Here are my cheers and jeers for this week:
Cheers this week for the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which has argued that large-scale testing is detrimental to pupils' wellbeing. The wisdom of starting testing at the age of 5 has, rightly, been contentious. While much of the debate around National Standardised Assessments has often been political, the EIS’s intervention shows the need for not simply a “review” but a new evidence-based approach to primary education.
Cheers to Billy Connelly, who talked openly about life at the age of 75 and his refusal to fear death. His explanation of “slipping away” as being an “adventure” and another aspect of a life fully lived was not just poignant – it’s a challenge to an ageist society.
Cheers for Kyrsten Sinema who, on being sworn in as the first bisexual member of the Senate (and Arizona’s first female senator), refused to use a Bible to make the oath. “I imagine Vice President Mike Pence, who administered the oath, died a little on the inside” suggested author and activist Hemant Mehta.
Cheers to Mathew Hulbert (@HulbertMathew) for agreeing to make the occasional contribution to this blog. I look forward to what he has to say. Of course, other liberal voices are also welcome...
Cheers for the Bishop of Chester, who this week had a letter published in Church Times in which he criticised the over-the-top reactions to the Church of England’s guidance on transgender people. Asserting that “being transgendered should not in principle be an impediment to being considered for ordination”, he went on to say that “the principle of the welcome to transgendered people in the life of the Church was settled some time ago”. Indeed.
Cheers to Austria, where same-sex couples can now be married. The irony that ministers from the People's Party and Freedom Party, both bitterly opposed to LGBTQ equality, were forced to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court was in itself quite delightful. Cheers also to the Austrian Green Party (Die Grünen) for their perseverance and commitment to making this a reality.
Cheers to Greggs for introducing a vegan “sausage roll”. Not only is this a much needed extension of the Gregg’s menu, it’s a welcome gesture towards vegans as well as sound business sense. Thanks!
Jeers to the many, many people who took to social media to express their outrage at Greggs’ action. Who dare anyone want a diverse menu that caters for a growing section of the population? Some of these reactions are beyond parody, believing a business responding to customer demand represents some kind of PC conspiracy - and many were highly vitriolic. For the life of me I can’t understand what there is to get so worked up about, but it does highlight the way vegans are often viewed and underlines the degree to which the outrage machine resists any progressive change, however small.
Jeers to Savid Javid for his “Dad’s Army” handling of the supposed migrants crisis and his cynical questioning of whether asylum seekers were “genuine”. He seems ignorant of the fact that the Dublin Convention directs EU member states rather than refugees themselves...
Jeers to the BBC News, which reported on the sad death of transgender activist Julia Grant by deadnaming her and referring to transitioning as “having sex changes”. The article was edited later following complaints, but it really is time they learned the basics.
Jeers also to Toby Young, who dismissed concerns raised by University vice-chancellors on the effect of a no-deal Brexit as "the usual ultra-Remainer hysteria". Jeers too to the BBC for giving credibility to the reactions of a man widely deemed to be unfit to help manage universities. That’s not “balance”...