Greedy Tories, Leave our Schools Alone!

Greedy Tories – Leave our Schools Alone

The school bully marches into playgrounds across this country, David Cameron with Nicky Morgan, and Michael Gove cheering from the sidelines, imposing his will.  Against the will of teachers and parents, he pursues the policy of Academisation. Tory policies of destruction of LEAs, and encouraging children and their schools to compete against one another is nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with professionalism. Centralised services such as  provision for those with special educational needs (SEN), education welfare, (EWS) support for children’s mental health (CAMHS),  Educational Psychology Services (EPS) , support for children suffering ME/CFS, or EBSR (emotionally based school refusal) can be provided where schools work together within local consortia or LEAs, but where profit is the objective such services are are lost to our children, and as a result so many lives are irrevocably damaged.

The latest we hear from David Cameron is that even “good schools could become Academies“. They have moved on from those schools which were  struggling, having cashed in they are now moving on to those which aren’t.

Cameron now says , “And other schools rated ‘good’ at their last inspection – but which haven’t been maintaining high standards since. They are giving children ‘just enough’ to avoid falling beneath our floor standards. But frankly ‘just enough’ isn’t good enough for my children, and it shouldn’t be for yours.

“So we’re going to say to those schools: if you’re not making fast enough progress in raising standards, you have to change and if you can’t do it yourself, you have to become a sponsored academy and welcome in people with a proven track record of running outstanding schools.”

Of course, everyone would like to see the very best for every child and Labour’s  Every Child Matters set out to do that.  There is no evidence that the policies of Academisation and schools’ privatisation do anything to improve our schools, yet we do see evidence of Academy Schools which have  failed since their staus has changed. OFSTED Chief Michael Wilshaw has stated that struggling schools are no better off under academy control.

In the beginning, the Academisation programme was hidden behind lies of “improving schools”, or ‘reforming education”. The evidence now presents this as a sham, as academies are failing, and one wonders whether the intention is to reacademise the failing academies, or perhaps a new, equally shallow word will be introduced. This programme is, and always has been about privatisation of our state education system, and about profits for companies who wish to speculate. There is privatisation of exam boards, textbooks and buildings, of teacher’s careers and even input on the curriculum itself.

But it is more ominous than all that. They seek to control as well as profit. They seek  a division of our society, where the principle of a universal, comprehensive education system becomes dead and buried. Will they seek to gain control of future generations walking into a zombie world?  I consider Tories underestimate the intelligence of people. I have hope. There is massive opposition  to Academisation of our schools. That voice must be heard, and Labour must oppose  this policy and call for a return to LEAs or teacher managed consortia.

The Eton-Educated Tories are blinkered. The principle that education can be bought is indeed flawed, and evidence shows that education systems are most successful where privatised schools are banned. Societies are successful where its citizens are well educated and  informed,  where skills can develop, where the Arts and Science thrive. But the Conservative Party does not look to improve learning, the quality of life of the majority of citizens, or the development of skills and industry. They seek to make profits and will do so until there is nothing left, but a wasteland –  unless we oppose this and provide an alternative. Labour must  oppose Tory privatisation of our schools,  and reintroduce local consortia where communities support all children for mutual benefit of us all.

We must not allow them to gamble with our children’s lives.

Is Time up for “The Big Lie”?

Is Time up for ‘The Big Lie’?

Jim Grundy
Big Lie
The ‘Big Lie’ theory is best summed up by the well-known phrase that if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one, repeat it often enough and you’ll be believed. It works and, ironically, it relies upon the basic honesty of most people to make it work.
Everybody lies. Of course we do but those lies are the small things that make life easier. You do like the meal that’s been cooked for you; yes, that new shirt, suit looks great, etc., etc. Lying is normally a harmless social lubricant, with no malice involved. And so most people think others operate on basically the same level.
But they don’t.

