Posts Tagged ‘Socialist Party’

Where Are All These Communists the Tories Claim Are Threatening Britain?

February 22, 2021

Okay, I might be a bit slow here, but I am starting to wonder what planet Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and the Tory party and press are on when they start screaming that British society is under threat from a resurgent, but covert Marxism? About a week or so ago now Zelo Street posted a piece about the McCarthyism that now seemed set to grip the nation. The smirking, odious, racist Priti Patel had announced that MI5 were looking into renewed threats from the Fascist far right and the Marxist left. According to her, the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers’ Party as it used to be known, might be infiltrating Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Yup, as in the days of the Cold War, the Commies and Trots are at it again, trying to infiltrate other left-wing groups and take them over.

In fairness, this was a tactic of the Socialist Workers Party, which practised something called ‘revolutionary entryism’. The idea was to infiltrate other left-wing organisations and try to turn them into front organisations for the party in an attempt to make Trotskyite Marxism something like a popular mass movement. They did it in the 1970s/80s to Rock Against Racism, which had been set up to challenge the rise of the NF, BNP and other Fascist scumbags. All that it achieved, however, was the collapse of the organisation as the majority of its membership left. They weren’t interested in Trotskyite Marxism. They simply wanted to hear some great bands while combating Fascism and racial hatred. It’s because of its antics attempting to infiltrate and take over every vaguely left-wing organisation, or capitalise on every left-wing issue at the expense of other organisations, that many on the left, from the moderate, reformist Labour Party to various anarchist groups, don’t trust the SWP.

Besides this is the fact that Black Lives Matter, or at least its American parent, is already a Marxist organisation. If the Socialist Workers were trying to infiltrate it, it would be a case of one Marxist group trying to take over another. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. It sounds like something from the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and O’Shea, about warring secret societies plotting against and trying to infiltrate each other.

As for Extinction Rebellion, from what little I’ve seen of its broader political content – and this comes from idly looking at one of the organisation’s posters put up on a wall while waiting for a taxi – it does seem to be a radical left organisation. It’s very anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist. But it seems to me that this comes from the very radical programme adopted by parts of the Green movement. When it first emerged in the 1980s or so, the German Green Party – Die Gruenen – included as one of its leading members the lawyer for the Bader-Meinhof gang. There’s a section of the anarchist movement that is also very ecologically aware. The American anarchist intellectual, Murray Bookchin, was advocating a green, eco-friendly anarchism back in the 1980s and in the 1990s there was a British anarchist mag called Green Anarchist, I believe. You don’t need to invoke the Trotskyites of the SWP to explain Extinction Rebellion’s socially radical, anti-capitalist programme.

Would the SWP be interested in infiltrating Extinction Rebellion? I don’t know. Possibly. But they aren’t nearly as strong as they were. I think Marxism as a whole suffered a loss of credibility with the fall of Communism, which might be why radical anti-capitalists seemed to switch to anarchism or else an undefined ‘anti-capitalism’ that could take in a range of socialist and radical left views. The Socialist Workers, now renamed as the Socialist Party, are still about. You can find their videos on YouTube. But even before the lockdown they didn’t seem to be the visible presence on the streets they used to be.

The Tories and their press need to scare people with a threat from the radical left. I remember that in the late ’80s and ’90s they switched from trying to frighten people with the bogeyman of Communist infiltration – although they’d done that with the Labour Party in the 1987 election – to anarchism with the rise of Class War. Now that Class War has also gone the way of many radical movements and fizzled out, the Tories in Britain and the Republicans in America have turned once again to invoking the spectre of Communism.

And because of the very anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ+ policies adopted by some universities, they’re now trying to claim that western education is under threat from Marxist infiltration. Nigel Farage apparently was in the pages of the Depress a few days ago, writing that the Marxist takeover of our education system was nearly complete. Really? I must have missed all that. There are Marxists in the universities, and have been for a very long time. And some of them are excellent scholars. I got a feeling that Vere Gordon Childe, the Australian archaeologist who first devised the notion of the Neolithic Revolution – the idea that agriculture and the rise of the first settled societies were linked and constituted a radical break with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleo- and Mesolithic – was a Communist. He was, however, a brilliant archaeologist and highly influential, even if recent excavations in Turkey have demonstrated that people were settling down into villages before the invention of agriculture. And yes, there are and have always been academics with very pronounced left-wing views. I can think of a number from my own experience as a student. But many others, probably the vast majority, aren’t. And some academics, who privately hold left-wing views, are very careful to keep them separate from their teaching. And whatever their political views, I think the main concern of all teaching staff, from university academics to school teachers, is simply to teach, not to indoctrinate students.

