Tag Archives: education

Tory/Lib Dem protest voters: Think again – Brecon and Radnorshire is NOT a ‘Brexit by-election’

Tom Davies in Brecon: He lives in the constituency, unlike Lib Dem interloper Jane Dodds.

Labour’s candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election has appealed for voters to remember that there is much more to the August 1 by-election than Brexit.

“There are far greater issues than just Brexit,” said Tom Davies, whose campaign has been said to be lagging behind those of vapid Liberal Democrat leaflet-spammer Jane Dodds (Remain) and convicted criminal Chris Davies (Leave) – both of whom have little to recommend them other than the chance to record a pointless protest vote about the decision to leave the European Union. “We’re looking at the national effects of austerity, which are really taking hold in this constituency.

“What we’re hearing on the doorstep is more about people struggling to make ends meet and money not going into services than about Brexit.”

People in the constituency have been raising Brexit on the doorstep, he conceded, but “it’s not the only issue.”

He said: “We’re giving the option that if the public still want to leave the EU, then those people can vote for a deal. Parliament is deadlocked. The Tories rejected our deal, which I’d say was closest to what was promised during the referendum. Because the Tories have rejected that, it’s only right for that to be put back to the people.

“We as a party, and I certainly, will not accept any deal that will make us worse off than being in the EU. Any deal that has been put forward at the moment, save perhaps our own, is exactly that. In our stance – confirmatory vote and remain – I think we’ve got the sensible solution.”

And he pointed out that it would be a betrayal to stand aside for another party as part of a so-called “Remain alliance”: “We have a number of other factors at play, not just Brexit. I won’t forgive Lib Dems for their part in austerity. I won’t forgive them for their voting record during the coalition government. The last Lib Dem MP for this constituency lost his seat. He voted for welfare cuts, and I won’t be seen to be accepting that.

“Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, has been public in saying he’s thrown his support behind the Lib Dems. That’s him playing politics. He is well aware that Plaid Cymru hasn’t had a good showing in this constituency recently, and I don’t think he wants to lose their deposit.”

Austerity

He admitted: “You can introduce yourself and people will say ‘no, thank you’ because of your stance on Brexit or ‘yes, I’ll talk to you because you’re for a confirmatory vote’. [Tom is a Remainer, and would campaign for that as an MP if Labour has its way and voters go back to the polls to confirm the way forward on the vexed Brexit issue.]

“What we’re focusing on is austerity, but also losing between £850m and £1bn… In Brecon and Radnorshire, as part of Powys, we’re seeing a 9.5% council tax increase to pay for Tory cuts. [Powys County Council is Tory-Independent run.]

“The reason we’re not getting the funding from the Welsh government is because their budget has been cut from Westminster.”

NHS

“In spite of the Tory and Lib Dem coalition austerity measures, the Welsh government is still pumping record amounts of money into the NHS.”

Schools

“We’re still pumping £1.4bn over the last five years into the new schools programme, and the Welsh government has built 41 new schools across Wales. We’re also putting an extra £100m into education, and we’re offering families some of the best childcare offers across the UK.

The message is that despite the Tories in Westminster, it’s the Welsh Labour government that is delivering for the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

Popular policies

“People are very interested in John McDonnell’s plans for a Post Bank. I certainly think it’s well worth exploring and developing. We’ve lost a lot of high street banks in this area and people need somewhere to be able to do their banking.

“We’re obviously looking at more funding for the devolved nations of the UK as a national party, and that is absolutely welcome. Also going down well are the pledges for a £10-per-hour real living wage, lifting the public sector pay cap and the green industrial revolution, which was a big hit in the hustings.”

Tactical voting

He doesn’t agree with the false Liberal Democrat demand for Labour supporters to vote tactically for the other party, to keep the Tories out – for a very good reason: “That hasn’t worked over the last few elections. It certainly didn’t work in 2015 and 2017. It didn’t work in 2010 either because, even though the Lib Dems were elected, they turned around and went into coalition with the Conservatives. That is not what Labour voters would have voted Lib Dem for.”

And of course there’s the fact that Liberal Democrat canvassers have been lying directly to voters: “We’ve heard rumours of one activist saying to voters in one area that Labour aren’t standing in this election so the voters who are naturally Labour should be voting Lib Dem. Well, here I am. I’m standing. It’s really misleading tactics from the Lib Dems.”

So there it is.

This election is about more than just Brexit – and voters simply cannot trust the Liberal Democrats and the Tory convict. Labour has the local policies that people want… It would be irrational to support anybody else.

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Tory cuts to childrens’ social services mean they face a lifetime of disadvantage

If you heard that children who have to see a social worker end up two grades behind at GCSE and thought the answer was to keep them away from social workers, you’re either a Tory or an idiot – most probably both.

Labour is right and funding for social services has collapsed due to Conservative-prompted cuts.

This Writer lives in one of the most rural areas in the United Kingdom and the service here is struggling desperately.

Faced with a choice between meeting funding targets and giving a child the treatment they deserve, the budget beats the bairn every time.

That’s harmful – not only for the child but for the society he or she inhabits.

It says we don’t care about our youngsters. If they grow up thinking that about themselves – and have evidence in their GCSE results – how will that affect the way they function as part of our culture?

Tories don’t care because they’d rather save the money.

I think they are forgetting the most important law that they can’t change – it’s called the law of unforeseen consequences.

Children who have had contact with a social worker at any time since the age of nine are around two grades behind at GCSE, a government review suggests.

The average classroom has three children who have needed support from social services at some point in last six years – a total of 1.6m children across England, according to the analysis.

On average, disadvantaged pupils achieved around six grades higher and made more progress in schools in cities than those in hamlets and isolated dwellings.

Source: Children with links to social services are two grades behind at GCSE, report suggests | The Independent

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Tory leader contest: Let’s all remember what Conservatism does to us

The candidates in the Conservative Party leadership election have been launching their campaigns today – and I’m sure their speeches make a lot of sense if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool, blue-rinsed Tory.

By a curious coincidence, the following social media post floated across my screen today and I wanted to share it. It says:

“While you were so worried Socialism would take your freedoms, Capitalism stole your pension, took your savings, sent your jobs overseas, robbed you of health care, dismantled the educational system, and put you in debt, leaving you only your racism, xenophobia, hate, & guns.”

The reference to guns suggests it wasn’t originally written for the UK, but the other words are entirely accurate. I would substitute “Conservatism” for “Capitalism” and add that it also sold all your public utilities – water, electricity, gas and others – to foreign firms.

None of the candidates in the Conservative leadership race will reverse any of the disasters listed here. They will worsen them. Remember that, as this election campaign goes forward.

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The staggering decline of government spending on your child’s education

This is self-explanatory, from the ever-brilliant Peter Stefanovic:

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The DUP’s £1 billion ‘bung’ is doing Northern Ireland no good at all

Kiss of death: This is a mock-up, of course, but the relationship between the Conservatives and the Northern Irish DUP is harming the smaller party.

What a stroke of genius for Theresa May – she bribed the DUP to support her minority government at a time when the £1 billion on offer cannot be used to help the people of Northern Ireland.

Claudia Wood’s piece in The Guardian makes it abundantly clear that cash should be going into Northern Ireland’s health and education services – but isn’t.

She states:

A three-week wait for a routine GP appointment isn’t unusual. Hospital referrals are much worse – the 18-week targets English hospitals may miss by a week or two are the stuff of dreams over here, where waits for up to four years (yes, years) for first outpatient appointments are not uncommon. About a third of all patients wait longer than a year and even urgent health consultations have a two-year waiting list in the worst areas.

With fewer than 2 million people living in Northern Ireland, schools are closing because they can’t attract enough pupils. The schools that do have enough pupils to stay open are withering on the vine, with half estimated to be running a deficit this year and some asking parents to donate stationery and toilet rolls.

The money isn’t being sent where it is needed and the reason is simple:

Northern Ireland is also short of a government.

The DUP’s £1bn is being allocated by officials according to designated pots set out in the agreement to prop up the Conservative government in Westminster, but in the absence of ministerial sign-off, big budget items are being tied up.

Popular protests have taken place under the slogan “We deserve better” – and have gone unheard. The DUP has failed to reach a new power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein, so Northern Ireland limps on with no government.

What will this do for the DUP at the next general election?

Who will support a party that secured a huge amount of money for Northern Ireland, then refused point-blank to take the steps needed to use it in a constructive way?

Unless Arlene Foster changes her mind and concludes a new agreement to get Stormont up and running properly again very soon, she could face annihilation in the next poll, much as the Liberal Democrats did in 2015, after their five years of collaboration with the Conservatives.

It seems the Tories cannot avoid harming their allies.


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The Tory attack on the people who put them in power has never been more vicious

The Tory vulture crouches over the symbol of the NHS in a revealing scene from a demonstration against the Conservatives in 2017.

Don’t be fooled by distractions like Brexit; the Conservative government’s main project – to deprive the UK’s ordinary citizens of the services we have come to expect in a civilised country, and to drive the poorest and most vulnerable into destitution and death – is now at its deadliest.

Theresa May will deny this with lies. She is currently lying in a big way about the National Health Service, which she is starving of cash in order to make us think it is incompetent and deserves the privatisation she and her forerunner David Cameron have forced on it.

Peter Stefanovic lays this lie bare in his recent video clip, which also provides a few more uncomfortable facts about her policies.

Let’s examine some of the policies that are hammering the people.

Universal Credit, the new (ha ha – it’s been in the works since the Conservatives slithered back into office in 2010) benefit, demands that claims are made online. This assumes that claimants are equipped to honour that demand – that they are computer literate, and that they have access to an Internet-enabled computer that they can use. This is not true for millions of claimants now – and will be untrue for millions more by 2023, when rollout is expected to be complete.

Many are resorting to the public library service for help. Libraries are traditionally considered places where information may be accessed by anyone, and the Department for Work and Pensions promotes them as ports of call for claimants.

That’s pretty rich, considering last year alone the Conservative government closed 127 public libraries, ensuring that 712 full-time employees lost their jobs (and became eligible to claim Universal Credit?). Over the last six years, the Tories have cut more than £200 million in funding. Will the service cope with the two million people expected to need help with UC this year alone? “There aren’t enough computers and there aren’t enough staff hours to help people,” according to an expert.

Read the facts here:

This serious contradiction in the way a so-called public service is provided hasn’t stopped DWP employees from pocketing £44 million in performance-related bonuses.

“According to the figures, 240 senior DWP officials pocketed a total £760,000 in bonuses, while a further 88,300 junior staff were each handed an extra £1,750 in their pay packets,” says this report by Welfare Weekly.

Considering the serious problems with Universal Credit, one has to ask why these people have received any extra money at all? Or is it because of the serious problems with Universal Credit and the harm it has caused to people who are only trying to survive.

Stephen Smith was only trying to survive when he claimed Universal Credit, after being thrown of Employment and Support Allowance under the pretence of being fit for work. He wasn’t; he failed to meet the DWP’s requirements; he was sanctioned. If you’ve seen I, Daniel Blake you may be familiar with the pattern. Over an 18-month period he starved almost to death. When he was rescued by employment law advisor Terry Craven this 64-year-old man weighed just six stone, had pneumonia, and was close to death. I wrote about him here.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, in a TV interview, was asked if she would be able to ensure that this would never happen to anybody else under the Conservative government’s system – and she refused to say that it would not. See for yourself:

Construction worker Marco Simoes, a Portuguese national, probably knows how Mr Smith felt. He had been receiving benefits as a joint carer for his son Tiago, who was severely disabled, until the youngster died at the age of four. He was told to switch to Universal Credit immediately – but was denied the benefit on residency grounds – despite having lived in the UK for 11 years, much of it working – and paying tax – to remove asbestos from buildings.

He, partner Sabrina McCarl and their remaining son Ruben are trying to survive on Ms McCarl’s Universal Credit payments, which amount to £20 or £30 per week once bills have been paid. He describes his experience of UC below:

But the couple, and Mr Smith, are the lucky ones.

Twin brothers Neil and Paul Micklewright took their own lives after their benefits – the report does not mention which – were cut due to them having received an inheritance. The amount was substantial but neither had more than a few pounds in their bank accounts at the time of their deaths. They were found by a dog walker, hanging from the same tree in Greater Manchester in July last year.

There’s no comment from the DWP in the report but the department always deflects responsibility for suicides, claiming that they are complicated and should not be pinned down to just one reason. The coroner said the twins’ suicide notes – found “neatly laid out” on a table – did not explain their reasons for taking their own lives, beyond stating that they had “had enough”.

Do you think the DWP is blameless in this case?

Another man – Brian Bailey – took his own life after the DWP used its “deflection script” to force him to claim Universal Credit online. He was not able to cope with the system and committed suicide instead. The DWP denied the existence of the “deflection script” but the following Sky News report shows that it is real – and that the DWP lied about it.

With so many people either dead or starving to death, you might think the only people to benefit from Universal Credit were the DWP workers who have been receiving millions in bonuses for putting their claimants into such conditions – but you’d be wrong. At least one DWP worker apparently tried to divert £3,000 into his own bank account by crooked means.

Enock Kimbowa abused his position as an administration officer at the DWP to divert and attempt to divert payments to two separate bank accounts, Bolton Crown Court heard. The report of the case did not provide any reason for his crime.

Another man to turned to crime because of the benefits system was Kenneth Bright. He raided stores in Paisley so he could sell his loot to buy food as his Universal Credit claim had been delayed for reasons that are not provided in this report. With no income, and therefore no means of sustaining himself, he turned to crime.

I seem to recall suggesting that people would be forced into crime by the Tory benefit system, years ago. This means that the Conservatives’ attack on benefit claimants is putting greater pressure on the police service – a service that has itself been starved – of 21,000 police officers since 2010. Forces across the UK are now incapable of handling the rising tide of crime caused by Conservative penny-pinching, meaning that reports of serious crimes have skyrocketed.

And the police service is not alone in being starved of valuable resources. What about the NHS? Theresa May claimed it is to receive its biggest cash boost ever, despite the fact that the current Conservative government is responsible for the lowest increases in health service funding since records began and the new cash is supposed to come from a so-called “Brexit dividend” that we all know will never happen. It must be enjoying a boost in staffing and performance, right?

Wrong. Record numbers of midwives – for example – have quit over the pressure of work, leaving those who are left to struggle with an even greater workload as the cash-starved service is failing to attract new employees.

According to the Daily Mirror‘s report (see the link below), “1,649 midwives said lack of time away from work was the reason for leaving their jobs over the past five years. They are among almost 3,000 to quit the health service every year, although some continue working in the profession. The RCM [Royal College of Midwives] estimates a current shortfall of around 3,500 midwives in the NHS.”

And Theresa May’s ambitious plans for the NHS? She unveiled a 10-year plan for it last month “but hospital leaders immediately branded it ‘undeliverable’ unless staffing gaps are plugged.”

Finally, let us consider our schools, which are being starved of teachers because salaries have fallen by 10 per cent since 2003. In real terms, teachers have become £4,000 a year worse-off since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

These are the facts of the Tory attack on the people of the United Kingdom – an attack that has seen the education service starved of teachers, the health service starved of nurses, crime spiralling out of control and its victims starved of justice, and benefit claimants starved to death.


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The report on Damian Hinds’ first year in Education isn’t good

Damian: A bad omen for the Department for Education.

