In 2007 Tata brought up the British Steel Industry. This I learn now was several times bigger than itself and, with the collusion of banks, pulled off the deal. This is the Steel Industry Game played by corporate interests and governments with peoples’ lives as the pawns. Jobs and community infrastructure are nowhere in the reckoning. In India this could be seen as the tables turning on colonial history.
Games began in earnest in the 1970s as industry after industry was closed, jobs lost and communities shattered. To those in charge of us it didn’t matter that an economy based 80% on heavy industry with just 20% service industry was about to be turned on its head. Manufacturing could be outsourced to far away with people on low or no wages being exploited. Unions had become too strong to handle having won decent wages and working conditions supported by health and safety legislation. The “enemy within” had to be stopped at all costs in the class war that ensued. The power of workers demonstrated at the Battle of Saltley Gate in 1972 should never be repeated as the Battle of Orgreave over a decade later made clear as violently repressive measures were used on unarmed demonstrators.
MPs enjoying their Easter hols were slow to wake up to Tata’s announcement that it was going to decide to off load British Steel by 31st March 2016. Hell, that’s today! The first to come back was Jeremy Corbyn requesting a recall of Parliament and visiting Port Talbot where he alone was able to make calm and considered suggestions on action, including nationalisation of the industry whole or in part. David Cameron appeared rather lame as he dismissed requests for the recall of Parliament and nationalisation but claiming nothing had been ruled out.
The infamous budget speech from George Osborne has not left the news headlines since its delivery weeks ago. “Austerity” was a term dreamed up to blind people from the reality of Tory policy which was avowedly to shrink the state. Local accountability has certainly shrunk with nowhere to go to question those now running our precious and hard won services.
Education has been overshadowed by proper concerns over what is going on in health, with threats there of increasing privatisation which, with TTIP proposals, could end up with multinational concerns running NHS services. In Birmingham Perry Beeches School was held up as an example of the brave new world, its head teacher, Liam Nolan, elevated to the position of “super-head”. Perry Beeches attempted to produce clones across Birmingham with “Perry Beeches II, III and now V”. “Super-head” has now become a bit big for his boots. Although he has for now retained his position of Head Teacher, his designation of CEO and Accounting Officer of a Trust set up to run the whole empire has been withdrawn, his second six-figure income having drawn fire. The Trust has been paid well over a million pounds annually, with Mr Nolan protesting that £200,000 was too little to reward his brilliance.
Like health and other public services essential to our well being, education is not served by being forced into a market place which discriminates between the well-off and the majority who live from their labour and ability to get employment. Speeches as the National Union of Teachers and NAS/UWT Conferences this Easter serve to show how Tories are now being challenged with a national protest on 16th April and teachers supporting junior doctors with strike action. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, was well supported at the NUT Conference in Brighton while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had a torrid time in Birmingham speaking to NAS/UWT delegates. Her assertion at the outset that there would be no u-turns in her proposals looks particularly vulnerable in the light of Osborne’s back tracking on benefits following his budget announcement.
Extract from Nicky Morgan’s speech.
What does Nicky Morgan know about education, or anything else come to that? Her abysmal performance on a recent Any Questions showed her floundering about her own Chancellor’s budget proposals to attack the most vulnerable. Two news stories today ask what qualifies her to foist inappropriate testing on our children and press ahead with her “irreversible” decision to force all schools into becoming Academies.
It has long been blatantly obvious what the Tories were about with education giving all assets away to private ownership, putting it in the hands of many who, like Nicky Morgan, understand little about education or children and how they learn. The 11 plus test used to brand children as failures with living with that idea into adulthood. Now Morgan proposes what teachers are saying is totally inappropriate testing at 7 as well as 11. They believe many adults would have difficulty in understanding the questions children will be expected to answer. In many countries formal education begins at 7 and children have happier experiences of learning through play. In UK private tutors are converting their homes into school rooms to coach the young of pushy parents demanding their children perform to order. How damaging this is to the many is about to be proved once again.