In any case, there are laws against political or religious indoctrination anyway. I think it was introduced by Blair. Teachers are not supposed to teach their political or religious opinions as fact. They are to avoid this as much as possible. If they can’t, then they are supposed to make clear that this is just their opinion. This legislation has been around since at least the middle of the last decade, if not earlier. It should provide sufficient protection already from attempts by the politically motivated to indoctrinate their students.

All these claims of a surreptitious takeover of the education system by Marxists seems to be a return to the days of Maggie Thatcher, when rags like the Depress, the Heil and the local paper for Bristol, the Evening Post, ran stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating their students. The Scum attempted to titillate and scare its readers with a tale about children in various London boroughs – possibly Brent – being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist version of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. This is supposed to have been invented by the wretched rag, but I’ve talked to people, who’ve claimed that it was done in their former school, so who knows? At the same time, I’ve heard that Thatcher also introduced legislation with the intention of purging Marxists from the education system. In fact the Marxists got round it by claiming to be ‘Marxian’. They were only Marxists in culture. It was a fine distinction, but it allowed them to retain their jobs.

But apart from this, university is supposed to be a place for the formulation and discussion of a wide range of views. A vital part of the university experience is the exposure to different opinions and encouragement to form their own views. The current scaremongering about the Marxists trying to takeover the education system is the opposite of this. It’s an attempt to limit free speech and discussion, as Zelo Street pointed out, only the approved Tory views will be heard. Hence the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’.

Now I will concede that some student bodies are intolerant with protests against talks by visiting personalities they believe hold unacceptable views. Gender critical feminists and their allies, for example, have found themselves blocked from speaking at some universities because their views are held to be bigoted against the transgendered. But there’s also a cancel culture on the right. The estimable Tony Greenstein put up a piece last week about attempts by the Board of Deputies and Bristol University’s Union of Jewish Students to have one of the lecturers, David Miller, banned as an anti-Semite. This is not because of anything Miller has said against Jews. His cardinal sin is saying that Zionism must be destroyed. As we’ve seen, the Board and the other, establishment Jewish organisations are fanatically pro-Israel and conflate opposition to that nation, or simply criticism of its barbaric treatment of the indigenous Palestinians, with real Jew hatred. But Zionism has never been synonymous with Judaism. For many Jews, it’s diametrically opposed, as the graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem had it. Zionism is an ideology, not a people. Stating that Zionism needs to be destroyed is a contentious viewpoint, but it does not mean that the speaker wishes harm to the Jewish people.

Who is the free speech tsar, who will defend lecturers like David Miller? I think it would be a very brave politician who would risk damaging his or her career by doing so in the present political climate. Even if they had the inclination to do so, which the political establishment doesn’t.

I do find some of the radical policies now being implemented in some universities alarming, like the reports that students in some places of learning will be required to take compulsory anti-racism training in order to combat anti-Black racism on campus. It’s obviously very well intentioned, but as I’ve said, racism really isn’t simply a case of White on Black, and I am afraid such mandatory courses are based on a very simplistic view of Whites that sees White culture as innately racist, or inclined to racism. But I see absolutely no evidence that Marxists are behind it.

All this nonsense by Patel and the Tory press about Marxist infiltration is just another Red Scare in order to whip up support for legislation designed to purge the universities of anything that contradicts received Tory ideology. They are trying to destroy free speech, not defend it, and the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’ is in many ways dangerous and hypocritical.

For further information, see:

Zelo Street: Free Speech Champion WON’T BE (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: War On Woke = Government Censorship (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

If you wish to defend Dr Miller from these outrageous allegations, you can sign a petition at Change.org here, as I have done.

http://chng.it/rTqY9r2FgM

Radio 4 Programme Next Saturday on Working-Class Heroes

August 18, 2020

Also according to next week’s Radio Times, Saturday’s edition of Archive on 4, 22nd August 2020, is ‘Working-Class Heroes’. The blurb for it in the Radio Times runs

Danny Leigh revisits the settings of three 1960s British kitchen-sink dramas: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; A Taste of Honey; and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. In Nottingham, Salford and Blackpool he finds out from contemporary working-class communities how people relate to the films today.

