Posts Tagged ‘Government’

So this blog, on request of my birth giver, is about Osborne’s latest idea that has come straight out of his ‘Crazy Idea Machine’.

It is conference season and the Conservative conference 2013 is in full swing, and if my humble opinion is anything to value, it’s in the shadow of a gleaming bright and hope giving Labour conference – but then what does an unemployed, postgrad student who has been demonised by the current government actually know?

George Osborne has announced the new scheme of “unpaid work for benefits” and, as expected, it received a resounding round of applause at the conference.

Firstly, let’s start by stating the obvious – “unpaid work for benefits” … why not just pay them!? I mean come on, I’m no economist and I’m certainly not as suave as Osborne but even he could have thought of that one. Why not show the advantages of paid work by giving people paid work? We’re going to put them in private sector jobs, working for free (because it’s not just litter picking they’d be expected to do) and increase private sector profits… WITHOUT PAY!? It’s disgusting.

Alas, with the death of the ‘Big Society’ they had to find other ways to get jobs done without paying for them whilst at the same time still having the ability to demonise an entire demographic on benefits, continuing to feed a moral panic with a lack of evidence, and still failing to target the crimes that cost this country the most money: White Collar Crime (something that many Conservative MP’s are guilty of might I add!).

Yet again, those on benefits are being targeted as free loaders and it is the same old discourse coming from the Conservatives, and their blind followers, that victimise millions of people who are on benefits for various reasons. All of this happening while hundreds of corperations do not pay tax appropriately, the majority of those in top earning positions are avoiding tax – BECAUSE IT IS STILL LEGAL – and those that cost this country very little in comparison are targeted. It’s a fallacy and nothing more than a moral panic.

However, let’s be fair. There are some good aspects to this proposal. Offering those that need an opportunity to change illiteracy and other issues. That’s a positive thing. Well… let’s look at that…

How can you trust a Government to provide training and education to those that need it when they have already marginalised education, attacked the sector, and successfully blocked those that could have gone into further and higher education? I don’t know about you, but those good aspects seem a little too good to be true. I’m sure they’ll be an unannounced loop hole in that entire policy, just like there’s already loop holes announced in the freezing of Fuel Duty (but that’s for another blogger to discuss).

The most sinister aspect of this entire policy, in my opinion, is the way in which those that breach the rules will lose four weeks of benefit, whilst a second offence will be three months. EVERYONE knows how easy it is for there to be errors and miscommunication which lead into someone “breaching the rules”. Are we seriously going to support a government that will take away a month, or three months, worth of benefits? Whilst at the same time use those in that situation to increase the profits of private companies without offering them pay?
The implications of that are catastrophic. That’s a month – potentially three – that someone is not going to be able to eat and will be worried sick about money and therefore negatively effecting mental health. This seems very right wing indeed, especially when those that avoid tax or even illegally dodge paying tax, get a slap on the wrist and a fine that is well within their means to pay.

So this idea that it is “fair for those who need it and fair for those who pay for it” is – dare I say it – bullshit.

Quite frankly, I’m bored of the same old Tory discourse. Bashing the poor, demonising single and unmarried parents, ostracizing those on benefits and looking down on anyone that is unemployed.

We are at a time when, more than ever, we need social cohesion and an integrating society. We have an increase of immigration (A GOOD THING!), varying cultures finding their place in UK Society, an increase (we’re not there yet) in equality and a flux of people out of work because there are not enough jobs to give.

We need a government that ceases to suggest policies such as this with an undertone of elitism and disdain. We need a government that targets corporations that avoid paying their way. We need a government that’s not in the back pocket of bankers and other individuals that have a lot of money. We need a government that is willing to listen to the majority of the people, and not the top 2% of those with wealth.

Let’s see this latest proposal for what it really is. A proposal that promises nothing tangible, will create more inequality, continue with a class divide and fan the flame of the stigma of those in that situation.

This proposal is nothing more than an attack. So make sure you attack back at the next General Election.

Advertisements

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch Prime Minister Questions (PMQ’s) live rather than have to catch up later. However, part of me wishes I hadn’t watched it at all…

My heart laments at some of the disgusting rhetoric that comes from that chamber, and most notably from the current government. The comment that annoyed me most wasn’t even a loud statement, it was a flippant sentence chucked in, near the end after a Labour MP asked a question about school uniform prices being too high and some parents struggling to afford them in the first place.

The Labour MP (Barbara Keeley) mentioned that the average school uniform can cost up to £285 with some parents needing to take out loans. Although Barbara mentioned Free Schools and Academies it wasn’t the point of her comment.

The response that David Cameron gave was chilling, avoidant and proved, if nothing else, that he really is out of touch with the majority of the public.

His response was more of an attack in retaliation. He merely stated that academies should, if they want to, have strict school uniform policies and that Labour should just drop the “free school debate”. He did not mention the figures or the fact that loans were needed or even that the cost was pretty high. I guess £285 for David Cameron is a good night out…

It makes me sick that this issue can be avoided. In one school, 70% of parents had to take out loans to pay for a uniform for their children. £285 is a lot of money, even to me as a single man. I can only imagine how valuable that money is to a parent who has children to look after.

More and more this education system is becoming expensive to the average parent and some parents can’t afford to give their children everything that they need to just have the same opportunity as other children.

The Bible is clear about helping those in need, especially those less financially better off than others.

Deuteronomy 15:11:

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

I’ve heard a lot of Christians; rather wrongly, suggest that the Conservative party is the most Christian party in parliament. I assume this is because they use the buzz words like ‘Family’ and ‘Responsibility’. Unfortunately, most the Christians I know that do say this also don’t look at the track record of what the Tories (and Lib Dems… do they even still exist!?) have been doing whilst at the same time are probably watching Sky News and reading the Daily Mail.

I’m not saying Christians are the problem, although a little more research and care into how they should vote would go a long way. I’m not even saying that one party is better than the others, I personally think you should vote based on influence and trust of your local MP to represent your views.

What I am saying – is that the current government is not good enough. I’m also saying that as a Christian, I take ministry with poorer communities very seriously and this government does not.

I know that as a Christian I’m also going to get a lot of flak for openly expressing my political opinion on these issues and a million and one Christians will be waiting to tell me that I should respect their authority and not comment publically but I refuse to just sit back and watch a supposedly Christian leader continue to disprove his care for the poorer than himself communities.

If you’re reading this, feeling slightly confused about what is wrong with how things are currently being done, then I implore you to research into it. Ask experts in education (NOT politicians), ask teachers, ask university student etc.

Do not be lethargic and when it comes to the next ballot box, vote for someone you can trust has education at the heart of their core policies and make sure that they are held to account.

Another election is coming and the run up to those elections have already started! Be active, voice your opinion and demand a better system!

Today, across the country, teachers are on strike. Both NASUWT and NUT Unions have called for teachers to do this and send a clear message to the Government over the changes and cuts they are making to the education system.

Today, I’m seeing a flood of people on Twitter and Facebook calling teachers selfish and money grabbing. Some people have even used the classic argument of “Don’t they get enough holidays?”.

I’m writing this as a clear supporter of the strikes. It’s clear that Gove has been attacking the education system and is making changes that are ill-founded, not researched and lacked consultation with professional experts. However, I also want to blow a few poorly constructed arguments against the strike out of the water.

The first poor argument: to say that teachers get too much holiday is an absolute joke and further proves to show that people do not understand the work they actually have to do. On average, they’re teaching 9am – 3pm each day; but do people seriously think that’s the end of their working day?

Teachers have to do lesson planning, marking, consultations with parents, strategy meetings and regular training (I’m sure I’ve missed stuff out!). At the same time, if we want a good education for future generations then these teachers also need to choose to comment, get involved in and start discussions with those in power about the system. As someone that has engaged with those in power this year, been involved in national policy making and lobbied MP’s – let me tell you that it takes a lot of time and effort (not to mention the travelling!) to get that done.

Teachers may get “long” holidays, but the amount of hours they’re putting in each week makes up for it. Think of it as ‘Time in Lieu’.

The second poor argument: To suggest that these strikes are about increasing teachers wages and giving them better pensions is again a poor argument indeed. Both unions have clearly stated the reasons behind this are to send a message to the Government.

If teachers do not get involved now and start putting their arguments forward then we’re faced with a system that could not just turn future generations away from education but also damage the economic and structural stability of the country because we’ll have generations of children forced back into an industrialised culture where the rich are in power and the poor are ordered around. History tells us how that ends up… and if you’ve not read a history book then let me give you a one word clue – ‘Blood’.

Alas, what is wrong with teachers wanting more pay? I think it’s abhorrant that bankers, MP’s, Private Company Directors etc get paid the salary they’re on. The majority of whom are there because of teachers that educated them as children. We should pay teachers more and should bloody well thank them – DAILY!

Our teachers are doing this because they believe passionately in creating a good system that engages children, helps them explore and develop who they are and empowers them to be the change makers of the future. It’s about ensuring that education enables them creatively and allows them to cultivate a future for themselves.

General Secretary, Chris Keates, of NASUWT said:

“Over the last three years, the coalition government has mounted savage attacks on teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions of service. The responsibility for today’s action rests with the failure of the secretary of state to engage in meaningful negotiations. To justify these attacks and education reforms, the secretary of state has sought to denigrate teachers and present our public education system as broken. As a result the teaching profession is now in crisis. The responsibility for driving teachers to take industrial action rests entirely with an arrogant, reckless secretary of state who is determined to sacrifice teachers, pupils and our public education service on the altar of his own flawed ideology.”

I feel that Chris has summarised the issue fairly well and clearly explained the reasoning behind the strikes.

So if you’re reading this and you don’t agree with the strikes, then that’s fine – but please don’t comment and use poor arguments that show a complete lack of understanding. If you’ve read this and any of this resonates with you – and if you believe in the need for a decent education system – but don’t know what the change should be… then watch the following video and use that as a the frame for all your thinking.

Ken Robinson – Changing Educational Paradigms.

Feel free to comment.

Edd Graham-Hyde

Nick Clegg’s recent apology is nothing but salt in students’ wounds. It comes at a time where we’ve seen a drop in admissions, a cut in our block grant and the squeezing of budgets. It comes at a time when we’re sad and angry at the bleak landscape we see before our eyes. It comes at a time when sorry simply isn’t good enough.

The last couple of years have been a frustrating time for those in both the Further and Higher Education sectors. It has seen the introduction of up to 9k Fees, loss of funding to certain subjects, applicant control numbers dropped and less stability across the sector putting Higher Education under attack.

The picture, however, looked vastly different before the last General Election. A previous Student Affairs Committee at UCLan Students’ Union worked with other students from all over the country and the National Union of Students (NUS) to get candidates from across the political spectrum to sign a pledge to not raise tuition fees. One of the most notable of course, was Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg then broke that pledge upon becoming Deputy Prime Minister. He turned his back on students and turned his back on his promises. Now he’s released an apology just as empty as that promise. It wasn’t an apology for turning his back on us; it was an apology for making the pledge in the first place. He said that he shouldn’t have made a promise he couldn’t keep. A promise which, no doubt, helped increase Lib Dem votes and ultimately resulted in Nick Clegg being part of the coalition Government.

As a result of that Government we’ve seen an unforgivable rise in fees; a rise in graduate unemployment and cuts across the Higher Education sector on a scale that can only be described as horrific.

Nick Clegg sold us down the river for his own political gain and for that, we say no.

We say no to accepting his apology, we say no to forgiving and forgetting and we say no to accepting what has happened and just moving on.

That is why on November 21st 2012 we will be taking students to London to stand up to everyone who turned their backs and voted for attacks on yours and our education and tell them enough is enough as part of #Demo12.

We hope you will join us.

Edd Graham Hyde –Students’ Union President
Ben Latham – Activities and Participation Officer
Lee Mac – Campaigns Officer
Joey Guy – Education Officer
Sophie Bennett – Media Officer

More information about #Demo12 will be posted on the website shortly but until then please email us directly at yourunion@uclan.ac.uk if you have any comments or would like to get involved.