I READ with amazement Mark Jenkinson’s letter and his comments on education (Times & Star politics column, June 5).

He is MP for Workington constituency. Does he know how many primary schools there are in the constituency? Is he really suggesting there should be more, catering for the multitude of diverse aims of the parent population? What effect would that have on the existing schools?

If he was referring only to secondary schools, is he really suggesting that grammar schools can exist alongside comprehensive schools without causing the latter to suffer?

Does he know anything about education?

We DO need a new look at education – it is long overdue – but for goodness sake let us not have this opportunistic “I am a supporter of academies, of free schools, of University Technical Colleges, of grammar schools, of comprehensives and of independent schools with any faith attachment or none”. It is easy to be in favour of something that goes down well with the voters but has he thought through the implications? Is it yet another ill-considered “this will sound good” effort from an MP who has little of real substance to offer?

Deliberate planning and funding to cater for the needs of each student is essential but there is no evidence whatsoever that a wider choice gives young people a better chance of succeeding.

Encouraging parents to be involved in their local school is laudable, and forming pressure groups to criticise the government’s education policy and ensure fair funding is highly desirable. It might even be achievable.

So put your support into that Mark.

(PS: There are 51 primary schools in the constituency).


(Retired secondary school headteacher)


Modern life

Presumably, in his enthusiasm for grammar schools, Mark Jenkinson will also welcome the return of secondary modern schools as well.



Slighting war dead

Demonstrations are taking place that purported to be in support of George Floyd who was illegally killed by police in America.

These demonstrations have now developed secondary and tertiary purposes, rioting and the desecration of historical monuments.

History is simply that, something that happened in the distinct past. Part of any history can carry elements of shame. But it has to be remembered that the world 500 years ago is not the world we occupy today.

Whatever happened in those days (most of what happened) was for the security and benefit of this country. There may have been some episodes that don’t show us in the best light, but that will apply to every country in the world. Anything that Great Britain did which ‘may’ have caused concern has been compensated for many times over. There is no country in the world that does more for the oppressed than GB.

These demonstrators are demanding the removal of many statues who ‘they’ think offend humanity, people like Sir Francis Drake and Winston Churchill. They burn flags on monuments such as the Cenotaph, which honour our war dead.

These demonstrators are in an absolute minority. They are using a man’s death to extend their own agendas. This agenda is now to pressure local councils to remove historical statues and war memorials.

I sincerely hope our local councils do not partake in any such decisions.

These out of touch and bigoted demonstrators would corrupt the truth with their blind version of the truth. This country has lost millions of people in the fight against fascism and oppression, we are still fighting oppression in the Middle East. Yet these minority demonstrators don’t see this. They only ever want to drag up the past. It’s time they stepped into the future and praised our history for the freedom and luxury it has given them.

Had Adolf Hitler won the war these spoiled people would not enjoy the freedoms our leaders and heroes gave them. In short they dishonour the names of all our dead who fought for this country.


High Harrington

Travellers’ checks

I KNOW as little as our Prime Minister about Covid-19 and how events will unfold. But I am sure many of us are amazed that incoming travellers to the UK will only now face health checks and possible quarantining.

For four months, as the virus raged thousands, of travellers from such ‘hot spots’ as Italy were allowed unchecked into the UK.

It seems even more crazy for Boris to state he was “proud” of the UK’s response to the virus when our death rate is one of the highest in the world. I know we all love a funny man, but such a cavalier approach is beyond jokey bluster.

A senior nurse told me recently: “More and more people are dying at home, and not from the virus. They simply dare not or find it difficult getting into hospitals or to see a GP. In fact when all this is over I am sure they will find more people died as a result of the lockdown than were saved by it.”



Disturbing place of rest

I UNDERSTAND some rogue dog-owners and bikers have been disrespecting our local cemetery during lockdown.

This is unacceptable. Dog fouling and cavalier bikers do not sit well in a public resting place where contemplation is more the order of the day.



Lacking humility

Jim Thompson (Times & Star letters, June 5) asks why Dominic Cummings received such ‘extreme outrage’ when others who broke lockdown rules did not.

Mr Thompson cites Stephen Kinnock MP and Rosie Duffield MP as examples. I will add the following names: Robert Jenrick MP (Minister for Local Government); Dr Catherine Calderwood (Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer) and Prof. Neil Ferguson (scientific adviser).

All five of these people, just like Dominic Cummings, broke lockdown rules but unlike Mr Cummings ALL apologised immediately and in the cases of Rosie Duffield, Catherine Calderwood and Neil Ferguson, they resigned from their positions of authority.

These quick apologies were, however, not the only reason these five were treated differently. Mr Cummings is the senior adviser to the Prime Minister and is widely credited as the architect of the ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ message. That he should break his own rules so flagrantly, and then receive the PM’s support, is unforgivable.

All six people broke the rules but only one was arrogant enough with the British people to assume he owed no apology or remorse never mind the integrity to resign.


Great Broughton

Sold down the river

Mr Thompson of Seaton wrote to you last week complaining about ‘remainers’. I’ve got news for him – there are no ‘remainers’. We all left the EU, however we voted (apart from the Northern Irish who are half in and half out).

It’s the future that matters. Now we have to face the realities of leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc with the best food standards in the world. It’s not going well so far.

Take farming, so important to Cumbria. The Tories’ international trade policy and the Agriculture Bill going through Parliament are selling farmers and consumers down the river.

It’s so bad that last week 22 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government. They voted to ban imports of sub-standard food in future trade deals, including chlorinated chicken from the US which has appalling animal welfare and food manufacturing practices illegal in this country. Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith and the Border) was one of the rebels. Sadly, Workington MP Mark Jenkinson did not do the right thing by Cumbrian farmers. He voted with the government to allow animal welfare, the food we eat, environmental protections and farmers to be sacrificed.

We need a lot more of our food to be grown in the UK, but the government’s trade deals are actually going to damage our farmers and countryside. The National Farmers Union are really worried. They’ve already warned about the impact of the pandemic on the food sector and that there’ll be a serious shock if we end up next year without a deal with the EU. The last thing farmers need is the deal the Tories are doing with the US. A score of other organisations including the British Veterinary Association, RSPCA, Soil Association, Wildlife Trust, RSPB, National Trust and Tenant Farmers Association have joined the NFU’s campaign against the government’s plans.

So now it’s ‘Let’s take back control and give it to Donald Trump’. And the Tories used to care about animals, farmers and the British countryside.


Chair, Workington Constituency Labour Party

Salient facts

After a very welcome period of silence from the Brexiteers one, Jim Thompson, has broken cover to castigate your correspondents who recently criticised the actions of Dominic Cummings and the lack of action of our feckless Prime Minister.

He describes these correspondents as hypocrites and, to support his case, cites the examples of two Labour MPs, Rosie Duffield, who travelled to meet her partner, and Stephen Kinnock, who travelled to greet his Dad on his birthday.

The crucial difference between these two cases and that of Mr Cummings was that Rosie Duffield acknowledged her mistake and resigned from the Labour front bench and Mr Kinnock was “blasted,” “rounded upon,” “rapped,” “slammed” or “publicly shamed,” by the South Wales police, depending on which Tory rag you read. In fact the SW police gave Mr Kinnock a polite and mild rebuke which he accepted with good grace.

By omitting these salient facts Mr Thompson lays himself open to the charge that as far as hypocrites are concerned, it takes one to know one.