Is anybody surprised that Chuka has supported his fellow right-winger Liz Kendall’s bid for the Labour leadership?
He reckons she would pull Labour out of its “comfort zone” by challenging “conventional wisdom” – meaning, she would turn Labour into more of a carbon-copy of the Conservative Party than it was, even when Tony Blair was running the show.
That would not be the Labour Party.
If these two think Conservative policies are the answer – remember, Liz Kendall supports privatising the NHS and Michael Gove’s private ‘Free Schools’ – they should cross the floor and join the Tories.
Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall has won the backing of shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.
Mr Umunna, who pulled out the race himself earlier this month, said Ms Kendall was best placed to drag the party out of its “comfort zone”.
He told the New Statesman Ms Kendall had “challenged conventional wisdom” and asked tough questions about Labour’s future after its defeat.
Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?
If the Labour Party is to regain the confidence it has lost, it needs to re-state its identity with a core message of purpose – one that not only encapsulates what Labour is about, but also what it opposes.
That is what was missing from Labour’s general election campaign, and is as much a reason for Ed Miliband’s defeat as the Conservative campaign, which was not based on objective facts but on political spin.
In a nutshell, it is time to remind the voters and the public that Labour is the enabling party. This creates a clear contrast with the Conservatives – the party of restriction.
So, for example, with the National Health Service, Labour should support a service available to everyone – free. That means noprivateinvolvement. With the Tory privatisation in full swing, funds are being restricted and so are services. The NHS is now a postcode lottery, with care allocated on the basis of profitability. That’s not good enough; the privateers must be told to jog on.
Education must also be available to everybody, up to the level each person can achieve (or wants to). Again, this means there should be no charge for state-provided services. A state school system has no place for privately-owned ‘academies’ or ‘free schools’. These are Tory devices; the private sector will, by its nature, restrict access in order to extract a profit. It also means notuitionfees for students in further/higher education.
Labour should be helping anyone who wants to start a business, by ensuring there are as few obstacles in the way as possible; it must be the enabling party. That means, for example, a graded taxation system, with lower business rates and taxes for start-ups, progressing to a higher rate for medium-sized enterprises, and a highest rate for multinationals – who should be taxed on all takings made in the UK; no excuses.
Another part of the enabling agenda must be ensuring that people can pay a minimum price for things we cannot live without: Accommodation, services, utilities.
There is now an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for many people – mostly because the Tories sold off so many council houses and did not replace them. This is why the Tories were able to impose the Bedroom Tax on so many innocent people – a restrictive idea, intended to push people out of some areas and into others; shifting Labour voters out of places the Tories didn’t think they should have to share with the riff-raff, you see – a gerrymandering tactic to make those constituencies easier to win in elections. The solution is simple: Build council houses again.
When the utility companies – gas, water and electricity suppliers – were privatised, we were all promised that household bills would be kept down by more efficient private-sector business models and private investment. That has not happened. Instead, consumers have been held to ransom by a small cabal of corporations who have been able to charge rip-off prices. Remember the electricity price scandal of 2013? Who told those firms to quit their restrictive practices and cut bills? Labour. The enabling party. The fear of a Labour government imposing new rules in the consumer’s favour helped hold the greedy private bosses in check for a while, but now we have a Conservative government. How long do you think it will be before prices soar? This Writer reckons they’ll take the first opportunity. Even now, after Labour managed to secure price cuts, the poorest families still have to choose between heating and eating during the winter (the phrase has been used so often it is now a modern cliché). This must not be allowed to continue and the solution is clear: Re-nationalise. There are even two bonus factors in such a plan: Firstly, as many of these utilities are owned – or part-owned – by firms or governments based abroad, it will ensure that our bills pay people in the UK rather than boosting foreign economies at the expense of our own and, secondly, takings will help the UK Treasury balance the books.
There is at least one other privatised service that could also be re-nationalised: The railway system. Prices have rocketed while government subsidies have also soared, since the system was turned over to private hands in the early 1990s. This is madness; it is a huge drain on resources and must not be allowed to continue. We should re-nationalise and follow the example of Northern Ireland, where the service was never privatised and where any profit is ploughed into improvements, not profit.
Then there is our grocery bill, which keeps escalating. This is a particularly thorny subject as, for example, farmers are being ripped off by supermarkets over the price of milk, but the same corporations will happily send apples to the other side of the world and back, just to have them polished. It’s time to straighten out that system as well – although it will take a while.
So this is how Labour should frame its arguments from now on: Labour enables; the Tories restrict.
It should be stressed that the themes raised above are just starting-points which occurred to This Writer while considering the issue last night. The above is not an exhaustive list. Undoubtedly there are many more.
The Tory ‘Free Schools’ vanity project has been a complete disaster, with more than £51 million wasted on new schools that failed to meet inspectors’ standards or proposals for schools that were cancelled or withdrawn.
A report compiled by the Labour Party shows that £50m has been spent on free schools either declared inadequate by the education standards watchdog, Ofsted, or requiring improvement. A further £1.043m was spent on applications that were cancelled or withdrawn.
Of the 79 free schools opened in the first and second waves of the Michael Gove project, no less than one in three have been declared inadequate or requiring improvement by schools watchdog Ofsted. This compares with one in five schools overall – that’s including the institutions that ‘Free Schools’ were expected to outperform.
It is noteworthy that, according to shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, the number of “inadequate” schools is equal to the number employing, as teachers, people with no teaching qualifications – one in three.
Worse still, the government has been caught trying to “massage” the figures. The example provided to us by a report in The Independent shows that the Hartsbrook E-Act Free School in north London, declared inadequate by Ofsted, was given a new name and number. This means the school appears as closed, even though it is now operating under a different name (Brook House Primary School), with the same head teacher and pupils in the same location. The re-designation means it won’t be inspected again until four terms have passed.
That could be disastrous for pupils, who by then will have spent almost another quarter of their primary school career in an environment that has been declared substandard, simply to save the government from embarrassment.
It seems the pupils aren’t the only ones who need to learn how to grow up and act in a mature and responsible manner!
Overall, primary ‘Free Schools’ are underperforming in reading, writing and mathematics, in comparison with the rest of the state sector.
It gets worse: Of those free schools whose 2013 national-curriculum test results were published, all bar one underperformed compared with the rest in their local authority and the national average.
Is this the revolution announced so boldly in the Coalition Agreement?
“We … believe that the state should help parents, community groups and others come together to improve the education system by starting new schools,” it told us in 2010.
“We will promote the reform of schools in order to ensure that new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand; that all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum; and that all schools are held properly to account.
“We will give parents, teachers, charities and local communities the chance to set up new schools, as part of our plans to allow new providers to enter the state school system in response to parental demand.”
Which parents demanded this?
Free Schools also offered the opportunity to employ unqualified people as teachers. The Tory-run Education Department claimed this was a way of bringing in expertise that would not otherwise be available – now we know the facts.
‘Free Schools’ have been an expensive waste – not only of money, but of time and the potential of the school pupils they have failed.
Own up: How many of you stayed up into the wee hours to watch TV coverage of the local council elections?
If you did, you would have witnessed a curious phenomenon. As the Conservative Party lost seat after seat (at the time of writing they have lost 113 seats altogether) and Labour won seat after seat (currently 125 seats better-off), the pundits sitting around David Dimbleby on BBC1 started telling us this put Labour in the poor position!
This, we were told, was because UKIP’s performance heralded the arrival of “four-party politics” – but does anybody believe that? UKIP won protest votes against the UK Coalition government’s policies at a time when elections to the European Parliament were also taking place. Anti-immigration feelings have been stirred up and people have been led to believe – wrongly – that a vote for UKIP will cut off the flow.
In fact, UKIP did damage Labour in areas like Swindon, where they took working-class votes and enabled the Conservatives to hold that council with a slightly increased majority.
But the ‘Purple Peril’ did far more damage to the Conservatives, with Essex Man and Woman voting very strongly for it.
What does this mean, translated to the Westminster Parliament?
The answer is, it’s difficult to judge. Turnout was only around 36 per cent – half the number who take part in a general election – because faith in democracy is so low. This means any predictions are more likely to be wrong than right.
But if the results are replicated, then the Conservative Party will lose seats to UKIP and it is possible that Labour will become the majority party in a Hung Parliament, and then…
… UKIP will do a coalition deal with the Conservatives because Nigel Farage wants a taste of power, and we’ll end up with five more years of David Cameron.
To avoid this, Labour will have to consolidate its gains and show that it can make a real difference where it wins.
A good start would be to cut the harmful social policies in Hammersmith and Fulham, which Labour took from the Tories last night. H&F was once dubbed David Cameron’s favourite council. Why? Well, a recent Guardian article showed that the council was selling off its housing stock at an increasingly accelerated rate, while forcing homeless people into temporary accommodation outside the borough. Ending this wrong-headed nonsense would be a good start.
The new Labour administration could re-examine the planned closure of Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which won an award from London Mayor Boris Johnson at the end of last year after it “succeeded against the odds in improving pupils’ aspirations and achievements”. According to The Guardian (again), campaigners fighting to save Sulivan say it has been targeted because there are plans to turn the site into a new Free School, part of Michael Gove’s silly pet project that has been haemorrhaging money.
And Labour could halt the Earls Court Project redevelopment scheme, which will knock down elderly residents homes – buildings which are perfectly sound – in order to replace them with “impossibly expensive” flats.
The Guardian (yet again) states: “To the Tories of H&F, though, such things are of no value if there’s more money to be made from tearing them up, clearing them out, knocking them down… The council and its friends do not see what they are doing as wrecking. They see themselves as grand creators. They see those they would push aside not as citizens to be considered but non-believers, blockages, impediments; as inefficiencies that have to be squeezed out.”
Labour would score hugely if it took a stand against this merciless money-driven destruction of a neighbourhood that belongs to ordinary people.Elderly people, in fact. Not only are they vulnerable; they are also voters.
So let Hammersmith & Fulham become the example Labour holds up to the nation: “This is what we can do across the country, if you only give us the chance!”
One thing’s for sure – whatever Labour does there, The Guardian will be watching!
Results are still incoming from the council elections, so undoubtedly the ‘expert’ opinions will change before the end – and then we have the European election results to come on Sunday.
A quick anecdote about that: Yesterday evening Yr Obdt Srvt was at a meeting on a completely different subject (a local festival here in Mid Wales – I’m the organising committee’s secretary). Afterwards I was chatting with a friend about the election when a young man approached us in search of the nearest polling station.
My friend passed on the directions and the man thanked us and started on his way. “Don’t vote UKIP!” shouted my friend.
Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove’s foolish and expensive ‘free school’ experiment.
The country has been concentrating on government sleaze for the past week or so – and this is a mistake. We should also monitor government incompetence and thankfully Michael Gove is around to provide plenty of it.
He wants organisations that are part of his struggling ‘free schools’ pet project to receive special fast-track attention – to avoid the political embarrassment that would be caused by their failure.
Last year the project was rocked by the failure of the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby, and the resignations of unqualified head teachers at Pimlico Free School in London and Discovery School in Crawley. Vox Political discussed all three at the time.
The Discovery School was one of four that were declared inadequate by Ofsted and closed down at the end of March.
Last week, The Observer revealed that Gove wants to hush up any further damaging revelations by ensuring that problems are tackled before Ofsted can publicise them.
The article stated: “It suggests that party political considerations are now driving education policy a year ahead of the general election.”
Quite. It is also a sharp reminder of how far the Coalition government has deviated from its original claim, to be uniting “in the public interest”.
