What if we were to agree that all humans have value that lies way beyond their financial capacity and academic intellect? That it is obscene to reduce people to nothing more than a unit of monetary worth? That artistic, sporting and practical abilities be as valid? That the higher intelligences such as empathy, grace and kindness be seen as strengths, not weaknesses? That education is its own reward rather than merely a means to someone else’s ends?
The point of a structured period of compulsory schooling should be to facilitate the awareness and understanding of a complex world to children, not merely the ability to pass tests and march to the beat of the latest diktats of fashionistas, inept governments and corporate drummers.
What if we decided that we didn’t want to have to choose which school to send our children to? What if we didn’t feel the need to? What if we made sure there were enough state schools at every educative level, easily accessible to every child in the country? And what if each and every one of those schools were of such an excellent standard that only fools and radicals would seek to pay extra to send their children elsewhere? What if our state schools were so blooming good that every child received the highest possible standard of education and every parent and employer knew it? What if teachers were trusted and valued as highly as are the expectations placed upon them? Any worth their salt would be clamouring to work in such an amazing public sector.
And why the rush to bring our children to employable maturity if emotional intelligence cannot keep up? (Indeed, why the rush if there are insufficient jobs to even require their labour?) It hasn’t been coined as ‘childhood’ for nothing. We are adults soon enough and it lasts, hopefully, for a very long time so why are we heaping panic upon pressure upon stress on our kids? To compete in the global race to be grateful automatons? It is part of being a child that s/he should be in a hurry to grow up but it is the job of adults to temper that impatience, not to concede and actively demand they do. If we really are all living longer then let’s make it a life worth living by getting right one of the fundamental building blocks of a confident, prosperous people.
Education is supposed to facilitate self-confidence and the ability to learn; to encourage critical thinking, curiosity and a love of learning. Thus, though school cannot teach absolutely everything, if it has done its job properly, it shouldn’t need to. Education is supposed to reveal an individual’s potential. In order for this to be achieved, schooling needs to provide the opportunity, time and space for a child to discover what that might be. Teachers need the freedom and scope to assist and appropriately indulge or signpost that opportunity. The next generation are the future, the continuum of the human race. Our children are our legacy. Not in the sense of property, but as the living arrows of Society’s bow, to paraphrase Gibran. Could there really be any task more worthy or vital?
And what if we were to decide to phase out faith-based schools? What if we said that doctrinal faith should not be prescribed to children with little or no escape or counterbalance? Perhaps our society would lose an excuse for the oft-cited sense of cultural division if the doctrines of cults were retired to their temples. The point of a secularist/pluralist society is to achieve and uphold equality under the law and in a multi-faith and no-faith country like ours, that makes Faith (which is not exclusive to Orthodox Religion) a matter of personal rather than public policy. It does not negate nor deride it but recognises that not everyone has it and that no one faith is superior to another. Religion, like Politics, is a living history, based on theory and belief. In schools, shouldn’t it be reflected, explored and debated as such, under the umbrella subject of Philosophy, rather than passed off as though its teachings were fixed by empirical data or as though it were the sole route to ‘God’ and the only expression of a spiritually and consciously lived life?
In fact, what if we decided that any school, within or outside of the state system that was intentionally selective about its admissions or adherence to a compulsory, base-line national curriculum should not qualify for funds from the Public Purse? I don’t mean barring schools from adding subjects to a mandatory curriculum – I’d have loved the opportunity to learn Latin, or even circus skills, actually – I’m talking about the ridiculous notion that a minimum national curriculum is not necessary; that schools should be able to opt out of any of the recommended subjects, particularly such issues as drugs and sex and relationships. This is not acceptable. Students need to know they share a common level of knowledge and that they are not being cheated of vital information or a major life skill.
Obviously it is not the place of a free society to dictate to individual adults the manner in which they live, so long as it does not harm another. Neither, therefore, what individuals do with their income. It follows, then, that it is unwisely authoritarian to take away the freedom to choose and pay for exclusivity. But I would happily – very happily – see governmental policies that rendered it superfluous.
