nbh Britain 

Education in the moral maze

On BBC Radio Four’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed education. While the Institute for Fiscal Studies is claiming that as many as 13 universities may no longer be financially viable, the government has abandoned the policy of getting half of school-leavers into university and says it wants to concentrate instead on vocational qualifications. With grade inflation rampant not just in the universities but down through the school system, we asked whether university places should be available to all who wanted a university degree or whether the 50 per cent…

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culture wars Britain Culture wars 

Even coronavirus can’t kill our grievance culture

Optimism has been expressed in some quarters that our poisonous culture wars will fade away under the impact of a global emergency with real victims and real heroes. So how’s that playing out? Not terribly well. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, the ship that sailed from Plymouth for the New World bearing 102 Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England to start a new life. Commemorations are being organised by Mayflower 400, a UK-wide body that has created a variety of resources to enable…

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prize Britain Culture wars 

The “all must have prizes” culture refuses to die

With the announcement of who had won the Turner prize, I experienced a distinct sense of déjà vu. The four nominees asked the judges to make the award collectively to all of them, “in the name of commonality, multiplicity and solidarity”. This was widely scorned as a ludicrous prizes-for-all approach, as if this was a new phenomenon. But in 1996 I published a book entitled All Must Have Prizes, which was about precisely this attitude. Far from being a new development, it was an important contributor to the progressive destruction…

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