Over the past five years the Tories and their Lib Dem supporters have lied on an epic scale. Orwellian double-think and newspeak has nothing on them. They damn Labour for borrowing, whilst borrowing more than Labour has done, not only during the previous Labour administration but in history; boast of growth whilst overseeing the slowest economic recovery since the South Sea Bubble 300 years ago; and a rate of growth that still doesn’t match the one they inherited – and let no-one mention that the national debt Labour was bequeathed in 1997 (as a % of GDP) was larger than was passed on to the Tories in 2010.

The Tories know this perfectly well. But the credit crunch was a Tory wet dream, offering undreamed-of opportunities to implement a huge shift of wealth away from the public to a tiny ruling elite. It is no coincidence that the U.K. now has the largest number of billionaires per head of population than any other country. When the Tories ask where the money has gone – referencing ‘that’ note – the answer is clear.

From the privatisation of the Royal Mail for £1bn less than its market value – at a conservative estimate – to the handing out of NHS contracts to the private sector, the evidence of how this asset-stripping is playing out is there for all to see.

But what is in plain sight is not always what is most visible.

I give you, for your distraction, the ever-changing galaxy of scapegoats presented by our friends in the media and their Tory chums: foreigners; gay men and women; black people; asylum-seekers; refugees; gypsies; benefit scroungers; and, the current favourite – Muslims. There are many, many more, of course.

The crowding around the political centre ground left many working class people feeling abandoned, disenfranchised, bemused by what has happened and angry at the impact the undermining of their lives, homes and jobs has had upon them. UKIP, the ultra-Tories, have simply taken the next step, exploiting those fears to argue, for example, that raising the Minimum Wage would attract more lazy foreigners to the country, to take our jobs whilst living on benefits – let’s not dwell on that contradiction too long. The lie remains, only it’s even larger and even more dangerous.

Yes, only an idiot would argue that strategy hasn’t worked to an extent. A bigger idiot, though, would argue that everyone attracted by UKIP’s rhetoric is, therefore, racist, a hopeless, mindless bigot to be dismissed. Of course they’re not.

In their private lives when people go through the ups and downs of life they often grasp at small, almost insignificant issues and obsess about them. An argument about a partner not remembering to do the shopping, to put the bin out, to sort the gas bill, all these become mountainous problems because they feel themselves to still have an element of control over them – the ‘small stuff’. The underlying problems are too big, too difficult to face and are put to one side but forgetting to hang out the washing, now that sums up what’s wrong with your life…..

As in private, so it follows that the big public issues of the day can seem unfathomable, so far beyond their control that they don’t bear thinking about, let alone understanding, because there is no point. An earnest discussion of globalisation, the free movement of capital but not labour or the operation of City trading houses will leave many people completely cold. So, back to the ‘small stuff’: now, that bloke at no. 26 who’s never done a day’s work in his life, who claims benefits…., he’s the one. He is what is wrong with society. And those they read about in the press, now if we sort them….

And, returning to the theme, why would anyone tell such blatant lies about Romanians, Muslims, etc.? There must be some truth in it because they wouldn’t print such stuff if it wasn’t basically true, give or take the odd exaggeration…. Surely. Surely, people don’t tell such outrageous lies….

The last General Election saw an unpopular Labour Government, dealing with the biggest financial crisis in modern times, still suffering from the hangover of ‘New Labour’ – just how toxic that had become – and it hit rock bottom. But the Tories didn’t win. Despite everything, they had to be propped up by the Lib Dems (when ‘propping up’ was fine – it’s a crime now, it seems.). Was this the first sign of the weakening of the ‘Big Lie’? People were clearly fed up with Labour but not enough bought into the Tory message.

Cameron and Osborne have perfected their straight faces whilst telling the biggest lies possible but still not enough people have fallen for them. And as the election has approached, the lies have gotten larger and, abandoning all pretence of reporting news, their allies in the traditional media have joined in making a huge noise about how a man eats a bacon sarnie. There can never have been a worse, more negative, down-right vicious campaign in modern British political history.