I can’t say that any of the above flicks really appeal to me. I’ve always preferred fantasy and escapism to social realism. But there is an issue here in that film, TV and literature is dominated by middle class heroes to the exclusion of the working class. It’s something the great British comics writers, Pat Mills, set out to correct in the strips he created. One of these was the long-running anti-war story, ‘Charlie’s War’, in Battle, whose hero was very definitely an ordinary working-class Tommy. I put up a video from YouTube of Mills talking about comics and working- and middle class heroes to the comrades of the Socialist Party, formerly the Socialist Workers’ Party, a little while ago. It’s very interesting and well-worth watching, if you’re interested in this aspect of popular culture. When asked which of his creations he identifies with, Mills replies ‘Rojaws’, the crude, vulgar, subversive sewer droid, who gets on the nerves of his mate Hammerstein, a patriotic war droid, in the strips Robusters and ABC Warriors. Which also shows that you can combine hilarious fantasy and SF with working class protagonists.

The programme ‘Archive on 4: Working Class Heroes’, is on Radio 4 at 8.00 pm.

Tommy Robinson’s Equipment Seized After Breaking Lockdown Rules

June 15, 2020

The odious Dominic Cummings wasn’t the only right-winger to be caught breaking the lockdown. So was Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, the notorious islamophobe. Robinson had been nabbed by the fuzz, which can be extremely painful, in Cumbria when he was trying to get to Barrow-on-Furness. The rozzers seized his equipment – his car, his phone and his camera.

This set the anti-Muslim bully-boy off on a long rant against Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter was caused by the radicalisation of people by Antifa, socialist, communist activists. It’s the product of identity politics imported from the US, and funded by the Americans, communism and Marxism. BLM was also supported by the media and ‘the whole remain movement’. Antifa were a ‘far-left’, Fascist organisation, which is an oxymoron. He also attacked someone called Anthony Joshua, who has apparently called for Blacks not to shop at White businesses. Robinson called him a Black supremacist and claimed he was being funded by Saudi Arabia.

Ominously, Robinson also said that he was coming to London this past weekend for a non-racist, patriotic demonstration. “It’s not an anti-Black Lives Matter protest. Many people were there for the right reasons, but you’ve been hijacked by Antifa, you’re being used … on Saturday, many non-white people will be standing with patriots – here Zelo Street interpolated the right interpretation of this clause – [patriots can clearly only be white, then] cos we cannot rely on the Police”.

But as the events on Saturday showed, it was an anti-BLM demonstration. Thugs and louts from the Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance turned up waving anti-Black Lives Matter placards. They were also seen setting fire to a BLM poster whilst describing the person on it as a ‘Black c***’. They were clearly hoping to start a fight with the BLM protesters, who had planned on demonstrating that day. However, those protesters had moved their event to last Friday. Denied their chosen targets, the Fashy idiots decided to attack the cops instead. One of them spat at and threatened a young woman, who was simply picnicking with her friends, while another was seen urinating next to the memorial for the policeman killed defending parliament from an islamist attack. He wasn’t actually widdling on it, as right-wing rent-a-mouth Julia Hartley-Brewer was keen to point out, as if that somehow exonerated this prize bit of drunken yobbishness. Well, no, but it still was a despicable sacrilege to the memory of a brave man. And as the peeps on Twitter also pointed out, urinating in public is still an offence, as it’s an act of public indecency. They were, in short, a disgraceful, drunken rabble, which, if you read the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism site, Hope Not Hate, is just bog-standard, typical behaviour for the far right.

Black Lives Matter has been imported from America, but I really don’t know if it’s funded from there. The BLM demonstrations seemed to me to be spontaneous and occurred all over the world. They are undoubtedly supported by the left, including socialists and communists, but I doubt very much they are an exclusive socialist or communist movement. For all that the various communist movements and parties would like to believe they are instrumental in mobilising mass protest, the truth is the opposite. The collapse of communism globally took most of the local, national communist parties with it. And they were never very popular anyway. The British Communist party reached its peak of popular support in the mid-’70s. When I was a schoolboy in the 1980s, I noticed that in one set of elections in Bristol – I think it was around ’82 or ‘3’ – the local Communist party got 45 votes, beating the National Front, who only got 40. Hardly anybody voted for them. The Socialist Workers’ Party, now the Socialist Party, has done its level best to infiltrate and colonise other people’s protest movements, but their efforts have always been counterproductive. When they inflitrated ‘Rock Against Racism’ in the early ’80s and tried to turn it into a satellite organisation, the mass of members simply left and the organisation, and their plan for using it to radicalise the masses towards Marxism – collapsed. The people who joined ‘Rock Against Racism’ did so because they were anti-racist, not because they were interested in revolutionary socialism.

