Tory “menfolk” esconced safely in Parliament care little for the rights of women, that much has been clear for eons.
Last October they took the opportunity to reject a parliamentary motion to scrap what has been referred to as the “tampon tax” – an additional burden on women, for being women.
Now, after spending the past few decades demonising Muslims, David Cameron says he wants to ‘help’ Muslim women. He hopes to prevent extremism, particularly in the Muslim community, he says, by making it easier for people to learn to speak English.
To ‘aid’ this often isolated community, the Government have conjured up £20 million to be spent on English lessons. But wait a minute… isn’t this the same Government that cut £45 million from their ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programmes last year?
There is of course strong demand for English language classes among the 6% of Muslim women who have difficulty speaking English, but the Government’s ongoing attacks on the viability of ESOL provision — when the courses are already oversubscribed — is surely not helping this matter.
To put the issue into context, in 2008 Government spending on ESOL was £230 million a year, which was reduced to £130 million by 2013. Since then funding has only fallen, while waiting lists have grown.
As the University and College Union general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The prime minister’s strong words on the importance of learning English simply do not fit with his actions.”
Cameron’s actions, however, do fit well with his other agenda of scapegoating Muslims. A mission best demonstrated by the Government’s Prevent (Preventing Violent Extremism) programme – which, many have interpreted as only serving to intensify warrantless anti-Muslim sentiment.
On this point, we should welcome an (admittedlly rare) moment of sense coming from the mouth of local Labour MP Keith Vaz, who, while speaking a conference of the Muslim Council of Britain late last year, admitted that he would “abolish” the Government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and “start again.”
Education on matters that pertain to challenging Islamophobia are important, as a well-informed and educated public can do much to counter the extremist nonsense pouring forth from the bully-pit of our current Government.
Cameron and his Bullingdon Club buddies are well aware of the risk posed by their electorate, who if united across racial and ethnic lines would pose a threat to their illegitimate rule. This fear goes a long way towards explaining their antipathy towards an adequately funded and democratic education for all.
Letter emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on January 19.
On January 22, local Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth made the following useful points in his article in the Leicester Mercury: “The government has spent the last five years restricting free access to, and cutting budgets for, English for Speakers of Other Languages courses. Two thirds of ESOL learners are women and they have been hit hardest by these changes… The Association of Colleges was clear: 16,000 learners across 47 colleges would be affected, with female and ethnic minority learners disproportionately so. Leicester College, a provider in my constituency, saw £1.5 million of ESOL funding removed at a stroke, without any notice, making them the second worst hit college in the country… Since 2009 the overall Adult Skills budget that funds ESOL has been reduced by 35 percent which has led to a drop in overall ESOL participation by 22 percent since the Tories took power. 80 percent of ESOL providers have seen waiting lists rise to up to 1,000 students.”