Maths at 18

Maths at 18

Sunak has proposed that Maths should be taught to 18. I think this ambition i.e. of better equipping people to understand data and draw conclusions needs redesign earlier in the curriculum and would be informed by a study in the UK’s failure to adopt the Baccalaureate. Some say that they’ll need more [and better paid] teachers, which they seem unwilling to fund. I think this is just revisiting failed reforms of the last half century. I seem to remember some nonsense in the 70’s about scientists in the Civil Service, and after a bit of looking around came upon this review of the Fulton Report; it made little difference.

A common question has been how much have I used my A level and 1st year graduate statistics education. The answer is a bit. Linear & Quadratic correlation has been useful a couple of times, queuing theory at least once, and I had to mug up some hypothesis testing for that one project I did using 6 sigma. More than most maybe. Although at least once, my then manager’s own poor statistical education led to him putting it in the bin, because he didn’t have the confidence to sell the results.

Simon Pegg on twitter is more succinct and sweary in his defence of the need for arts.

When doing the 6-sigma project I discovered that many of the distribution tables needed to perform the statistical tests were encapsulated in costly software. I amused myself by bringing in my uni. text book, which had the distributions printed but which was older than many of my colleagues. They had remained useful, the tables that is, and I still have the book on my book shelf.

For my foreign audience, in the UK, students from 16-18 study 3-5 subjects often reducing their subjects studied at the end of the 1st year. There isn’t really room to push Maths into that time table if a student has made otherwise sensible contiguous choices. This is supported imposed by the Universities who claim that early specialisation leads to our graduates being better qualified at the end of the first degree. I suspect that most US university academics would disagree, For my British readers, the early specialisation, at 16, is unusual, with other countries using other curriculum design techniques to provide a broad 16-18 education. Also the fact of a Prime Minster in the 21st Century educated at University in Greek and Latin must have been a source of amusement to the French graduates of the Ecole National d’Administration, an amusement enlarged by calling it Greats!

All this on the day when Starmer flags his second thoughts on Labour’s promise of abolishing student tuition fees.  …

Polling Leads over time

Labour’s current lead in the polls is suggesting that there will be a Labour landslide at the next election but I made a chart of the polling history of Westminster election intentions since 1984. This is an attempt to put this in historical context.

The history of UK Polling data for Westminster elections; from 1984

As of today Labour would seem at elections to underperform its polling results. Some say this is down to low turnout.

I was interested answering two questions, the first is that no Party with such a large polling lead has ever lost the following election. This would seem to be false. Johnson threw away a huge lead and while it took Blair over two parliaments, his lead fell from a max of 39% to -14%. Only Blair and Johnson have had leads over 20%. Only Major, Brown and Sunak have increased their party’s polling lead. The other question is about whether the allegation that Corbyn was substantially less popular than Labour deserved.

I have made an Open-Hi-Lo-Close chart of the PM’s leads and added Corbyn. To truly understand if Corbyn was worse than others, I’d have to show the other Labour leaders.

To remind us how to read these charts, if the entry is black, then the lead fell, the opening value is the top of the box, and the close value the bottom. If the box is white, then the value increased and the open value is the bottom of the box, and the final lead the top of the box. The lines above and below the box illustrate the high and low values, which in the case of Truss and Sunak are the same as the open/close values. Blair’s high number above the opening value was achieved on day one, and illustrates the difference between the poll and the general election vote. (I wish I could add red and blue colours to the chart, but it’s a restriction on the tool.) I’d say Corbyn while not good, was not appalling at least that’s what the number’s say, although he had become an issue by 2019.

It seems that Redfield and Wilton have also produced a chart, but only for the last 18 months. These numbers come from my interpretation of’s poll tracker, using the Guardian ICM numbers from 1984 to 2016. My spreadsheet is here. …

On Labour Conference representation for CLPs

On Labour Conference representation for CLPs

At Conference 2022, the rules on CLP representation was changed and this will impact representation at regional conferences too.

This is Rule, C3.I.1.B which now says, (non-italics is the new text, strikethrough is deleted,)

Delegates duly appointed by CLPs to the number of one delegate for the first 749 individual members in the constituency or part thereof paying their membership dues as of 31 December in the previous year, and one further delegate for every additional 250 individual members in the constituency or part thereof. No CLP shall be represented by more than 6 delegates in any given year. CLPs must also have paid any outstanding insurance premiums and other levies due before their delegation shall be accepted. To increase the representation of women at Party conference, at least every second delegate from a CLP shall be a woman; where only one delegate is appointed this must be a woman at least in every other year. In a year where a CLP is required to send a female delegate, following a male delegate in the preceding year, but is unable to find one, they will not be entitled to send a man as delegate. In the following year, permission may be granted to send a male delegate if they demonstrate to the conference arrangements committee that they have made every effort to seek a woman delegate.

Labour Rules C3.I.1.B

Paragraph C, the next rule says, bold is my emphasis.

