Monday, January 27, 2014

Rugby joins ranks of the politically correct with 'no winners' rules for children

Rugby union would seem to be one of the least likely games to be influenced by political correctness.

But the sport has risked damaging its macho image, with new rules being brought in insisting children’s “mini rugby” teams can no longer play to win.

The changes are being introduced by Surrey Rugby, a constituent body of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), for those in the six to 11 age group.

Under the rules, teams must also be “mixed ability”, and must be weakened if they are winning too easily and there must be no overall winner.

The scheme has provoked anger from many in the game. Simon Halliday, an ex-England international and board member at Esher rugby club, told the Financial Times: “We are appalled and have withdrawn from all Surrey rugby competition.

“In sport there are winners and losers. As long as you don’t demean the loser, it’s straightforward.”

Mini-rugby was developed in the 1970s to encourage children to take up the sport. They tend to play on smaller pitches, in smaller teams and with smaller balls.

The rules vary depending on the age group, but have always been scaled back to make it less physical than the adult game. However, the new changes being introduced in Surrey have led to accusations that children are being mollycoddled.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “This is a depressing confirmation of the stranglehold these misguided ideas have on our education system in the broadest sense, and it will betray generations of children.

“This is not in the interests of children. It will rob them of motivation and incentive, and does not prepare them for the real world.

“If you talk to five- or 10-year-olds they like competitive sport because children are naturally competitive.”

Mr McGovern, a retired head teacher who coached sport for 35 years added: “Rugby is a competitive sport by definition, otherwise it isn’t rugby it is just exercise.

“Children can learn from failure and they have to lose sometimes. These new rugby rules are misplaced and out-of-date, because in the 21st century our children have to compete in a global market.”

Surrey Rugby refused to discuss the new policy and referred all inquiries to the RFU.

Steve Grainger, the RFU’s development director, said: “It’s a fine line – when you allow the experience to be driven by what the adults want rather than what the kids want.

“If we are not meeting children’s needs and not presenting them with a format that suits them, we are not delivering to our customers.”

The governing body is keen to increase the sport’s popularity on the back of next year’s Rugby World Cup, which England is hosting.

Prominent internationals who came up through the mini rugby system include Jeremy Guscott, Jeff Probyn and Ben Clarke.


You can't park here... you're not fat enough

By Richard Littlejohn

Two stories stood out for me this week. Both are damning indictments of modern Britain and proof positive of the idiocy of the soft-headed, socialist imbeciles who run so much of what passes for our ‘world class public services’.

The first comes from Walsall, where obese motorists are being issued with disabled parking badges so they don’t have to waddle too far from their cars to the nearest kebab shop.

The second hails from York, where people arrested for being drunk and disorderly are being sent on courses to boost their ‘self-esteem’.

Let’s start in the West Midlands. What possessed Walsall Council to hand out ‘blue badges’ to gutbuckets? OK, so there is a minuscule number of people suffering from rare medical and genetic conditions which make it difficult to control their weight. Some of them belong in mental hospitals.

But most of those categorised as ‘obese’ are not genuinely disabled. Nor are they ‘victims’ by any stretch of the imagination. They are just fat and greedy and won’t stop stuffing their faces.

Already, the NHS spends a fortune treating patients suffering from a variety of ailments caused by self-inflicted gluttony. Diabetes and heart trouble brought on by pigging out on fast-food is said to have reached epidemic proportions.

Oh dear, how sad, never mind. Stop eating so much and start taking exercise every day, you hideous hippos. Obesity isn’t like a flu epidemic. You can’t catch obesity. It isn’t inflicted on people by dark forces beyond their control.  These selfish individuals are grotesquely overweight because they lack willpower and moral fibre.  They have the option to diet or die, but they do not deserve special  treatment funded by taxpayers.

No one should have an automatic right to an expensive gastric band provided by a hard-pressed public health service, already struggling to provide life-saving drugs to patients  suffering from real illnesses.

It is estimated that up to two million people could qualify for bariatric surgery and that by 2050 half of us will be officially ‘obese’.

By then, Britain’s population will be over 70 million. At this rate there won’t be enough gastric bands to go round and the whole country will be one giant disabled car park.

You can bet, however, that where Walsall leads, other councils will follow in the name of ‘compassion’ and being ‘non-judgmental’. They’ll be handing out blue badges by the tens of thousands to anyone who can prove they have ‘mobility issues’.

The reason these XXXXL monsters have ‘mobility issues’, though, is not because they were born with chronic disabilities, or have lost limbs in an accident or while serving their country on the battlefield.

No, their ‘mobility issues’ are caused by a revolting, self-inflicted excess of flab which their podgy little legs will no longer support over a distance of more than a few yards.

In Nottingham, they are already reinforcing the pavements to cope with the increasing bulk of the legions of Teletubby lookalikes squelching their way to the chippie, via the pub or off-licence.

One of the other curses of contemporary Britain is how the centres of our towns and cities have been blighted by binge drinking.

Every weekend, police have to deal with an orgy of vomit-splattered violence and drunken disorder.