This is a terrific effort from Labour:

But you know what? People are going to find fault with it.

They’ll say, “Where’s the evidence to back up what’s said here?”

And they’re right to do so.

Anyone coming out with criticism – especially of a political rival – needs to be able to back up what they say.

It needn’t take much effort. Obviously – if the information in the video is accurate – somebody has already researched this topic and has all the relevant web links.

So why not tweet them out along with the video clip?

It would prevent a lot of headaches.

And it would sort out the liars from the leaders.

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The Tories have been lying hard – instead of increasing education and local government funding, they’ve cut it by billions

Damian Hinds: He has been Education Secretary for less than a year but has managed to be rebuked four times for lying to the public.

There was a time when the Conservatives could expect to broadcast any old rubbish and expect it to be swallowed wholesale by a complicit media and a gullible public.

That time has passed.

The UK Statistics Authority has mauled Education Secretary Damian Hinds after he tried to lie to us about Tory cuts to school budgets. Here‘s the Mirror:

“Sir David Norgrove said he had “serious concerns about the Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics”.

“Sir David highlighted four occasions that had caused the authority concern but stressed that there was no sign that ministers had learned from their mistakes.

“Ministers downplayed concerns from headteachers who marched on Parliament to protest school funding by insisting that the UK was “the third highest spender on education in the world”. Sir David [said] the original way it was presented used “a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools” to “give a more favourable picture”.

“The Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gobb wrote that, in an international survey of reading abilities of nine-year-olds, England “leapfrogged up the rankings last year, after decades of falling standards, going from 19th out of 50 countries to 8th.” Sir David said in this letter: “This is not correct. Figures published last year show the increase was from 10th place in 2011 to 8th place in 2016.”

“[Sir David] also highlighted a recent tweet and blog from the department in which he said “figures were presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding.” He explained that spending was “exaggerated by using a truncated axis, and by not adjusting for per pupil spend”.

“In his speech to Tory party conference, Mr Hinds said that 1.9 million more kids are “studying in good or outstanding schools” under the Conservatives, prompting the Labour frontbencher to demand an investigation… Sir David said that while the claim was “accurate as far as it goes,” it had failed to “give a full picture” and should have been put in context with an overall rise in pupil numbers as well as changes to the way inspections are carried out.”

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner responded to the letter as follows: “This is a humiliating rebuke for Tory ministers. The Education Secretary has not even been in office for a year, yet this is the fourth time he has been caught by the government’s own watchdog making a claim that is wildly misleading or blatantly false.

“They need to come clean and stop deceiving the public in a desperate attempt to cover up their shocking record.

“They have used misleading figures on school funding to hide the fact that they have cut billions of pounds from school budgets, leaving head-teachers forced to beg for donations from parents to pay for books and stationary.

“And their claims on school standards are now in tatters. Instead of relying on discredited statistics they should use the Budget to invest in schools and genuinely improve standards.”

“The next Labour government will fairly fund all schools, as part of a National Education Service for the many, not the few.”

It does seem strange – doesn’t it? – that Mr Hinds should claim an increase in education budgets when schools are begging parents to pay for pupils’ pens, and head teachers are forced to choose between laying off staff and paying them for fewer hours in order to service a pay rise Mr Hinds announced but failed to properly fund.

On October 1, Treasury Minister Liz Truss told the BBC’s Newsnight that the Conservative government was not cutting funding to local government.

She said: “What we have done with local authorities is that they are able to raise much more money locally than they were before.

“We are not making cuts to local authorities. What we have done is give them more revenue raising powers so that decisions can be taken locally.

“It’s really important that local councillors are responsible for the decisions they make.”

She was saying the Tories have turned council funding into a postcode lottery, with services dependent on the property wealth of local residents.

And the Local Government Association spelled out the facts that Ms Truss was trying to hide:

“Main government grant funding for local services will be cut by a further £1.3 billion (36 per cent) in 2019/20 despite many councils already struggling to balance their books, facing overspends and having to make in-year budget cuts.

