The Labour Party has flopped and failed for years; plagiarizing the Tories demands of socialism for the super-rich, and capitalism for the rest of us. But when Labour Party members and their supporters were given a rare socialist lifeline, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, they eagerly swung behind his working-class politics.
At this weeks Labour Party conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised cuts to the “corporate welfare system” and an end to the needless “subsidies” given over to big business. “Austerity is not an economic necessity, it’s a political choice,” McDonnell explained. “Unlike them” (the Tories), he continued, Labour “will not tackle the deficit on the backs of middle and low earners and especially by attacking the poorest in our society.”
Now is the time for change. New leaders of Labour have come to the fore with a popular mandate to oppose many of the toxic policies previously supported, and carried through, by their own Party.
During the General Election, for example, Labour flunked by equivocating on the apparent merits of academies and free schools — failing to support the National Union of Teachers’ demand to bring such divisive schools back under local authority control. This democratic demand, however, is exactly what Corbyn is promising; alongside reinstating Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), and abolishing university tuition fees.
Labour’s new educational policies provide hope to all teachers and students, but particularly to sixth-form colleges, which have bore the brunt of Tory cuts. As one recent report (August 2015) noted, some sixth-form colleges “will have lost a third of their funding between 2011 and 2016.” This is despite the fact that available evidence demonstrates that sixth-form colleges deliver better outcomes for students and do so at a lower cost to the state than better-funded academies and free schools.
Attacks on our education system have been a vital bookend to the Tories offensive against public services. No conspiracies are needed to explain this attack on the public good. Once the primacy of the market had been established, the guidelines for action are self-evident.
A key part of these attacks have involved the axing of funding for all schools except, that is, those that turn public education into a marketplace as a step towards privatisation, like free schools and academies.
One important defining feature of such marketised schools is their resistance to the right of teachers to continue to organise collectively through trade unions: tellingly, academies having the freedom to ignore national agreements on teachers’ pay and conditions won by the ever hard-working National Union of Teachers.
With a democratic Labour Party within grasp, workers will be galvanized by the rousing closing words from McDonnell’s conference speech: “We remain inspired by the hope and belief that another world is possible… Let’s seize it. Solidarity.”
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 29th September.
Make sure you come along with friends and family to the “Let Us Learn” protest on Wednesday 14th October, meeting at 5pm at the Clock Tower in Leicester. https://www.facebook.com/events/936119066503127/