I also don’t know how many supporters of anti-racist movements like Black Lives Matter are actually socialists. I got the impression that Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered by racist fanatic Thomas Mair, was on the anti-socialist, Blairite right of the party. Anti-racism and feminism are liberal movements. They are about expanding democracy, opportunity and social participation to include marginalised groups, in this case, ethnic minorities and women. But that can simply mean improving opportunities for individuals, rather than improving conditions generally for the poor or the working and lower middle classes. Hence Blair could back anti-racism campaigns and the movement to get more women in business, science and parliament, without taking up nationalisation or turning away from the Thatcherite road of privatisation, welfare cuts, the destruction of the unions and selling off the NHS. Socialists have adopted anti-racism and feminism as part of a general concern to emancipate those excluded and exploited by capitalism.

I’ve already blogged about the real reasons for the Black Lives Matter protests, as opposed the stupid conspiracy theories about Marxists spouted by Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s primarily a reaction to the disproportionate use of lethal force by the police against Blacks. But it’s also caused by continuing racial inequalities and the grinding poverty of Black communities, as well as everyday anti-Black racism. It’s why the BLM protest in Cheltenham last weekend included a poem by a little girl, Nylah, about why Blacks should take no notice when people tell them they aren’t beautiful. It’s a subject that has haunted many Black people. I came across a similar poem about Black beauty in an issue I was sent at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum of the magazine of the Black and Asian Studies Association. That was 20 years ago, and it is a disgrace that after nearly fifty years of such campaigning, some Black people still somehow feel that they are less attractive than Whites. But it’s also a demonstration that Black pride and anti-racism are humanist movements that go beyond the ideological boundaries of socialism and communism, although both of the latter may and should support them.

Back to Robinson, by his own admission his phone contains footage of his activities. These includes turning up announced on his critics’ doorsteps with a few of his henchmen in order to intimidate them into silence. He also inadvertently doxes them, posting their private information online but telling his followers not to trouble them, and then deleting the information. It all looks suspiciously like incitement, while Robinson himself pretends the opposite. He didn’t want anyone to harass anybody, honest! Look, he’s deleted their information. Robinson did it to the parents of a lad, who persisted in criticising Robinson online and who had pointed out that Robinson’s expensive house showed he was definitely not the poor, working class lad he claimed. He did it to the anti-racist activist Mike Stuchbery, who was forced to leave his teaching job in this country after Robinson falsely claimed, or insinuated, that he was abusing children. And he did it to Tim Felton himself, the man behind Zelo Street. Naturally Tim hopes that the rozzers crack the codes and passwords into Robinson’s phone, and get all the sordid details. Including who is breaking privacy laws by giving Robinson other peoples’ private addresses.

Robinson’s got a series of convictions as long as your arm. These include assault and contempt of court for his repeated violations of the very tight legislation governing trial reportage. That’s legislation intended to make sure the accused get a fair trial. In the case of the Asian grooming gangs and paedophiles, whose trials Robinson has insisted on covering, this means making sure that if they are guilty, their lawyers can’t have the cases dropped because Robinson’s stupid vlogging stops them getting a fair trial.

So far Robinson has had suspended sentences, or those of only a few months. But depending on what the police are able to get out of his phone, that really could change. And it could net some of Robinson’s vile collaborators with him.

See also: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/lennon-loses-his-instruments.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/lennon-loss-lacked-lockout.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/fascist-scum-really-are-scum.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/julia-hartley-doodas-piss-poor-excuse.html

 

 

 

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Jeering and Anti-Democrat Party Revolt in America

August 13, 2016

Last week I put up a piece commenting on the considerable anti-Corbyn bias in Private Eye. The Eye has run a series of articles attacking the Labour leader since he won the election, including a series of cartoons, mainly raking over controversies from the 1980s from the angle of the Blairites, entitled ‘Focus on Fact’.

In its issue for 5th-18th August 2016, the magazine ran another series of pieces attacking Corbyn. One of these was the following satirical commentary.