But the louder they shout, the clearer it is becoming that not enough people are listening to them. Today’s headlines [6th May 2015] go beyond hysterical. The plebs, it seems, aren’t paying enough attention.

Younger people have tended to vote differently to the older sections in society but is that gap widening? Some of the polls suggest there is a growing and significant difference between the levels of support for UKIP by age-group. Society has changed and UKIP focuses upon older people, relying on a twisted version of nostalgia to spread its appeal, so that’s understandable. But what else is going on? At the same time the amount of time spent by people reading print news media is seemingly in terminal decline, likewise the time spent watching network TV news is suffering too. By contrast, the numbers accessing their information from the internet, and social media, has grown and grown. And internet polls are now beginning to highlight different outcomes to those carried out by telephone. (But that’s all Russell Brand’s fault, isn’t it?)

There is always the issue of causation against correlation but is the increasing use of the internet with the access it provides to a bewildering array of information (yes, not all good), information that is not controlled by peddlers of the ‘Big Lie’ changing how people think? If the messages given to people by the Tories can’t rely upon their massive reinforcement by the Murdochs and Mails of this world, is it the beginning of the end for the very tool that has been so useful to them up to now?

Well, probably not. Not yet. But, to paraphrase Winston Churchill – a man who knew the power of words if nothing else – whilst this isn’t the end; it isn’t even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning for the growing challenge to the ‘Big Lie’.

And aren’t they terrified of that?

Cameron and Co

Quote

Cameron and Co

by julijuxtaposed

First posted on January 1, 2013

We’re “heading in the right direction”

Satan’s minion will have tell;

His recipe for our correction

Knocking –

Hear the warning knell?

He leads the rack,

He is the pinion –

Will not countenance opinion

Self-interest is his dominion

Teeth set firm

Towards the Gates of Hell.

Destination by decree

Of fiat kings and corporations:

Hail to the Unholy See!

Might is Right!

Proclaim its agents.

New regime as old as Ancient

Orders subjugate the nation.

Pretender

To the Pillars of Necessity and Fate,

Masquerading as the Saviour

With division served as bait,

While his kin he is preserving

With his own collection plate.

Arise, good people

And give vent

To our ‘divine’ Establishment.

Our very blood is being lent

And sold and swapped

And spilled and spent.

This Call-me-Dave will us enslave

If we do not reclaim the State:

Rebuild our lives, our dreams, our nation

One we ALL can co-create.

He is no god, no king, no leader –

Just a well-connected bleeder.

Come ye forth while you’re still free –

We, The People: you and me.

Let’s show this crook, this tyrant traitor,

Petty despotic dictator

Where we’d really like to see

His nasty ‘Big Society’.

More by julijuxtaposed re-posted on Think Left:

Have You Drawn Your Curtains, Dearie?

Moving On

On No Good Authority

 

The Puppeteers at the BBC : (More Dishonesty, Disharmony and Broken Strings from the BBC)

Quote

 More Dishonesty, Disharmony and Broken Strings from the BBC

Challenging the false consciousness, in which much of the public are suspended has long been the greatest hurdle of the Left.

Even those who are cynical or sceptical of the lies and spin presented by politicians and the media are left uninformed. The break-up of trade unions by Margaret Thatcher made it more difficult to challenge the status quo, to question the propaganda, the pre-written scripts which led to demands for materialism and a rejection for socialism.  The impression endured because of a faith in the BBC.  There endured a respect for an institution, which they felt must be unbiased and truthful because it was publicly funded. The public looked to the BBC, expecting it would serve the public interests, inform, educate and entertain.

If it wasn’t on the BBC’s News, then as far as many were concerned it didn’t happen or was of little importance. Or in any case, anyone disagreeing was in a minority and could do little about it.

Whether that was ever true is questionable.  But it is true that the BBC is publicly funded, and there is a moral responsibility for presentation of facts backed by sound evidence and a balance of opinions, as well as quality broadcasting.

WELFARE REFORM : 

Since the 2010 general election, the BBC has presented the “News” in such a biased way, and  this has been discussed by many including  Think Left .

Last week the BBC (Oct 3rd, 2012)  the BBC reported on a case of benefit fraud (1), a typical report from the right wing media. There is no balance here  of argument, of context  or of relevant statistics. It is, without doubt an inflammatory report and intended to be so. It is just an example of the Coalition’s plan to harden support (2) for its welfare cuts.

The public would be better informed by the DWP’s own figures which show very low figures for fraud. 3)  Better still , considering the fraud of non- tax payers or tax avoidance might be far more informative and educational.

Additionally, a Freedom of Information document (4) from the DWP has revealed that rather than an average of 32 deaths per week as a result of Welfare Reform that figure has now risen to an average of 73 deaths per week.

FINANCIAL CRISIS  AND FOREIGN POLICY

The coverage of the financial crisis in Europe by the BBC (5) was in the least woefully inadequate. It seems more likely that the BBC had been informed what it should and should not be releasing.

We asked, “Who was pulling the strings at the BBC?” ( 6 ) Why, we might have asked, have we been constantly bombarded with ‘news ‘from the Middle East, if not to obtain broad support for a future war in Iran, even though the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have now been widely discredited ?   The media and the BBC maintain their status as puppeteers of   the same oil-speculating corporations, who look to manufacture consent for a war in Iran. (7)

HEALTH

Privatisation of the NHS was cynically planned by the Conservatives prior to coming to power. Manufacturing consent for the privatization of the NHS was never going to be straightforward for the Conservatives. After all, not only was the NHS, Labour’s finest policy, it is loved and valued by the British people. It was no accident that Cameron faced the electorate with this promise.  “The NHS will be safe in our hands.” (8)

 

David Cameron launched a presidential-style election campaign yesterday with a focus on what party strategists believe is their greatest asset: himself.

A close-up photo of the Tory leader’s face will feature on hundreds of 15ft-wide posters as part of a £500,000 nationwide advertising campaign.

The posters – targeted at marginal seats the party must win to take power – were rolled out across the country to promote Tory health policies.

Think Left’s article The NHS will be shown No Mercy  (9) shows clearly that the plan to privatize the NHS was in place well before the election. Yet,  Cameron denied any knowledge of Mark Britnell, yet he had been invited to several very high profile meetings about the future of the NHS before coming to power. Mark Britnell  was advisor to David Cameron, also has connections to the then Health minister, Andrew Lansley.

That the billionaires who own the media will exert influence over their editorials is hardly surprising, but we should demand more transparency and balance from the BBC. Without orchestrated support for the government’s policy on the NHS, it is doubtful that the Conservatives would have nudged into power, albeit without a majority, as they did so on the back on Liberal Democrat voters who would never have supported NHS privatization.

And still it goes on.

The Guardian  (Oct 4th) last week reported of cuts to   NHS services for cancer patients  and heart and stroke patients. 10) This is not reported on the BBC,  but you will reference to a new drug preventing strokes which referred to a small trial by the pharmaceutical company NoNO and Arbor Vita. (11)

Open Democracy have recently completed a in-depth investigation: and published its results.

HOW THE BBC betrayed the NHS:  Two years of censorship and distortion. (12)

In the two years building up to the government’s NHS reform bill, the BBC appears to have categorically failed to uphold its remit of impartiality, parroting government spin as uncontested fact, whilst reporting only a narrow, shallow view of opposition to the bill. In addition, key news appears to have been censored. The following in-depth investigation provides a shocking testimony of the extent to which the BBC abandoned the NHS.

Reading of the article is recommended.

