Readers respond to the US immigration policy where children are being separated from their parents
Your article about President Trump’s defence of an immigration policy that separates children from parents (US will not be ‘migrant camp like Europe’, declares Trump, 19 June 18) could have stressed the power of fear. Attorney general Jeff Sessions’ guidelines for granting asylum to immigrants is a gross injustice that is not supported by facts. He states that “…claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum”. My research documents how the false propaganda of fear is used to discriminate against people and harm some groups. Mr Sessions draws on sensationalised and false fear of immigrants, who have been pilloried by Donald Trump (as criminals, rapists and drug dealers), to deny them asylum as they flee very real fears of being murdered by spouses, organised crime and criminal gangs. It is unfortunate, illogical, and embarrassing that such “fake fears” are guiding our immigration policy and contributing to the suffering of thousands of women and children seeking refuge. David L Altheide Regents’ professor emeritus, Arizona State University
• I am a horrified US citizen. I urge all living outside the US to boycott it entirely. I urge you not to buy US products; I urge you not to visit or do business in or with the US; and I urge you to encourage family, friends and colleagues to do the same. It’s bad enough that the US has created the very circumstances that have forced millions of migrants to seek a safer place to live because their own countries have been ravaged by war, looting of natural resources and destruction of their governments. Now, the US is using the Bible as an excuse to take children from their families, deport parents without returning their children to them, and losing them in the system. Our Health and Human Services Department acknowledges having lost 1,500 children and, by their own admission, these children may very well have been lost to child sex traffickers.
Question Time is a tetchy show for a tetchy nation. For our sanity, I say we replace one benevolent ringmaster with another
With a calm authority in his timbre and a cheeky twinkle in his eye, David Dimbleby – the nation’s Dumbledore – has expertly guided the show through its golden age, harnessing all the rage and energy of modern Britain into an improbably palatable hour of weekly TV.
How can it possibly go on without him? The runners and riders are already in place: Kirsty Wark is the bookies’ favourite, Emily Maitlis is not far behind, and Samira Ahmed has boldly applied for the role via Twitter. There are surprisingly few male names being mentioned, with Maria Miller MP – the chair of the parliamentary women and equalities select committee – leading calls for the BBC to appoint a woman to the role for the first time.
Being hit by the bedroom tax is bad enough, but losing your sickness benefits too is even harder
Back in 2014, armed with only a laptop and phone, disabled campaigners started a hunt for the truth. As policies including the bedroom tax, the abolition of disability living allowance, and the rollout of controversial out-of-work sickness benefits hit, War on Welfare (Wow) called on the coalition government to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of the wave of disability cuts to measure the effect on disabled people. It resulted in a debate in parliament – the first time disabled people had secured a debate in the main chamber of the House of Commons – but no action.
Now, four years on, Wow has gained the backing of a cross-party coalition that wants Theresa May’s government to calculate the overall impact of the so-called welfare reformson disabled people. Every party except the Conservatives is in favour of a Commons debate on conducting this assessment, including the DUP. In light of the pressure over Northern Irish abortion reform, their support for detailed analysis of the impact of Tory disability cuts is another awkward clash between May and the DUP’s 10 MPs propping up her administration. But more than that, it’s a sign of hope that ministers may have to finally investigate just what damage their disability cuts are causing – from the social care crisis to cuts to multiple parts of the NHS, to the disastrous rollout of universal credit; now delayed for an extra year until 2023.
“I believe that in the North Atlantic treaty lies the best, if not the only hope of peace.” Not my words, but the words of Lord Hastings Ismay, former military assistant to Winston Churchill and the very first secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).
In the same 1952 broadcast, Ismay predicted “that there will be persistent efforts to drive a wedge between us” and “that we shall have our little quarrels”. Right now, those words seem remarkably prescient.
The London march is being hollowed out by corporations, and its militant secularism excludes people of faith
Throughout June – London Pride month – corporations around the city will boast of their allegiance to the LGBT community. Walk into a Wagamama, and rainbow flags are intended to show solidarity with LGBT citizens. Barclays, Pride in London’s main sponsor, declares its support in the guise of a temporary rainbow filter on its website logo. What udon noodles and contactless payment have ever done to end homophobia will forever remain a mystery.
On the surface, London Pride celebrates the city as a place of LGBT equality. But this external display of inclusion belies a core that is routed in exclusion. Once a political protest, Pride has been commodified into a business arena cashing in on “the pink pound”. It’s hard to think of a major corporation that doesn’t have a float at the parade, with everyone from PlayStation to Costa broadcasting their dedication to LGBT customers. The relationship between gay equality and good business even dominates Pride in London’s blog forum.
