The compilation and release of ethnicity data by the Government is of course to be welcomed. The irony of course is that Tory policies have consistently compounded the social drivers for many of the alarming “headline points” from the data, and the double whammy is that the current administration are probably the least well equipped for a long time to act on any recommendations for “explanation or change” stemming from the data release due to its own weaknesses.
The debate too in the media appears to be characterised by a narrow focus on personal and “petty” racism. These are institutional and structural issues and as such require a focused and structural response. This has to come from the top.
Deryck Browne, chief executive, African Health Policy Network
I read with total agreement the letter from Peter Cave (When it comes to tackling racial inequality, Theresa May is ignoring privilege) as the present inequality within British society is not only a moral and ethical slur upon us all, it is also a situation that will inevitably lead to an explosion of violence in order to relieve the growing tension.
But, alas, we came to the inevitable Socialist enigma at the end. It seems that to solve the problem of inequality, everybody must be on the same low standard of care, income, housing and education. This is the nonsense of the endless carping about “privilege” coming from the extreme left of politics.
What society seeks is that everybody should enjoy satisfactory housing, a working healthcare system and a good education, along with the ability to take a few holidays and enjoy their leisure time. The problem is not to be solved simply by ending private education and healthcare, but by making the need for such things obsolete in the light of the care and education provided to all.
Cave cannot fill the bulk of his letter extolling the virtues of a private education, and then demand that it is scrapped. Along this path lies the lowering of standards to get into university to make it “fairer” for the state system to compete!
To paraphrase the great Bernard Levin, it’s not that the rich must be made to eat jam sandwiches out of sheer spite, but that the union members want to be able to afford a roast. Let us raise standards, not lower them.
Make America’s trees great again
Fires have devastated large areas of California laying waste to millions of trees. A beetle is in the process of destroying eight billion (yes, billion) ash trees across the US. With these environmental and human tragedies comes an opportunity for Trump to re-skill the angry unemployed or under-employed who insist on supporting him.
By retraining them in forestry for clearance and replanting, in timber processing for creating a strategic reserve of construction material, and in carpentry for making use of the wood for homes, some good can come from these disasters. This will also help the environment as young trees grow and soak up carbon.
And think of all the tweets this could generate. “So many beautiful, American trees. And it was my idea. You’ll love it.”
We must keep Erasmus after Brexit
At the beginning of the new academic year in Europe, it is relevant to consider Britain’s participation in Erasmus. The Erasmus Programme was designed to foster international exchange, supporting short, specialised international courses or for student exchange and longer stays in EU countries.
Having organised a successful Erasmus intensive course for over 10 years, with staff and students from many EU countries, we can appreciate the value of these opportunities for international communication and mutual understanding in an increasingly fragmented world.
The Erasmus Programme is 30 years old this year, and is expanding as Erasmus+ to cover vocational as well as higher-education students. Over 30 years, an estimated 600,000 people from the UK studied, trained or volunteered abroad through Erasmus.
However it is questionable as to whether UK students will be able to benefit from any such exchanges in the future, as the Government has agreed to support the programme only until Britain’s exit from the EU.
What is Great Britain doing to celebrate 30 years of Erasmus? Abandoning it? Britain must remain a partner in this programme so that British students will not be disadvantaged in a rapidly changing world.
Dr LG Briarty (ex University of Nottingham)
Professor G Perbal (ex Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris)
Professor D Volkmann (ex University of Bonn)
Oxford banning the Christian Union from a freshers’ fair is misguided
If Balliol College wishes to deny the Christian Union from the freshers’ fair on the grounds that it would be alienating for students of other religions or make them feel unwelcome, perhaps the college should so deny all groups and cancel the freshers’ fair as one could argue that individuals who have no interest in any of the groups could feel alienated.
As a former student who attended the freshers’ fair at university I would say that while most groups wanted me to join their activity it was the Christian Union that took an interest in me as a person to help me feel welcome and settle into the alien environment of the university.
It is hard to see why the college’s action is not blatant discrimination, especially in a Christian country. Will it close the college chapel for the same reason?
Athletes are not dogs
So, according to Mike Miller of the World Olympians Association, athletes are to be treated like dogs! At least, that is his justification for microchipping athletes to catch drugs cheats. As a nation of dog lovers, he argues, microchipping does them no harm, so why should we not microchip ourselves?
This is not only demeaning to athletes, but also disproportionate and, prima facie, a breach of their human rights to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.
However laudable fighting doping in sport might be, the end, in the present case, does not justify the means!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw