Solidarity 398, 23 March 2016

Schools: stop the Tory plans!

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 13:04

Patrick Murphy

George Osborne announced in his Budget on 16 March that all schools are to become “academies” (autonomous businesses directly funded by central government) by 2020. There will be no choice, no consultation and no alternative available for children, parents or local communities. It is the first time a major policy from one of the big government departments has been launched by the Chancellor rather than the minister responsible.

No explanation was given other than the fact that the Budget was committing £1.5bn to fund the transfer. The following day the Department for Education (DfE) published

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:56

Sacha Ismail, Peggy Carter, Ollie Moore, Luke Hardy, Graham Korn and Charlotte Zalens

On 21 March cleaning and catering workers employed by multinational corporation Aramark at the South London and Maudsley NHS mental health trust, which has sites across South London, struck for a £10 an hour minimum wage, full sick pay and proper unsocial hours payments.

Colin Little, the GMB rep at the Ladywell Unit at Lewisham Hospital, which is part of SLaM, spoke to Solidarity: “We all work for Aramark. We’ve come out together to fight for £10 an hour, for fairer wages. We’re not getting fair wages or sick pay. These guys work very hard, all of us work very hard, as a team, supporting

The economic problem is not overspend

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:40

Martin Thomas

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s speech about “fiscal responsibility” on 11 March was probably intended to buy him space to attack Osborne’s 16 March Budget cuts. However, all the anxious promises that a future Labour government will balance current spending with current revenues — although Osborne still doesn’t do that after six years as chancellor — only feed the superstition that the economic problems since 2008 are due to the Blair and Brown Labour governments “overspending”. They aren’t.

The reason for the crash and the slump was the giddy profiteering and speculating by the banks, not

Push Labour on the NHS!

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:36

Sacha Ismail

On Friday 11 March, the campaign for the Labour Party to take a strong stand on the NHS suffered a serious though expected defeat. Nevertheless, its momentum is growing.

On the 11th, hardly any Labour MPs showed up to support the NHS Bill submitted by Green MP Caroline Lucas — guaranteeing it would not be heard and missing a major opportunity to embarrass and pressurise the Tories on the health service. Given that this was a Bill signed by the Labour leader and Shadow Chancellor, that is a seriously bad result.

The problem is not just about the Bill. It is a wider issue of Labour sticking to

A hundred years since Ireland's Easter Rising

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:27

Matt Rawlins

By 1916 the history of Ireland had been inextricably linked with that of Britain for seven hundred years, and the connection had not been a happy one.

The English (and later, British) imperialists took several centuries to conquer Ireland, in the process committing many atrocities and persecuting the Gaelic Irish. After the religious Reformation, conflict between Catholics and Protestants came to be central in Irish life. There were many uprisings, most significantly that of the United Irishmen in 1798, inspired by the French Revolution.

The Irish peasantry were deprived of their land and

Academisation plans can be defeated

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:08

Patrick Murphy

The Tories’ plans for forced academisation of all schools were announced only a week after the third reading of the Education and Adoption Bill which widens the group of schools who can be forced to become academies by adding a new category called ″coasting″.

The threat posed by the Education and Adoption Bill and rumours about the White Paper have already led clusters of schools around the country to make their own decisions to become academies in advance in the hope that going earlier will give them more control let them and avoid predatory sponsors. It is also becoming much harder and

“The data. They get between me and the child I’m teaching.”

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 12:01

Patrick Yarker

I teach on an MA course designed for practitioners. I’d asked a group to talk about a time when they were made to question what they were doing in school or why they were doing it. Such a task can generate emotionally-charged responses. On this occasion, what I heard seemed to express frustration with a defining feature of contemporary teaching: a rattling of the bars. “I hate the data. Absolutely hate the data.” The vehemence of the comment brought me up short.

The teacher explained that she was required to have a seating-plan which mapped where each student sat. On the plan, each student’s

Schools face 8% funding cuts

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 11:56

Elizabeth Butterworth

On 17 March, the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan released a White Paper entitled “Educational Excellence Everywhere”, containing the government’s plans for state schools in England. As predicted, government is seeking to set about changing the way funding is allocated. The current funding formula has led to large disparities in the amount of funding per pupil different schools in the country get. But instead of levelling up, funding will decrease in real terms overall by about 8% per student over the next five years, and some areas will be hit much worse, particularly inner-city

Tory fall-out shows we can beat cuts

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 11:42


On 18 March Iain Duncan Smith resigned as Work and Pensions minister — in protest, so he claimed, at a planned £4.4 billion cut to disability benefits.

The cut had been announced in the Budget on 16 March. The Tories had already been forced to put it on hold before Duncan Smith’s resignation, but, he claimed, chancellor George Osborne still insisted that £4.4 billion must be cut from the benefits budget somehow. Whatever Duncan Smith’s motives — it looks like he resigned primarily to campaign along with other Tory right-wingers for EU exit free from Cabinet constraints — the resignation makes

Abstaining on “Snooper’s Charter” undermines Labour’s credibility

Published on: Wed, 23/03/2016 - 11:36

Sam C

On 14 March, the Labour Party whipped MPs to abstain on the Investigatory Powers Bill, the “Snooper’s Charter”, that would give the government unprecedented powers to invade the privacy of ordinary citizens without warrant, regardless or not if they are accused of committing any crimes.

The Investigatory Powers Bill will require all internet service providers (ISPs) to store the browsing data of their clients for up to a year, will ban any service using end-to-end encryption, including SnapChat, WhatsApp and iMessage (much as many of us would remained dry eyed if SnapChat closes, it shouldn’t

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