A ‘culture of inspiration’ needed for school children

A culture of inspiration for school children needs to be introduced, said local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

His call follows the publication of a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England warning of the ‘huge gaps’ between the poorest Northern children and those in the South.

“We’ve known for a long time that children in Northern working-class communities are being left behind in our education system. The government isn’t putting the resources in that we need, and the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ has proven to be more rhetoric than real action,” said Mr Arnott, a former teacher.

“Yes, we do need a culture of hope. I’m fed up of seeing working-class people left behind by a system that’s more interested in political correctness than in helping real people deal with real problems.

“Until we, as a society, stop using university as the almost-exclusive metric by which young people are judged, we’ll continue to have young people feeling abandoned by the system. The Germans don’t take such a snobbish approach; they understand the value of both vocational and academic education.

Mr Arnott said, “As teaching has become more bureaucratic, more focused upon paperwork and evidence, teachers have had less time to provide the extra-curricular activities which enrich and develop all-round education. It’s children in poorer working-class communities who are being denied opportunities. Truly inspirational teachers can change lives, but they’re being hamstrung by red tape.

“It’s not just about money, it’s about creating a culture within our education system to inspire our young people. But the money counts too: I don’t want to hear about gimmicks, derisory amounts of money spent on more training to follow a broken system – I want to hear about smaller class sizes, more individual attention and a less mass-produced system,” said Mr Arnott, an independent Euro-MP.

Children ‘spectacularly failed’ in State experiment

Following reports that a thousand young girls have been sexually assaulted in Telford, an independent MEP has called for a change in the law to try to prevent more children becoming victims.

Jonathan Arnott, a former teacher who represents the North East of England in the European Parliament, has made the proposal after many people have questioned why these sexual assaults were not picked up by the authorities sooner.

“This scandal is, sadly, nothing new. Blind eyes have been turned to child sexual abuse for far too long, including some horrific cases in my own constituency. The fact is, though, that when parents are unaware of what is happening, they have no way of protecting their children.

“The law needs to be changed so that parents receive better information about their own children’s welfare.

“In 1985, a court ruled that children are entitled to access to contraception without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Later, this same logic was used for abortions to be provided and for parents to be kept in the dark by both social workers and medical professionals. This created a culture of silence around statutory rape and predatory criminal behaviour,” he said.

“That court decision was said to be in children’s best interests, but it is inconceivable that these organised cases of grooming could have continued for so long without it. We need a change in the law, to ensure that parents are once again provided with the information they need to be able to do their job as responsible parents.

“When the State started to take parenting away from parents, it undermined one of the key planks of child protection. The experiment has spectacularly failed. That 1985 court decision must be overturned, through legislation if necessary.

“Even where victims were, or are, in the care of local authorities, the authorities should fiercely protect the child’s interests every bit as much as a responsible parent – and information should still generally be shared with the biological parents.” said Mr Arnott.

Note to Editors – the relevant case law is Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority, 1985 

MEP congratulates former chess champion for stance against Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women

Local MEP and chess player, Jonathan Arnott, has congratulated Maria Muzychuk, a former women’s world chess champion, for her stance against Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women.

His comments come on today’s International Women’s Day – which ironically coincides with a controversial visit to this country by Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has been welcomed by Theresa May.

Mr Arnott, an independent Euro-MP, met the former champion at the European Parliament yesterday (Tue) where she simultaneously played chess against about 25 people, including Mr Arnott.

“I managed to win my game, thanks to the somewhat lopsided nature of a simultaneous display. I was able to devote 100% of my attention to the game, whereas she was not,” he explained

“Her sister Anna was the reigning world rapidplay and blitz champion. They refused to compete in the most recent world chess championships in Saudi Arabia in protest at the Saudi Kingdom’s treatment of women.

“Those women who were prepared to compete had to dress according to the Kingdom’s rules. The ‘when in Rome’ principle my apply as far as tourism is concerned – but it is wrong to insist that this must be a condition of defending a title. In this, I think, FIDE (the world chess governing body) erred by holding the event in Saudi Arabia.

“They were principled – and right – to refuse to compete. Doubtless, their claim that they would have ‘earned more than in a dozen events combined’ is probably absolutely true, and demonstrates how important this sacrifice was to them.

“One of the great things about chess is that there exists no barrier to competition – to win, or to lose, depends first and foremost on your ability and skill level. If you’re sexist (or racist or any other kind of ist) during a game of chess, that arrogance will lead to underperformance. The game itself is the ultimate meritocracy.”

jon and chess champ 2

‘Impossible demands’ raise doubts over Brexit deal

‘Impossible demands’ contained in a draft European Parliament resolution on Brexit has led to a British MEP to question whether the European Parliament really wants to do any kind of deal with the United Kingdom.

The resolution comes just a week after the European Commission published a draft EU Withdrawal Treaty which would allow EU courts to overrule the UK and even decide the size of the so-called ‘divorce bill’.

Independent MEP Jonathan Arnott said “There are only three possibilities here: It’s possible that the European Parliament is merely playing political games, sabre-rattling to draw attention to itself as it often does. Perhaps it is trying to make any Brexit deal as difficult as possible in an attempt to undermine and reverse Brexit, or maybe it is genuinely trying to push the UK away from the table and force a no-deal scenario.”

The European Parliament’s bizarre proposals include suggestions that taxation should be ‘integrated’ between the United Kingdom and the European Union (forcing the UK to change its own tax structure after leaving the EU), that the European Court of Justice should forever have the power to override the United Kingdom, and that financial services should be ‘limited’ in any trade agreement. Furthermore, they want the UK to make further financial payments to the European Union.

