The Parthenon Sculptures (or Elgin Marbles): the UK stole them, then wrote a law to say they’re ours. Can we all do that with other people’s stuff?
What’s the other name for them? The Parthenon Sculptures?
So the Parthenon Sculptures were in Greece – at the Parthenon – for thousands of years, but then the British Empire arrived and stole them.
Buy Cruel Britannia in print here. Buy the Cruel Britannia ebook here. Or just click on the image!
Decades after that – and after many years of argument with Greece over ownership of the sculptures – UK prime minister Rishi Sunak refused to attend a summit meeting with his opposite number in Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, apparently on the basis that he would be raising the ownership of the sculptures again.
This kicked up a fuss.
Now, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said the meeting would only have been with UK deputy PM Oliver Dowden.
She added that UK law protects the status of the sculptures, which she described as the “Elgin Marbles”, and that under this law, the sculptures must stay in the British Museum.
Here are a couple of tweets, one of which shows Keegan saying this, the other providing a reaction:
This is the most colonial statement ever
“Yea we took your stuff but this piece of paper we wrote on says we have to keep it. Soz, that’s the law” https://t.co/EShRVvcqFk
Gillian Keegan: she has been out and about with a photographer and wanted to show us the pictures. Oh, and there’s some information about RAAC concrete in schools that may or may not be accurate.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has published an update on what she has been doing to resolve the problem of RAAC concrete causing schools to fall apart around our children.
Here it is, as provided on ‘X’. There may be problems with it already…
Throughout the week, I’ve been chairing Gold command meetings on RAAC with our experts, Ministers, officials and operational teams to ensure that every school or college with RAAC gets the support they need.
This Writer is sure that more than one per cent of all schools or colleges have RAAC concrete in them. It was widely used from the 1950s to the 1990s.
This means that it is likely that more than one per cent of all schools or colleges will suffer some form of collapse associated with RAAC concrete in the future. If the Department for Education is claiming that this is not likely to happen, then it is misleading people who are in danger – possibly fatally.
I state that merely as an observation. It will be for others to take action.
On Thursday, I visited a school in Essex to see first-hand how schools like theirs are working to minimise the disruption to education from RAAC.
I also chaired two roundtable discussions with councillors and MPs to see how we could further support sites impacted in Essex.
Gillian Keegan: she reckons she has done a ‘f*cking good job’. Your opinion on what has been ‘f*cked’ may differ.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has been caught on camera, in the middle of the RAAC concrete/crumbling schools crisis, bemoaning the lack of support she has received for doing, in her words, “a f*cking good job”.
She said her actions have come after others – presumably other Education Secretaries – “sat on their arses” and did nothing.
You have not done a “f*cking” good job.
You stripped money from crumbling schools and handed it to private boarding schools & diverted cash into your free school fetish.
This certainly seems to be true. We know that the Labour government of 1997-2010 had identified a problem with the concrete used to build many schools (and other public buildings) and had started a programme to replace those buildings – but Michael Gove cancelled it when the Coalition government negotiated its way into office in 2010:
The Tories cancelled the school refurbishment programme started by Gordon Brown.
They diverted £millions of taxpayers’ money into private boarding school funding instead.
Further evidence turned up in 2018 and, while something was done, it was nothing like enough.
Rishi Sunak was warned about the problem when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was asked to double the budget for replacing school buildings. Instead, he halved the number of schools being helped:
The schools building crisis “made simple”…the former top official at the Department for Education told me on @BBCr4today that after a school roof collapsed in 2018 officials concluded that there was a need to re-build 3-400/year
The Treasury agreed to pay to re-build 100 schools a year not 3-400 as requested by education ministers. So the Department for Education tried again & proposed doubling the number of schools to be re-built each year – from 100 to 200.
That’s why Labour can claim that the school building crisis is the fault of @RishiSunak & the Prime Minister can claim it's "utterly wrong" to blame him for the failure to tackle RAAC in schools earlier.
To hear Sunak defending his decision, one might think he has actually increased the number of schools being helped instead of halving it:
Q: The former permanent Secretary, at DfE, has said that when they wanted to put more money into repairing schools… you didn't allow that to go ahead.. are you to blame for what's happened & do you want to apologise?
Returning funding to 2010 levels – in 2021, let alone 2023 – still means a real-terms cut in funding due to inflation, and This Writer would certainly suggest that this is the reason the number of schools being rebuilt has been halved.
It’s all symptomatic of the Tory ‘Less is More’ strategy – cut a policy, then bring it back at a lower level than previously and tell the public to be grateful.
Reasons have been put forward for the decision to cut the number of schools being rebuilt in half. Keegan has rubbished them in Parliament but – given what we know – you may wish to ignore what she is saying:
Ben Bradshaw – "When the Prime Minister slashed the schools repair budget… how big a factor in that decision was the fact he nor most of the Conservative cabinet actually use state schools for their own children?" pic.twitter.com/51mHMpjGio
Keegan became Education Secretary in October last year, after Sunak had become prime minister.
And what has she actually done?
