Written by Richard Leonard
A casual visitor from Mars, or indeed anywhere else outside of the UK, could be forgiven for mistaking the person reading a statement on the steps of number 10 Downing Street recently for a radical left winger, who had just been elected Prime Minister. So when I read a few days ago that Pope Francis had created Theresa a saint I naturally expected it to be the speaker.
In her statement she declared that she would ‘fight against burning injustice, that having a job did not guarantee job security’ and she acknowledged that a private education created privilege. The ‘working class’ (remember them?) who would be at the forefront of everything her government did were mentioned twice. (The Metro and various media 13/9/2016). If Jeremy Corbyn had pronounced those policies most observers would just have nodded in bored approval.
But Theresa May has now firmly laid out her ideology for all to see and it is predictably and frighteningly right wing. Although much of it is throwing red meat to the baying pack behind her on the back benches to pacify them during the long wait to Brexit, she has grasped the deep-rooted Tory ideology of galloping capitalism/privatisation and embraced it with passion. To fuel the Tory obsession with these twin evils one of her predecessors, Margaret Thatcher, destroyed our manufacturing industry by selling off, what a previous Tory PM described as the ‘family silver’, to anybody who would buy it including some of the biggest global crooks in the business world. The mines, steel manufacture, car production, public transport, airports and public utilities all went over time. She set out to destroy the unions on the way. Cameron has virtually and deliberately destroyed the NHS which even Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS providers has said cannot survive in its present condition (BBC 9/9/2016).
Now May has turned her attention to one of the last remnants of the Attlee government’s brave social reforms – the education sector, free for all and available to all, a prize jewel in the Tory crown of privatisation. In this modern climate grammar schools are not free, many parents spend £1500/2000 on coaching their children on how to pass the exam. Poorer working class families who are struggling to make ends meet do not have access to that sort of money unless they run up unsustainable debts, therefore creating an underclass in society at that early age.
May’s speech praising the role of grammar schools can now be valued for what it is. A rhetoric which belongs in the sewer of class warfare and a call to arms to the ‘middle class’ to rid their society of ‘socialist’ values. Believe me I am not using scare tactics on this issue, this has become a real fight for the social ethics of our country. Our children and grandchildren are to be the fodder in yet another Tory onslaught towards privatisation.
Both sides are using statistics to prove their point and in my opinion there is no doubt that statistics prove that grammar schools have a detrimental effect on our society. The system is divisive and creates schisms among the working class. What really concerns me though is the constant use of figures to show that one method is better than the other. We are talking here about children, human beings, who will be judged at eleven years old as to whether they should receive an academic education or set on the road to fill the seemingly insatiable demand for the basic workforce of capitalist industry for the rest of their lives. These children are more than just numbers, they’re individuals, the country’s future and must be treated as such.
To deliberately decide at that ridiculously early age in which part of society a child is likely to spend the rest of its life is inhumane, callous and demoralising. The very thought of it should send shivers up every socialist spine. It is a subtle device to consolidate the division in society which is key for the continued growth of greedy capitalism, in other words divide and rule. A recent study has confirmed that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world already (Credit Suisse 13/10/2015). This inequality is what keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. It fits neatly with Tory philosophy.
For no other reason but to head off accusations of jealousy, I will tell you that I was educated at a grammar school.
In spite of my optimistic view in the first paragraph of this article, it would appear that the current Prime Minister has more in common with the fiendish Margaret Thatcher than the saintly Mother Theresa.