Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cameron is right for the wrong reasons on Jean-Claude Juncker

David Cameron is quite right to try and block Jean-Claude Juncker's candidadacy for president of the European Commission, but his reasons for blocking the candidacy are wrong.
The Commission is a powerful body and part of the legislative process of the European Union. It is not democratically accountable to the people of Europe. It would therefore be legitimate for Cameron to argue that the powers of the Commission should be removed and it should act like a civil service for Europe, in which case the position as president would not be so important.
On the other hand if Cameron does not want to do this he should make the case for the president of the Commission to be directly elected by and accountable to the people of the European Union. This would reduce the democratic deficit between the institutions of Europe and the people.

By arguing as he does, that the position of president should be determined by secret negotiation in closed rooms is an affront to democracy and Cameron will deservedly lose that argument.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Grammar Schools - if only!

A hundred and thirty-six grammar schools were founded during the long reign of Elizabeth I, another 83 under James I, 59 under Charles I, and 80 under Charles II.   Many of these foundations failed over time, but Christopher Wase, who set out upon a national survey of grammar schools in 1673, found 704 in existence at that date.
A boy normally entered grammar school aged seven or eight, and stayed there another six or seven years if he was to complete his education.   His school day began at six or seven in the morning, and continued until five, or in summer time six, in the evening, with breaks for breakfast and dinner.   This regime was varied by between five and eight weeks holiday a year, although holiday tasks might be set.