In Praise of League Tables

When I was a teacher I despised League Tables. I thought they distorted the curriculum and moved focus away from the needs of the children to the fetishes of the politicians. Today I have to reconsider.

I still think that school league tables are, at best, a distraction and, at worst, a disaster. A recent article in the Independent, however, has shown me that they can have real value in highlighting real problems.

This article

UK most unequal country in the West

shows us that we ar sliding down the league table of equality.  According to Geoffrey Lean and Graham Ball the gap between rich and poor in the Uk is as great as that in Nigeria. The poor in the UK have an overall better income than the poor in Nigeria but the gap is similar.

We come below Jamaca, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and are twice as bad as Sri Lanka or Ethiopia. That’s a depressing picture, but does it constitute a problem?

Well Michael Bruno of the World Bank believes that inequality hinders growth. Reducing inequality would boost growth. We have a government that claims to be trying to boost growth. They are simultaneously increasing inequality.

Now, either the government do not know what thy are doing and our growth is being restricted by incompetence or they are perfectly aware of the consequences and still plough ahead with policies that boost the rich and depress the poor.

Which do you think it is?

What the Coalition Sees Fit

I read, with considerable interest, the Daily Mail account of how Joan Edwards’ bequest to the nation was , somehow, diverted into the coffers of the two parties that form our Coalition Government.

Miss Edwards lef about half a million pounds to “whichever government is in office at the date of my death for the government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit.” There is no mention of a political party which is in power (in contrast with the account given by party spin doctors). The executors of the will sent the money to the coalition.

What did they consider using the money for? What did they, in their absolute discretion, do with the money, the whole of her estate? They divided it between the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Presumably miss Edwards made the will before the last election and assumed that a British Government, in their ‘absolute discretion’, would put the money to good use, for the benefit of the nation they are pledged to serve. Unfortunately, that’s not the sort of government we have in power at the present time.

Critics of the government can make all sorts of arguments about the economic policies of the government, dismal as they are, or comment on their treatment of the poor. Nothing they say can condemn this shallowexcuse for a government so completely as their own actions in this matter. What sort of people are they? This sad episode exposes exactly the self-obsessed, money grabbing, untrustworthy politicians who give the profession such a bad name.

Politics in the UK has sunk to an unfathomable low today. What are people to think of anyone in politics? A dark shadow of mistrust has been cast over the whole of Westminster by a crowd of pickpockets. What do you think the chances of retrieving the money are? I don’t give it much hope.