As faithful readers of The New European, you are no doubt the kind of hip, young gunslingers that not much gets past. As such, you will already doubtless have heard that one of the many wheezes and brainstorms put forward by esteemed next former prime minister Rishi Sunak to address the now almost innumerable infelicities and inconveniences which lower upon our poor nation, is that our school children should be encouraged, nay, required, to learn mathematics until the age of 18.
On the one hand, we can see how this makes perfect sense to Mr Sunak. Mathematics have, we imagine, played a significant role in his life thus far. It almost certainly helps to be a bit of a whizz at sums when you have more houses than fingers (DISCLAIMER – Rishi Sunak may not, in fact, have more houses than fingers; we’re not sure, and we’re not sure he is sure either. He does, however, have more houses than you).
Two possible caveats spring to mind. One, if we are indeed to force all our pupils to pursue maths to A-level standards regardless of their ability to meet these standards, we are not only going to create a lot of unnecessary failure, but we will also deny our kids the chance to pursue other subjects to which they might be better suited, and indeed more likely to become successful wealth-generators for the country.
My other misgiving is this: do the government really want a highly numerate populace? Given that in any by-the-numbers examination of how they’re doing, they don’t exactly come out looking good?
For example, here are some basic maths questions with which you can test yourself to see if you could meet Sunak’s exacting requirements:
The government wrote off £4bn worth of unusable PPE during the pandemic; they’re now engaging another of their donor companies to incinerate the unusable PPE at the expense of another £4.5 m. Given that a nurse in the UK earns around £30,000 a year, how many nurses’ salaries could this money have paid for?
Boris Johnson recently spent nearly four and a half thousand pounds on a single restaurant dinner in New York and billed this to the British taxpayer. For how many months would a recipient of Universal Credit be expected to survive on this money?
Boris Johnson is entitled to £115,000 a year in perpetuity as a former prime minister. The cost of raising a child in the UK is estimated as around £8,000 per annum. How many (finish this one off for yourselves, I can’t be bothered – MB)
While we’re here, Liz Truss is also now entitled to £115,000 a year in perpetuity as a former prime minister, despite only having lasted six weeks in the job. How many times do you feel like punching yourself in the face after reading this?
Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, is estimated to have avoided paying £20m in tax to the Treasury by maintaining her non-dom status. How many Kia Rios (RRP £15,210 on the road) would this buy?
The Department of “Levelling Up” was supposed to provide aid for the disadvantaged areas of the country, but has thus far largely ignored poorer districts with the bulk of the available funding going to better-off (ie Conservative voting) regions. The question is: what the hell did you THINK was going to happen (show your working)?
When the Conservatives took power in 2010, 78% of ambulances requested by calling 999 arrived within eight minutes. Today, the average response time to a Category 2 emergency (including strokes and heart attacks) is over one and a half hours. Taking these two figures into account, how long before the revolution starts?
In this equation… (UKM x 0.8) /5bn = x … find x, where UKM denotes the British media, 5bn denotes the five billionaires who collectively own 80% of it and x denotes the total UK tax paid by them while their companies are registered overseas (hint: it’s a round number).
POEM OF THE WEEK
Prime ministers they come and go
Like they never did before
They might as well fit Number 10
With a revolving door
They’re out no sooner than behind
That big old desk they’re sat
No one lasts for long round here
Except Larry; he’s the cat.
He’s outlasted four PMs so far
And probably soon a fifth
Larry’s the one resident
That politics can’t shift
He sees them strut and fret around
As time does onward creep
Then licks his whiskers, rubs his ears
And goes right back to sleep.
Houses rise and dynasties
And soon they fall in turn
He watches from the sofa
As ambitions crash and burn
He washes himself thoughtfully
In the graveyard of careers
He’s Larry, he’s the only one
Surviving through the years.