 Download the PDF of this article

 An extract:

Considering the enormity of reactions against the bill, from the public , the press and the medical profession, and considering the NHS is the most highly regarded institution in the country, it would be reasonable to expect the BBC to inform the public that it was being “reformed” without a democratic mandate. Indeed, it was being broken up in direct violation of explicit election commitments. How did the Beeb cover it?

The broken pledge of no more “Top down re-organisations” was mentioned in online articles (analysis and reporting) just six times in nearly two years: twice in 2010, three times in 2011 and just once in 2012 – the year of the bill’s climactic passing. Of those six, half appeared when quoting critics of the bill. Only three times did the BBC independently raise the broken agreement themselves.

In news and analysis articles, the issue was in fact raised just twice in nearly two years, and only once directly on the NHS. Neither example is the BBC’s own analysis; it only ever appears in two quotes. It was cited directly here [13], on an obscure blog as part of a resignation speech. The only other mention was in a general article on critics of the coalition, with their broad “mandate” to govern questioned by both Rowan Williams and Andy Burnham – who mentioned the NHS within that context.

In an unprecedented move, a UK court effectively ruled on the bill’s lack of a democratic mandate, in its judgement on government attempts to withhold the infamous ‘risk register’.  The court’s judgement included the following comments:

“From the evidence it is clear that the NHS reforms were introduced in an exceptional way. There was no indication prior to the White Paper that such wide-ranging reforms were being considered. The White Paper was published without prior consultation. It was published within a very short period after the Coalition Government came into power… Even more significantly the Government decided to press ahead with some of the policies even before laying a Bill before Parliament.”

EDUCATION:

As with privatization plans for the health service , the Coalition’s plan to break up local  school networks, the stripping of assets and the  of forcing schools to become Academies, seemed almost to pass unnoticed. The lack of, or false reporting by the BBC has muted the dialogue, for the Coalition to pursue their plot.

The Anti Academy Alliance reports: 13)

Anyone who doubts that free schools and academies are about privatisation and will ultimately lead to ‘for profit’ schooling should read this report from the ATL’s Martin Johnson . It tells how IES – a company that has a contract to run a school in Suffolk has seen its parent company sold to a huge US private equity firm. This is the corporate takeover of education!

 

The stark reality behind Free schools is summed neatly is this publication from the NASUWT

So, who does pull the strings at the BBC?  The close links between the Conservative led coalition and the BBC are revealed in the Open Democracy document, explaining why the BBC chose to represent the government on the NHS.

A number of senior BBC staff have links with the healthcare industry. As Media Lens note , Dr Mike Lynch OBE, a member of the BBC’s executive board, has links to a number of firms in the health sector, including Apax Partners, “one of the leading global investors in the Healthcare sector”. BBC Chairman, Lord Patten, is on the board of Bridgepoint, a private equity firm with substantial healthcare interests. Bridgepoint also employed the Labour health secretary, Alan Milburn.

“One company acquired by Bridgepoint for £414 million in July 2010 is the residential care company Care UK”

That’s the same Care UK who donated £21,000 to the personal office of Andrew Lansley. On BBC links with government, David Cameron’s Director of Communications is in fact Craig Oliver, whose prior job was as a senior news editor at the BBC.

In light of evidence uncovered by the Open Democracy, the British people are entitled to feel betrayed, and to ask what further strings are being pulled at the BBC Barclays chairman Marcus Agius was a BBC director. 14)  He resigned in July.  

It is quite clear that there are procedures in place ensuring that is in the interests of those with influence in the BBC to support the government’s policies. The corruption is not confined to the NHS. The BBC is attempting to keep its employees on strings too. It seems the BBC has actively been supporting people who work for the BBC to avoid paying tax.  The cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it was “shocked” to discover how many off-payroll contracts, under which individuals must make their own tax and national insurance payments, were provided by the BBC.

According to the committee, that number includes 13,000 people who appear on television and radio – so-called on-air “talent” – and another 12,000 off-air staff. Some 3,000 are paid via private companies, potentially allowing them to limit their tax liabilities.

