TCW summer reads: A double warning on our changing world

A BOOK on the impact of new ideologies on European culture and another on the impact of new ideologies on Africa should be relevant for quite a few holiday destinations.

These two that I have recently read have been hugely informative – and challenging. I would love many others to read them too, so I have reviewed both briefly in this one blog. The first book is a longer and more in-depth read, while the second is lighter and easier to read but no less challenging in subject matter.

The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the name of freedom by Gabriele Kuby (Lifesite 2015, pp 283) 

The increasingly pervasive influence on Western society today from gender ideology, LGBT demands and now the transgender movement is generating unprecedented threats to our freedom. Add to this the effects of pornography and much of current sex education, combined with attacks on freedom of speech and religion and the advent of identity politics, and we have the central part of the culture wars we are facing today.

Kuby contends that the core of the global cultural revolution is the deliberate confusion of, and assault on, sexual norms. In this excellent book she sets out the background to all this and makes the case for why all those concerned about the deliberate sexualisation of our children, and about protecting conscience rights, free speech and liberty, must stand up to protect our freedoms in these areas.

It is not a light read, and not an easy topic, but Kuby’s book is one of the most informative and eye-opening I have read on this issue and it is thoroughly referenced throughout. She ends on a more hopeful note, but not without challenges for the reader.

Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism in the twenty-first century by Obianuju Ekeocha (Ignatius Press 2018 219pp) 

Nigerian human rights activist Obianuju Ekeocha demonstrates in detail how Western governments (which most certainly include our own), billionaires and NGOs are systematically imposing a secular ‘morality’ on Africa that is completely alien to its culture of life and family values. She calls this a new ‘ideological colonialism’ of Africa by a cultural elite in the West.

Ekeocha sets out in detail how this new ‘colonialism’ is built on aid. While some donors have good intentions, others seek to impose an ideology of sexual ‘liberation’, abortion rights, population control, radical feminism and anti-family policies, by tying aid to these ideologies which are antithetical to the inherent morals and beliefs of most Africans. As well as conditioning various forms of aid, international legal situations are used to coerce countries into compliance.

Ekeocha provides plenty of references throughout, but if more were needed on the export of Western values to Africa via ‘aid’, in April this year the UK Government pledged £42million to the world’s two largest abortion providers, Marie Stopes International (MSI) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, to carry out abortions in developing countries. This is on top of the £163million the UK has already given to MSI over the last five years, which I wrote about here. 

This book is a relatively easy – albeit disturbing – read. Ekeocha has a driving passion to expose the new colonialism and her concern for her fellow Africans, perhaps most of all for unborn African children, shines through. For us Westerners, who believe our aid money is all being put to good use in Africa, this is a must read.

Summer is not over yet – so still time to read these two books!

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Runners and riders in the Westminster Donkey Derby

THIS year’s annual parliamentary pancake race between MPs, peers and political journalists in aid of charity was cancelled because of the level of bad feeling connected to Brexit. 

Perhaps an annual Donkey Derby would be a fitting alternative? Let’s face it, some potential parliamentary pancake tossers could learn a thing of two from these noble beasts of burden. Most importantly they are determined and stubborn. They have a unique way of communication by braying, more commonly known as the hee-haw, as anyone knows who has suffered watching and listening to any of the parliamentary ‘debates’ on Brexit presided over with impeccable impartiality by chief ‘brayer’, Speaker John Bercow.

Under starter’s orders, with Gina Miller holding the white flag, here he comes on ‘Pipsqueak’, positively revelling in his role as a controversial figure, preening and bobbing his head like one of those irritating nodding dogs in the back of cars. Seemingly he’s unconcerned that not only has he become embroiled in accusations of bullying (which he has always strenuously denied) and anti-Brexit bias, as earlier this year he attempted to frustrate the government’s attempts to pass Mrs May’s Brexit deal through the House of Commons by selecting only pro-Remain amendments to be voted on. Even Mrs May accused him of ‘making it up as he goes along’. During a recent speech in Edinburgh, he vowed to ‘fight with every breath in my body’ to stop any attempt by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament. When an audience member asked if Parliament could stop Brexit he replied that it could. Despite this, prorogation of parliament is one of the few things that remains one of the Crown’s prerogatives, exercised by the government on behalf of the Queen. In any event, Mr Bercow is comfortable in the knowledge that there is no formal procedure to remove him during the course of a parliament, and the country waits with bated breath on whether he will be elevated to that higher place with a majority of Uriah Heeps when eventually the House of Commons is relieved of his services.

Meanwhile, Diane Abbott on ‘Abacus’ can’t work out what number she is. She was starting to worry about Labour’s Brexit strategy, until her party leader Jeremy Corbyn on ‘Hammer and Sickle’ extended an offer to other opposition parties to back him leading a caretaker government to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October. His party remains riven so Mr Corbyn believes that the best way ahead is to delay our exit and create even more confusion about what the country might do, keeping him in Downing Street whilst his Marxist cronies busy themselves destroying the economy.

Joining them is the leader of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson, and her charge ‘Opportunity Knocks’. Ms Swinson’s anxieties regarding equal power for the benefit of all were given in an interview with Liberal Democrat Voice in February 2018. She worried about the polarisation of society, presumably over the way the ignorant masses had voted the wrong way in the EU Referendum two years previously, but once she had read Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer talking to White People About Race, the leader of the party of Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George experienced a eureka moment: ‘Oh my goodness, have I been blind to injustice!’

She elaborated her views in her recent blockbuster Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It, especially as the Lib Dems are determined to ‘build and safeguard a fair, free and open society’. Except not for 17.4million Leave voters. After initially dismissing Mr Corbyn’s offer as ‘nonsense’ she has backtracked and is considering meeting the great man to concoct a parliamentary coup to replace Mr Johnson. Kingmaker Ms Swinson and her fourteen MPs, combined with an assortment of anti-democrats from other opposition parties, will sanction either Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke to lead the country.

Dr Sarah Wollaston on ‘Chameleon’ trots on closely behind. Her latest defection to the Lib Dems from the ‘whatever their name is’ party can’t have come to much surprise to her constituents, 54 per cent of whom voted for a Conservative MP. She has settled for the orange colours for the time being, but may just have to change her mind again, depending on the preservation of her political career.

Other riders are milling around too, amongst them Anna Soubry on ‘A Bit Miffed’. As leader of the Independent Group of five MPs she has argued for a ‘genuine Government of National Unity led by someone who commands the respect and support not just in his or her own party’. Dear old Magic Grandpa forgot to send his missive to Ms Soubry, and anyway she doesn’t trust him, believing that he is a Brexiteer given his longstanding views; anyone would have thought Ms Soubry was a Tory in 2017.

Caroline Lucas on ‘Space Cadet’ is temporarily on earth and covering a lot of ground up and down the starting line, maintaining a good speed without having to cross it. She can sustain this for a long time to avoid any male donkeys and their riders. Ms Lucas believes that ‘democracy is a process and not a one-off event, and the public must have a vote on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU if they wish.’ Negative and painful experiences like losing the EU Referendum have affected her behaviour, as she chooses to ignore 17.4million voters but not those who conveniently put her into parliament.

Other runners and riders include Ian Blackford on ‘Little Scotlander’. His party’s ideas for Scottish independence are to cede it to Brussels and presumably build a hard border between Scotland and its nearest neighbour.

Bringing up the rear is a very grumpy donkey called ‘Bitter and Twisted’ ridden by Michael Heseltine. Ears back and baring his teeth, best approached from the side as he has a tendency to react strongly to the surprise presence of anybody with the temerity to disagree with him unless from the BBC.

These MPs voted for Article 50 and the Withdrawal Act, which provide for the no deal they are opposing. The donkey has large ears which have added sound-gathering advantage and can move them to locate the source of a sound: what a pity that these parliamentarians choose to be deaf to democracy. So off they go, clip-clopping into the sunset. Perhaps another donkey will come up on the inside rail – Boris Johnson on ‘Blond Bombshell’.

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Zap those Brexit mutineers, Boris

THE answer to the prejudice blighting the world has been staring us all in the visage, according to an Italian psychologist. Zapping the brain with electricity would wipe out bias in a flash, says Maddalena Marini. 

A post-doctoral researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, Ms Marini claims that decades of trying to overcome bigotry via persuasion have had little effect.

So the next step is to introduce electric or magnetic currents into the transgressor’s napper. This, she says, would ‘modulate the mechanisms through which the brain regulates our behaviour’.

She adds: ‘Studies have allowed us to define a network of brain regions causally involved in these processes, showing that by increasing or decreasing the activity of some of these areas it is possible to reduce the strength of unconscious stereotypes, like the prejudice that leads to associating acts of terrorism with being of Arab origin.’

Ms Marini, who gave a lecture this year on getting rid of gender bias, produces no evidence of how frazzling the grey matter will make us better people, but we’ll forgive her for that because she is definitely a bit of a babe. 

So come on, Boris, what are you waiting for? Sign her up! Perhaps 240 volts between the ears might shake Dominic Grieve out of his treacherous antics. Followed by the rest of the turncoat Tories who refuse to do their electors’ bidding.

Maybe lighting up Jeremy Corbyn’s frontal lobes (if he’s got any) will make him less tolerant of anti-Semitism.

And then, if it doesn’t overload the National Grid, we can make a start on the biased BBC.

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We Rest on Thee

During the holiday period we are repeating some of my favourite Midweek Hymns. I think this is the most moving story I have told so far. I could not get it out of my mind. This article was originally published on March 6, 2019.

In the autumn of 1955, five men working as Christian missionaries in South America decided they would try to spread the word to a hitherto uncontacted tribe in Ecuador.

Known colloquially as the Aucas, meaning savages, the tribe members were widely feared for routinely killing members of other tribes, even members of other families within their tribe, and any strangers they came upon.

Throughout the next few months the missionaries flew regular sorties in a light plane over the tribe’s jungle lands from their base camp among the friendly Quichua people. They devised a way of letting down from the plane a rope to which gifts were attached – tools, machetes, clothing and foodstuffs (including salt, which was unobtainable for the tribe). After a while the Aucas started attaching gifts in return. One was a feathered headdress, another a tame parrot in a basket wrapped in sacking, complete with a half-nibbled banana.