In 2010 I became sick of always being cynical and decided to opt for healthy scepticism to coincide with the formation of a Coalition Government. It was a new day: exciting unchartered territory. I’ve always supported the concept of proportional representation so I thought this would be an enlightening adventure. And anyway, wasn’t it all Labour’s fault? And wasn’t this an emergency?
I’ve never had much time for labelling and categorisations. I never cared whether my opinions were to the left or right. Hey, if it’s correct and it works, who cares, I mused. I thought I was above that kind of restrictive, pigeon-holing crap. In my mind I still am. But in my heart? Well, now…
That was three years ago. Now, through getting to grips with the 3 Ms of modern finance: Machination, Manipulation and Malfeasance, I find that my search for solutions, insofar as they fit my personal philosophies, rather neatly consigns me to lean left in most socio-political issues. But that doesn’t mean I support Labour. It doesn’t mean that I trust Labour. It just confirms for me that there’s no viable alternative. It actually makes me feel a bit sick to think that, unless I decide to spoil my ballot, I will have to settle for this party that merely sits slightly to the left of the right – just to ensure the absence of the actual Right. And oh my, do I need some reassurance!
I’m afraid they will still compromise principle for trade, resources and territory, like this present government and all predecessors. I’m not convinced they know how to construct an economy which serves the people. All the people, rather than just some on the backs of others. I’m almost certain they will happily exploit other countries and peoples through neo-primitive accumulation, war and broken window policies.
I’ve come to recognise that, contrary to media and Tory propaganda, Labour in fact has a better handle on finance and what constitutes a healthy economic climate than either part of the Coalition of Conservatives but I don’t trust them to fully take the City on. I fear that Labour will still be more afraid of the banksters, corporations and foreign investors than the party will be of its electorate and I’m worried that they’ll bow to idiotic economists – you know the types: the ones who wish they were real scientists.
And I’m concerned about this fixation on the ‘centre ground’ for it is a relative notion with no real meaning. Calling something the centre doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t mean moderate either – Blair taught me that. I’m worried that Labour’s thinking is still too keen on measuring and projecting itself in order to fit with the mainstream. You see, the mainstream is a large part of our problem: its default setting being the status quo. Mainstream doesn’t stretch itself. It doesn’t question assumptions or readily imagine alternative views and those with vested interests, particularly politicians, take full and cynical advantage of this. I need my leaders to have the courage to be the exception. I’ve no problem with conceptsbecoming mainstream – that’s a measure of success in my book. But I don’t want to live there permanently. It’s stale and boring and anyway, look! It doesn’t sustain or even guarantee stability and security. It’s just holding fear or complacency in suspended animation until all manner of crazy starts oozing out of the appearing cracks.
For instance, take this borrowing malarkey. If Labour understands the economic argument and the method then they should have the courage – this much-heralded conviction – and advocate and explain it. Not in pre-fabricated chunks but properly, on a level that everyone can understand. They need to give us their economic lesson; demonstrate their theory. Don’t be shy or apologetic. Prove to the mainstreamers that they really do have a better financial grasp than the Conservatives. I’m all ears and I’m waiting…
Oh… and, as for proportional representation – this Coalition has rather put me off.
Legal Aid: capsized.
Rights? Being scrapped.
Lies to lies.
Trap and tap the populace,
So easily despised.
Thank the finest boys of Eton
For the food stamps you are needing.
Investment opportunities galore!
If you are rich…
‘Ain’t life a bitch –
Getting tax cuts –
Profiteering from the poor?
Oh… and war.
State-groomed serfdom –
Some things are new, under this sun:
Survival is living;
Taking is giving;
Judgement means caring;
Well, that’s for sharing.
Labour Puzzles Potential Voters about their Intent
People everywhere reject the Bankers’ Politics of neoliberalism and look to a future of People’s Politics and a kinder and fairer society, where people matter not bankers’ vaults and spreadsheets. People around Britain are looking for a party which really means change, and yet some are puzzled by some in the Labour Party and are hearing mixed messages from the Party. The electorate knows what the government needs to do, so why are Labour holding back? Is it the old chestnut of fear of the Press? Is Labour aiming for Aneurin Bevan’s Socialist Ideal, or will the Party settle for a Cosy Consensus? Speak up, take courage, Labour and push towards a “Courageous State!”
