Musings of a Guardianista

I have a few minutes to spare today so I’ve been browsing the Guardian website and come across some interesting stories about which I thought I’d throw my two-penny’s worth in:

  • Royal Ascot  have gone in for a much stricter dress code this year. Complications about dress suitability aside, I was very impressed to see so many well turned-out blokes in the photo. I think it’s a real shame that men’s formal dress is so often only the reserve of occasions such as weddings, and that even just donning a tie, without necessarily accompanying it with a suit, is now seen as over the top in so many situations. I love formal dress and would love to be able to wear a suit and tie and maybe even a waistcoat more often (and yes, even on occasion a morning suit) without it being seen as eccentric, stuffy or odd. I came across this blog recently about dressing well on a budget, and it convinces me even more that I could and should be allowed to make the effort – it won’t break the bank! It’s got me thinking I might try to take TractorGirl to Ascot next year, if only to dress up  🙂

 

  •  The education secretary, Michael Gove, has in his infinite (lack of) wisdom decided that GCSEs, introduced in the first place by a Conservative government, should be dropped in favour of a return to a two-tier system of  ‘O’-Levels and CSEs.  I think he’s got it into his head that if everything looks like it did in the 1950s then everything will be alright, and he seems to have forgotten (or chosen to ignore, or seeks to encourage) the inequalities seen back then, with people’s futures resting on their 11+.  I don’t think a return to that, especially in a de-industrialised, knowledge-based economy, will help achieve anything other than intrenching privillage, and I say this as someone who would have ‘benefitted’ from the grammar school system. Comprehensive education is far from perfect, as the article acknowledges, but it’s preferable to a system that brands people failures and further reduces social mobility at a time when university reforms are pulling the ladder up and away from people from backgrounds like mine – ordinary working-class.

 

  • The Guardian have been running a series called ‘Breadline Britain’ on the impact of the cuts to the welfare state.  I know that there is a deficit and the country doesn’t have an endless supply of money, but it’s come to something if we can’t afford to care properly for the most vulnerable in our society, and if there has to be assessment for disability benefit, how hard can it be to ensure that the providers (ATOS – Welcome to the Paralympics!) actually perform such things competently and fairly, instead of being incentivised to declare people fit for work who are clearly not, especially those with mental health issues? It seems that the government really believes that people who are unemployed, sick, disabled or just poor only have themselves to blame. How can Cameron, who is supposedly a Christian, so readily lose sight of what it means that each and every person is made in the image of God? Contray to what his New Right ideology says, everyone is equally valuable in the eyes of God; policy should reflect that by genuinely caring for the most vulnerable.  I also don’t see how a system built on suspicision helps anyone – my own (thankfully limited) experience of the benefits system showed me how dehumanising it can be, and that was before this government got hold of it and made things much worse. Moreover, Cameron slating Jimmy Carr for the tax avoidance which costs a lot more than benefit fraud(!) has to be a case of pot calling kettle black if ever there was one!

 

  • Interesting comments from someone who works for the FSA. I don’t feel I can comment too much given who I work for, but I will say that his is not the only environment with dress-down Fridays and smart dress at other times, and in which a work-life balance is possible. Moreover, there are good reasons why the FSA commands little respect…

 

  • It’s raining in Milton Keynes… and I ought to do some work! 🙂