The missionaries – Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Jim Elliot, all married and four of them with small children – selected a beach beside a river within reach of the Aucas’ homes where they could land and establish a camp of a tree house and various supplies. They called it Palm Beach. The plan was then to use their extremely rudimentary Auca words to invite ‘the neighbours’ to visit. The date of January 3, 1956, was chosen as their D-Day.

The morning dawned bright and clear. The men breakfasted and prayed together. Jim Elliot’s wife wrote later:

‘At the close of their prayers the five men sang one of their favourite hymns, We Rest on Thee to the stirring tune of Finlandia. Jim and Ed had sung this hymn since college days and knew the verses by heart.’

Here it is sung unaccompanied by a male choir.

The men then started making the many trips to Palm Beach that were necessary to take all their goods and supplies, the plane piloted by Nate Saint returning nightly to base camp to pick up more.

On Friday January 6, to the men’s delight, three Auca people came out of the jungle: a young man, a girl of about 16 and a woman of about 30. The young man was particularly interested in the plane so Saint took him for a ride. Above his home he waved and yelled at his no doubt bemused fellow villagers. In the evening he and the girl disappeared while the woman sat most of the night chatting with Youderian, apparently unaware that he could not understand her. She, too, had disappeared by morning.

On Sunday January 8 Nate Saint was ecstatic to spot from the air a party of ten or so Auca men heading for the Americans’ camp. As he touched down he shouted to the others: ‘This is it, guys! They’re on the way!’

He radioed his wife Marj: ‘Pray for us. This is the day! Will contact you next at four-thirty.’

No call came at four-thirty.

Over the next few days searchers found four bodies in the river. All had been speared to death. The fifth was on the beach, but it was washed away before it could be retrieved. The four were buried in a communal grave under their tree house as a tropical storm raged overhead.

The tragedy and publicity about it encouraged the missionary movement to press on with their efforts, and replacement air crews continued to drop gifts. Jim Elliot’s widow Elisabeth and Nate Saint’s sister Rachel stayed in Ecuador. Nearly two years later two Auca women came to the base camp, one of them the older woman who had visited Palm Beach. Seven other Aucas came later. In October 1958 Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint went by invitation to live among the Auca, now known by their own name Huaorani. This eventually led to the conversion of many, including some of those involved in the killings. They revealed that the attack had happened after the young man and the girl who had visited Palm Beach were encountered returning to their village unescorted. In an attempt to ward off anger, they claimed the foreigners had attacked them and that they had become separated from their chaperone. The return of the older woman and her account of the friendliness of the missionaries was not enough to dissuade them from revenge.

The words of We Rest on Thee were written by Edith Gilling Cherry, who was born in Plymouth in 1872. At the age of sixteen months she contracted polio, or infantile paralysis as it was then known. She used crutches for the rest of her life. When she was six her much-loved younger sister died. At 12 she suffered a stroke, which seemed to unlock a spring of creativity and she started to write poetry and hymns. Many of her best poems were written before she was 15.

In 1895, when she was 23, she wrote We Rest on Thee, based on 2 Chronicles 14, v11: ‘Help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude’.

Two years later she had another stroke. She told her mother: ‘I think I am going, Mother, and I am so glad. I’ve been hungry to go for some while.’ A few hours later, speaking of the past, she said: ‘It all seems so small, all I have tried to do — so small to Him’. Her mother replied, ‘But there are your songs, dear, they will carry on your work.’ Edith said: ‘Ah, but they were not mine at all, they were just given to me all ready, and all I had to do was to write them down.’ Her last words were: ‘I’m all right, mama, I’m trusting in God, and He will undertake for me.’ She was 25 years old.

I haven’t been able to find out how Edith Cherry’s words were paired with Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia Hymn. This was originally a section of Finlandia, itself part of a suite composed for an event called the Press Celebrations of 1899, effectively a nationalistic call for Russia to keep its hands off Finland. Sibelius later reworked the section into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is today regarded Finland’s unofficial national anthem and is often sung during the full-length Finlandia. Here it is performed in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under their Finnish chief conductor, Sakari Oramo.

Another hymn often sung to the melody is Be still, my soul written in German in 1752 by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schegel (1697–1768) and translated into English in 1855 by Jane Laurie Borthwick (1813–1897).

Here it is performed by the choir of King’s College Cambridge, and you can find the words here.

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The real reason behind the measles outbreak

EVERYONE is blaming anti-vaxxers for the current measles outbreak and using it as yet another excuse to police social media and suppress free speech. 

But this article from Nursing in Practice explains that anti-vaxxer messages are not the main reason for the lack of uptake.

It says: ‘Given the extensive coverage of the scandal in the press and the prevalent position of anti-vaccination groups in the news and social media, you’d be forgiven for assuming that false messaging about vaccination is one of the main drivers behind the lack of measles vaccine uptake.

‘But north London GP Dr Ellie Cannon believes that access to vaccination services is a bigger issue for today’s general practices. “Although there’s an impression that anti-vaxxers or vaccine refusers are to blame, that’s not thought to be the main cause for the lack of uptake. It has more to do with ease of access [to services],” she says.

‘There are many groups of people who are vulnerable – certain ethnic groups, travelling families, people with chaotic lifestyles – who are not being vaccinated. It’s because of a lack of access to appointments: for example, if they have difficulty registering with a GP or getting to appointments at certain times. It’s not [always] what we think – logistics, organisation and access are barriers for these groups.’

You might have thought that the fact that London has almost double the non-uptake rate of the rest of the country (1 in 4 vs 1 in 7) would have been a sign that it may be ethnicity related, given that minorities make up a majority of Londoners.

The article says: ‘In a survey of around 2,600 UK parents, the report found that almost half of parents agreed that timing or availability of appointments were a barrier to access. Childcare duties were the next most popular reason for not accessing appointments, with just under a third of parents agreeing this was a barrier.’

It adds: ‘Public Health England (PHE) has also urged general practices to take steps to improve access for those at risk of not attending for routine immunisations. In an interview with the Pharmaceutical Journal earlier this year, Jamie Lopez Bernal, a consultant epidemiologist in the Immunisation and Countermeasures Division at PHE, said: “While vaccine hesitancy may be a factor for a small minority of parents, we know from our parental attitudinal surveys that confidence in the immunisation programme is high – the proportion of parents with concerns that would make them consider not having their child immunised has been at an all-time low for the past three years. Timing, availability and location of appointments have been identified as barriers to vaccination by parents and healthcare professionals.”’

It concludes: ‘Dr Cannon, however, believes that access should be the most important area of focus for those working on the front line. “There’s not much we can do to change the beliefs of anti-vaxxers,” she says. “It is part of the reason for the lack of uptake, but it’s the part we probably can’t change.”’

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A baby is a gift to be treasured, not a human right

NHS South East London’s leaked policy advice banning single women from accessing IVF has provoked a predictable barrage of criticism. Their statement of unpalatable truth – that ‘Single mothers are generally poorer . . . thereby placing a greater burden on society in general’ has been described as ‘shockingly outdated’ and ‘demeaning’.

Telegraph writer Celia Walden, while sympathising with those who cannot have children, as well as single mothers, has correctly observed that, ‘denial of fertility treatment’ has been read by dissenters as ‘denial of children’. She says the word ‘denial’ implies that it is every woman’s right to be a mother: single, married, gay, straight or identifying as any one of the orientations laid out in a sexual smorgasbord for us by the PC brigade. And that it is her right for that motherhood to be paid for by the state – at around £3,500 a cycle. 

This is not however the first time that the IVF entitlement culture has come up against an unusually defiant NHS and as something of a rude shock. The Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decision to stop offering IVF treatment on the NHS a few years ago prompted a similar blast of negative responses. It turned out that they were far from the only CCG to disregard the NICE guidelines and to cut their IVF provision. In fact only 18 per cent of CCGs were found to offer three cycles. A survey by ‘Fertility Fairness’ also found that half of CCGs were providing just one cycle free to women. Others offered it only to women under 35, while in some areas women were having to wait longer than the recommended three years before IVF is given. I imagine little has changed.

NHS practitioners are possibly better aware than the public of the harsh IVF reality that even a woman who is under 35 years has only a one in three chance of having a baby using IVF. No wonder the significant costs to the NHS (the average cost of one cycle privately is £5,000) and the ‘success’ rate inevitably have to be weighed carefully against other NHS stewardship considerations and that realism triumphed.

Yet for all this clamour about the right to fertility what still passes unnoticed is that the very thing that has become so prized is also treated with remarkably little respect. The paradox of ‘going to all that trouble to have a child’ – the fabled ‘wanted child’ – is that it has shifted the child’s worth from being an intrinsic one to one that is secondary – an accessory dependent upon somebody else’s desires and demands. Thanks to reproductive technology and ‘liberal’ laws, a child can be both obtained and got rid of; with both acts are accorded equal value in this adult needs centred society.

Just a few years ago single motherhood was deplored; now, although the drawbacks for the child remain exactly the same, being able to have a baby has come to be regarded as a human right, regardless of age, health, circumstance or even gender. The right of the child to a father and a mother and stable and safe family life meanwhile has descends to a distant last in these human rights stakes.

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Readers’ comments: Threats come with the territory

In response to Harry Smith: My doubts over ‘death threats’ to Grieve,

Robin Horbury wrote:

The death threat ploy was also used by Nicky Morgan back in April – as was detailed in the TCW blog by David Keighley in the blog about the BBC yesterday.  The Today programme swallowed her claim whole, and then went on to treat Bill Cash as if he was a reckless warmonger.

Groan wrote:

Threats of death and all sorts are common in many walks of ‘public’ life. As I’m sure many local councillors can cite. Unsurprisingly working in mental health has brought a number of such threats my way over the years. I doubt very much there are many MPs who haven’t such too. It certainly can be worrying and the advent of email then social media made them more frequent. Perhaps one becomes too blase, because occasionally the threats are ‘real’. But I simply don’t believe anyone who has been in ‘public’ life for any time has not built a resistance to the many forms of abuse that unfortunately comes with the territory. In the recent ‘investigation’ of online abuse Boris was the top of the list in terms of volume and Tory men dominated the top 20.

I always assume that any MP highlighting such things is doing so to grab a headline rather than is particularly worried.