Everyone needs a society where children can grow up in homes, attend good schools, have health care and look to full employment.
Ed Miliband and the party must show the voters that they reject the austerity which is bringing poverty to people, and that they will be strong in opposing the parasitic, cancerous invasion of a very rich, very tiny minority of profiteers who care nothing for people’s welfare, equality or human rights.
2015 will be the biggest opportunity in seventy years for Labour, and the clock is ticking. People will come out and vote for Labour, but the electorate need convincing and it is up to Labour to speak loudly and clearly – and to present polices that will bring about real change. Many ex-Labour voters will remember how we cheered in 1997 as eighteen years of a callous, vicious, destructive Conservative government came to an end. Many also remember how the cheering went chillingly quiet as they witnessed a betrayal by the “New Labour” government which continued to support a free-for-all smash-and-grab neoliberalism which Thatcher had deceptively introduced, and along with the US and Tory support led to war in Iraq. Their Party had been kidnapped.
Ed Miliband has attacked the previous Labour government and said they did not do enough for ordinary people.
He said that New Labour was “too timid in enforcing rights and responsibilities, especially at the top, and it was too sanguine about the consequences of the rampant free markets”.
He said: “By the time we left office too many of people of Britain didn’t feel as if the Labour party was open to their influence, or listening to them,” Miliband said.
“For me, the most obvious example is immigration. I bow to nobody in my celebration of the multi-ethnic, diverse nature of Britain. But high levels of migration were having huge effects on the lives of people in Britain – and too often those in power seemed not to accept this.
“The fact that they didn’t explains partly why people turned against us in the last general election.
“We have to move on from New Labour, as well as from this Government.”
Miliband told the event in central London that if Labour wins the next general election it would have to find ways of achieving change while tackling a lingering deficit.
“One Nation Labour has learnt the lessons of the financial crisis. It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to bring about structural change in our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few. It did not do enough to change the rules of the game that were holding our economy back.”
He said,” “We cannot have two nations divided between those who own their own homes and those who rent,” Miliband said.
“Most people who rent have responsible landlords and rental agencies. But there are too many rogue landlords and agencies either providing accommodation which is unfit or ripping off their tenants. And too many families face the doubt of a two-month notice period before being evicted.” This is very good to hear, and is a start. It gives hope to many.
It’s not as if the country supports this government, its austerity, or ever did. The Tories knew this which is why they pushed through their first legislation for a fixed term parliament ensuring the success of the hatchet-plan of total destruction of the welfare state in one single term of office. In 2010, the Tories failed in their attempt to gain a majority, and many left-leaning-liberal-voters, many of them ex-Labour voters, felt doubly-betrayed as an opportunist Liberal Democrat Party propped up a government which turned out to be even more right-wing and reactionary than Thatcher’s.
It’s not what the electorate voted for or wanted at all, so unsurprisingly we have seen angry protests and “Occupy” Movements, unions taking industrial action and anger from people who have never been politically active before. Labour must stand firm against this government, and speak loudly and clearly.
The electorate also needs to believe that a future Labour government will be strong, not timid, and not buckle to the press. The electorate needs to know that Labour will bring about economic changes which will bring about a real redistribution of wealth, by tackling tax law and injustice. The electorate needs to know that it can depend on Labour bringing energy, water and transport back into democratic ownership and control.
The electorate needs to know Labour means what it says and says what it means. Why are we receiving mixed messages from the Labour party? Why, this week have some ( exclusions here) supported the government’s Workfare programme? Quite rightly, potential voters remain puzzled about what and who Labour represents, and they will withhold their trust and confidence in a party where Blairite vestiges still remain. Stronger, clearer messages from Labour is what the electorate is hungry for. If Labour can’t do that, the voters will look elsewhere and the greatest opportunity for socialism in seventy years will be lost to theorists. That would be a betrayal which will never, ever, be forgiven.
- LABOUR – First and foremost, Labour must be honest about the deficit – and expose the lies! Of all the lies, none is bigger than the suggestion that the national debt is the highest ever.