The plan adds extra pressure to the Education department, where morale has already plummetted due to Gove’s determination to employ his own advisors, to overrule the expert advice provided by civil servants in favour of ideologically-motivated dogma.
It also shows that Gove is giving preferential treatment to his pet project. State schools go into special measures after receiving a ruling from Ofsted that they are inadequate – and can remain there for more than a year.
More damaging still is the fact that many of the problems with free schools have nothing to do with education, but are organisational in origin. According to the article, these include: “Operating in temporary sites without a clear permanent home; new, inexperienced and often isolated trusts needing to upskill themselves to run a school for the first time; instability in principal appointments and senior leadership teams.”
So when you hear that your child’s school has been under-performing because it has been deprived of resources and support from the Department for Education, just remember that this has happened because we have an Education Secretary who is more concerned with hiding his own inadequacies – problems that could have been avoided if he had concentrated a little more on the details.
On the basis of this term work, Mr Gove, we’ll have to give you an ‘F’ – for ‘Fail’.
Vox Political offers all the political education you need – but we need help. This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions. Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
‘U’ for effort: Why should parents vote ‘Labour’ if Tristram Hunt won’t repair the disastrous harm that Michael Gove has been inflicting on our school system – and our children’s future?
According to shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, Labour will not repeal Michael Gove’s major – useless – changes to the British school system if it wins the next election. In that case: Why vote Labour?
Gove has proved to be the stupidest education secretary of recent history. His divisive ‘Free Schools’ vanity project is a disaster that has increased costs for children who must get their education miles away when there is a school next door to them, while standards of teaching have plummetted at the new establishments – with unqualified teachers and calamitous Ofsted inspection reports.
Not only has he created appalling imbalances in the school system, but Gove has also de-stabilised his own department, bringing in unqualified ‘advisors’ to overrule seasoned civil servants on major decisions. The result has been wide-scale demoralisation, with many experts leaving the profession, their experience lost forever.
The agenda, as far as it is possible to see one, seems to be to maim the state education system so badly that it will be unable to compete with privately-run schools on any level, meaning the sons and daughters of the rich will be able to beat state school pupils to the choicest jobs.
Now, Tristram Hunt – whose political beliefs appear to be so amorphous that he could belong to any one of the major political parties – says he won’t sort out any of the problems Gove has been creating. He says that would be “tinkering”.
Many of Gove’s reforms “built on” Labour ideas, he told the BBC.
Those were bad ideas, Tristram. For a man who is supposed to be well-educated, you don’t seem to notice much, do you?
We currently have a system stuffed with so many kinds of school it must be impossible for parents to work out what’s best for their pupils, even if they have a decent choice available to them.
In practice, it seems, there is little difference between them as none seem capable of providing the education that people need. As a writer, I have seen the quality of written English nosedive over the past 30 years. Tristram Hunt will do nothing to change that. So why vote Labour?
Instead of having Free Schools, academies, grammar schools or whatever silly name people want to give them, why can’t we just have schools?
Hunt does put forward some useful ideas in his BBC interview but – having seen what he thinks of the Gove policies – it is hard to have faith that he can carry them out adequately.
He says the Free Schools policy has been wasteful in adding new places where there is already a surplus – and any new schools should be built where there is a shortage.
Also, Labour would put resources into technical and vocational education in a change from previous policy – which attempted to funnel half of school leavers into university, whether they deserved the extra education or not.
These are practical ideas, but if the system is not based on solid principles, they will not make any difference at all.
Mr Hunt is himself an educated man and must be made to see that his policies are ridiculous. He should receive a ‘U’ for effort and be made to take his exams again.
And, while Ed Miliband is putting people like this on his front bench, the question remains: Why vote Labour?
Vox Political is an independent political blog.
We don’t receive any funding other than contributions from readers. Vox Political cannot continue without YOUR help. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
David Cameron’s New Year message – what a disgrace!
Standing uncomfortably in an empty factory (one presumes the workers were all on part-time contracts to save bosses money in holiday pay and national insurance), the comedy Prime Minister looked nervous as he reeled off a list of statements the Conservative Party wants the proles to believe, going into 2014.