“Almost half of all councils – 168 councils – will no longer receive any Revenue Support Grant [the primary source of central government funding] next year.

“Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services.

“The financial viability of some councils is now under threat and many others are increasingly unable to provide dignified care for our elderly and disabled, protect children, boost economic growth, fill potholes, build homes and much more.

Funding pressures and rising demand for services, such as adult and children’s social care and homelessness support, will leave local services in England facing a £3.9 billion funding black hole next year.

Still, it isn’t all bad.

If the Tories are lying about the amount of funding they are providing to services, they may also be lying about this:

How about it, Brandon Lewis? Let’s see your membership figures!

Labour plan to end Free Schools and control Academies brings intelligence back to education

Angela Rayner: Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary was set to announce the policy.

Good – this is another common-sense policy from the Labour Party Conference.

Free Schools were nothing more than devices to funnel money away from the state education system – where it was needed – and into the hands of money-grubbing Tories.

They were built where they weren’t needed – or if they did appear where there was a genuine need, they took pupils from elsewhere and overlooked those who lived next door.

They employed unqualified amateurs as teachers and were rocked by scandal after scandal when they repeatedly failed to reach the academic standards required of them.

Under the Tories, Academies have been another method of dumping school pupils into the hands of private companies at the expense of achievement, and at huge cost to local authorities.

No wonder the UK’s education system is an international laughing-stock!

It’s time we went back to doing what works; time our own government stopped trying to undermine students solely because they don’t come from a moneyed background.

We know the nation’s rich has produced generations of imbeciles – Boris Johnson is a product of Eton and Oxford, and look at the state of him.

Now the UK needs the best brains it has, thanks to the monumental blunders of the generation of dimwits – but these have been stifled by the narrow-minded jealousy of the Johnsons of this country.

Labour’s plan will start to turn that situation around and bring intelligence back to education.

Labour would scrap free schools and bring academies under greater local democratic control as part of a plan to unwind Conservative education reforms that it says have created a legacy of “fragmentation and privatisation”.

The new policy will be unveiled by Angela Rayner at the Labour party conference on Monday, the first time that the shadow education secretary has presented her own structural reform plan in her two years in the job.

“The Tories’ academy system is simply not fit for purpose,” Rayner is expected to say. “Labour will end the forced conversion of local schools to academies, scrap the inefficient free school programme and instead focus on delivering what works to get the best results for pupils.”

Labour said that it would allow local authorities to build schools again and halt the free school programme, a flagship initiative of Michael Gove when he was education secretary under the coalition government.

Source: Labour vows to rein in academies and scrap free schools | Politics | The Guardian

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Fees and loans have made higher education a perk for the rich

Of those who said they were likely to study for a degree, around half said they were worried about the cost of higher education [Image: Getty].

This is what it means to vote Conservative in the UK: It is now impossible to get the education you need for a good job without going deep into debt, possibly for your entire working life.

The proportion of young people who think they are likely to go to university is at its lowest level in years, new figures suggest, with many citing cost as a primary concern.

According to a new report, the prospect of going on to higher education has become less desirable for many young people – news that closely follows separate figures published on Tuesday revealing a decline in student satisfaction levels overall.

Responding to the annual Sutton Trust poll – which questioned more than 2,600 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Wales – around one in seven (14 per cent) said they were unlikely to go on to higher education, compared with 11 per cent last year and eight per cent five years ago.

Of those who said they were likely to study for a degree, around half (51 per cent) said they were worried about the cost of higher education, up from 47 per cent last year.

The biggest money concern was tuition fees, followed by having to repay student loans for up to 30 years and the cost of living as a student.

The figures have fuelled concerns over a lack of social mobility within higher education, and come amid growing debate on the future of tuition fees, which rose above £9,000 to £9,250 in English universities for the first time this year.

Read on: Number of young people planning to go to university falls to lowest level in eight years


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