- Deliberate confusion is created regarding the difference between national debt and deficit. Lies about privatization of the services such as NHS, education and even the police. Lies that cuts are necessary, that we are all in it together, while the rich accrue obscene wealth while trampling on the death and decay they have created. Democracy around the world is held in hostage. US lobbyists are even infiltrating the elections of police commissioners (Telegraph report) , and many MPs hold contacts with financiers (Britain Under Siege, Think Left) . Power snatched from the people is held by the very rich and echoes the Middle Ages, a neofeudalism . The corporations control think-tanks which decide policy, and hide their identities. Was this the intention of those who fought for the vote, for workers’ rights, and for equality?
Confident, courageous and compassionate, Labour must seek to pursue the policies which will change our world.
We call upon Labour to:
- BE TRUTHFUL ABOUT THE STRUCTURAL DEFICIT AND NATONAL DEBT.a) Structural deficit & Libor . b) The Fundamental deceit of ‘”There’s no money left.”
- CONFRONT THE PARASITIC BANKING COMMUNITY Monetise or rip up the £375bn debt they’ve bought back by QE and reduce the national debt of the UK with the stroke of a key. a) Simon says: QE is the biggest confidence trick of all time b) What is George Osborne playing at? c) The IMF and Taking the Red Pill, Think Left
- SPLIT RETAIL AND INVESTMENT BANKS PROPERLY
- REGAIN SOVEREIGN CONTROL OVER MONEY SUPPLY How debt leads to financial servitude
- TACKLE TAX JUSTICE ONCE AND FOR ALL.
- WORK FOR FULL EMPLOYMENT for those that can work, maintaining a safety net for those who cannot.
- ENSURE A LIVING WAGE FOR ALL WORKERS
- FORMULATE A NEW GREEN DEAL, and EXPANSION OF RENEWABLES
- STOP SUBSIDIES OF FOSSIL FUELS AND NUCLEAR POWER
- REVERSE PRIVATISATION OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE
- NATIONALISE UTILITIES, (including ENERGY and WATER. )
- NATIONALISE RAILWAYS and REVOLUTIONISE PUBLIC TRANSPORT.
- BUILD HOMES FOR ALL
- PROVIDE AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE – and reinstate SURESTART
- INTRODUCE A TRULY COMPREHENSIVE National Education Service , and LIFELONG LEARNING
- PROTECT the WORK LIFE BALANCE, and ENSURE FLEXIBLE WORKING
- PROVIDE DIGNIFIED CARE FOR THE ELDERLY
- REVERSE THE CUTS ON THE VULNERABLE, SICK AND DISABLED
- REBUILD OUR COMMUNITIES, libraries, youth services, sports facilities, high streets and local co-ops.
- MAKE THE COURAGEOUS STATE A REALITY.
- Aneurin Bevan’s Socialist Ideal, or the Cosy Consensus?
- Richard Murphy: The Cowardly State is in Disarray, we need a Courageous Alternative
- Osborne and Cameron’s Big Deficit Myth
- Huffington Post Ed Miliband attacks New Labour –
- The Fundamental Deceit of “there’s no money left”
- Parliament of the People
- Straight Talking Labour
- Owen Jones: Independent: Workfare Why did so many Labour MPs accept this brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people?
- Left Futures: What was Liam Byrne playing at?
By Jim Grundy
In a recent debate with a supporter of the Liberal Democrats I was shocked (which I suppose I shouldn’t have been) at the callous dismissal of the problems being experienced by millions of people in this, the seventh largest economy in the world. Cuts to pay, pensions, benefits, care services for the elderly, trebling of tuition fees, removal of disability benefits, the 20% rise in homelessness, the privatisation of the NHS and rationing of healthcare, cuts to the Police, none of it registered. The anger, frustration and despair that all of that and so much more has caused, were dismissed as “phoney” and served no other purpose than to provide a stick to beat Liberal Democrats with.
