Friday, 26 February 2010

No common sense please; we’re talking about, well you know….

This Tuesday the world as we know it cam to an end, well it did if you are an ‘activist’ on either side of the ugly row over how sex education is delivered in British schools.

The liberals think the sky has come crashing down because the government has caved in to pressure from faith groups and ‘watered down’ plans to teach children about sexual relationships by framing part of what they say with the beliefs of their particular creed; conservatives, meanwhile are still in the most frightful tizzy about the dread word S*E*X even being mentioned in a classroom context. Everybody knows babies are deposited under gooseberry bushes by the stork and anyone who says any different is a danger to the nation’s morals.

I surprised myself this week by simultaneously feeling sympathy for Schools minister Ed Balls and recognising him as speaking, for once with the voice of common sense, when he told the BBC’s Today programme that the amendment to the bill allowed faith schools to say, for example ‘we as a religion believe contraception is wrong’, but not to turn a reasonable statement of a faith based position into a refusal to discuss the subject at all.

This, despite the best efforts of several campaign groups who really should know better to say otherwise, is by no means a charter for unrestrained bigotry, its merely the sort of compromise sensible people make in order to get on with the business of living in harmony.

Unfortunately whenever the subject of sex rears its head all common sense seems to go out of the window. I well remember my own school sex education lessons, or lesson since we only ever had one. We were all herded into the school hall at the age of about twelve and sat down in front of a television programme that began with some bad cartoon images of unidentified body parts and a stentorian voice intoning ‘boys and girls are different’ and didn’t go into much more detail about the subject over the forty minutes that followed. Frankly we’d have probably learnt more about sexual relations from watching an episode of the Benny Hill Show.

There is a serious problem here, the discussion about a vital issue, namely how we teach our young people that there is more than one type of relationship and that it is better to wait until you’ve abandoned childish things once and for all before entering into any of them, has become totally divorced from reality. Both sides have adopted extreme positions from which they refuse to retreat for the sake of their collective ego.

Let’s be honest, ignorance about sex does not automatically lead to chastity, a liberal acceptance that young people by their very nature will want to experiment with relationships has to be backed by a recognition that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Worst of all the ugly squabble about sex education allows a very British belief that sex is either smutty fun or a cause of toe curling embarrassment that should have been consigned to the dustbin of history long ago to be endlessly perpetuated.

What young people need is to be given the fact about sexual relations that will allow them to make informed decisions and the moral courage to ignore peer pressure and wait for the right person and circumstances. They will never get that until the debate about how the subject is taught in schools becomes more mature that it is at present.

Ban the bomb and build a better future.

Britain’s former top soldier Sir Richard Dannatt, now a defence advisor to the Conservative Party, has said the government was right to renew the Trident missile system ‘but only on a very narrow points decision.’

He went on to say that none of the three main parties had much enthusiasm for maintaining the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent and things might be different in five years time.

Five years; just who do we think we’re deterring with this relic of the cold war right now?

Our troops are fighting a very hot war in Afghanistan without the equipment they need and facing huge casualties as a result, at home the public purse strings are being tightened to breaking point and even more swinging cuts are promised for after the election, if either Labour or the Tories want to cut the deficit and regain a little public trust after what looks like being the most angry election in British political history they would be wise to scrap this monument to cold war hubris and invest the money saved in building for the future.

And another thing:

After a week of rumours and revelations I’m more or less convinced there is not so much a grain as a whole darned boulder of truth in the stories about Gordon Brown’s volcanic temper.

He was; of course, wrong to take his frustrations out on his aides and hurling mobile phones around like a stroppy toddler does little to add lustre to the office of state once held by Gladstone and Churchill. Spare a thought though for the two Downing Street employees who phoned the National Bullying Helpline only to have their concerns passed, admittedly anonymously, on to the media. Isn’t betraying their trust also a form of bullying?

Full marks to UKIP MEP Nigel Farage who this week scandalised the stuffy European Parliament by describing EU President Herman Von Rumpoy as having the ‘charisma of a wet rag’ and looking like ‘a second rate bank clerk.’

His outburst may have got him cast into outer darkness so far as Brussels is concerned, but Farage, who plans to stand against commons speaker John Bercow at the general election, could cut a real dash at Westminster. If only because he would have the time of his life popping the inflated egos of his fellow parliamentarians like so many cheap balloons.

And finally, Cheryl Cole is to split for her footballer husband Ashley after he was caught playing away yet again.

She’s the nation’s sweetheart and determined to make it big in America; he’s a fading footballer with a charming habit of texting naked pictures of himself to female fans, anyone surprised that their union has ended in the divorce courts is going to be in for a real shock if they ever find out what bears get up to in the woods.

1 comment:

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