Thursday, 28 June 2007

Petition calls for Referendum on EU Constitutional Treaty

There is Petition calling for a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty.

RJ Mansfield has set up an e-petition calling for a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty.

The wording is short and simple:
”We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to guarantee that the British people will be permitted a binding referendum on any and all attempts to resurrect the EU "constitution" (and any or all of its content) regardless of nomenclature.”

This so-called treaty is clearly and widely known to contain at least 90% of the rejected EU Constitution. It was obviously devised by Chancellor Merkel, to circumvent the constitution’s rejection by French and Dutch voters.

One wonders what those French and Dutch voters make of this betrayal of their democratically expressed will - By their own politicians.

New Labour promised there would be a referendum on the treaty. In 2004 Tony Blair said: “Let the people have the final say”. I seem to recall Labour even made a referendum on the Constitution a manifesto promise in the 2005 general election.

It is disingenuous of them (and rather insults the intelligence of us all) to try to claim that this treaty does not need a referendum – and appears to demonstrate a certain ambivalence towards the democratic process.

The Irish are to have a referendum on the treaty and make no bones about the fact that it is effectively a reworded constitution.

Much of this so-called ‘treaty’ has already been rejected. It has no legitimate mandate as things stand and is so far reaching it needs a specific endorsement from the electorate.

Let Gordon Brown know that he can’t just hope the matter will blow over, If you don’t want to be completely disenfranchised in the matter then please sign the petition.

Teacher's say mobile phones are weapons

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), a UK teaching union, is calling for mobile phones to be classified as ‘potentially offensive weapons.’

Chris Keates, their general secretary said that pupils were using them to bully their teachers and they should be banned from school premises on those grounds.

She had evidence of over 100 teachers being bullied by phone, email, or online and is worried that sites such as Ratemyteacher and Bebo which, provide a vehicle for false allegations and abuse by pupils which can damage teachers' self esteem and careers.

Stating: "These sites are fed by pupils' misuse of mobile phones. The time has come for mobiles in schools to be placed in the category of a potentially offensive weapon and action taken to prevent their use by pupils while on school premises.”.

I don’t imagine anyone reasonable would take issue with preventing their “use by pupils while on school premises”. Use of phones in class would not appear, at first sight, to be exactly conducive to learning.

However given the fact that the government is cracking down on cyber bullies and has given teachers the power to confiscate mobile phones, also one presumes individual schools could and should make use of the phones in class against the rules any way - why are the NASUWT raising the matter in this way?.

One also wonders what practical use this would all be anyway. How would it stop bullying outside of school hours? A site can probably be more easily be accessed from home than school?

As for ‘offensive weapons’. UK law already classifies anything that is used as an offensive weapon as an offensive weapon. Though in this case the phones are not actually really being used as a weapon in the normal sense at all, but then there is also the offence of ’Harassment’ that would be applicable.

Still, one can understand teachers might be reluctant to use the law to handle what they may see as a matter of discipline and one has some sympathy for the NASUWT. They always opposed the abolition of corporal discipline in schools.

From recollection, whatever your ‘moral’ stance on the subject, this was a teacher’s only actually effective means of control in their arsenal. Just knowing it was there was enough 99% of the time. Now pupils know teachers have no real sanctions, from their point of view.

Unfortunately for the NASUWT, after vigorous and vocal campaigning against corporal discipline by the ‘Fluffy Bunny Squad’ - particularly the teachers' pressure group STOPP (Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment), abetted by the National Council for Civil Liberties and around half of NUT (National Union of Teachers) branches, a ban was imposed in all UK state schools in 1986, it was extended to private schools in 1998.

A survey, carried out by FDS International for The Times Educational Supplement has found that a significant majority of parents believe pupil behaviour had declined since then and over half were in favour of the return of corporal discipline in schools.

It is worth noting, that the argument against corporal discipline, was largely along the lines that; if you treat children violently (and opponents classified corporal discipline as violent), it will produce a violent society.

Interestingly, though corporal discipline has not really been used in schools since 1987, violence and discipline problems appear to have become much worse since then and to a greater problem now than ever.

One has to wonder how still apocalyptically worse it might have become, had the cane not been banned…