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Readers’ comments: Taking a break from climate striking

In response to Gary Oliver: Save the world – bunk off school,

Abominable_Yeoman wrote:

Will someone be taking the register at these ‘protest marches’, to check all the pupils have turned up?

Della Cate wrote:

Funny how none of the little darlings have wanted to go on ‘climate strike’ over the summer holidays, isn’t it? I suppose they have all been too busy going abroad on holiday.

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Poor children twice as likely to fail their Maths GCSE than those from richer areas

Pupils from the poorest areas are nearly twice as likely to fail their Maths GCSE compared to their peers from the richest areas, new figures show.

Two in five (38 per cent) of pupils from the poorest postcodes last year failed to get at least a grade 4 in the subject, which is considered by the government to be a “standard pass”.

For those from the richest postcodes, the figure was 20 per cent.

The research was carried out by the teacher training organisation, Teach First.

Attainment gap

The pattern of children from schools in the poorest areas lagging far behind those in the richest areas was repeated across all the GCSE subjects which Teach First looked at. In Geography 50 per cent of disadvantaged children failed to reach a grade 4, compared to 27 per cent of the richest pupils.

In Biology, 15 per cent of the poorest pupils did not reach a pass. This was three times the proportion of richer pupils (5 per cent) failing to get a pass.

Read More:

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Disadvantaged students were also much less likely to get the top GCSE grades. In maths, just 13 per cent of the poorest pupils achieved the top three grades of 9, 8 and 7, compared to 26 per cent of the richest pupils.

Ahead of tomorrow’s GCSE results, the data throws into stark relief the gap in attainment between children from poor and rich families.

Russell Hobby, Teach First’s chief executive, said: “A child’s postcode should never determine how well they do at school, yet today we’ve found huge disparities based on just that.

Young people held back

“Low attainment at GCSE is a real cause for concern, as it can shut doors to future success and holds young people back from meeting their aspirations.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said that the government had narrowed the gap between poorer children and their peers since 2011.

They added: “The Prime Minister has committed to increasing school funding so we can level up all parts of the UK and close the opportunity gap.”

“We will continue to drive up school standards right across the country, and do more to continue to attract and retain talented individuals in our classrooms as well as giving teachers the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying.”

More From Education

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Thousands of homeless children forced to live in shipping containers and office blocks

Thousands of children are growing up in office blocks, B&Bs, and even shipping containers, a shocking new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England reveals.

More than 210,000 children in England are estimated to be homeless – 124,000 officially homeless and living in temporary accommodation, plus around 90,000 children living in “sofa-surfing’ families”, according to the report. Officials believe the total could be even higher due to a lack of data on the number of children placed in temporary accommodation by children’s services.

In the “Bleak Houses” report commissioner Anne Longfield warns changes to planning regulations mean thousands of children are being housed in temporary accommodation that is frequently not fit for them to live in, dangerous due to drug dealers and prostitutes living nearby, and often far away from family, friends and their school.

Her report warns that a further 375,000 children in England are in households that have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments, putting them at financial risk of becoming homeless in the future.

Unfit housing

The label “temporary” is sometimes anything but: the analysis suggests that in 2017 around two in five children in temporary accommodation – an estimated 51,000 children – had been there for at least six months. Furthermore, around 1 in 20 – an estimated 6,000 children – had been there for at least a year. Of the 2,420 families known to be living in B&Bs in December 2018, a third had been there for more than six weeks, despite this being unlawful.

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Ms Longfield said she is particularly concerned about the recent development which has seen the “repurposing” of shipping containers for use as temporary accommodation. Often they are located on “meanwhile sites” – land that is earmarked for future development but currently not in use.

The units are typically one or two-bedroom and small in size, meaning that overcrowding can be an issue. They can become really hot in summer and too cold in the winter. As with some office block conversions, antisocial behaviour has been a problem, leaving some parents worrying about letting their children play outside, forcing them to stay in cramped conditions inside instead.

‘They failed me in so many ways’

Lucy is in her early twenties. Her son Jake is 2. When she became homeless they were placed by her local authority in a converted office block far from home. Although this was considered an emergency placement, they were there for 11 months.

“They put me in a small room in an office block which had been converted into flats. It was in an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere. The cars and lorries would whizz round really fast. It was very noisy and it felt unsafe to walk to the shops,” Lucy said.

“There were a lot of people congregating at the entrance who didn’t live there and I felt unsafe. I was approached to buy drugs during the day on the way to the shops with my son.”

It took six months and a formal complaint before Lucy’s local authority completed its assessment and found that it had a duty to find the family a permanent home – but she was then placed on a waiting list. Lucy then had to submit yet another complaint in order to be moved back to her local area. This took a further three months.

Eventually Lucy was able to move back to her local area, where she was offered a self contained flat – up 3 flights of stairs with no lift. She still does not know when she and her son will be offered a permanent home, what it will be like or where it will be.

“They failed me in so many ways. The fact that they get away with it is so, so bad.”

Ms Longfield said: “Something has gone very wrong with our housing system when children are growing up in B&Bs, shipping containers and old office blocks. Children have told us of the disruptive and at times frightening impact this can have on their lives. It is a scandal that a country as prosperous as ours is leaving tens of thousands of families in temporary accommodation for long periods of time, or to sofa surf.

“It is essential that the Government invests properly in a major house-building programme and that it sets itself a formal target to reduce the number of children in temporary accommodation.”

‘Trapped by rents’

A person sleeping rough in a doorway (Photo: Yoi Mok/PA)

Simone Vibert, senior policy analyst at the Children’s Commissioner’s Office and author of the report, said: “Trapped by increasing rents and an unforgiving welfare system, there is very little many families can do to break the cycle of homelessness once it begins.

“Preventing homelessness from happening in the first place is crucial. Yet government statistics fail to capture the hundreds of thousands of children living in families who are behind on their rent and mortgage repayments.

“Frontline professionals working with children and families need greater training to spot the early signs of homelessness and councils urgently need to know what money will be available for them when current funds run out next year.”

A Government spokesperson said: “No child should ever be without a roof over their head and we are working to ensure all families have a safe place to stay. If anyone believes they have been placed in unsuitable accommodation, we urge them to exercise their right to request a review.

“We have invested £1.2bn to tackle all types of homelessness, including funding a team of specialist advisors which has, in two years, helped local authorities to reduce the number of families in B&B accommodation for more than six weeks by 28 per cent.”

More Health

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Heartbreak Holiday: BBC’s Love Island is confusing, weak and there’s too many texts

Heartbreak Holiday
BBC1, 10.35pm
★★★

Heartbreak Holiday, the BBC’s version of Love Island has familiar ingredients: 10 20-somethings, many with pastel manicures, on an island, in this case Mykonos. It’s not to everyone’s taste. “All I see is water, I don’t see no nail shops,” observes Melissa, whose argumentative nature causes her to fall out with people. 

The concept that they’re united by heartbreak (plainly, they’re not) is a shaky one, and weakens the programme’s impact. There are too many variables and not enough clarity about their goals. There’s Luke, who admits that some might think he’s a “man slag”, has a girlfriend back home and is here to test how committed he is (not very, it turns out, as he’s soon two-timing Courtney and Erin.) 

Heartbreak Holiday 'is all confusing to understand, because you mainly find out what’s going on from texts'
Heartbreak Holiday ‘is all confusing to understand, because you mainly find out what’s going on from texts’ (Photo: BBC)

There’s Deano, who has never had a girlfriend – so perhaps he’s here to find one. Maxine, who is the poshest and did actually break up with someone a year or so ago. She’s trans, has been since she was 16, and hasn’t told the group yet. Then there’s Archie, who says “I’m gay as f***… This is my opportunity to live my life and have a sick time.”

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It’s all confusing to understand, because you mainly find out what’s going on from texts, of which there are too many. For those who can bear it, it continues all week.

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Kathy Burke’s All Woman: 10 talking points about motherhood from episode 2 of her Channel 4 documentary

Kathy Burke is resolute about one thing: she does not want children. But, in the second episode of her All Woman documentary which focuses on motherhood, she wonders out loud: “I’ve ignored my biological clock and opted out of motherhood all together. It’s very interesting if I’ll be judged the way other women will be judged.”

She hits upon the crux of the issues around the subject early on – how women are subjected to society’s ideas about what they should or shouldn’t do with their womb, and how – unlike men – there’s a finite time in which they need to make this decision.

During the programme, the actor investigates the full scope of the theme, from interviewing a woman, Joanna, who is freezing her eggs, to joining a new mother as she gives birth. There are also interviews with Samantha Morton and Katherine Ryan about “having it all” and an interesting chat with a woman who is struggling to find someone to sterilise her, as she keeps being told she’s too young.

She also reflects on losing her mum, Bridget, when she was aged just 18 months – there’s a sweet dedication to her at the end of the show – and talks about how two of her friends’ mums stepped in to become non-official foster mothers to her when she was still young.

Read more:

The 14 most hilarious quotes from episode one of Kathy Burke’s All Woman

Just like last week’s show, Kathy’s as straight-talking as ever in this second part of her series – here’s her most interesting talking points from this week’s episode:

1. On the proportion of women who have never had children doubling in a generation: “Four hundred years ago, I’d have been burned as a witch for not wanting children. Or they’d have dunked me like a big biscuit.”

2. On poverty being an issue in making the decision to have children or not: “We were poor… I hated it. I think that’s one of the reasons I never wanted children as a kid, we didn’t have much money. If I have a kid, all my money’s got to go on a kid. Fuck that, I want to spend my money on myself. I had a dog for a while and that was fucking hard enough.”

3. And how evolution has switched things up: “People used to pop out kids when they were 16, because they’d be dead by 35.”

Sam Morton chats to Kathy Burke
Sam Morton chats to Kathy Burke about “having it all” (Photo: Channel 4)

4. Her idea of ‘a woman’s role’ (which should be taught in schools across the country): “I think a woman’s role is to serve herself and make sure she is happy. If that means having a high powered job in the city, or a stay at home mum, or doing both then so be it. [The idea of] ‘A woman’s role’ is just what’s wrong with everything and why there hasn’t been equality for so long.”

5. And the double standards when it comes to men and women and parenthood: “A man can say, I don’t want children and he doesn’t get bombarded with, well, you might change your mind, you’re not a real man unless you have kids. I’d get told: ‘You’d be a good mum.’ Why would you suddenly think I’d be a good mum, just because I had big cuddly tits? That’s just ridiculous.”

