Guardian letter on Oxbridge admissions | Bernie Evans

The Sutton Trust, when rightly calling for Oxford and Cambridge universities to “make greater use of contextual data in their admissions process” does not go far enough (Eight top schools dominate entry to Oxbridge, 07/12/18). Slim chance of success is not the only reason “high-flying pupils from state schools” are far less likely to apply for an Oxbridge place. Fear of humiliation in an interview designed to trip up all but the best prepared must play a significant role; those interviews must focus more on what the candidate knows, and how knowledge gaps can be filled. If private schools…

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Guardian letter on use of unconditional offers | Bernie Evans

Concern about the rise in unconditional offers from 3000 in 2013 to 87,500 this year seems to be centred around how “many students could be distracted from the final year of their schooling” and achieve lower A-level grades than expected (Unconditional offers made to third of university applicants, 29/11/18). What the article failed to mention was the additional stress on A-level teachers, themselves set targets by senior management. Shouldn`t Ofsted be taking universities` action nto account when judging schools and their results?      The education secretary`s concern should also be focused…

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Are Labour`s tax plans too moderate? | Bernie Evans

Paul Mason reckons the country needs a “Marshall Plan on steroids”, with a “huge fiscal and monetary stimulus” directed at the “heartlands of poverty and decay”, with opposition parties showing “leadership and vision” (A country in a critical condition, 23rd November, 2018). His view was supported by the UN`s special rapporteur on poverty whose recent investigation “exposed the baleful effects of austerity” (Crumbling Britain, 23rd November, 2018). Yet when the shadow chancellor says a Labour government would increase corporation tax to 26%, reduce the 45p threshold to £80,000, and tax at 50%…

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Guardian letter on BBC`s profligacy plus 1 | Bernie Evans

According to your editorial, the BBC has “one card to play: the ability to organise the arrangements for the over-75s differently” (The BBC can`t bear the costs of TV licences for the over-75s. A solution has to be found, 24/11/18). What about the rest of its deck? Ending its profligate ways would be a good starting point. Imposing a salary cap on all its presenters, whilst insisting not only on an equal gender pay policy, but also that no employees are paid via their companies for tax purposes, could follow. Which presenter could claim that earning, say £200000 a year, seven times the…

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Corbyn should consult members over EU | Bernie Evans

As John Harris says, the “misery and resentment” caused by deindustrialisation in the 1980s and by recent Tory austerity policies were important reasons for people voting to leave the EU, which makes the  absence of anger from the Labour leader, and indeed from the “big unions”, about the economic problems Brexit will inevitably cause, difficult to fathom (Brexit is a class betrayal. So why is Labour colluding in it, 19/11/18).    Corbyn clearly needs to be reminded of what he said in 2016 after decisively defeating Owen Smith for the Labour leadership: the “huge membership” of the party “had…

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Improving Labour`s explanations | Bernie Evans

Your editorial on education`s underfunding rightly stated that Labour needs to “explain more forcefully” how the true effect of the Tories raising the tax threshold “actually benefits those at the top of the heap” far more than those at the bottom (Morning Star, 13/11/18). This highlights a problem Labour faces continually – the fact that the way policies are interpreted by the media not only distorts the truth, but discriminates against Labour. It means Labour, especially with Corbyn probable favourite to win, has to prepare more cleverly for the onslaught it will face, especially over its…

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Need for a “general referendum” | Bernie Evans

There were many reasons for the 52% vote in favour of leaving the EU, with scaremongering about Turkey, false promises about NHS funding, and anti-immigration all playing their part. Also important, however, were the government`s austerity policies, and the resulting fall in living standards, allied to the fact that many areas of the UK had been allowed to become investment-free zones! Now that “our real options” over Brexit have become obvious, and support is growing for a “new referendum”, questions need to be asked about whether there exist any reasons for Leavers to have changed their…

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