This is also reported in the Independent 

A study by Think Left revealed that one third of BBC newsreaders went to Oxbridge,  A Think Left investigation into the profiles of News presenters from BBC 24, Newsnight, Radio 4 Today/News at Ten has unsurprising outcomes. Where information was known, it was discovered that there is inherent sexism. There is and under-representation of women, and where there are women the age profile contrasts sharply with that of men.

Almost exactly two thirds of newsreaders went to private, independent or public schools, hardly representative of the general public.

This pie-chart shows the tertiary education of newsreaders, furthermore, exactly one third have had an Oxbridge education, much in line with MPs, as shown below.

Perhaps ordinary people might have more confidence in the message from the BBC if its newsreaders were paid realistic salaries in line with the majority of other public sector workers. The Director General earns £838,000. Other directors as of March 2011 had salaries of £488,000, £517,000, £467,000 and £452,000.

The personnel employed by the BBC, can hardly be regarded as representative of the people. They are very similar in their range of backgrounds to the MPs, and the same criticisms can be levelled at the news presenters who interrogate the politicians, and issues of the day. For the most part, they can have little personal experience of the lives of a majority of the population, and consequently do not ask the questions or single out the issues which would be of significance for that majority. For example, why would privatisation of the NHS be a priority for a presenter who has always used private medicine? Why would tuition fees of 9K/y seem enormous to a privately educated interviewer when top public school fees are 29K?

It might be forgiven if they showed an understanding of ordinary people’s lives. That was certainly not the case here – this filmed during the riots, and since removed from the BBC website. Darcus Howe , a West Indian Writer and Broadcaster with a voice about the riots. Here is speaking about the mistreatment of youths by police.

This was filmed during the riots, and since removed from the BBC website.

Corrupt politicians, media employees pull the strings in government and at the BBC. They attempt influence people’s understanding of reality. They have snapped the strings of democracy and it is a discordant tune they play.

People, quite rightly expect public servants to be accountable, and freedom of information is designed to ensure that. We ask it of our teachers, of our civil servants and our doctors and nurses. Isn’t it about time that we had accountability, transparency and honesty from our politicians and our publicly owned and funded BBC? It is at the very heart of our democracy. The people did not vote to sell of our NHS and schools. The TV licence is not a Licence for Lies.

On re-election we look to a new Labour government to reverse the privatization of our public services, and to ensure we have a BBC  to provide a quality broadcasting service to entertain, educate and inform as expected in a democratic society.

Let’s have a fair society. We deserve it. Every one of us.

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-19818773

2. https://think-left.org/2012/10/02/reframing-the-welfare-debate-winning-the-argument-2/

3. http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2012/02/official-figures-show-the-low-level-of-benefit-fraud/

4) Freedom of Information document query http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/claimants_with_serious_illnessdi?unfold=1#incoming-311613  

5) Think Left: Inadequecies of BBC’s coverage of the financial crisis.

6) Think Left: Who pulls the strings at the BBC? 

7) Manufacturing Consent for an Invasion of Iran 

8) Daily Mail report pre -election poster   Cameron  and the NHS is ‘safe in our hands”

 9) Think Left: Who said, “The NHS will be shown no Mercy?”

10) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/04/cancer-heart-stroke-nhs-axe

11. BBC: Drug may prevent stroke damage

12: Open Democracy: How the BBC betrayed the NHS

13: Anti Academy Alliance: Editor’s Blog October 2012

14: Guardian reports Barclays Boss is BBC director

15: Huffington Post on BBC and tax avoidance

16 Independent on BBC and tax avoidance

Think Left: Tom Pride – NHS  Cancer Care privatised (if anyone’s interested)

Think Left: The media has a distinctly Blue Tinge

Think Left Understanding Our World

Think Left: Academisation and the demolition of our Education System

The Guardian: The BBC: Coverage of the BBC Bill, reference to Open Democracy report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/01/bbc-coverage-nhs-bill