6. On the idea of giving birth: “A birth just sounds like the most appalling thing ever. I’m sure it’s beautiful once it’s all happened, but I’m amazed women are still doing, it to be honest.”

7. And how things would be different if men gave birth: “If men could give birth, it would be completely different. There would be a ton of money to look after them, particularly with the aftercare. It’s only recently people have been taking notice of post-natal depression. I mean, gee whizz, you’d be depressed with an eight-pound beast coming out of your vagina, your body is completely fucked for a few months and you might have to put up with piles for the rest of your life. I really think this wouldn’t be the case if men were having babies.”

Kathy Burke's All Woman Channel 4
Kathy Burke lifts the lid on what it means to be a woman in 2019 (Photo: Channel 4)

8. On whether she regrets not having children: “The only regrets I’ve had in life are not shagging the men who wanted to shag me.”

9. On the surgery required to extract eggs from a woman for the egg-freezing process: “It’s pretty invasive for a woman to get the eggs. All the blokes have to do is have a nice bit of masturbation which, let’s face it, is a hobby.”

10. On the importance of choice for every woman: “I feel very lucky because my heart’s desire was freedom and that’s what I’ve had my whole life.”

Kathy Burke’s All Woman continues on Channel 4 on Tuesday 27 August at 10pm.

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David Beckham’s planned Inter Miami stadium ‘contaminated with arsenic, barium and lead’

Plans for David Beckham’s new Major League Soccer stadium have been thrown into doubt after high levels of arsenic, barium and lead were found on site.

An environmental report into the Melreese golf course in Miami, Florida revealed what has been described as “significantly more contamination than what is commercially reasonable”.

The 31-acres site is under consideration for a a $1 billion commercial and 25,000-seat stadium complex, which would be home to Beckham’s MLS team Inter Miami.

But a consultant’s report following the assessment of soil samples is now a cause for concern.

‘Significantly more contamination’

According to the Miami Herald, the analysis found arsenic contamination reaching more than twice the legal limit and hazardous debris in surface-level soil samples at the golf course, where people have played for more than 50 years.

Basically, the site has significantly more contamination than what is commercially reasonable.

Francis Suarez

The findings were reported to city commissioners on Monday.

Commission chairman Ken Russell said: “This is the largest contaminated park in the city’s portfolio. This is a concern.”

David Beckham attends a meeting at the City of Miami City Hall about building a Major League soccer stadium on a public golf course.
(Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hazardous debris

The environmental firm EE&G, hired by Inter Miami, took more than 140 soil samples in recent months and apart from the arsenic, it found barium and lead levels above legal limits.

Debris also included “fragments of tile, metal and glass, mixed with fine-grain sands” wood and concrete were also discovered on the site.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he was glad the site was tested and the city has now chosen another consulting firm, AECOM, to conduct its own analysis of the findings.

“Basically, the site has significantly more contamination than what is commercially reasonable,” he said.

Arsenic, barium and lead

The club could now face clean-up costs running to $50 million at the site, team officials told the mayor although it would not seek financial assitance from the city.

Read more:

Transformation or naked land grab? David Beckham’s plans for Inter Miami are dividing the city

But it remained unclear whether this would make Inter Miami plans for the site unfeasible.

David Beckham was announced as one of Inter Miami’s owner’s last year.

Development plans for the stadium complex include an office park, shopping centre and playing fields.

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Nasa Jupiter mission: Europa Clipper given green light for final construction in bid to search for life on distant moon

The age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe may be about to be answered.

Scientists are on the threshold of beginning a new voyage which will investigate whether there is life beyond the Earth.

Decades of speculation have led them to focus on one distant celestial body.

And now they not only have it in their sights but are about to have it within monitoring distance.

Is there anybody out there?

The US agency for space exploration has been given the green light to complete the final design and construction of the spacecraft Europa Clipper
The US agency for space exploration has been given the green light to complete the final design and construction of the spacecraft Europa Clipper (Photo: Nasa)

This is exactly what Nasa will be trying to find out in its latest mission to explore Europa, an ice-encrusted moon of the planet Jupiter.

The US agency for space exploration has been given the green light to complete the final design and construction of the spacecraft Europa Clipper, which will search for life on this distant moon.

Why aim for a moon in the quest to find extraterrestrial life?

Scientists believe the icy ocean world of Europa could be the perfect target in the search for other life in the universe.

Beneath its crust, there is thought to be an ocean of liquid water “with conditions favourable for life”.

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“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator

for Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate.

“We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”

How do they hope to find out if we are alone in the universe or not?

The Europa Clipper will conduct up to 45 flybys of the moon coming as close as 16 miles from the surface in some instances.

On board will be nine scientific instruments including cameras, ice-penetrating radars and thermal instruments to gain a better insight into the composition of Europa’s surface and to find out if warmer water below has broken through the icy crust.

‘We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere’

Thomas Zurbuchen

When will the clipper be going to this moon and back?

Nasa tweeted: “One step closer to Europa! Our upcoming mission to Jupiter’s intriguing ocean moon is ready to move into the next phase.”

The agency is hoping to have the spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023 but at the latest it will be 2025 when it heads to Europa.

Why is Nasa over the moon about this latest phase for the spacecraft?

This is a mission which has taken decades to reach the point of construction. The idea to explore Europa was first put forward in the 1990s after data from the spacecraft Galileo revealed the possibility of an ocean below the ice.

Now it has finally got the chance to fly to this moon and in the words of the US Planetary Society “this is a big deal”.

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Older LGBT people are going back into the closet, says film director

An award-winning film telling the story of two lesbian lovers reunited in a care home has highlighted the prejudice suffered by older gay people.

Writer and director Rachel Dax said it was important older LGBT people, in particular women, were given greater visibility.

She said her decision to tell this story was sparked in part by many elderly gay people going back into the closet to avoid prejudice in care homes, which she first became aware of three years ago.

Ms Dax told i: “I also wrote the story generally because there are very few films or television dramas that portray the lives of older lesbians in particular.”

Prejudice in old age

Director Rachel Dax (Photo: Supplied)

The film focuses on Eleanor and Isabelle, played by Brigit Forsyth and Dame Sian Phillips, two former lovers who meet again sixty years after they parted when they move to a residential care home.

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Cardiff-based Ms Dax said: “I wanted to create something that would look at the two main scenarios faced by women of the older generation (70+) now and when they were younger.

“Either marry a man they didn’t love to avoid being disowned and shunned by family and friends or move to a big city such as London and try to live an authentic life as a lesbian, which of course would still subject the woman to prejudicial reactions.”

LGBT charity Stonewall said older people trying to hide their sexuality to avoid prejudice in care homes was a real concern.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s definitely true for some people. It’s a concern we have heard and it does happen.”

‘De-gaying’ lives

It was an issue highlighted by the Scottish film Return to the Closet?, screened in Glasgow in May this year.

The documentary focused on the lives of older LGBT people in care or who have carers visiting their homes.

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Gay stereotypes and the pressures that LGBTQ+ people can feel to either accept or rebel

They spoke of “de-gaying” their living space by removing photographs of themselves with a same-sex partner and of their fear of revealing their sexuality.

Time & Again, which premiered in the US in March, has already proved a hit at nine film festivals winning the audience award for best short narrative film at the Outfest film festival in Los Angeles last month.

It will now be shown at the International Eressos Women’s Film Festival, Lesbos on 18 Septmeber and Cardiff International Film Festival from 24-27 October.

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Ministers must explain why the number of special needs pupils in mainstream schools has fallen

The law of the land could not be more clear.

When it comes to the education system accommodating children with special needs, there has been a “general presumption” since 2014 that they must be offered a place within a mainstream school wherever possible and appropriate.

All of which begs an uncomfortable question for new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson: just why has the number of special educational needs (SEN) pupils in mainstream schools in England dropped sharply?

Figures produced by the JPI Media Data Unit reveal a fall of nearly a quarter in the number of children with learning difficulties attending English mainstream primary and secondary schools.

By contrast, there has been a dramatic increase in Scotland, where education is part of the remit of Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government.

School segregation

Campaigners argue that our findings are a further indication of what looks dangerously like a policy of segregation of children with disabilities in England.

The needs of each child are of course different and the ultimate decision on where a child is educated, regardless of ability, rests with his or her parents.

Read more:

Campaigners warn that special needs children have been forced out of mainstream schools

The law makes it clear that parents can choose for their child to attend a special school should they wish to do so.

The Government insists it is increasing provision for children whose needs cannot be met within the mainstream system.

But can it seriously be the case that many more parents whose children need extra support are actively turning down the opportunity to see their offspring educated alongside their peers of all abilities?

Budget pressures

Lucy Bartley with son Samuel, 17, who was educated in mainstream schools (Photo: Supplied)

There are serious concerns about the elevated rate of exclusions applying to SEN pupils as schools struggle with both swingeing budget cuts and constant pressure to improve grades.

Don’t just take our word for it.

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Lucy Bartley and her family had to fight hard to get her son Samuel, now 17, who has both physical and learning disabilities, into the mainstream system with adequate support alongside his two sisters.

As Lucy, from south west London, puts it: “I’ve always had the strongly held belief that Samuel has as much right to experience things as our girls and he’s part of our family, not separated off.

“Why would you separate a whole group of people on the basis of their impairments? You wouldn’t do that in any other area.”

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No-deal Brexit: Minister James Cleverly refuses to publish full details as public would ‘misunderstand’

Ministers are refusing to publish the full dossier produced by Whitehall in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to fears it would lead to “misunderstandings” among the public.

Planning documents into the Government’s preparations for leaving the European Union without a deal was leaked to the media over the weekend, warning of shortages in fuel, food and medicines.

But Downing Street has dismissed calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to publish the report, with Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly suggesting people would misconstrue the purpose of the document.

Mr Cleverly also claimed the document, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, was “out of date” despite his tacit admission that it was produced just three weeks ago.

‘Not predictions’

Conservative MP James Cleverly (Photo: Getty)

Asked why the report should not be made public, he told BBC Breakfast: “Because it’s an internal document for the government. It’s not a series of predictions.

“And the fact that we’re having this conversation shows that people misunderstand the nature of that document.”