What a shame his words were so easy to debunk.
If you can bear to hear it, play the video (above). I did, and wrote the following response in real time – as his speech was taking place. Then I sent it to his Facebook page. Here are my words:
“When you weren’t elected into office, the economy was on the up – and your policies killed it stone dead for three years. You haven’t cut the deficit significantly for years (it’s been stuck at £120 billion or thereabouts). You have cut income tax for the super-rich; raising the tax allowance for the poor (which you claim is a cut) means they don’t pay National Insurance (if anybody hadn’t noticed) and it will take them longer to qualify for retirement pension.
“You only decided to cut fuel duty because Labour came out with a better policy – and nobody was fooled by your choice.
“The jobs created under your government are part-time, zero-hours, or fake ‘self-employed’ in which the worker is contracted to larger companies and receives lower-than-minimum-wages for the amount of time spent. Stop talking nonsense about ‘jobs taxes’ – all this does is show that you do not understand the principles behind National Insurance.
“How many people did your ‘welfare’ work kill last year? We don’t know because your Department for Work and Pensions is terrified that releasing the figures will cause a national scandal.
“As for your immigration policy – apart from the tangential tightening of monitoring around the minimum wage, all your new measures are already enshrined in law; you have created phantom solutions to a phantom problem.
“Building an economy for people who work hard and “play by the rules”, is it? There’s a new condition in there, and people should be warned that your rules are not intended to benefit hard-working people but to free their employers from any responsibility towards those who generate their bloated salaries for them.
“I’m surprised you didn’t choke on your comments about education, after the fiasco that has led to the closure of one free school and special measures for several others.
“As far as the Scottish referendum is concerned, if any government, through its policies, could do more to push an entire country out of the United Kingdom, I don’t see how.
“I look forward to your response on the welfare deaths. In 2011 they stood at 73 per week, which was a scandal at the time. New figures will show whether you have been merely misguided or intentionally genocidal.
“Happy New Year? It will be a lot happier if you and your entire Parliamentary party resigned. How many of them know anything about struggling to make ends meet, in debt and in a place where there are no jobs to be had?
“You know nothing about hard work.”
Did anyone else notice he said nothing about the National Health Service, that his government has brought down from its most popular and efficient moment ever – slandering it and legislating to ensure private profit-driven firms could get into it, turning it away from healthcare and into money generation?
If ever there was a time to fight back for our cherished publicly-funded institutions, it is now.
That is the real message we should take from this soulless mouthpiece and his empty words.
Vox Political cannot carry out these campaigns without funding. This site needs YOUR support to continue. Every penny will be used wisely. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
Do not approach: Another Conservative goes feral. Pensioners – guard your assets!
There seems to be an increasing willingness among politicians to give high regard to disgraced ex-colleagues.
Only last weekend, Nick Clegg praised Chris Huhne, who faces sentencing today after being convicted of perverting the course of justice regarding speeding points on his driving licence.
Now Liam Fox has weighed into the debate on future Conservative Party policy. Dr Fox had to resign after being asked why a man who was not a part of the government had attended more than half of his official engagements including trips abroad, at the public expense.
He wants to freeze public spending for the next five years – that’s well into the next Parliament, no matter who wins.
He wants to spend the money this will allegedly save on tax cuts, notably capital gains tax – in other words, another nice little earner for the very, very rich. Odious, aren’t they?
Like Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, he wants departmental budgets that are currently ring-fenced to lose that protection – including the NHS, schools and international development.
The NHS is already the subject of controversy over its spending because the government has claimed budgets have increased, while the UK Statistics Authority stated categorically that they have dropped.
Most schools have been under-funded by Michael Gove, in favour of his ridiculously expensive ‘free schools’ project. Under Dr Fox’s plans, unless your child is privately-educated or has been cherry-picked to go to one of these new institutions, their education would suffer and their chances in life would be hugely reduced.