Anyone who valued this vital art wouldn’t have made Boris Johnson foreign secretary
One reason to imagine that Theresa May has hidden depths is that the thought of the country’s future depending on the visible portion of her ability is so alarming. These are unsettled times, so there is comfort in the idea of a prime minister with a plan – any plan. There is a psychological incentive to suppose that May thinks beyond the end of the day; that her strategy for Brexit is more sophisticated than it looks. Because it looks like deferral of hard choices, evasion of confrontation, and Hail Mary hope that something will turn up.
May’s starchy manner helps cultivate belief in an invisible realm of calculation. Inscrutability looks enigmatic. Her rigid persona seems to invite speculation that there is another, more versatile person behind the mask. It is hard to believe that what you see on screen is really what you’d get off camera.
The £20bn Theresa May pledged will vanish before our eyes. It’s a standstill budget from a paralysed government
It’s quite an achievement to spend £20bn and leave nobody satisfied. The NHS in England is not celebrating: this is not feast after famine. The Tory right is indignant about unspecified tax rises to pay for it, or – total anathema – spendthrift borrowing for current spending. Austerity is not over, Theresa May says firmly, so all the other starved departments will see no easing of the eight-year tourniquet that is cutting off the lifeblood of public services: schools, further education, police, prisons, transport and councils. Only Boris Johnson says: “Fantastic news for NHS funding!” But the illusion of his bogus Brexit bus money is over.
Theresa May is pandering to her pro-Brexit supporters. The important public finance issue, which is unresolved, is whether to raise taxes or abandon austerity – or both
When she was interviewed on Sunday’s BBC One Andrew Marr programme, Theresa May knowingly and dishonestly suggested that leaving the European Union was the central dynamic behind her new NHS spending pledges. Having started by saying she was determined to secure the NHS’s future, she immediately invoked the shoddy Brexit campaign bus slogan of 2016 with implied approval. Then she talked about the money Britain would save by leaving the EU; finally she deliberately spoke in ways that would lead any unwary listener to assume that a so-called “Brexit dividend” was the windfall that enabled her to make the new spending pledge. Characteristically, Boris Johnson was even more mendacious, calling the pledge “a down payment on the cash we will soon get back from our EU payments”.
All of this was a lie. It disgraces Mrs May to tell such a whopper. True, by the time that she gave her speech on NHS spending on Monday, her words were rather more circumspect; the essential deception nevertheless endured. “Some of the extra funding” will come from money that now goes to the EU, she said at London’s Royal Free Hospital, “but the commitment I am making goes beyond that Brexit dividend.” That is true with bells on, since the NHS pledge dwarves any future savings on the UK’s Brexit payments.
Readers respond to Simon Jenkins’s piece on how ‘the cult of tests is ruining our schools’
“Simon Jenkins (The cult of tests is ruining our schools, 15 June) doesn’t mention the most recent proposals from the Department for Education, to introduce “baseline tests” when children enter primary school reception classes. The stated purpose of these tests is to provide measures of “progress” between reception and year 6 when children take the key stage 2 tests. Yet the overwhelming evidence is that quick and simple tests at around four years of age are very unreliable. This makes them particularly unsuitable for use as instruments for “accountability”, which, as Jenkins points out, means league tables of schools.
There is already ample evidence that the use of tests at secondary school level to create similar “value added” measures does not lead to scientifically meaningful distinctions between schools and is of very little use for parental choice of schools. In the case of primary schools, the fundamental measurement problem will be even more problematic because of the longer seven-year time lag between reception baseline and key stage 2 outcomes; and because of the much smaller number of children in each primary school in comparison to secondary schools. We urge the government to think again about this policy before it becomes a pointless and wasteful exercise. Professor Gemma Moss UCL Institute of Education, Professor Harvey Goldstein University of Bristol, Professor Pam Sammons University of Oxford, Professor Gemma Moss Director, International Literacy Centre, professor of literacy and past president of the British Educational Research Association (Bera). Members of the British Educational Research Association expert panel on assessment
Write out 100 times: the rise of obesity is about food poverty – a sponge pudding with custard is not the issue
I love the restaurant Caravan, notably its jalapeño corn bread, yet the owner, Laura Harper-Hinton, has said something with which I violently disagree: “I think schools should ban puddings. We have to tackle children’s attitude to sugar and we need a joined-up approach … Giving pudding after a main course is a travesty. I don’t know why anyone would think that was a good idea.”