Read more:

Operation Yellowhammer papers warn of food, fuel and medicine shortages if UK goes for no-deal Brexit

“I think, as he does with many other things, Jeremy Corbyn has misunderstood what this is.”

The Yellowhammer report has sparked significant concern among the business community leading to the National Freight Association to accuse the government of hiding the worst-case scenario from the sector.

David Wells, the FTAs chief executive, said the details that emerged from the documents came as a “complete shock” as he urged ministers to come clean on what a no-deal Brexit would entail.

Worst case scenario

Boris Johnson says the UK will leave the EU by 31 October, with or without a deal (Photo: Getty)

But Mr Cleverly sought to play down the dossier, insisting it was an old document that was based on “worst-case scenarios which the government takes action to avoid and mitigate”.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he twice refused to deny the report was produced on 1 August, making it just three weeks old.

“The document is an internal government document,” he said. “The reason it is out of date is because the government has enhanced its no deal planning.”

Operation Yellowhammer

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Britain to cut almost all diplomatic contact with EU in coming days to focus on Brexit

The dossier, leaked to The Sunday Times, suggested there would be delays at ports for three months, a hard border in Ireland, rising costs of food, fuel and social care due to restricted supplies and higher inflation, as well as the closure of two oil refineries and delays at Gibraltar’s border with Spain.

It also warned that the effects of a no-deal Brexit would disproportionately hit poorer communities because more of their money goes on food and fuel.

Price rises are expected in supermarkets if the UK leaves without an EU agreement, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, mcu of which is imported from the continent and is likely to be hit by delays and shortages.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry private jet: Greenpeace says Elton John’s carbon offsetting not enough

Sir Elton John’s carbon offsetting of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private jet flight is “no solution” to aviation emissions, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist has warned.

Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s policy director, said good works could be done through offsetting schemes, but it is not a “meaningful response”.

Sir Elton revealed that he provided the couple and their baby son Archie with a private flight to Nice to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection”.

He wrote on social media that he made sure the flight was carbon neutral by making the “appropriate contribution” to a carbon footprint fund.

Carbon offsetting

Duke of Sussex Prince Harry with Sir Elton John (Photo: PA)

But Dr Parr stressed on Twitter: “Carbon offsetting is not a meaningful response to aviation emissions.

Comment:

Celebrity defences of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry show media scrutiny has gone too far

“Good works CAN be done with cash out into offset schemes, but it is no solution.”

The Duke and Duchess reportedly took four private jet journeys in 11 days, including staying with Sir Elton in Nice.

The Duke highlighted the importance of protecting the environment last month, saying: “With nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this earth, every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference.”

Distress at media criticism

The pop star Pink is the latest celebrity to join Sir Elton and the chat-show host Ellen DeGeneres in defending Prince Harry and Ms Markle after they faced criticism for using private jets despite their environmental campaigning.

Sir Elton told of his deep distress on Monday at the “distorted and malicious account in the press” of the couple’s stay in his home.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex have been criticised for their use of private plans (Photo: Getty)

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He described how he felt the need to try to protect Prince Harry.

He wrote: “Prince Harry’s mother, Diana Princess of Wales, was one of my dearest friends.

“I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.

“David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home.”

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Brexit talks: Boris Johnson targets EU leaders directly with fresh deal and ignores diplomatic spat over Irish border

Boris Johnson ignored a growing diplomatic spat in Brussels over his Brexit demands by insisting he could broker a fresh deal directly with EU leaders ahead of crunch talks with Angela Merkel.

Mr Johnson is due to make his debut on the international stage as Prime Minister when he meets the German Chancellor to discuss the UK’s withdrawal from the EU over dinner on Wednesday.

But during a terse exchange of words on both sides of the Channel, Donald Tusk attacked Mr Johnson for being disingenuous over the Irish border.

The Prime Minister shrugged off the criticism by claiming a deal could be struck by appealing over the heads of the European Commission and directly to the heads of the EU member states.

‘Practical solutions’

Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to 'practical solutions' to the backstop
Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to ‘practical solutions’ to the backstop (Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

It came as Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to “practical solutions” to the backstop, but insisted the withdrawal agreement would not be reopened. Speaking ahead of his meeting, Mr Johnson said that there needed to be a “total backstop-ectomy” if there is to be any chance of a Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson laid the blame over the impasse in the talks at the door of the EU, claiming its position on installing a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was “paradoxical”.

“We’ve made it clear 1,000 times we don’t want to see any checks on the Northern Irish frontier at all, under no circumstances. Let me repeat again: Under no circumstances will the Government of the United Kingdom be putting checks on the Northern Irish frontier,” he told ITV.

And he added: “By contrast it is the EU who currently claim that the single market and the plurality of the single market requires them to have such checks – I don’t think that’s true.”

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Mr Johnson said he would be speaking to Mrs Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron tomorrow to push his case, stating he would approach the discussions “with a lot of oomph”.

“It may be that for now, they stick with the mantra, rien ne va plus, and they can’t change a jot or a tittle of the withdrawal agreement. Let’s see how long they stick to that, I think there are plenty of other creative solutions,” he added.

Brexit talks breakthrough

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Photo: Getty)

Any hopes of an early breakthrough in talks over the insurance policy, which is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, appeared slim ahead of his Berlin meeting, dramatically raising the prospect of a no deal departure on 31 October.

Speaking during a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, Mrs Merkel attempted to strike a conciliatory tone, stating: “The moment we have a practical arrangement on how to preserve the Good Friday agreement and at the same time define the borders of the (European Union’s) internal market, we would not need the backstop anymore.”

His comments suggest Mr Johnson believes Brussels will blink first in the Brexit standoff. He will meet Mr Macron over lunch in Paris on Thursday before heading to the G7 summit in Biarritz on Saturday.

Sterling wobbles — Merkel helps reverse fall

The value of the pound against the euro fell before recovering as the fate of sterling remained tied to news on Brexit negotiations.

After European Council President Donald Tusk gave short shrift to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demand for the EU nations to drop the Northern Ireland backstop, the pound fell to 1.08.

The currency rallied when German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that a solution could yet be found.

“I have always said that when one has the will to find these solutions, one can do so in a short period of time,” she said. Her opinion that “the EU is ready to find a solution” helped sterling slightly rise, to 1.09.

Analysts believe that although a no-deal is still likely, as long as there is any prospect of a deal, currency speculation will remain limited, but the fluctation exposed how sensitive the pound remains to potential negotiations between the UK and EU.

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Train Your Baby Like a Dog, review: Animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden’s approach is uncontroversial and hardly ‘dehumanising’

Train Your Baby Like a Dog
Channel 4, 8pm
★★★

Animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden has some very good dogs (and one charming toddler). Can she transfer her training skills to three-year-old Graydon in Bristol, who has six tantrums a day, and 14-month-old Dulcie in Croydon, who has never gone to sleep in her cot? “Kids are more like dogs than people think,” she says in Train Your Baby Like a Dog, a new parenting programme decried as “dehumanising” in a Change.org petition signed by nearly 25,000 people earlier this week.

But Haffenden’s approach, apart from the occasional clicker – which is more for novelty value than anything else – is uncontroversial. In fact, she says, it’s the parents who need training, not the children, and all kids need to be patted and loved. That’s one theory of too many in this programme that she offers from her home on her Spanish finca, in place of proper interaction between her and the parents – who certainly need her help. There is also a lack of depth in the way her methods are presented.

Train Your Baby Like a Dog's Jo-Rosie Haffenden (Photo: Channel 4)
Train Your Baby Like a Dog’s Jo-Rosie Haffenden (Photo: Channel 4)

Take Graydon’s parents, who appear self-centred and unimaginative, though we don’t see enough of them to get a clear picture. He screams and hits them a lot – like a bored dog, he’s aggressive. Haffenden explains to them that he needs fun and games and an emphasis on the good rather than the bad. His mother is expecting another baby any day now and, muses Haffenden, “Usually with dog owners I’d suggest they didn’t bring a new puppy home when they’ve got a dog with these challenges”. Even so, by the end of the show, they say they’ve rethought what it means to be a parent.

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Dulcie, like a frightened puppy, is afraid to be alone at night. Haffenden is not of the “leave your baby to cry” school but tells her mother to pick her up before she becomes agitated and not to leave the room until she’s settled, so she knows she’s safe. Hardly dehumanising. And for the first time, Dulcie falls asleep in her cot, lulled by a new womb-music sheep, though she takes half an hour to get there.

Haffenden also revolutionises her diet, bringing apples and cheese to the party instead of endless chips. Though she does use a clicker and chocolate buttons as positive reinforcement at bath time – previously a vale of tears – which may set a dangerous precedent. Ultimately, though, like the rest of this programme, not all that dangerous.

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Ashes 2019: Michael Holding brands Jofra Archer’s workload at Lord’s ‘abuse’

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding believes England risk losing their prize asset if they continue to bowl Jofra Archer into the ground.

Holding claimed England’s ­deployment of Archer in the second Ashes Test amounted, in cricket terms, to abuse as they sought the win that would level the series. On the penultimate day, Archer sent down 22 of the 57 overs bowled during an epic contest that pitched England’s talismanic paceman against Australia’s batting totem Steve Smith, which ultimately forced the latter from the field of play with concussion and out of the third Test at Headingley.

“Archer bowled a third of all the overs bowled yesterday. That’s a spinner’s quota,” Holding said. “If you keep bowling him like this you will lose the 96mph delivery. He’ll still bowl fast, 90mph, but do you want to lose the express pace? It is not just about this match or the next, but next year and the one after that.”

By contrast, Holding pointed to the number of overs bowled by South Africa’s leading quick, Kagiso Rabada, who at 24, the same age as Archer, has bowled more than 7,000 overs in Test cricket, more than any comparable quick at the same age.

England risk losing their prize asset

Michael Holding claimed England’s ­deployment of Archer in the second Ashes Test amounted, in cricket terms, to abuse
Michael Holding claimed England’s ­deployment of Archer in the second Ashes Test amounted, in cricket terms, to abuse (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty)

Rabada has a history of back trouble and his failure to fire at the World Cup, where he was significantly down on pace, was attributed to his exhaustive workload. “It’s abuse,” Holding said. “When I was bowling, we had three other quicks just as fast. We could share the burden.

