Are A-levels getting easier?
Well let's just say that when nearly a third of Northern Irish students can receive an A-grade in the things, with a UK-wide average of a quarter getting As, the thing starts to look a tad suspect. Being in the top 33 or 25 per cent does not, in my books, mean you have excelled, which is what I always thought an A-grade was supposed to indicate.
Personally I have no doubt whatsoever that the A-levels my partents took were significantly harder than the ones I did, because they kept their exam papers and I was able to compare them at the time. If you've made the mistake of speaking to a recent school-leaver with lots of A-grades, you'll also be hard-pressed to understand just how they managed it with such a woeful lack of knowledge and understanding of pretty much anything.
Now, however, Matt T has produced a handy chart to help you work out what grades you'd have got had you sat the exams with today's young whippersnappers. Hurrah! Does this mean I can change my CV?
Oh, come on... (again)
It's bad enough when a teacher who supports the BNP gets sacked for their (decidedly repellant) political beliefs, despite no evidence that those beliefs were being propagated in the classroom. But suspending someone for being a right-wing Tory and writing an intermittently amusing but hardly either original or offensive article for a blog? Come off it...
The spectrum from Iain Dale on the right to Justin McKeating on the left are somewhat miffed (and Guido has the relevant correspondence here and here) - and so they should be.
It must be said that it's getting increasingly tedious how often the word "thoughtcrime" springs to mind, but it's becoming ever more common. We've got innocent Muslims being effectively accused of supporting terrorism because they've never taken to the streets with a placard stating "murder is wrong", we've got people being arrested for wearing t-shirts bearing slogans slagging off the Prime Minister, and now people having their very livelihoods threatened for a bit of (vaguely) comic exaggeration.
Hell, I may disagree with this Inigo Wilson chap's opinions - I disagree with most people's opinions. But vindictively trying to get someone fired for an opinion expressed outside of the office and in their own time is significantly more offensive than anything contained in that article. He hasn't broken the law, he hasn't incited violence or hatred, and - most importantly - unlike those who have got him suspended he hasn't harmed anyone.
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, who I don't think I've ever heard of before but who have orchestrated this little witch hunt, apparently aims to
"open an avenue for rational dialogue and re-education of the individual on the street regarding Islam and Muslims. The aim is make the all-too-common misrepresentation of Islam a thing of the past"
All very well and good - but considering that one of the most common representations of Islam is that it is intolerant of nonbelievers and far too quick to over-react when criticised, you'd think that they'd realise that by going to Wilson's employers (who, lest we forget, have nothing to do with his article or with the Conservative Home blog on which it appeared) rather than to Wilson himself or his online publishers, they've just stirred up a wonderful bit of negative PR that makes them out to be just as intolerant and quick to take offence as the "Islamophobes" they want to "re-educate" always make them out to be.
Why is it that in modern Britain the consensus seems to be that to prove your opponents wrong about you, you have to go and do precisely what your opponents accuse you of? Say the government are cutting down on civil liberties, they deny it before cutting down on civil liberties; depict muslims as violent in some cartoons, they deny they are violent before issuing death threats; accuse the Tories of having no real policy alternatives, they deny it before issuing a pamphlet
with no real policy alternatives; say the Home Office is useless, they deny it before sacking the Home Secretary and announcing the Home Office is useless.
Like Inigo Wilson's article, this is hardly an overly original or amusing observation, but Christ, it's pathetic...Update:
Having said all that, I have a moderate amount of sympathy for this take
on the matter.