How many times have we seen pictures of young women with their frocks round their waists and their knickers round their ankles wallowing in a pool of their own puke and urine?

This isn’t because the young men and women involved are ‘victims’ of alcohol. It’s because they set out deliberately to get utterly bladdered on cheap booze served in ghastly drinking barns. They enjoy getting mortally intoxicated.

But now York Council has decided that it’s not really their fault, poor darlings. Those legless louts and lasses lying in the gutter are actually suffering from ‘low self-esteem’ which forces them to down pint after pint and cocktail after cocktail against their will.

So anyone arrested five times for being falling-down drunk and disorderly will not be thrown in the slammer, they will be sent on a course to reflect on their ‘behaviour and self-image issues’.

Don’t you just hate that word ‘issues’, a weasely catch-all expression to excuse anyone who is unable to control their own base impulses?

Why should we be expected to accept that they are somehow victims of a disease or compelled by societal pressures to act as they do? And that they can only be ‘cured’ or indulged by a cuddle and lashings of taxpayers’ dosh? Who dreams up this drivel?

Step forward York Council’s Linsay Cunningham-Cross, who styles herself ‘Cabinet Member for Crime and Stronger Communities’ and compares the scheme to sending speeding motorists on safer driving courses. For her scintillating contribution she receives an allowance of £21,892.50 a year, plus expenses. Nice work if you can get it.

There are armies of these grandiosely-titled busybodies in Town Halls, social services departments and quangos across Britain, creating ever-expanding categories of ‘victim’ groups to justify their own superfluous existence and inventing exciting new ways of spending our hard-earned on undeserving wastrels.

This is how we end up paying for ‘self-esteem’ classes for violent drunks and handing out disabled parking badges to morbidly obese slobs.

We are all going to Hell in a handcart.


Yes, I'm a hypocrite who stopped going to mass at 13, but I'm certain church is the best place to learn right from wrong

By Tom Utley

My original plan for last week was to write about a survey from Manchester University, which had found that people who visit a place of worship regularly are less likely to commit low-level crimes than those who don’t.

But then I thought this was so unsurprising — so bleeding obvious, not to put too fine a point on it — it wasn’t worth wasting a drop of ink on discussing it.

My feelings were summed up in a sarcastic remark appended by ‘Peter, Harrogate’ to the story on Mail Online: ‘Researchers have also discovered that people who enjoy swimming in the sea are more likely to get wet than those who hate water.’

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realised it may be a more interesting finding than it first appeared.

Have parents, teachers and politicians been wilfully overlooking what must surely be the most potent weapon in the battle against crime, even though it’s been staring us all in the face since the day we were dangled over the baptismal font (or not, as is increasingly the case)?

Of course, many will be quick to point out the logical flaw in my argument.

Yes, we all knew, without having to be told by a PhD student from Manchester, that churchgoers are markedly less likely than Sunday morning lie-abeds to indulge in shoplifting, drug abuse or music piracy (though I’ve met some very naughty worshippers in my time, I can tell you).

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that church-going — in which I include synagogue-going and mosque-going — cuts crime.

Indeed, my immediate reflection on reading the report last week was that the sort of people who go to church these days tend to be goody-goodies in the first place, drawn to the pews by the same moral impulse that makes them inclined to obey the law.

This is what persuaded me to write instead about the only-very-slightly less obvious discovery that drinking too much alcohol does long-term damage to the memory.

But it wasn’t always so. In the days before organised religion went out of fashion and the social pressure to attend church was much more powerful than it is today, the pews were crammed with people of all sorts, not just the firm believers you would naturally expect to obey the law. Yet the undeniable fact is that Britons in general were much more law-abiding then than they are today.

In 1932, for example, only 208,175 crimes of any kind were recorded in England and Wales. Yet this was during the Great Depression — a time of real poverty (as opposed to the sort Ed Miliband cited in the Commons this week, when he claimed preposterously that 13 million Britons live ‘in poverty’ in 2014).

Now fast forward to yesterday, when the Home Office announced the comparable figure for 2013. The tally of crimes recorded in England and Wales came to a blistering 3.7 million — and that was even after the figures had been systematically fiddled to minimise the scale of the problem, as senior officers have confessed and the Office for National Statistics has confirmed.

True, the population has almost doubled since 1932, and politicians have been busy inventing new crimes, from driving without a seatbelt to smoking in the pub. But this doesn’t begin to explain why the crime rate has increased more than tenfold (and that’s discounting yesterday’s Crime Survey of England and Wales, which estimated there were eight million offences against households and adults last year).

You might think that in the desperate year of 1932, when so many were barefoot and hungry, the temptation to commit crimes would have been irresistible. Yet overwhelmingly, the population resisted it ten times more stoically than the well-shod, well-fed Britons of today. Why?

Again, it’s not strictly logical to say that because crime was much rarer when church attendance was much higher, the one fact follows necessarily from the other. But surely it cannot be altogether fanciful to suggest there may be a connection between the two?

I’m not suggesting it was fear of eternal damnation that kept my grandparents’ generation on the straight and narrow. Indeed, I strongly suspect that most of them had quite as much difficulty believing in the literal truth of Hell as the majority do today.