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The criticism Jofra Archer has received is so far wide of the mark

“England need to be very careful with Archer. He is obviously very fit, as you could see with his recovery from the side strain. Like me, he is tall, not big and muscular. He relies on rhythm and looks very relaxed running in. All that is in his favour but it is not sustainable for England to use him like this in every match.”

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Campaigners warn that special needs children have been forced out of mainstream schools

The number of children with special needs in mainstream schools in England has fallen by almost a quarter in seven years – despite pupils with learning difficulties having a legal entitlement to a place in mainstream education wherever possible.

An analysis of official figures for i suggests that thousands of children who require additional help with learning are ending up in dedicated special schools rather than having their needs met while being taught among pupils of all abilities.

Campaigners have issued a strong warning that children with special educational needs (Sen) are increasingly being forced out of mainstream education despite a 2014 law which requires local authorities to ensure that these children are offered a mainstream place in nearly all cases.

There are some 1.2 million children in England identified as having special educational needs. But the number of those attending a mainstream primary or secondary in England fell by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2019, according to an analysis of Department for Education figures by the JPI Media Data Unit. At the same time, the number attending designated special schools rose by almost a third over the same period. In the case of one local authority – North East Lincolnshire – the number of Sen children in mainstream secondary schools fell by 63 per cent.

Scotland’s drive for inclusion

By contrast, Scotland has seen a sharp rise in the number of children with additional learning needs in mainstream schools after the Scottish government launched a drive for greater inclusion. In Wales and Northern Ireland, where education policy is also devolved, the number in mainstream schools has remained stable at about 22 per cent.

Parents of Sen children have spoken of an increasing struggle to ensure their offspring are provided for in a mainstream environment. Leading disability education charity, the Alliance for Inclusive Education (Allfie), accused the Government of effectively perpetuating the segregation of people with disabilities in England as schools struggle with budget cuts.

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The Department for Education said there was a requirement for all schools to be inclusive and that the vast majority – some 82 per cent – of all Sen pupils in England were in state-funded mainstream schools.

A spokesperson said: “Additionally, we have created new special schools in response to the increasing number of pupils with complex special educational needs and are committed to delivering even more provision to ensure every child is able to access the education they need.”

‘Hostile education system’

Lucy Bartley with son Samuel, 17, who was educated in mainstream schools
Lucy Bartley with son Samuel, 17, who was educated in mainstream schools

Lucy Bartley’s son Samuel, aged 17, has just finished year 11 and has an EHCP. Samuel was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and hemiplegia. He has both physical and learning disabilities and has attended both mainstream primary and secondary schools in south-west London. He has two sisters. Lucy is a special educational needs disability advocate.

Lucy said: “Instinctively when Samuel was born, I knew he shouldn’t be treated differently from his sisters. Why shouldn’t he go to the same nursery as his sisters? And their relationship has always been so important so why would I separate them almost intentionally?

“I’ve always had the strongly held belief that Samuel has as much right to experience things as our girls and he’s part of our family, not separated off.

Lucy said the family “had a battle” getting Samuel into the local primary school his older sister attended. They ended up fighting the matter at a tribunal, which they won.

Lucy said: “My only reservation about sending Samuel to a mainstream school was that he was the sole wheelchair user. which I think was a big thing in his school environment. It’s all or nothing. The alternative would have been for him to go to a special school where say 60% are wheelchair users. You’ve got this system which basically enshrines that segregation. I know from Samuel’s perspective he felt different and a bit lonely part of the time because there has been no one else and he’s been aware he has been the only wheelchair user.”

“Samuel’s secondary school has been very good at really facilitating both the curriculum and courses that he needed but also in supporting his physical and learning needs and implementing his education and health care plan (EHCP). That’s partially been down to building relationships. I always get to know staff in the schools and ensure there’s trust and goodwill between us.

“You’ve got to build relationships and you’ve got to know the school – particularly the head teacher so they can be confident they can meet your child’s needs and so they can see the benefit of your child going to that school in terms of their reputation. I can genuinely say we’ve had emails from some of Samuel’s teachers who have said it’s such a privilege to teach him and they’ve learnt so much from the experience.”

She said: “We have a fairly toxic and I would argue a hostile education system with the fact that the emphasis is all on results and attainment and schools’ reputations.”

She added: “What happened is the EHCP’s are being viewed as routes into special segregated provision and are incompatible with mainstream.”

Education system divide

It is at first glance, a contrasting tale of two education systems. While in England, the number of special needs pupils attending mainstream schools has plummeted, the trend in Scotland has headed sharply in the opposite direction.

Between 2011/12 and 2018/19, the proportion of children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) in Scottish mainstream schools nearly doubled from just under 17 per cent to nearly 30 per cent.

In the space of seven years, Scotland has gone from being the UK’s worst performer in this area to its best following the decision of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party government to pursue greater inclusion.

However, one frontline worker has told i that the reality can differ from the statistics with some ASN pupils only nominally in a mainstream school because they spend their days in a separate unit or building away from pupils with other abilities.

‘Major catch-up’

The number of children with special needs in mainstream schools in England has fallen by almost a quarter in seven years
The number of children with special needs in mainstream schools in England has fallen by almost a quarter in seven years (Photo: Shutterstock)

One Edinburgh-based pupil support assistant, who has asked i not to reveal his name, said that implementation of the policy was “still playing major catch-up”.

He said: “By sticking a kid in a mainstream school but in a segregated department, or even an outbuilding at times, all you are doing is displacing the issue. You’re not dealing with it and these children are not fully integrated.”

The number of children registered as ASN in Scottish schools has risen by nearly 70 per cent since 2012 to almost 200,000 last year. At the same time, the number of children attending dedicated special schools has fallen only modestly by 1.9 per cent over the same period.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All children and young people should receive the support they need to reach their learning potential and all teachers provide support to pupils with additional support needs, not just ‘support for learning’ staff.”

‘Whole system needs to be reassessed’

Jack*, supply pupil support assistant in mainstream and special schools in Edinburgh.

Jack* said:“As someone who has worked one on one with someone with complex disabilities I wonder just how inclusive inclusive education is,” he said.

“The legislation has led but the actual logistics are still playing catch up. By sticking a kid in a mainstream school but in a segregated department or even an outbuilding at times all you are doing is displacing the issue, you’re not dealing with it and these children are not being fully integrated.

“As positive and as ethical as the drive for inclusion has been in recent years the needs of children in special schools has become increasingly diverse,” he said. “The drive for inclusion has had a two-fold effect. It means mainstream schools in Scotland are dealing with more children with ASN but it also means special schools are becoming increasingly specialised. Special schools are like a battleground just now.”

“For those that are on supply and effectively zero hours, day in and day out they are put in situations they can’t cope with.”

“All you need to work with a child with complex additional needs is to have the appropriate disclosures statements signed off,” he said. “You end up in a situation where a lack of qualified, contracted workers results in potentially under qualified, zero hours supply workers filling in the gaps. These more often than not provide short term relief for the school but at the expense of the children they work with.”

“It’s not the schools as such that are getting it wrong, it’s a governmental position and they’ve got their head in the sand. From the top down, the whole system needs to be reassessed.

“There seems to be an idealistic vision of schools being wholly inclusive and every individual child’s needs are being met. Of course ethically and morally that is great but the implementation of that is still paying major catch up which is to the detriment of the professionals that work there and the very child it’s meant to support.”

*Names have been changed as the case study still works in the sector.

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No Time To Die: James Bond 25’s title and release date revealed for Daniel Craig’s final film

The title of the hotly anticipated next James Bond film has been revealed as No Time To Die.

The 25th film in the franchise will see Daniel Craig in his fifth and final outing as the MI6 agent.

The latest Bond film will be released five years after the last outing Spectre.

No Time To Die has been given a release date of April 2020. The official release has been delayed from its original slated date of February 2020.

What is the plot of No Time To Die?

A post on the official 007 Twitter read: “Daniel Craig returns as James Bond, 007 in… NO TIME TO DIE. Out in the UK on 3 April 2020 and 8 April 2020 in the US. £Bond25 £NoTimeToDie.”

In the film, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica when his old friend Felix Leiter, played by Jeffrey Wright, from the CIA turns up asking for help.

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A mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading the spy onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Filming has been taking place in Jamaica and at Pinewood Studios in the UK, as well as in London.

Who is in the No Time To Die cast?

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig returns in No Time To Die, Bond’s 25th film outing (Photo: Reuters)

The cast of Bond 25 was announced during a live event in Jamaica in April, with Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas joining the line-up.

Bond stalwarts Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are producing, while Neal Purvis and Robert Wade – who have written all of Craig’s Bond films to date – are listed as writers again.

The movie, which is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, has been beset by issues in recent months, with a “controlled explosion” damaging the outside of the famous 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, leaving a crew member injured.

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No-one working inside the studio was hurt, but one crew member outside suffered a “minor injury”.

In May, Craig was injured while filming in Jamaica, forcing the actor, 51, to undergo “minor ankle surgery”.

However, the cast appeared in good spirits when they were visited on set by the Prince of Wales in June.

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F-35 Lightning II: What you need to know about the fighter jet featured in The Real Top Gun on ITV

The new ITV documentary series Fighter Pilot: The Real Top Gun takes viewers into the cockpit of the F-35 Lightning II – a fighter aircraft of “unprecedented” power.

Produced in the US, the jets cost £100 million each (the pilot’s helmet costs £250,000 alone), and can reach speeds of 1,200 mph.

The RAF has pledged to buy 138 Lightnings, which will launch from the Royal Navy’s huge, next generation Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers – here’s what you need to know.

F-35 Lightning II: the key facts

The F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single engine stealth fighter jet built by the American firm Lockheed Martin, which claims their flagship aircraft boasts “unprecedented” stealth capabilities which make it “virtually undetectable to enemy radar”.

It is classified as a “5th Generation Fighter”, meaning that the aircraft boasts enhanced stealth, agility and manoeuvrability compared to its predecessors – it has a top speed of 1.6 Mach, or 1,200 mph.

There are only two other aircraft carrying the categorisation: the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the Chinese Chengdu J-20.

Its development represents the largest and most expensive military programme in history – an estimated cost of $406.5 billion for its service lifetime (until 2070), with over $1 trillion in addition maintenance.

A Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet takes off at the Payerne Air Base
The development of the F-35 Lightning II is the most expensive military programme in history (AFP/Getty Images)

The Lightning faced criticism during its development, which began in 1992, for being “plagued with design flaws” and for falling behind schedule while also going well over budget.

An investigation by The Times also found the F-35s could not transmit data to older planes without revealing its own position to the enemy, while its weight, onboard software and range at max speed (around 150 miles) also facing scrutiny.

However, its first iteration, the F-35B, was eventually introduced for the US Marines in 2015, with the F-35A arriving with the US Air Force in 2016 and the F-35C earlier this year.

Around 420 have now been produced, with the Lightning first entering combat in 2018 with the Israeli Air Force, one of 12 countries outside the US to commit to orders for the aircraft.

The RAF has committed to buy 48 of the jets by 2025, and subsequently a further 90, with the Lightning intended as the replacement for the retired Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4 jets.

Its short take-off and vertical landing capabilities mean the aircraft can be launched from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, currently the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Lockheed Martin also states that 15 per cent of the parts for each Lightning come from British companies including Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.

The first of Britain's new supersonic F-35 'stealth' strike fighters accompanied by a United States Marine Corps F-35B aircraft, flies over the North Sea
12 countries have confirmed orders for the F-35 Lightning (Getty Images)

What happens in Fighter Pilot: The Real Top Gun?

Fighter Pilot: The Real Top Gun, which airs in three parts on ITV, boasts exclusive access to the RAF’s F35 fighter programme and to the Ministry Of Defence’s fast jet recruitment process.

The series takes viewers inside the cockpit for a vivid insight into the challenges faced by the men and women who aim to become the UK military’s top guns.

It covers those on the learning curve aiming to reach the top as well as on already qualified fighter pilots training to fly the new aircraft.

Pilot standing in front of a jet
The ITV series focuses on the men and women who aim to become the UK military’s top guns (ITV)

With just a few months to get ready for the front line, their task is to be fitted up for space-age new suits and helmets, to learn how to steer with their feet and to familiarise themselves with the challenges of flying the new jet.

Filmed at the RAF’s academy in North Wales and at the F35 base in South Carolina, USA, Fighter Pilot follows Danielle (or “Danners”), aiming to become one of only nine British female frontline pilots, former windsurfing instructor Sedge, and young father Andy.

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Britain to cut almost all diplomatic contact with EU in coming days to focus on Brexit

Almost all British attendance at EU diplomatic meetings will end by 1 September, the Government has said.

UK ministers and officials will only attend European Union meetings where the UK has a “significant national interest”, the Department for Exiting the European Union said.

The cut off falls two days before MPs return from summer recess on 3 September, after which a no-confidence vote in the government is anticipated.

British officials will not be present at least two thirds of the 800 meetings currently planned for September and October and only attend those relating to the UK’s exit on 31 October.

Freeing up ministers

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Steve Barclay said it will free up UK ministers (Photo: BBC)

Boris Johnson will still attend European Council meetings of the bloc’s leaders.

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The Government claimed the change will allow officials to focus on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the pursuit of trade deals with nations around the world.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said: “An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings with attendance just the tip of the iceberg.

“Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.

“From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours.

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Photo: Getty)

“This will free up time for ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on 31 October and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.”

At meetings where the UK is not represented, its vote will be delegated.

Brexit deadline

The Brexit department said the move was “not intended in any way to frustrate the functioning of the EU”, but to ensure the UK’s exit.

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The move comes days after Mr Barclay signed the official commencement order to end the jurisdiction of European laws on 31 October.

The signing of the repeal officially sets in motion the process of no longer binding the UK to European law.

The move was considered the strongest signal yet that the Government will not budge on its Halloween Brexit deadline.

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Children continue to shun cigarettes with number of young smokers dropping to record low

Young people are continuing to shun cigarettes, with the number of school pupils in England aged 11 to 15 who say they have ever smoked falling to its lowest rate on record last year, according to a major survey.

NHS Digital questioned more than 13,000 pupils aged 11 to 15 from nearly 200 schools in England about smoking, drinking and drug use for a biennial poll. In total 16 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds said that they had smoked a cigarette in their lifetime, down from 19 per cent in 2016 and 49 per cent in 1996.

One quarter of pupils (25 per cent) said they had used e-cigarettes, the same as in 2016. Pupils who had smoked a cigarette were much more likely to also have vaped, than those who had not, the research found.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and justice at Public Health England said: “These results show again that e-cigarettes are not leading more young people to smoke. As you would expect, some young people experiment but regular vaping among those who have never smoked is very rare…Youth smoking rates are continuing to decline at an encouraging rate”.

Drug use

While cigarette use has continued to decline among young people, drug use has remained nearly as high as in 2016, with one quarter (23.7%) of 11- to 15-year-olds admitting they had taken drugs in their lifetime. In 2014 this figure stood at 14.6%, jumping to 24.3% two years later.

NHS Direct said this sharp rise could be attributed to respondents not answering questions on whether they had tried individual drugs but that “some level of genuine increase [was] evident”.

Nearly one in 10 (nine per cent) of 11 year olds and close to two fifths (38 per cent) of 15-year-olds said they had ever taken drugs.

Nine per cent of all pupils said that they had taken drugs in the past month.

Nearly half have had a drink

The proportion of young people who said they had ever had an alcoholic drink also remained the same as in 2016 at 44 per cent.

Relatively few 11-year-olds reported having a drink (14 per cent), but among 15-year-olds this number leapt to 70 per cent.

Respondents who said they had obtained alcohol in the last four weeks, were most likely to have been given it by their parents or guardians, the survey found.

@kt_grant

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Where is Keeping Faith filmed? Filming locations for series 2 in Wales, including Laugharne and Pendine Beach

The wait for Keeping Faith viewers is over and the second series of the hugely successful welsh crime thriller is back on TV screens.

Set in the fictional town of Abercorran, the S4C and BBC drama sees the return of Faith Howells as she attempts to piece her life and family back together following the return of her husband Evan who suddenly disappeared a week before.

Keeping Faith fans are being taken back to Laugharne on the south coast of Carmarthenshire where the thriller is filmed, as the drama between the Howells family unfolds.

Here’s all you need to know about Keeping Faith locations.

Filming for Keeping Faith took place in various locations including Pendine beach (Photo: BBC)

Where is Keeping Faith filmed?

Carmarthen

The majority of scenes were filmed in Carmarthen. The court scenes that featured in series one were filmed in the historic Guildhall.

The Laugharne Estuary

In the drama, Faith’s home overlooks the Laugharne estuary. Whilst the interior scenes were filmed in a Bridgend studio, the external shots were filmed in the garden of a house belonging to local couple Eynon and Mary Hughes who have resided there for 30 years.

A little fun fact, Laugharne is known for being the home of famous poet Dylan Thomas.

Pendine beach

The beach shots were all filmed on Pendine beach, which has a popular holiday park called Pendine Sands near by.

Filming has also taken place at other points along the Welsh coastline including Nash Point, Porthkerry Caravan Park and Barry Yacht club.

Swansea

Whilst a lot of the filming takes place in Carmarthen, the Keeping Faith production team also moved further afield and filmed scenes in the Swansea Valley.

The courtroom scenes were filmed in the historic Guildhall in Carmarthen (Photo: BBC)

When is Keeping Faith on TV?

The second series of the critically acclaimed thriller returned to BBC One on 23 July, and continues every Tuesday at 9pm.

What to expect from series two

The new batch of episodes will return 18 months after Evan’s sudden reappearance and will follow Faith as she attempts to pick up the pieces whilst juggling her job and her family.

As Faith is seen trying to deal with her husband’s return after he disappeared from the family home shortly after the birth of their third child, the reason for Evan’s unexpected departure will be explained across the series.

Explaining how Faith’s character has changed in series two, Myles revealed in an interview with the BBC: “This series you see a very, very different couple. you see a couple in grief.

“It’s completely defined Faith. That huge event of her husband going missing, her children being taken away and then kidnapped and then him returning again all within a space of a week, I think would have an effect on the strongest of people. We find faith in a very uneasy, dangerous world.

She went on to add: “It’s anything but normal. That’s the joy of series two, what is she going to do? How is she going to do it? I think everyone gets lost in series two. There lies our beautiful drama.”

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Keeping Faith series 2 cast: who stars with Eve Myles, and when it’s on BBC One tonight

Keeping Faith viewers are getting the answers they were searching for after series one ended with Evan Howells’ reappearance.

The crime thriller, based in Wales, became a nationwide hit when the first series introduced Faith Howells, played by Eve Myles, as a lawyer, wife and mother whose world is torn apart when her husband Evan disappears following the birth of their third child.

Having already aired on welsh channel S4C, the drama returned to the BBC on Tuesday 23 July with six episodes that pick up 18 months after Evan’s return.

Here’s all you need to know about Keeping Faith series two.

Faith is set to get the answers she needs from Evan after he returned home (Photo: BBC)

Who stars in Keeping Faith?

Eve Myles as Faith Howells

Myles returns as lawyer, wife and mother Faith who’s life is thrown into turmoil following the disappearance of her husband.

What else has she been in?

Myles’ credits include appearances in Doctor Who and Torchwood. She also played the role of Claire Ripley in Broadchurch before moving on to play Mrs. Jenkins in Victoria, Gwen Parry-Jones in A Very English Scandal and Caitlin Henderson in the most recent series of Cold Feet.

Bradley Freegard as Evan Howells

Freegard plays the role of Faith’s husband Evan and will be the focus of the second episode following his character’s return after suddenly disappearing. As well as his role as Faith’s husband, Freegard is also Myles’ other half in real life.

What else has he been in?

The actor has starred in a number of well known TV shows including EastEnders, Doctors, Holby City and Hinterland.

Bradley Freegard will return to Keeping Faith series two as Evan Howells (Photo: BBC)

Demi Letherby as Alys Howells

Letherby plays the role of Evan and Faith’s rebellious teenage daughter

What else has she been in?

Keeping Faith is Letherby’s first major acting role.

Lacey Jones as Megan Howells

Jones plays the role of the well behaved second child of Evan and Faith.

What else has she been in?

Just like Letherby, Jones’ role in Keeping Faith is the young actress’ first role.

Aneirin Hughes plays the role of Evan’s dad in the thriller (Photo: BBC)

Aneirin Hughes as Tom Howells

The character of Evan’s father is played by welsh actor Hughes.