Private Eye Anti-Corbyn Joke

It shows a photograph of Corbyn side by side with the American Democratic Party politicians and presidential nomination hopeful, Bernie Sanders. If you can’t read it, the text runs

Spot the Difference 2

America

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following accepts that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

Britain

Grey-haired old socialist politician with a cult-like following refuses to accept that for the good of his party he must step aside to end party infighting that will gift government to their ultra-right opponents.

It’s a spectacularly bad piece of political analysis, but it shows very clearly the very strong bias towards the Democrat and New Labour political establishment running through the Eye. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned against Hillary Clinton, was denied the Democratic nomination through dirty tricks. The Democratic establishment and party machine under Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the caucuses in Shrillary’s favour through the use of superdelegates, along with other machinations. The result has been a major political scandal. Sanders’ supporters turned up to protest at the Democratic National Convention the other week complaining that they were silenced. Sanders stepped aside, and urged his supporters to vote for Hillary, despite the fact that she stands for everything that he and they oppose: corporate power and corruption, the indiscriminate use of military force, the overthrow of democratically elected left-wing regimes and their replacement by brutal fascist dictatorships, further welfare cuts and poverty in the American heartland. It’s been pointed out by The Young Turks that Sanders was massively more popular than Shrillary, and stood a far better chance of beating Fuehrer Trumpf. But Bernie was too left and radical for the Democratic establishment to stomach. So they knifed him in the back, just like the Labour rebels are doing to Corbyn.

And the discontent generated by the Democrats’ betrayal of Bernie Sanders is challenging the entire American two party system. Counterpunch has run a series of articles commenting on the way younger, radical Democrat supporters are now turning to the Green party and Jill Stein. Geoff Dutton ran a piece in the magazine, ‘Let’s (Third) Party’, arguing for the inclusion of third parties in the American ballots to stop Clinton and Trump. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/05/lets-third-party/
More recently, the magazine’s columnist, Barbara Ellis, wrote a piece entitled ‘Found – A New Major Opposition Party’, arguing that a third mass party was emerging from voters dissatisfied with the way the two dominant parties follow the agenda of the major corporations against the wishes and interests of the 99 per cent. This is partly based on the history of American third parties, like Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party, which emerged in the 1930s, and became so powerful that the Democrat party sought to make it part of their umbrella organisation. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/10/found-a-new-major-opposition-party/

The Young Turks and related radical internet news programmes have also commented on the growing support for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, and the bitter resentment against a corrupt political system that denies severely ordinary Americans a voice. In the clip below, for example, The Turks’ reporter Jordan Cheriton talks to a young political scientist professor, Rex Troumbley, at the Green Party convention. Troumbley teaches at Rice University, and was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. He then switched to the Greens when the Democrats did the dirty on the people’s candidate. Troumbley explains very clearly why young millennials are dissatisfied with the two party system, a system that is ‘set up to disenfranchise’. He makes the point that they are far more receptive to radical views about their nation’s history – those that take into account the fact that the Founding Fathers hated and feared democracy, the genocide and dispossession of the Amerindians, slavery, Jim Crow and the rest, rather than the upper-class White male perspective pushed by establishment outlets like Fox News and the Republicans. And these kids want radical change.

In the piece from The Young Turks below, Jordan Cheriton talks to Bernie Sanders supporters, who have formed the Demexit campaign, modelled on Britain’s Brexit. Just as Britain, in their opinion, left the Union when it felt it was no longer part of it, so the Bernie Sanders’ supporters are leaving the Democrats to move to Jill Stein and the Greens because of the way they are not represented by Shrillary and the establishment Democrats.

And I could go on. Clinton and Trump between them are the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history, ever. In a recent poll, only 27 per cent of American voters were happy with Trump’s finger on the nuclear button. And Clinton was only marginally higher at 38 per cent. And the dissatisfaction is growing. The Liberal hosts of one American political programme on MSNBC went into absolute meltdown the other day when they found out that John Negroponte had endorsed Hillary Clinton. Negroponte’s a truly heinous individual. He was one of Reagan’s people responsible for arming the death squads in Latin America, amongst his other crimes against humanity. Jimmy Dore, another reporter from the TYT, made a point of criticising them for only just waking up to how horrible HRC was, after they had criticised her opponents, like the Turks, as ‘misogynists’ and ‘Bernie Bros’, and derided Susan Sarandon as ‘insane’.