Well, she has apologised for her filthy-tongued rant, saying she was frustrated with her interviewer at the time, and adding that guidance for schools on RAAC concrete has only changed since Thursday, when new reports came to light:
I’m sorry for my off the cuff remark and choice language earlier.
I know parents are concerned. I’ve been working non-stop to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
She has also said that any work to be done on affected schools was not the responsibility of the Department for Education:
It seems neither of those claims are true, as the following, from a frustrated father, indicates:
Hi Gillian Keegan. As Education Secretary, you were just caught on camera saying that you were upset about not being thanked for doing ‘a f****** good job’ during the RAAC crisis in schools, and so I would like to thank you personally.
THANK YOU for being in charge of a DfE who…
— Simon Harris – Man Behaving Dadly (THAT’S DADLY) (@simonharris_mbd) September 4, 2023
And this response to her abrogation of responsibility is damning, too:
Yes, local authorities do have responsibility for buildings… and they have been warning you for FIVE YEARS! 🤦🏻♀️😡 pic.twitter.com/uG2kJJzv8u
Instead, evidence has emerged that, despite having been warned in December 2022 that there was a high risk of school buildings collapsing, Keegan hid the dangers. That was half a year ago:
"A reliable source has informed us that in early February, two months after the risk level was raised to high, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan remarked, ‘We just need to keep the lid on this for two years and then it’s someone else’s problem.’" https://t.co/Na3DrI4fdV
Instead of tackling this urgent problem, affecting the safety of children across the UK, Keegan spent £34 million giving her own offices a ‘glow up’:
Gillian Keegan authorised a £34m revamp of her offices in April to provide “improved lighting and a muted colour palette” together with a quiet room and a modernised kitchen just at the time when schools were being asked about concrete problems https://t.co/6KvOzqLVzc
… but if you can bear to read the Sun article (link above), it seems that, while it was a forerunner’s decision to have the refurbishment, Keegan did sign it off – and in April, after schools had been asked for – and started returning – information about problems with RAAC concrete.
She has – apparently – sent out a questionnaire to all bodies responsible for school and college buildings… but that didn’t happen until 8.02pm on the day before term began again:
You waited until 8.02pm the night before term starts to send this?
… and while we should note down the time and date of that claim for future reference, we should also understand that Sunak has apparently failed to acknowledge related issues:
At the current rate of school refurbishment it will take 440 years for all schools in the UK to get done. We need them all to be net-zero carbon in less than 30 years time, and most will require refurbishment to get anywhere near that goal. Has no one in government realised that?
Before Gillian Keegan took over as Education Secretary, Tory governments since 2010:
Cancelled a programme to rebuild crumbling schools.
Ignored evidence that schools were becoming dangerous and rebuilding work was vital.
After they allowed the situation in one school to become so bad that its roof collapsed – in other words, after ignoring a problem until a disaster happened – they agreed to provide just one-quarter of the money needed to rebuild the necessary number of schools per year.
And after he became Chancellor, Rishi Sunak cut the number of schools being rebuilt in half – to one-eighth of the number required.
After Gillian Keegan took over as Education Secretary, she:
Allegedly hid evidence of the dangers presented by crumbling schools, in the hope that the issue would not come to light until after a different political party forms a government.
Actually insisted that local authorities are responsible for school buildings, not the Department for Education – even though local authorities have to seek funding for school refurbishment from central government.
Signed off a £34 million refurbishment of her own DfE offices in London while denying help to schools that were crying out for it.
Launched a fact-finding exercise on the number of schools needing urgent help – the night before schools re-opened for the autumn term. Any help they get will therefore disrupt the education of pupils, and
Suggested that she should be thanked for her actions.
And Keegan calls that a “f*cking good job”?
Please remember what a “f*cking good job” she has done – at threatening your children’s lives – next time you get to vote in a Parliamentary election.
Vox Political needs your help! If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers) you can make a one-off donation here:
Be among the first to know what’s going on! Here are the ways to manage it:
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the right margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
Sunak axes UK climate change policy. Was Zac Goldmith right about him?
WTF?! The UK is one of the world’s richest countries & we’re really going to tell our kids we can’t “afford” to pay for a liveable planet for them?? And we’re going to betray some of the poorest countries? This Govt’s moral bankruptcy is truly sickening https://t.co/W9meGgIlqB
MP Mercer’s wife commences hostilities – against Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman starting to have the Jeremy Corbyn treatment for challenging the establishment lackeys – ‘Vorderman ‘inciting hate’ towards Tories, says Johnny Mercer’s wife’ https://t.co/HQuc9Zodiu
— Kevin Pascoe #PoliticsOfFairness (@KevinPascoe) July 4, 2023
(Personally, This Writer has found Ms Vorderman’s political commentary to be spot-on, ever since I first heard her opinions on ITV’s This Morning. If you’re not reading her Twitter feed, you’re missing out.)
Shouldn’t Johnny Mercer and his missus be more worried about this?
Enjoying the collective bed-wetting on this.
Military personnel should not be using food banks – period. Disagree if you like, but that is true. If you are serving personnel and you are using a food bank because you are 'starving' please do call me and I will come and see you. https://t.co/1ywceL02lm
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.