Parties of poverty, privatisation and privilege
Millions of voters, angered at the poverty, privatisation and privilege promoted by this Coalition, hope that Cameron and Clegg will be thrown out of office this May. The question is, who they can vote for that offers any real alternative instead?
Far from reversing austerity, Ed Miliband has made crystal clear that severe cuts will continue under New Labour, as he declared this week that “ours is a plan to cut the deficit every year”. In practice, of course, these recessionary cuts will continue into the future but the deficit will remain.
Under New Labour, “Academies are here to stay”
When it comes to education, Shadow Minister Tristram Hunt has also made very clear that very little will change under New Labour. As he put it last March "I don't think you want to waste political energy on undoing reforms, that in certain situations build actually rather successfully on Labour policy". In other words, the support for academies that began under Tony Blair, and then expanded by Michael Gove, will continue if a Labour government is elected in May.
The NUT’s education manifesto – endorsed by TUSC – calls on a future government to “stop the forced academies programme immediately” and “return oversight of all state funded schools to local authorities”. In contrast, the 2014 ‘Blunkett Review’ of party education policy made clear that, under New Labour, “Academies are here to stay ”.
The answer, regrettably, is that New Labour is now fully signed-up to the pro-market policies of the international Global Education Reform Movement. Like other GERM adherents, Hunt, Blunkett and their ilk will argue that the 'type of school is irrelevant’; it’s just ‘the quality of teaching’ that matters. Firstly, that approach is designed to put the blame on teachers, ignoring the effect of class, poverty, and the ever-widening inequality that continuing ‘austerity’ will bring. Secondly, it is a policy designed to promote the hiving-off of schools to edu-businesses and the removal of democratic local authority organisation of schools. Above all, it is a policy that will divide and worsen education, not improve it.
|NO ACADEMY - YES to DEMOCRACY
The recent efforts by Lewisham Labour Council to impose an Interim Executive Board at Sedgehill School provide clear evidence of the way New Labour policy is going. It also shows that it isn’t enough just to argue for schools to be returned to Local Authority control. We also need to extend how that local democracy operates. I think we should rebuild the traditions of the directly-elected London School Board that did so much to develop education at the end of the nineteenth century. An accountable Board including elected representatives of school staff, parents, governors, local trade unionists, community organisations and secondary school students could work together to genuinely develop community schooling.
Tristram Hunt – a Tory in disguise?
Given the lack of real difference in policy between all the main parties, it’s not surprising that in a YouGov poll commissioned for the NUT a year ago, 25% of teachers already didn't know which party they could bring themselves to vote for. That figure can surely only have increased after what Tristram Hunt has had to say in the last twelve months:
- Tristram calls for teachers to pass ‘re-licensing’ tests or face the sack
|Just one of the many tweets to Tristram
- Tristram’s insulting ‘oath’ for teachers
- Gimmicks instead of genuine action to counter private school privilege
- Hunt turns to Winston Churchill and his ‘British spirit’
- New Year – and another vacuous pro-market article
So who do teachers vote for in May?
In May, do voters just have to make-do with the ‘lesser evil’ of Labour, particularly when Tristram Hunt’s education policies hardly seem ‘less evil’ at all?! There has to be a better alternative for teachers and parents to vote for!
Some teachers will look to the Greens, who undoubtedly have a far better education policy than Labour. Like TUSC, they have endorsed the NUT’s Manifesto for Education. However, it has to be pointed out that, when elected, the Greens have failed to make a stand against Government cuts. Brighton’s Green administration, elected on a mandate to 'resist austerity', is on course to have cut £50 million from jobs and services in the last three years.
I believe that we need elected representatives that will refuse to implement cuts and use their positions to build a mass movement of workers, service users and communities to demand services are properly funded by central Government. That’s the policy of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, supported by the Socialist Party and others such as the RMT Union - and the late Bob Crow.
I believe that we need to rebuild genuine representation for trade unionists and working people in Parliament and in our local Councils, to provide a voice that the Labour Party no longer provides. That's why I will be supporting – and hopefully standing myself - for TUSC in the General Election this May.