What else has he been in?

Hughes’ acting credits include his role as Neil Haughton in Judge John Deed, Sir Fraser Anderson in Holby City and as Andy Jones in EastEnders from 2009 to 2016.

Rhian Morgan as Marion Howells

Morgan plays the role of Hughes’ on screen wife and Evan’s mother.

What else has she been in?

The actress has starred in a number of welsh TV shows including 35 Awr, Pethau Bychain, Gwaith and Calon Gaeth.

Mark Lewis Jones as Steve Baldini

Jones can be seen in the role of Lewis – one of Evan’s clients who has become close friends with Faith.

What else has he been in?

During series one and series two of Keeping Faith, Jones played the role of General Pikalov in the TV series Chernobyl. He has also appeared in Stella, Living a Lie and National Treasure.

Hannah Daniel will be back as Cerys (Photo: BBC)

Hannah Daniel as Cerys Jones

As junior associate at the Howells firm, Daniel will be seen returning to the second series.

What else has she been in?

The Cardiff born actress will be recognisable for her role as Leah Faulkner in Holby City and as DS Sian Owen in Hinterland.

Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Madlen Vaughan

Edwards will make her debut in the second series as a friend of the Howells family accused of murdering her husband.

What else has she been in?

Skins, Luther, Wolf Hall, Death in Paradise, Peaky Blinders and Curfew are just a few shows Edwards has starred in during her career.

Rhashan Stone as DI Laurence Breeze

Stone will be seen playing the role of a detective seconded from Swansea CID following the demotion of Susan Williams, the former head of the local CID.

What else has she been in?

Stone’s acting credits include: Horrible Histories, Strike Back, Apple Tree Yard and Delicious.

When is Keeping Faith on TV?

The second series of the critically acclaimed thriller returned on 23 July, and continues every Monday on BBC One at 9pm.

However, the six episodes making up the second series has already aired in Wales under its welsh title Un Bore Mercher.

Rhashan Stone will make his debut on Keeping Faith during the new series (Photo: BBC)

What to expect from the new season?

The new batch of episodes will return 18 months after Evan’s sudden reappearance and will follow Faith as she attempts to pick up the pieces whilst juggling her job and her family.

As Faith is seen trying to deal with her husband’s return after he disappeared from the family home shortly after the birth of their third child, the reason for Evan’s unexpected departure will be explained across the series.

Explaining how Faith’s character has changed in series two, Myles revealed in an interview with the BBC: “This series you see a very, very different couple. You see a couple in grief.

“It’s completely defined Faith. That huge event of her husband going missing, her children being taken away and then kidnapped and then him returning again all within a space of a week, I think would have an effect on the strongest of people. We find faith in a very uneasy, dangerous world.

She went on to add: “It’s anything but normal. That’s the joy of series two, what is she going to do? How is she going to do it? I think everyone gets lost in series two. There lies our beautiful drama.”

Meanwhile, Daniel adds that the story will still focus on Faith and her attempts to keep it all together.

“Everything has kind of fallen apart since the first series. The Howells family have fallen apart, the Howells family firm has fallen apart. It’s still essentially a story about a woman trying to keep it together for the sake of her family,” the actress revealed.

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The strangest questions I’ve been asked while talking to students about my life as an author

Some years ago, on a book tour, I was invited to speak at a community college somewhere in the northern United States. The students at this college were a polite and attentive audience, as they usually are in the United States. At the end of the talk, though, they were invited to ask questions.

Silence ensued, as it often does in such circumstances. The talk had been about being an author and what was entailed in writing books. The class was an English one, and the students were encouraged to write. The topic was therefore relevant to their course and might reasonably be expected to inspire a question or two.

At last a hand went up at the back and a young man broke the silence. “Have you suffered?” he asked, giving the word suffered its full value.

The question took me by surprise and it was a moment or two before I was able to work out why he should have asked this. It had something to do, I thought, with the notion that books come from suffering, and that a relatively trouble-free life is no background for literary composition.

In a sense that is true – many books do come from authorial unhappiness. An equable temperament, accepting of whatever life brings, does not necessarily prompt one to write.

Students at a lecture theatre (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)

The student’s question may, however, have come from somewhere quite different. He might have been so accustomed to the familiar tone of the misery memoir that he assumed that anybody who wrote a book would, by that very fact, be one who has suffered some calamitous misfortune.

He might be forgiven for that impression; there are numerous books today that chronicle unhappy or unresolved lives and the undoubted suffering such backgrounds involve. Perhaps this student thought that I had simply omitted to mention the suffering that I must have experienced in order to be a writer. As the American writer Gore Vidal said of the Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, gore vidal, which apparently means in Russian, “He has seen grief”.

Exiled Russian writer and Nobel prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

As it happened, it proved rather difficult to answer the question. I could not claim the sort of suffering that fuels misery memoirs. Moreover, I belong to a generation that has never had to fight a war and has, by and large, in this country at least, had many advantages. So suffering in that sense was not something of which I could boast.

As to other forms of suffering – the sort of suffering that comes from existential angst – while some may experience that, I never had – not really. So eventually I said, “Frankly, no, I haven’t really suffered.”

He nodded, perhaps that was what he thought all along – that I had not suffered when I should have suffered. Perhaps he concluded that any advice I had given about writing was by that fact rendered nugatory – because who should pay any attention to an author who had not suffered?

The talk over, I was escorted to my car by the principal of the college. As we walked along the corridor, one of the students followed us from the lecture room. Coming abreast of us, she announced that she had had a question that she had not had the opportunity to ask in the lecture theatre. I assured her that I would be happy to answer it now.

Her question was every bit as surprising as the question about suffering, perhaps even more so. “Do you like eating wild mushrooms?” she asked.

“Magic mushrooms” which cause a hallucinogenic effect. (Evert-Jan Daniels/AFP/Getty Images)

I glanced at the principal, who remained inscrutable. I was on my own.

“It depends,” I said. “I’m a bit wary about wild mushrooms.”

That was a truthful answer. You have to be very careful with wild mushrooms.

The young woman smiled. It seemed that she was satisfied with this answer, and so she said goodbye and disappeared back down the corridor. I said nothing to the principal. I felt I had strayed into an absurdist play, something dreamed up by Ionesco or Beckett.

Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989), winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

As I was driven away, I reflected on these two questions, but particularly on the second. What should have possessed that young woman, apparently rational and in a state of sobriety, to ask me, a complete stranger, whether I liked eating wild mushrooms? Was it simply genuine curiosity, or was there some unspoken agenda, perhaps a criticism?

It suddenly occurred to me that she might be talking about magic mushrooms, and I, in my naivety, had not tumbled to that. Was it therefore an invitation, an offer of a chemical experience? But then would such an invitation have been issued in the presence of the principal of the college who might be assumed to take a dim view of magic mushrooms being bandied about on the campus?

I think about that strange visit from time to time. In this life we are occasionally asked questions we cannot answer, or cannot answer in the way perhaps expected of us. Such questions remind us that people sometimes talk to one another in terms that one side of the conversation may not understand. Perhaps that is what afflicts us now.

That is what I think, but I also think I might be missing something about this encounter. But what? Complacency? Perhaps the answer was staring me in the face. Perhaps there was a line or two of Burns that could be the key. O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us!

More from Alexander McCall Smith

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Stephen Wallace murder: how his killer Adrian Atkinson was caught after murdering the 46-year-old in Paisley

It’s the third and final episode of the BBC‘s true-crime documentary series this week, and it focuses on the 2018 murder of Stephen Wallace in Scotland.

Murder Case has been a surprise hit for BBC Scotland, as it follows forensic teams attempting to solve brutal cases of violence and murder in the country.

This episode focuses on a crime that shocked the nation just last year.

What is the episode about?

The third episode of the series, entitled Motive Unknown, follows the investigation into the violent murder of 46-year-old Stephen Wallace, whose body was found in a Paisley tower block flat in March 2018.

Stephen’s injuries were so significant that he could not be visually identified. The MITs, working with SPA Forensic Services, had to forensically comb the crime scene for clues which would lead them to Stephen’s killer.

Stephen Wallace was found dead in a flat in Paisley in March 2018 (Photo: Police Scotland)

What happened to Stephen Wallace?

Wallace’s body was found by police on 4 March 2018 in a tower block, but he had been so badly injured he could only be identified by his fingerprints.

It was a concerned friend who raised the alarm, and it was likely that Wallace had been left for dead for two weeks.

Read more:

Murder Case: how the series explores what happened to Julie Reilly

It transpired that he had been murdered by his neighbour, Adrian Atkinson, who had smashed him on the head eight times with a machete.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Atkinson had left Mr Wallace to die and later bragged he had “done him in”.

Atkinson pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Wallace on 18 February by repeatedly striking him on the head and body with the bladed weapon.

Atkinson jailed for 16 years

Judge Lord Matthews jailed Atkinson for a minimum of 16 years before he can apply for parole. The judge said it was “a brutal and sustained attack” on his victim who “appears to have been helpless”.

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A Black and White Killing: Racist murder of Larnell Bruce to be explored in BBC documentary

Atkinson’s defence counsel John Scullion QC said his client had been drinking heavily and had no recollection of his actions, but he accepts responsibility and expressed remorse.

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Supt Maxine Martin said: “Adrian Atkinson subjected Stephen Wallace, a man who was supposed to be his friend, to a violent and sustained attack.

“Mr Wallace was well known locally and the response from the community was extremely positive. I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public for their support and helping us piece together Mr Wallace’s movements in the weeks leading up to his death.

“I am glad that Atkinson made the decision to take responsibility for his horrific crime by entering a guilty plea and sparing his victim’s family having to hear the brutal details of how he died.”

What other murders have been covered in the series?

Andrew Wallace - left - and Julie Reilly - right (Photo: Police Scotland)
The case of Julie Reilly, murdered by Andrew Wallace, has been explored in the series (Photo: Police Scotland)

The first two episodes, which aired in early June, looked at the disappearance, and subsequent murder investigation, of 47-year-old Julie Reilly who was murdered last year.

To date, these episodes have had over 700,000 downloads on BBC iPlayer.

Murder Case: Motive Unknown is on BBC Two on Wednesday 21 August at 9pm. It’s the last in the current series.

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