International development is hugely controversial as well. At a time when the UK is struggling to pay for itself, critics say, the country should not be giving cash away to foreign nations.
And he wants to end protection for universal benefits – such as the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance.
Pensioners: This Tory wants to take away the extra money you get to heat your home during the winter, and the Liberal Democrat Vince Cable wants to means-test or tax the pension for which you have spent your entire working life paying. Do you really want to vote either party back into power to do these things to you?
Fox is a leading member of the Tory right-wing, and this is clear from his demands. But his own past actions make his current intervention laughable. He wants to cut public spending by – according to his own calculations – £345 billion over five years, yet he himself is an expenses cheat who has overspent taxpayers’ money on himself and his friends.
In 2009 it was reported that he had claimed £19,000 on expenses for his mobile phone bill over the previous four years. He said he was looking for a cheaper tariff.
He overclaimed £22,476 in mortgage interest payments, which he was forced to pay back in 2010. Fox said he had decided to remortgage his second home to pay for redecorations, and claim the higher interest repayments on his expenses because this represented value for money – he could have charged the taxpayer for his decorating bill directly. This was not true, according to the judge dealing with the case.
A study of Parliamentary records in the Daily Telegraph showed that he was receiving rental income from his London home while simultaneously claiming rental income from the taxpayer to live at another residence.
And then there’s the big one, for which he lost his job: Fox’s relationship with Adam Werrity, who had lived rent-free in Fox’s flat, had accompanied Fox on 40 of his 70 official engagements, attended meetings with foreign dignitaries and had used official-looking business cards which stated his was an “advisor” to Fox.
Fox resigned in advance of publication of an official inquiry’s report into the matter.
What does the future have in store for the UK, if the Conservatives win the 2015 election?
It seems sensible to conclude my loose series on the current changes to social security benefits – see here, here, here, here and here – by taking a look at what we know they have planned, and what we can reasonably expect from them. Some of this comes from the document ‘2020 Vision’, which has been produced by a group of Conservative Parliamentarians; some is just pushing current activity to a logical conclusion.
It’s all horrifying. Let’s have a look:
1. Conservative ministers to be above the law. That’s right; they want their future governments to be answerable only to Parliament, not to judges. Apparently they think the possibility of judicial review when they make illegal decisions means that the system is too slow. Of course, being answerable to Parliament means being answerable to nobody because a Conservative majority means Parliament will rubber-stampe anything they do, no matter how hare-brained, harmful or tyrannical.
2. NHS to be fully privatised. Of course this is already well on its way now, with the collusion of the right-wing press in keeping some of the major changes quiet. Just take a look at some of the measures being brought in by Jeremy Hunt, right now, if you don’t believe me.
3. Benefits system to be privatised. There has been some discussion of this on the blog already. The idea is simply to switch the system from being nationwide and run by the state to a patchwork of private insurance, run by private companies, for profit. From what’s being said, the biggest player in this would be Unum, the disgraced American company which is already doing considerable damage in the Netherlands, from what one reader has been telling us.
4. Police to be privatised. This is being piloted in certain parts of the UK already. Of course, with private companies running a police service for profit, only the rich will be able to afford their services. In other words, its a wheeze to ensure the poor lose what little luxuries they currently have and are unable to turn to our law guardians for justice.
5. Regional pay for all employees. This is in order to accelerate the race to the bottom of the pay scale for the people who do the actual work. If pay for the same job varies between UK regions, then employers can happily turn to their workforce at any time and say, “They’re doing it for less over the border, so you can take less as well.” The government tried it with public sector pay but was told to think again. We know some of them want to do it with benefits. It’s only a matter of time before it happens.
6. UK to exit Europe. Not because the EU is anti-democratic, forcing unreasonable demands on the UK, but because its human rights laws are damned inconvenient for a political party that wants to crush anyone who isn’t in the top 10 per cent of earners (I may be exaggerating this; it could be that they’re only interested in the top one per cent).