But from my own experience of being marched off to Mass every Sunday of my childhood, I can testify that regular churchgoing does have the subtle effect on even the most Godless mind of making one look at the world through a moral prism of right and wrong.

I should admit at once that I write as a raging hypocrite, who gave up going to church regularly when I was about 13, just as soon as my mother gave up the unequal struggle to force me out of bed on Sunday mornings. And I never made any effort to encourage our four sons to go (I left that, like so much else, to my wife).

But in the words of Francois de la Rochefoucauld, which I never tire of quoting: ‘Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.’ And it’s all the better for that.

I should also stress that I’ve often done things that I know perfectly well are wrong. But what I find so striking in my sons’ generation is that many among them who have never darkened a church doorstep in their lives, except to attend weddings or funerals, don’t even put the question to themselves: ‘Is the course of action I’m proposing right or wrong?’

Like MPs fiddling their expenses, they ask instead: ‘What are my chances of getting away with it?’ And if the answer they give themselves is anywhere between 95 and  100 per cent, they reckon that’s the clincher. No further objections.

I vividly remember trying to explain to one of my sons’ friends — a very polite and pleasant middle-class lad — that it was wrong to download music without paying for it. He was simply baffled, telling me: ‘But there’s no way you can be caught.’

Then there was his other schoolmate, from an equally nice family, who thought he was just being helpful when he told me there  was no need to give my son money for a train ticket, because they always left the side gate to the station open at that time at night and no one ever checked at the other end.

And don’t get me started on motorists who put in vast, fraudulent claims against my insurance after the gentlest conceivable touch on their bumpers (a very sore point with me at the moment, as I may have mentioned before).

As so often, P. G. Wodehouse put it brilliantly when he said: ‘Golf . . . is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.’

Remove even God’s restraining influence from the equation, and what’s left to  stop any of us from sneaking the ball onto the fairway?

We can argue until the cows come home about whether or not the Almighty exists. And I’m not denying for a moment that countless non-believing, non-churchgoers have a finely tuned sense of right and wrong, while many regular worshippers are less than model citizens. The ‘Crystal Methodist’ Rev Paul Flowers springs to mind.

All I’m saying is that the habit of attending a place of worship — hate preachers aside — is almost certainly a significant factor in turning people away from crime.

So whether or not God exists, isn’t it in everyone’s interests to encourage as many people as possible to go to church?

Why does almost every modern politician seem embarrassed even to talk about something so obvious?


Fascist tendencies in Australia

Salute exceptionalism in Australia...well, hardly. We are becoming suffused with an intrusive public health mantra that is the antithesis of exceptionalism. For those who believe there are proper standards for the relationship between authority and liberty, beware of post-modern Australia, where public health (sometimes known as population health) has become a role model jealous of uniformity and groupthink.

Australian public health authoritarianism manifests as funding of interventionism, premised on some valued 'public good' for which myopic individuals are neither personally accountable nor 'willing to pay.' The maintenance of 'civil society' hence becomes an excuse for meddling bureaucracies to save us from ourselves and for government interfering - usually at considerable unrequited cost - so prescriptively and in so many aspects of our lives.

Domestic swimming pool fencing is one of the most egregious examples. Australia has become a world leader in self-righteously enforcing costly pool fencing standards with scant regard to evidence of commensurate net social gain.

Well-intentioned post-natal nurses routinely follow up new mothers with intrusive questions in quite evidently innocent family settings about domestic violence.

Baby capsules (now costing some hundreds of dollars) must be fitted in motor vehicles by authorised fitting stations and need comply with stringent criteria without parallel in comparable countries (although paradoxically, taxis remain exempt).

Rather than prioritising risky road behaviours that constitute discernible threats to welfare, police are applauded for random breath testing for alleged alcohol misuse or for relentlessly apprehending minor technical transgressions of ever changing speed limits - without yielding differences in road safety statistically significant to comparable high income countries that concentrate simply on targeting reckless driving. Small wonder the time cost of metropolitan travel has become so burdensome.

The folly of poison scheduling in Australia restricts to pharmacies the sale of many non-prescription medicines of infinitesimal risk that are generally available in most other countries at a fraction of the cost in supermarkets.

Because of diminishing personal accountability, it has become judgemental and politically incorrect to 'stereotype' or target the source of readily identifiable human risks such as foetal alcohol syndrome. Analogously, in the early 1980s authorities ran their HIV/ AIDS 'grim reaper' campaign by inefficiently targeting the whole country.

Australia should seek to engender authentic personal accountability. Instead it celebrates the tyranny of costly and inefficient paternalism that stifles a willingness to weigh our own risk exposures. Obesity is one of the principal sources of Australia's burden of disease yet, although highly social patterned, its control and prevention strategy is a conspicuous failure - principally because of neglect to acknowledge it is ultimately much less a realm of public policy than of personal or parental responsibility (or ill-chosen parents).

Australia's bureaucracies should reflect upon the limits of power that society may justifiably exercise over individuals. John Stuart Mill called this liberty.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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