The attitude on display reminded me of an interview I saw with a violent offender once. He had been sent to prison after an unprovoked attack upon a complete stranger. When asked what he’d do if he ever met the victim again his response was not to offer an apology or show any remorse. Oh no. The man said, “I’d have him!” When questioned why “’Cos he put me here!” In his way of thinking, he was the victim. He had lost his freedom and that was the fault of the person, he’d beaten to unconsciousness, nothing to do with his own actions.
This kind of attitude is only possible because of the constant attacks upon ordinary people seen everyday coming from the Government and its increasingly rabid friends in the right-wing press. Owen Jones performed an important service when he published his excellent book, “Chavs. The Demonisation of the Working Class.” His timely expose of how the attacks upon the livelihoods of millions of people have been justified by the oh so Victorian belief in the deserving and undeserving poor (although it’s hard to detect much belief in the former).
The ability to objectify, the all too genuine suffering, that is being inflicted upon the “the poor” (his expression) by our Liberal Democrat friend was topped off by a positively post-modernist outlook on life. To him, there was no such thing as truth, and all experiences and evidence of the effects of the policies being supported by them in coalition with the Nasty Party were merely texts, only one version of events with no greater validity than anything put out by Tory Central Office.
It was an astonishing display of how millions of people can be dehumanised and any protest about their fate treated as nothing other than a cynical, empty, politically-motivated lie. It could’ve been a case of an individual judging another by their own values (or absence thereof) but it was enlightening in its way. It reminded me of the disconnection between the people and their leaders – and how some of the people come to embrace their own alienation.
There are some within the Labour Party who hold views about the average working class person as being little different to the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, bigoted white van man driver stereotype. Recent polling commissioned by Progress was used to support that view and its case, that the answer to the loss of the last election was not that the Party had for too long ignored its core vote but that there was no such thing as a core vote and a further lurch to the right is required if we stood any chance of forming the next administration.
I suppose it infrequently occurs to your average Progress supporter that it is a poor defence, against the excesses of the right-wing, to become right-wing yourselves.
They have written-off the working class in favour of a middle-income, middle class swing voter; they long abandoned any belief in socialist principles, so no surprise there. But if we wish to gain the support of those who, whilst certainly not Tories, are still to be persuaded that Labour has anything to offer them, we have to do more than taking on each and every, daft idea that comes out of the Daily Mail and its ilk everyday.
Anyone could be forgiven for believing that Progress – and the Lib Dem who started me thinking – view politics as akin to Premiership football. There is only one game – for football read capitalism – the only issue is who is the best manager of the team (and who’s got the most attractive kit)? If we don’t like the current prime minister, offer them another but certainly don’t offer to change the game.
“You’re all the same, politicians,” is heard often, and sometimes it’s not an easy task to dismiss that claim. But if we in Labour have any serious ambition to win with an overall majority, we have to show the clear red water that does exist between us and this, the most rabidly right-wing government in post-war history.
It’s not good enough to spend all our energies chasing after the 100-200,000 voters in key marginal constituencies. We must, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “Take Care of our Own”. In that song, a number of questions are asked and it’s worth repeating them here:
“Where’re the eyes, the eyes with the will to see?
Where’re the hearts, that run over with mercy?
Where’s the love that has not forsaken me?
Where’s the work that set my hands, my soul free?
We have to provide the answers.
But if the answer is to dismiss the pain being inflicted upon millions as regrettable but inevitable, then we have no right to expect them to come to Labour … just because the alternative is so appalling (and incompetent with it). Even with a stick of the size, that is being handed to us, we cannot just bash the Tories and Lib Dems, we have to offer hope of a real alternative to austerity.
The answer is not a charismatic leader (we’ve had enough of those) but a solid commitment to listen to what we know to be true. We’re here, yes to represent the interests of all, in our ‘One Nation’, but, most of all, to protect those who are the most vulnerable in society. If we fail to do that, we won’t just have failed as a party, we will have failed the country as well.
It’s time to move away from the Tory lie of a bankrupt nation, to dealing with the reality inflicted by a morally bankrupt collection of Tory and Liberal millionaires. Our Liberal Democrat friend called this ‘tribalism’ (oh, the irony). I call it justice and, in the truest sense, looking after our own.