only impacting the right to change your gender on your birth certificate and only impacts those who wish to do so not anyone else. We in the UK do not currently* need to carry our birth certificates around with us. 

The Secretary of State of Scotland also calls for there to be more consideration of this. However, there was already 6 years of public consultion into this bill it was not rushed, what is rushed in the UK Government's response.

Yet this is the petard upon which the Westminster Government is prepared to hoist the Union.

It is laughable that the West Lothian Question which caused Tam Dalyell great ethical quandry over Scottish devolution will pale into comparison to what today has become the Westminster Question. What is a Secretary of State for Scotland opposes the will of a supermajority of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

By saying currently the more right wing, authoritarian and dare I say facist the Conservative Party are becoming me may well start to single out individuals and groups of individuals may not be far off.


Wednesday 4 January 2023

Maths post 16 years old


So Rishi Sunak thinks that maths should be taught to all young people up to the age of 18. Now I do have an O'level in Maths, plus one in Additional Maths, an A'Level in Maths, plus as part of my Economics degree did guide a lot of maths/statistics. So I would say I know a fair amount about the type of maths that is taught after the age of 16 as in some form or other I was being taught maths up until the age of 22. My late father also had a degree in maths.

I have laid out my maths qualifications here to show the level of expertise I have on the issue of maths. I know that some out there in this post expertise required age will argue that I don't know what I'm talking about, but thats the nature of knowledge these days.

On top of this I have 2 nephews both post 16 years old and a niece currently in secondary education. Each of them have different experience of maths through their schooling as well. So with all the agrued experience within our family is maths really something that needs to be taught to everyone after the age of 16.

Most of the maths that most careers need for every day use is that which is taught up to the age of 16. Additional maths, A'level and anything you are taught at university are more specialised for the decipline you are studying or more complex maths. If you go into a career that works with numbers yes you will need to know the principles behind many of the more complex maths, especially when you have to set up a spreadsheet or a data base programme that needs to calculate something. Excel or other programmes may be good but the better the maths of the person working it the more complex the functionality can become. For this I also worked as a global data analyst for a call centre with all sorts of contingency built in, some of our worksheets will still be funtional long after we are gone, for example, working out set public holidays (Easter is a little more awkward).

My nephew are a mixture one is science base the other more artistic. Both were good at maths, both got decent result in their GCSE but both knew the path they wanted to travel. For one maths fitted into the sciences for the other it didn't fit in. Does that decision make one of them less useful going into adulthood? No! As for my neice she struggles with maths, something that I know a lot of people do, these are probably the proportion of people that the Prime Minister wants to educate more in maths.

So while I can do matrix algebra, complex statistical equaltions with x constants and other stuff that would blow your mind this isn't going to help your hairdresser, car mechanic, beautician or bricklayer. They all just want to do a BTEC after the age of 16.

Post 16 education needs to remain a mix of academic split into sciences and humanities, and vocational. The vocataional courses will include what maths is required within those professions but that maths isn't what is stardardly taught at 16 year. No young person over the age of 16 should be enslved into the level of maths that someone Winchester educated, with an Oxford First in PPE and Fulbright Scholar who went on to become an investment banker before turning to politics thinks helped him. This is how out of touch with ordinary people, ordinary work and day to day life the richest Prime Minister in our nations history is.