I’m putting this up because, although it’s American, it parallels what’s happening over here with the attempts of the Labour establishment to stick the knife into Jeremy Corbyn. The Blairites are corporate warmongers exactly like Clinton. Tony Blair modelled New Labour on Clinton’s New Democrats, which took over the pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-welfare policies of the Republicans. Private Eye and the Blairites sincerely wish that the Labour left, who have found a voice with Jeremy Corbyn, will shut up and abandon him, leaving them to continue the same policies of courting the middle classes and the corporate establishment, including the right-wing media, while privatising everything and destroying the welfare state. They’re aghast that the working class they have marginalised, ignored and sneered at are supporting Corbyn and abandoning neoliberalism. But, looking at what’s going on in America shows that removing Corbyn won’t change anything. He’s started a grassroots movement. If they get rid of him, people will leave the Labour party en masse, and a major third party will emerge from his supporters. It could be either the Greens, or parties like the TUSC, the Socialist Party, or Left Unity. Or it could be a completely new third party. Either way, the demand for a genuine, socialist alternative will remain, and it will challenge the Labour establishment. Regardless of the lies and spin the Blairites and Private Eye want us to believe.

Book Review: The Great City Academy Fraud – Part 2

July 13, 2016

Academy Fraud Pic

Francis Beckett (London: Continuum 2007)

Poor Staff Conditions

Both New Labour and the Tories have regurgitated endless amounts of Thatcherite verbiage about ‘choice’, when hyping their schemes to take education out of the control of local authorities. In fact, parents and teacher frequently have little choice over how academies are run. The funding agreement gives the power to make decisions regarding school management to the sponsor. These agreements get rid of all but a token representative from the parents and school staff on the school governors’ board. The staff governor may not even be a member of the teaching staff. They are free to set their own pay, terms and conditions, and are outside the regulations governing the conduct of teachers. New Labour was early faced with public opposition when they announced that teacher employed in academies would not have to belong to the compulsory professional body that makes sure teachers are actually fit to teach children. Blair and his team boasted that this was all part of the freedom academies enjoyed from the regulations binding conventional schools. Somebody pointed out that if this regulation was unnecessary, then surely it should also be repealed for ordinary schools. And if it wasn’t, then the regulation should be enforced in academies. At that point, New Labour decided that the regulation did apply, and backed down.
Several of the academy chains, including one run by 3Es, won’t recognise trade unions. These have massive staff turnover, including headmasters. Some of these are hired for truly eye-watering sums. One head, who formerly ran the King Solomon Jewish school, was taken on by an academy for £120,000. This chap eventually left as his experience running a faith school did not prepare him for the problems of coping with a mainstream school, whose children were taken from a variety of ethnic and faith backgrounds.

Refusal to Take Difficult Pupils

Conditions for pupils may not improve either, especially for children with behaviour problems. Academies have tried to keep up their appearance of improving standards frequently by excluding some of the most difficult children, who may find their school career, and their entire lives, wrecked as a result. One school managed to excluded 246 or so of its student population of 700-odd. Beckett provides a couple of cases showing what happened to some of the unlucky children, who were expelled. Except that, technically they may not be. They can exclude someone in a particular manner, so that it’s not technically an exclusion. And if it’s not technically an exclusion, then the Local Education Authority does have the statutory responsibility to find another school for them. This happened to a lad, ‘Jack’ – not his real name – who was excluded, and effectively confined to home for five months. The lad suffered from depression anyway, which was made worse. His mother reported that he then spent all his time in his room, not coming out even for his meals. Another boy, who was excluded, also found that no-one else was prepared to take him on. He ended up not doing his GCSEs. He did manage to get a vocational qualification at a local college, but as this is not an academic qualification, he will suffer at finding a job, and be unable to get into university.

And it isn’t exactly fun and games for the teachers, either. They’re frequently only hired on six month contracts, just in case they start getting a bit too settled and too powerful. One woman was assaulted by a boy in her class. He was not expelled, and the woman understandable felt anxious about going back to work. So she took a little bit more time off. Only to find that, as she was on a six-month contract, she was not paid for the extra time.

No Choice for Parents and Local Authorities

And parents and local authorities have also been penalised if they refused to get in-line and ‘on message’ with the Blairite diktats. Local authorities are expected to consider building academies when trying to renovate and improve schools in their areas, and the onus is always on changing to an academy. If a local authority refuses the government’s command to turn their school into one, the government responded with a scorched earth policy. No further money would be forthcoming for that area’s schools.

And Blair was both doctrinaire and personally vindictive towards those schools that refused to bend, or stubbornly remained ‘good’ in Ofsted reports. Documents revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show that Islington Green School, which Blair was desperate to close, were actually rated good by the school inspectors, despite Chris Woodhead, the-then head of Ofsted, declaring that it was failing. There then followed a long campaign to have the school closed and transformed into an academy. Quite why is unknown, but Beckett speculates personal spite on the Warmonger’s part. The Blairs lived in its catchment area, but they sent their children over the other side of London to be educated at the London Oratory. The press seized on this, and the Dear Leader was embarrassed. So it looks like the school was failed for political reasons, to make it seem less like Blair wasn’t sending his children to it purely for reasons of personal snobbery.

In other areas, parents were subject to full set of New Labour spin and vilification if they put up protests against plans to close their schools and turn them into academies. One man, who was part of a campaign to save his local school, came under personal attack in the subsequent court case to save the school from closure. He was a member of the Socialist Party, what used to be the Militant Tendency, when it was part of the Labour party. And so New Labour seized on that, and claimed that he was only opposing the academy plan because of his political opinions. Not true, but that was how the local New Labour party spun it. Their Labour MP also sent out a very carefully worded letter to her constituents, that asked them to tick two boxes. One said that they were in favour of raising school standards involving a transfer to academy status. The other box said that they were not in favour of raising standards through academy status. Or something like that. It was carefully phrased to make it sound like the only way to improve standards was through changing to an academy. If you weren’t behind it, you weren’t in favour of improving school standards. It was the New Labour educational variety of the old leading question, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’

Mazzini’s Reply to the Today’s Cynicism about Democracy’s Founders

May 31, 2014

Giuseppe Mazzini

There’s considerable cynicism today about politics and the effectiveness of voting. Some of this is justifiable to a certain extent, coming from the fact that all three of the main political parties – Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives – have embraced Thatcherite neoliberalism to a greater or lesser extent. So much so, that many people cannot see any real difference between them, and so despair of there being any effective change in policy. As a result, they either don’t vote, or else vote for UKIP. The Kippers present themselves as being qualitatively different from the Liblabcons as they put it, but are in fact merely the extreme Eurosceptic Tory Right which has somehow managed to find a largely Left-leaning working class constituency.

Apart from this, there is a facile cynicism about democratic politics, expressed in sneers at the motives of the people who fought and died for modern citizens – Britain, Europe and indeed across the globe – to have the vote. They are seen as acting purely in their own interest, not that of succeeding generations. You sometimes see the comment posted up on the web and made elsewhere at elections that ‘They fought for themselves to get the vote, not for me’.

T’ain’t true, as the great Italian patriot, revolutionary and democrat Giuseppe Mazzini made clear. Mazzini was an early 19th century Italian nationalist, who wanted to see the Austrian Empire expelled from the peninsula, and its multitude of states united into a liberal, democratic Italian nation. Although a patriot, he also believed firmly in the brotherhood of humanity, and from the middle of the 1830s used ‘nationalist’ as a term of abuse. He ultimately wanted a federation of peaceful, free, sovereign states. He declared although it was necessary to struggle for national freedom against foreign oppression, patriotism should be no obstacle to ‘the brotherhood of peoples which is our one overriding aim’.

He was also very much aware that democratic revolutions and uprisings could and did fail before their ideals would be victorious. Nevertheless, the ideas that motivated the revolutionaries would continue to develop and spread even when the revolutionaries themselves had been cut down. He believed that the next revolution would see the triumph of freedom and democracy in Italy and Europe, and looked to future generations for their fulfilment. In 1839 he wrote that modern revolutionaries ‘labour less for the generation that lives around them than for the generation to come; the triumph of the ideas that they cast on the world is slow, but assured and decisive.’ (Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (Little, Brown 2008) 18).

So you have it from the mouth, or the pen, of one of the great architects of modern European democracy itself: the revolutionaries did not fight and die merely for themselves, but for us.

Cynicism about the increasingly identikit nature of the parties will only change when they do, and that will mean long, hard work by activists or the victory of genuinely alternative parties, like the Greens, Socialist Party or TUSC. The facile cynicism about the motives of the 19th century founders of democracy can be combatted by showing the words of the revolutionaries themselves, people like Mazzini, who looked to future generations to fulfil their dream of a world of peace, democracy and international brotherhood. Let’s do our best to honour their vision and sacrifice.