Why it has taken so long to hear the assertion that Tory policy on education is asset stripping is puzzling, except the last Labour Government also promoted Academies. At last Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader, has said it at the NUT Conference. Nicky Morgan is due to speak at the the NAS/UWT Conference. She should meet with an appropriately hostile reception. Hopefully they will have read the DFE’s own figures on the performance of the the academy chains which are very clear that the Government’s assertion that they will improve schools is utter rubbish. It leaves us in no doubt at all that the Tories’ plans for schools, as with other privatisations, is purely ideologically based as more and more tax payers’ finances are handed to organisations with no mandate or accountability. Typically those at the head of the underperforming chains are paying themselves telephone number salaries. Their schools are allowed to employ unqualified staff and worsen the working conditions of teachers. Morgan is dismissing the parent governors, once welcomed unpaid into schools to carry out very difficult tasks. Now rubbished she wants them replaced by the “experts”, presumably those engaged in foisting proposals as stupid and uncomprehending as hers on our invaluable education system. Indeed what does Nicky Morgan, and many other politicians including Labour imitators know about education?
Socialist Labour Party Policies for Education.
Same old incomprehension from governments as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish as Syrians are sent back from Greece to Turkey and Turkish are given free passage. Just who are enemies and who are friends? Friendship seems to be synonymous with anyone regarded as economically useful never mind who they associated with. Profit making is blind to any problems arising as Russia Today reveals.
We must and have welcomed refugees. The majority have fled the horrific situation arising from political expediency from the likes of Bush and Blair in stoking up with wars predicated on ancient conflicts between “Christians” and “Muslims”. The use of such blanket ideas as “terrorism” were intended to serve the interests of those leaders by uniting the nations they led by fear promising protection from such enemies. The series “The Power of Nightmares” shows how we have been misled by people who should now be on trial for the war crimes following their horrendous bidding, backed (if not led) by an international arms industry pushing for permanent war. The death and destruction that has followed has been infinitely greater than could be mustered the “axis of evil” that George W. Bush’s administration invented with the aid of the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Milton Friedman and the Chicago School promoting the “Shock Doctrine” to be unleashed on the invented enemies they needed to save us (in the “World of Capitalism”) from.
The distorted vision seems to created a reality as we follow actual “terror” attacks in Paris and in now in Brussels. Instead of understanding this the responses remain uncomprehending repeating the same lack of understanding and imagination as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish. Do we imagine that the majority of those fleeing the destruction of their homes and communities are “terrorists” rather victims of terror from all sides, including those who have intervened supposedly to save them? The EU has shown itself to be totally unprepared to collectively take precautions so that those with the intention of bringing death and destruction into the heart of Europe can disappear into the crowd. In the end the majority become the suspects and the world of Islam conflated with “Terrorism”. Of course the doctrine of “Shock and Awe” used against not just the “Terrorists” but the peoples of ancient nations and the destruction of their (and our) heritage) is not defined as the perpetration of terror. It is most powerful educational and recruiting agent that the “Terrorist” could possibly have as they revisit the perpetrators (our governments) and apply just that doctrine to us.
As Obama visits Cuba he exposes the continuing reality of the nation that imposes power irrespective of ideas: ideas that have long been a subject of discussion in Cuba do not register in his patronage of this supposedly hostile state, once, if not now (?) a candidate for the “axis of evil”. The Cubans know that the enmity is not being ended by this exhibition of friendship as threat is related by a charm offensive without even touching US intentions towards the neighbour in its backyard. Obama hasn’t even tried to tone down the rhetoric. What he seems to have failed to note is how ideas discussed throughout Latin America are a reality in the alliances that have sprung up with Cuba as a key player rather than excluded from American partnerships. The ideas are refreshing alternatives which include voices of former victims of colonial rule across the world.
In Europe mass movements have begun to emerge demanding something different from the impositions that affect people internally as well as externally. This is also evident within the United States itself as Bernie Sanders refuses to withdraw from the Presidential race and states continue to endorse his candidature for Democratic nominee. Promises of resistance in Greece have been compromised by the powerful economic interventions of the dominant nations of Germany and France. In UK Blairite factions which support policies of privatisation and austerity dog the Labour Party membership’s leadership choice of Jeremy Corbyn. In consequence he has backtracked on policies long associated with him, including membership of the EU itself, and the need for Trident for our security. (How will that prevent ISIS mingling with fleeing refugees across mainland Europe?)