7. Free movement to be discouraged. They already have plans for a two-tier road tax system.
8. Education to be fragmented so you only get the best if you pay for it. Obviously we’ve always had private education but the starvation of the state system to fund ‘free schools’ is softening the system up for worse to come. Can anyone say they honestly understand Michael Gove’s divisive and wasteful policies?
9. Flat-rate taxes. This is a Conservative dream, because flat-rate taxation – one percentage for everybody – provides an unfair advantage to those who have more money to start with. They recognise that there are people in the UK who understand how unfair it is, so they launch periodical campaigns to point us in the other direction. Hence the current push to get us to believe a 20 per cent rise in JSA, from £59.15 to £71 (a rise of just £11.85), is totally unfair when compared to a 12 per cent rise in average wages, from £420 to £468 (a rise of £48 – more than four times as much). How can it be unfair to keep the level of the former the same, as a proportion of the latter – especially when one considers the rocketing prices of groceries and utilities? Those of use who can remember the Community Charge should also remember that this was also a flat-rate tax. People took to the streets to put an end to it but clearly the Conservatives have not learned the lesson. ‘2020 Vision’ suggests that Income Tax could come down to 20 per cent for everybody. This means someone earning £25,000 a year would have £20,000 left after Income Tax. Someone paying themselves £1 million a year would have £800,000 left afterwards. And we wouldn’t have anything like the public sector services that we have, even today after nearly three years of Coalition rule – that level of taxation cannot sustain that level of spending.
10. Continuation of the high-level national deficit and debt. This is to justify the shrinking of the state. The changes that have been made so far, including those that are to come in this year, are not intended to boost the economy – quite the opposite. If this government wanted to boost the economy it would close tax loopholes (including those that have been created by the current Chancellor) that allow the richest in the UK to avoid paying more than £100 billion every year and ensure that any of them who wish to leave this country as a result pay their fair share before they leave. It would also borrow – yes, borrow; don’t you know that interest rates are fantastically low just now? – in order to invest in British jobs and industry, the new technologies that will power the world in the future. They’re not doing that, for specious reasons, and they know that the poorest in the UK will suffer as a result.
That’s what the UK will look like under a government of Tory tyrants.
If anyone, in future, refers to those of us on the political left as “loonies”, all we’ll have to do is point them at Michael Gove.
This man defies belief. At a time when his confederates in the Coalition government are doing their best to convince us that they’re serious about cutting spending, so the UK can pay down its annual deficit and national debt, he’s throwing money around like it’s confetti.
Gove’s Free Schools project will enter a new phase next week when 39* such institutions open their doors for the first time – to an average of 102 pupils each. According to Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, Free Schools cost the taxpayer more than £337 million last year, when just 24 schools opened. That’s £14 million each or £137,254 per pupil.
Compare that with the average spent per pupil in England and Wales – £5,897.50. One could say that each pupil at a Free School is costing the taxpayer more than 23 times as much as at normal state schools.
Even taking account of the fact that some of the extra costs are one-offs associated with launching the schools, and that they will take on more pupils as time goes on, it still makes a mockery of the title ‘Free’ schools.
If all 39 schools fulfil their expected capacity, they will average 322 pupils per school at a cost of £43,478 per pupil – still a huge mark-up from state schools. This is at a time when comprehensives, some with more than 2,000 pupils, are having to find cuts in their budgets.
In addition, it seems Mr Gove has handed the property deeds of nearly 2,000 publicly-owned secondary schools over to the private sector for free.
So, with money flowing out of Gove’s education department like water from a punctured inflatable paddling pool – at a time of supposed fiscal austerity, let’s not forget – it’s time to ask ourselves, who voted for this? Who said it was a good idea to let Michael Gove run the UK’s education system?
Oh yes. That’s right.
It was Nick Clegg.
*Make that 38. It was 40 yesterday. An increasing number of these schools are delaying their opening until 2013, meaning an increased amount of expenditure from the education budget will have nothing to show for it at all.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.