Following on from my Political Silly Season post I read with some concern the remarks by Chuka Umunna that the 'poisonous Brexit campaign' was doing harm to the process of immigrant integration. No doubt he's commenting on those dastardly statistics revealed by the government yesterday that more EU citizens are leaving the country than expected (but we all know that those government statistics tell but a wee morsel of the whole story). It is hard to get a handle on what his argument really is - on the one hand he's saying that we should effectively all adopt an immigrant and smooth their integration into the community whilst on the flip side of his coin he's arguing that many of us are demonising such a gesture and making it difficult for immigrants to become British citizens. It begs the question as to how many EU citizens actually want to become British as many of them are here for financial opportunity rather than the whimsical thought of becoming a Brit.
I think many of us would agree that EU immigration has been generally good for British businesses who have wanted to take advantage of willing labour prepared to work for less - but I see that as a condemnation of those businesses rather than of the immigrants, an exploitation that does our business culture little credit. As economic conditions have shifted, some immigrants have opted to go home and surely that is the very nature of having a protected EU citizenship dynamic - not only the protection of basic rights in whichever country they reside but also the freedom to up sticks and move on as conditions dictate. Is that not the very principle being debated in Brussels as part of the Brexit negotiation ? So where is the immigrant demonisation, where is the pressure to make EU citizens into Brits and where is the will amongst the immigrant community to integrate into a British culture that they see as a transient stopping-off point ? I'm pretty sure Chuka Umunna would argue otherwise as a firm 'Remainer' in the Brexit story, but for me, he's way off track.
Elsewhere, our redoubtable Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has turned up in Libya. Quite apart from the extraordinary rendition of God Save the Queen on his arrival I am a little bemused by his reasons for being there at all. Yes, Libya is in a pretty dire state and has rival factions just about everywhere making the possibility of a unified state almost unthinkable right now, but does the British government actually believe that it has the influence and savvy to stimulate conciliation, reform and statehood once more ? I can certainly see that Libya represents a fertile breeding ground for ISIL to creep ever closer to Europe and if that is truly the purpose in trying to turn minds in Benghazi then I applaud the motives, but if there is some grand expectation that British politicians can really make a difference in this very divided culture then my eyebrows start to twitch. Inhibit ISIL by all means - we all want that - but let's not get embroiled in the internal politics of Libya or anywhere else - there are far too many recent precedents to tell us that that is a fools game.
It's many years since I sat my GCE exams so I'm no expert on educational advancements since those almost pre-electric days. But doesn't it sound curious to you that as the current grading system gets changed that schools and examination authorities can tweek the marks of a students paper to fit the grade - presumably so that a 'pass' target can be reached - and is it not equally curious that some schools have continued with the old grading system, some have adopted the new and yet others have used a mixture of the two systems. Am I missing something vital here ?
I also read that they are going to road test driverless trucks on our motorways. Whilst an intriguing thought, it fills me with some dread. I'm not a Luddite and progress must continue but I would like to see a good deal more technical advancement of this idea before we permit 40 tonne juggernauts to travel around without a driver. There is an argument - subject to the technology being utterly reliable - that a computer can control a truck better than a human and I guess that may well be the shape of things to come - but are we there yet ? I wonder.