Friday, 7 September 2018

The nerve of Brown and Blair!

Simon Kelner rightly mentions how Brown and Blair freely criticise Corbyn, but could be easily blamed themselves for "corrupting the soul of Labour" (Corbyn can disarm critics by doing the right thing, 04/09/18). It wasn`t Corbyn`s Labour which invaded Iraq on the most spurious of grounds, nor was it the one in cahoots with the City and big business, de-regulating, and allowing inequality to increase hugely. It is precisely because Brown and Blair ignored the true "soul" of Labour that thousands turned to Corbyn to transform our unfair society.
As for Sacks and Hodge, let us not forget that the former was an ardent admirer of Thatcher, whilst the latter gained kudos for her Public Accounts Committee attacking tax avoiders, whist being the beneficiary of an off-shore trust in Lichtenstein! I have been for a long time very critical of the Israeli government`s inhumane policies towards the Palestinians, and now I am critical of Jews who jump on bandwagons to destabilise Corbyn`s leadership. That does not make me an anti-Semite! I am critical of the right wing press and Tories for the same reasons, too!

Guardian letter on teaching crisis

Lots of excellent ideas for education`s future, from Benn`s "abolition of national tests in years 2 and 6", and a "less prescriptive national curriculum" (Clarion call loud enough to rally even the weariest, 04/09/18) to "abolishing the VAT exemption on private school fees" as suggested by Robert Verkaik (What else should be in a national Education Service, 04/09/18), but no-one had an answer to the obvious question. There is a teaching recruitment problem, and teachers are leaving the profession in droves, so who actually is going to deliver the new curriculum?
  Quite clearly, the job has to be more attractive, with much more money paid to the classroom teachers, and the workload seriously reduced. That means smaller classes, more teaching assistants and more support for welfare and behavioural issues; the recent furore over exclusions highlighted problems that have blighted state schools for years. Marking has to be reduced, with parents having to accept that not all work can be assessed and commented upon. Reports have to be decreased in size, with more reliance on effort and attainment grades, and only underachievement requiring detailed comment.
   As Peter Wilby implies, state interference has been resented by teachers in the past because it has added to workload, and therefore stress levels; legislation decreasing those levels is essential!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Hodge and the BBC

Few Labour supporters will disagree with the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews when she said that the adoption of the IHRA definition "had to be the right call", if only to allow the party to get on with its job of opposing the odious Tory government (Labour party adopts full definition of antisemitism, 05/09/18). Sadly, opponents of Corbyn, in the party and media especially, will still not be satisfied. Margaret Hodge, for example, expressed her disappointment with the party over its issuing of "the short clarification to accompany the adoption of the code", both on Twitter and the BBC`s Today programme when debating with Shami Chakrabarti. Her views were repeated again, at length, on the following 9 o`clock Radio 4 news; Chakrabarti`s, somewhat predictably, were not.
  One is bound to speculate that had Labour accepted the IHRA definition months ago, his opponents would have found some other excuse to attack him, and the BBC would have made it headline news!

Criticism of Israel

Simon Kelner rightly mentions how Brown and Blair freely criticise Corbyn, but could be easily blamed themselves for "corrupting the soul of Labour" (Corbyn can disarm critics by doing the right thing, 04/09/18). It wasn`t Corbyn`s Labour which invaded Iraq on the most spurious of grounds, nor was it the one in cahoots with the City and big business, de-regulating, and allowing inequality to increase hugely. It is precisely because Brown and Blair ignored the true "soul" of Labour that thousands turned to Corbyn to transform our unfair society.
As for Sacks and Hodge, let us not forget that the former was an ardent admirer of Thatcher, whilst the latter gained kudos for her Public Accounts Committee attacking tax avoiders, whist being the beneficiary of an off-shore trust in Lichtenstein! I have been for a long time very critical of the Israeli government`s inhumane policies towards the Palestinians, and now I am critical of Jews who jump on bandwagons to destabilise Corbyn`s leadership. That does not make me an anti-Semite! I am critical of the right wing press and Tories for the same reasons, too!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Real reason for school exclusions

Having worked with headteachers who refused to exclude pupils for exhibiting outrageous behaviour, I have sympathy with underfunded and understaffed state schools disclosing what are nevertheless "deeply concerning rates of exclusions" (Revealed: dozens of schools excluding one in five pupils, 01/09/18). Two points, however, are particularly revealing. Firstly, in defence of the school which has "excluded as many as 41% of its pupils", the academy trust`s spokesman immediately directed attention to GCSE results and the fact that the school had been "turned around", resulting in the school being "oversubscribed". How effective has government propaganda since 2010 been in convincing parents that a school`s position in league tables should be what matter most, regardless of everything else going on.
   The second point is the role played by Ofsted, which had praised the same school "for bringing about change and improvement". Ofsted`s regional director for the north-east, Yorkshire and the Humber might well write to headteachers complaining about the high rates of exclusions, but fails to see that the inspectorate`s judgement of schools being far too reliant on examination results is the most significant factor in bringing about the increase. It is no coincidence that a Children`s Society report has revealed that children and teenagers are "facing an intolerable mental health crisis" (Schools need money urgently to deal with mental health crisis, 01/09/18). The sad fact is that we have a government that just doesn`t care!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Crisis in Yemen

Kenen Malik is right to criticise Saudi Arabia for its refusal to allow any form of dissent, its appalling record on executions and, of course, its "barbarous foreign policy" (Don`t be deluded - our Saudi "partners" are masters of repression, 26.08.18). The Saudis` "viciousness" is indeed "matched only by the cynicism of western leaders", with Jeremy Hunt`s justification for the government`s continued supply of weapons and military advisers typifying their lamentable response. 
  What is also worrying is the failure of the media to maintain any focus on the plight of the Yemeni people; admittedly there was outrage at the killing of the innocent children on the school bus, but next to nothing about what has happened since. The Guardian did report on the latest round of airstrikes killing at least 26 children and 4 women, but only on page 24 of the weekend edition, whilst there was no television or radio coverage whatsoever.
     Without media pressure our wretched government will neither stop supplying arms to this murderous regime, nor even apply pressure on it to lift the restrictions imposed on the delivery of aid. Meanwhile, international humanitarian law continues to be broken every day. How many more have to die before politicians act?

Friday, 31 August 2018

NS letter on a Centrist party

Paul Mason says, probably correctly, that the "vast majority of Labour MPs" mainly just want to "be armed with policies they can sell on the doorstep" (Another voice, 24th August, 2018). This begs a question relating to the actual policies "Corbyn`s most trenchant critics" would be advocating when promoting their new centrist party (Leaving Labour, 24th August, 2018). Presumably they would have rejected Corbyn`s plans to nationalise railways and energy, increase taxes for the rich, and to end austerity, ideas which have proved to be popular, and revert to the Tory-lite promises which cost Labour so dearly in the elections of 2010 and 2015?
 Whatever their choice, the "Fair Oak Farm participants" will only succeed in putting a smile on Tory faces. What would be written on the side of Umunna`s electoral bus? "Vote for me, and guarantee another ten years of Tory rule"?