Mr Arnott, MEP for the North East, said “The European Union makes much of the doctrine of ‘sincere co-operation’ when they want to stop the UK from doing something, but there’s precious little evidence that they think it applies to them too. They’re completely ignoring Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty that suggests our future relationship should be based upon a spirit of co-operation, prosperity and good neighbourliness.

“If the European Parliament were to get its way, the European Union’s desire to control every aspect of our daily lives would continue even after we leave. Their control-freakery knows no bounds. If we did a trade deal with any other nation or organisation in the world, they wouldn’t expect to be able to interfere with our tax system. Their notion that we should pay them for continuing tariff-free trade is back to front – we’re in trade deficit with them; any ‘compensation’ for non-receipt of tariffs would be the other way around.

“If the United Kingdom had set out its negotiating position in such a way – suggesting that our Supreme Court should be the ultimate arbiter of any UK-EU deal, they would have rightly accused us of breathtaking arrogance. It’s just plain common sense that if you want to work together, you negotiate as equals not as bullies. Just how bad does it have to get before the British Labour Party will admit that there’s something deeply wrong with the European Union’s attitude towards negotiations?

“It seems the European Parliament wants to test the mantra that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ by deliberately making any deal as unrealistic as possible. Theresa May’s statement last week that she won’t threaten a walkout from negotiations has clearly been treated as a sign of weakness by the European Parliament.”

ends

The text of the draft resolution can be found at:

https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/PARL-Draft_Resolution_4_0503-1930.pdf

Response to impact studies claiming that the UK will be substantially worse off as a result of Brexit

An in-depth report about studies claiming the UK will suffer as a result of Brexit has been produced by Independent MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The document responds to the majority of studies into the economic impact of the UK leaving the EU predict that our economy will be negatively affected. Mr Arnott, Independent MEP for the North East, points out that the same modelling techniques when tested against real economic data between the date of the EU referendum and now show that there have been profound inaccuracies:

“This leads to the question – Is there any reason to suppose that such projections will be any more accurate when referring to after Brexit? I believe that there is every reason to suppose they’ll be just as bad, because the same factors causing previous projections to be wrong still apply today.”

Mr Arnott claims that there are five main areas in which impact assessments lean heavily against Brexit:

1. That underlying assumptions fail to fully take into account anticipated changes in EU policy

2. That current modelling techniques underestimate ‘added value’ arising from Brexit

3. That headline claims are often misleading and ‘gold-plate’ the content of reports

4. That ‘groupthink’ or circular reasoning leads to confirmation bias

5. That modelling does not (or can not) fully consider extra policy options afforded by Brexit

Mr Arnott said:

“As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, it’s important that claims are critically examined. I’ve seen politicians of all sides either praise or deny the results of Brexit impact assessments, often without even having read them. Of course, some documents aren’t even available for us to read – but I thought it was important to study the available research. Having done so, it’s become clear to me that some of the biggest positives of a clean Brexit aren’t really modelled (though they would be difficult to model). I am not seeking to carry out a detailed analysis of my own – merely to put others in context.”

Response to Theresa May’s Brexit speech

Whilst Theresa May’s speech did strike some positive notes, overall her approach fails to inspire confidence. It was a more detailed speech than most, and detail demands a careful and nuanced response.

Theresa May has taken changes to EU state aid rules off the table. Those same state aid rules prevented meaningful and timely action being taken over SSI in Redcar; this concession is a serious error of judgement from the Prime Minister.

If the UK is pushing keeping EU and UK regulatory standards too closely aligned for the long term, this must surely have a negative impact upon our ability to negotiate good free trade deals with other nations. Does May’s approach not reduce some of the ‘added value’ of regaining that freedom to negotiate independently with third countries?

May’s proposal for associate membership of European Union agencies, and the financial contributions (albeit relatively small) which that would entail, is a dangerous one. It is one which could set a very negative precedent.

Fundamentally, our Prime Minister is taking an approach which is dangerous, and likely to fail. In this speech, just as in others,she comes across as terrified of upsetting the EU. The danger of such an approach is that it can be perceived as weakness. The European Union’s approach in negotiation is to ask for things it knows it won’t get, and force the UK to push back. Theresa May, though, keeps telling us what she ‘won’t’ ask for because the EU won’t want to give. If she does not ask for more, where is the wriggle-room, the room for manoeuvre and compromise? The danger must surely be that the UK will end up compromising on issues which are important to her.

Theresa May used to say that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, but by taking off the table the possibility of walking away from talks, she has effectively done a U-turn on that too. It will be perceived by the European Union side as evidence of weakness.

Nevertheless, there are four points in May’s speech which are worth praising:

1. She is absolutely correct to state that  “the ultimate arbiter of the future UK-EU agreement cannot be the court of either side”. This is vital; we can not – and must not – permit EU courts to overrule our own. This was the most pernicious detail of the EU’s draft Withdrawal Agreement released this week, and it is good that Theresa May has picked up on it.

2. She is correct, also, to insist that the European Union’s approach to trade agreements is misleading: it is right to say that we will not ‘accept the rights of Canada and the obligations of Norway’. It is right to point out that a Canada-style deal would be incompatible with any current proposal for Northern Ireland, and indeed it is right to suggest that the Commission’s inflexible approach is unnecessary.

3. It is correct to put forward constructive suggestions regarding Northern Ireland and the avoidance of a hard border. Such issues can, if the political will exists on both sides, be overcome. The fear is that the European Union wants to create this hurdle rather than to resolve the issue.

4. Finally she is correct to hit back at EU accusations of ‘cherry-picking’. Like snowflakes, no two free trade agreements are alike. If this is cherry-picking, then every free trade agreement in history is cherry-picking.
It is, perhaps, a sign of the ineptitude which this government has shown in recent months that I can say this speech was not quite as bad as might have been expected. When expectations are so low, even a poor speech like this one seems almost reasonable by comparison.