In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Friday, August 29, 2003

One Simply Cannot Find the Staff

How very dis-obliging of Geoff Hoon, when being cross examined at the Hutton enquiry, not to take the traditional role of sacrificial lamb; and fall on his sword for his master Tony.

One simply cannot find the staff these days!

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The Chinese Civil Service Exam

The current round of final school year exams have now been sat, and the results dispensed to eager sweaty students. As with each exam round there has been the usual chorus of hubris and backslapping by ministers over the improvement in the pass rates, and criticism from educational experts and industry leaders that the exams are too easy and that standards are slipping.

Oxford, faced with only being able to offer a few hundred places to the several thousand medical students who have met the exam grade requirements, is to reintroduce an entrance exam; designed to test candidates’ reasoning and practical application of knowledge.

This exam has in the past provided some fine examples of applied knowledge, no matter how limited that knowledge was.

In one year the question was asked; “write all you know about the role that Sir Thomas Fairfax played during the Civil War”. One hapless candidate, who felt that his knowledge was somewhat lacking in this area, wrote nothing. He was awarded 100%, and offered a place; he had answered the question with precise accuracy and written all that he knew, nothing!

I would like to offer my own solution to the problem of selecting the best candidates. This method was used by the Chinese Civil Service, several thousand years ago, when selecting candidates.

Place the candidate in a room for 24 hours; with a desk, pen and an unlimited supply of paper. Ask them to write all they know about everything.

Now that should produce some interesting answers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Number 10 Blunders Again

The comments made by Mr Kelly (one of Number 10’s spin team) about the late Dr Kelly being a “Walter Mitty”, have plumbed new lows even by this sorry tale of character assassination.

Number 10 at first tried to cover it up. However, finally realising their “goose was cooked”; John Prescott admitted this comment came from the spin bunker, and issued a written apology to the family of Dr Kelly.

This “off record” character assassination raises a number of serious issues about the competence, and “game plan”, of the Number 10 spin bunker:

 To comment in the way Mr Kelly did was insensitive, and stupid. Even the most foolhardy of politicians (and goodness knows there are a few of them!) would know that the press would pick this up and shake it like a dog does a rag doll.

 The Walter Mitty slur is insulting. Dr Kelly, from what his friends, colleagues and journalists who knew him say was no fantasist.

 There is a possibility, only mooted quietly at this stage (but it may come out in the Hutton enquiry), that Dr Kelly was in fact working for the intelligence services. This raises an added question mark over his death, and the circumstances leading up to his public humiliation by the select committee.

 It is possible he had a very serious story to tell, and the smearing of his name by this remark and the other leaks over the last week; which have implied he was a serial leaker seem to be designed to undermine his reputation.

I believe the truth will come out, the government may find the coming weeks distinctly uncomfortable.