Where the individual women’s membership in a constituency is 100 or more, an additional woman delegate may be appointed. Where the individual Young Labour membership in a constituency is 30 or more an additional delegate under the age of 27 may be appointed.

Labour Rules C3.I.1.C

I say, the woman and youth delegates are additional, so the maximum delegation size is 8, , which a CLP become entitled to at 2000 members, if they have 100 women and 30 young people. Also note that the representation rule is mathematically one delegate per 250 members.

This, “at least every second delegate from a CLP shall be a woman” is nonsense, the number of women to be elected depends on whether the number to be elected is odd, or not, and whether the first delegate elected is a woman or not.

Source: CAC 1/2022

You might like to see, Labour Conference: Delegate &-member power which looks at how representative the hand vote is, and Delegates to Conference, which explores the meaning of the conference representation rule in terms of gender quotas, both articles on my wiki. …

New Britain, new Britcon

New Britain, new Britcon

Gordon Brown’s Commission on the constitution of the UK has finished its report. Much of the press focus on the proposal to abolish/reform the House of Lords but it is much more comprehensive than that. I originally wondered if in its way it is as ambitious as the Chilean constitution that failed to win approval in 2022. On reading it fully I conclude that it is not. They do however, propose a new constitution, with entrenched individual rights, of health, education and housing and a duty of the state to ensure no-one is poor. For all their controversy in this country, these rights are commonplace around the world. I summarise the report, commenting on parliamentary sovereignty, the devolution settlements, money and cleaning up Westminster, and make a comment on their civil service reform processes. There's more overleaf. ...

Not so fast!

Not so fast!

The High Court has ruled that the Government’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda with a one-way ticket, is legal. Suella Braverman is claiming this as a victory but there is a sting in the tail of the ruling, which I have not yet read in full. The decision is reported by the BBC who quote Braverman as vowing to continue and Yvette Cooper who called the policy "unworkable, extortionate and deeply damaging", but not immoral nor criticising the hostile environment; she leaves it to Alison Thewliss, the SNP's home affairs spokesperson. PCS & Care4Calais plan to appeal, so we’ll see and of course there remains the ECtHR injunction to consider. Although the desire to manipulate international law with respect to immigration (and labour) law is bi-partisan. There's more overleaf ...

Oi! Boundary Commission, “No!”

Oi! Boundary Commission, “No!”

I have today made a submission to the Boundary Commission to rename the Constituency as “Deptford” and not “Lewisham North and Deptford”. I said, “Deptford has a proud maritime history to be remembered by the Convoy’s Wharf heritage projects. The recent and planned house building, moves the population centre of gravity towards Deptford as does the proposed loss of Hither Green and Crofton Park. Transport links within the constituency are predominately East/West to the West End, City and Kent. No one uses the name Lewisham North to describe the area, or any area.” I suggested that my second choice would be Deptford and Brockley. …

You have one wish

You have one wish

Terry Reintke MEP, posted to twitter, asking what one change would her correspondents make to the EU. Terry is a co-president of the Green/EFA European Parliamentary group and a loud advocate for welcoming the UK back into the EU. She's looking after our "Star". She is also part of the Parliament's delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation agreement. I wonder if it's met? She says,

Having to down select to only one reform, is tricky, as I say, in there’s a lot of great proposals involving extending competency into Education, Health and Energy, as well as other great . Good luck in getting it right, meanwhile it seems us Brits are changing our minds, I know you i.e. she will welcome us back, and it would help if we sought to do so with some respect and humility. I say more overleaf ...

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

This is a reaction to Kier Starmer’s speech to the CBI where he said, “But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here.” History repeats itself; I remember that Enoch Powell told his supporters to vote Labour to stop the EU, but then neither Wilson nor the 70’s left, were pandering to racism. This time, the difference is that Labour are courting that vote.

I can no longer forgive this sort of language, pouring over the text of speeches looking for good news is something I promised to stop during Ed Miliband’s leadership. It’s a language designed for the headlines he wants. It’s part of the speech where he is mainly talking about training, and training provided by business. There is absolutely no need to use this language.

This article looks at Zoe Gardner & Jonathan Portes’ reactions and I note that, this approach was trialled by Rachel Reeves in a Sky interview, immediately after Labour Party Conference.

My disgust and anger led to me proposing and winning a motion at my Constituency Labour Party and Union branch. The article quotes the motion and publicises my speech notes. I conclude, by looking at Yvette Cooper’s conference speech and note that neither Cooper, nor Starmer made any promises on the hostile environment.

Attempting to differentiate from the Tories on competence will fail both in winning the election and making things better. Labour needs to offer hope and needs a movement to sustain it through the inevitable push backs that will occur. Pandering to racism won’t do that. I say more overleaf.

Trade Friction and free movement.

I co-authored this, published at Brexit Spotlight by Another Europe.

It is little wonder then that the Conservatives are under acute pressure to revise their trading arrangements with the EU in order to re-open access the European single market. But it seems likely that – at least for the time being – Brexit ideology will not allow any serious recognition of the economic reality.    …